B'nai B'rith was founded on principles of inclusion, providing all manner of community identity and fellowship opportunities over the years. One such opportunity can be found in Philadelphia, with the B’nai B’rith Basketball League.
Playing games every Sunday morning, the inter-generational, co-ed league provides a chance for athletes of any religious background to play a game of hoops. The fees required to participate go back to fund local charitable work by B'nai B'rith, including Project H.O.P.E. around the holidays.
Read more about the league, courtesy of the Jewish Exponent. Find highlights from the story, below:
Three generations of one family are busy working a B’nai B’rith Basketball League game at the Abington Friends School gym on a recent Sunday.
“Every Sunday, I pick up my father, I pick up his bagel and his coffee, and he watches the game for four-and-a-half hours with me,” says Felt, who lives in Dresher and works in insurance and financial planning. “My nephew happens to be on my team by luck.”
Felt started the league at age 23 with Bruce Lefkoe when some of the guys from their B’nai B’rith softball team expressed interest in playing basketball.
Hal Bailer came in to help get things running during the league’s first 25 years, and what started as an afterthought morphed into a successful adult league that has managed to keep a high level of enrollment over more than three decades. They currently have eight teams playing in their Sunday league, run by Felt, and six teams apiece in their evening and summer leagues, which are run by Joshua Waters.
Participants pay anywhere from $350 to $450 each year to play, $150 of which goes toward lodge dues to the local B’nai B’rith chapter — even though most of them aren’t otherwise involved with the organization and a few aren’t even Jewish.
The lodge, one of few remaining local chapters of what was once a dominant Jewish fraternal organization in America, has about 180 members and currently runs its main endeavor, Project Hope, a mitzvah project that helps feed those in need, according to Felt. The rest of the fee covers expenses for renting the high school court and hiring professional referees.
B'nai B'rith International joined forces with B'nai B'rith Uruguay to host an interfaith Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) Commemoration Ceremony in Montevideo.
Speakers included the Archbishop of Montevideo, Monseñor Daniel Sturla; B'nai B'rith Uruguay President Morris Segal and B'nai B'rith International Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn.
Asuntos Públicos published a full video recording of the ceremony. Watch below (Spanish):
Eric Fusfield, deputy director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, spoke at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Berlin conference last week.
The conference evaluated the ongoing struggle against anti-Semitism in Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Read his remarks below:
"Madam Chairwoman, distinguished delegates:
"2014 is a year marked by one important anniversary and many horrifying reminders.
"As we honor the 10th anniversary of the OSCE Berlin conference and the historic declaration that emerged from that gathering, evidence abounds that much work remains to be done. The conflict in Gaza this year has given rise to a wave of anti-Israel demonstrations throughout the OSCE region; these gatherings have typically featured blatantly anti-Semitic themes and have often turned violent. Attacks on Jewish individuals and institutions have increased in frequency and intensity, as the landscape from Belgium to Bulgaria, Germany to Greece, Holland to Hungary, and Ireland to Italy has witnessed violence against Jewish targets. This spread of hatred has been accompanied by a corrosion of the public discourse with respect to Jews and Israel and has left European Jewry fearful for their safety and security.
"The rise of anti-Jewish hatred has also resulted in a proliferation of anti-Semitic propaganda, much of which is directed against the State of Israel. Tragically, the demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish state has become a daily occurrence, as Israel’s enemies repeatedly accuse it of being a Nazi-like occupier and an apartheid state that disenfranchises the Palestinians. Falsehoods about Israel are repeated so often that they become widely accepted in the popular culture and sometimes impact government policy. The effort by Israel’s relentless critics to denigrate the Jewish state is not only evidence that anti-Semitism is alive and well nearly 70 years after the Holocaust – this new variation of the world’s oldest social illness actually poses a security threat to the Jewish state by intensifying its international isolation.
"For more than a decade, the OSCE has taken up the urgent struggle against rising anti-Semitism. High-level conferences in Vienna in 2003 and Berlin in 2004, as well as later conferences, have focused a needed spotlight on this and other forms of intolerance.
"The historic 2004 Berlin Declaration, which provided a series of important recommendations for governments to follow in combating anti-Semitism, specifically addressed the growing problem of anti-Semitic attacks being committed by opponents of Israel’s policies. The passage stating that “international developments or political issues, including those in Israel or elsewhere in the Middle East, never justify anti-Semitism” stands as an important rebuff to those who try to justify hate crimes with politics.
"Permanent Council Decision No. 607, which preceded the Berlin Conference, and Ministerial Decisions Nos. 12-04 and 10-05, which followed it, represent vital affirmations of the OSCE’s commitment to fight anti-Semitism and related forms of racism and xenophobia. That pact has been bolstered by the creation of ODIHR’s indispensable tolerance and non-discrimination unit, which carries out this important work each day and which includes an expert advisor on anti-Semitism, and by the appointment of the Chairman-in-Office’s three personal representatives on combating intolerance.
B'nai B'rith International was featured on JBS (formerly Shalom TV), denouncing Tuesday's murders of innocent Jewish worshipers in a synagogue in Jerusalem. Five Israelis were murdered by the axe, knife and gun-toting terrorists, while five remain hospitalized.
The issue of incitement is ever present as reports indicate public praise for the attackers and a celebratory atmosphere in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Palestinians.
To attack people as they pray is the height of depravity. These synagogue murders continue a string of terror attacks against Jews in recent weeks.
The story begins at the 3:30 mark in the video:
Last week, B'nai B'rith International was featured on JBS (formerly Shalom TV), denouncing the silence of the international community following weeks of deadly terror attacks on Jews in Israel.
On Nov. 10, an Israel Defense Forces soldier was stabbed multiple times in Tel Aviv while returning to his military base. He later died of his wounds.
Hours before, a woman was fatally stabbed and two more were injured in Alon Shvut. The attack was allegedly carried out by Maher Hamdi A-Shalmon, who was jailed from 2000 to 2005 for throwing fire bombs at Israeli troops.
Those attacks followed two car-based terror attacks at Jerusalem light-rail stations. Earlier today, gun and axe-toting terrorists murdered four Jews and seriously wounded at least six others praying at a synagogue in Jerusalem.
The story begins at the 0:37 mark in the video:
In just two months, more than 85 percent of the units are already filled at B'nai B'rith Housing's new affordable housing development in Sudbury, Mass. When fully occupied, the building will be home to more than 70 seniors.
B'nai B'rith is the largest national Jewish sponsor of federally subsidized housing for the elderly in the United States. For more than 40 years, in a cooperative partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, B'nai B'rith has made rental apartments available for senior citizens with limited incomes.
B'nai B'rith senior housing is open to all qualified individuals as defined by HUD, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, handicap or national origin.
Read what some of the staff and residents are saying about B'nai B'rith's newest senior housing center:
On the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the "Night Of Broken Glass" that set the Holocaust into action in Germany and Austria, B'nai B'rith hosted a number of remembrance events in Latin America.
B'nai B'rith Uruguay hosted its annual Act to Commemorate the Kristallnacht. The main speech was delivered by the Archbishop of Montevideo Daniel Sturla.
Read more about the event via the Uruguay Press.
B'nai B'rith Argentina hosted a major interfaith gathering at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires.
The message of the meeting was simple: remember and honor the victims of the tragedy, and work together to ensure that so heinous of an act can never occur again.
According to an article in Iton Gadol, Rabbi Fabian Skornik of Lamroth Hakol addressed the crowd, saying:
"As human beings we are always invited to learn, and if we learn, we grow. The passage of time does nothing but transform the events and facts involved into learning experiences. But when confronted with an event like the Holocaust, one of the greatest atrocities ever faced by human beings, it is difficult to draw lessons."
Religious and political leaders in attendance included: Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, Archbishop Oscar Ojea, Israeli Ambassador Dorit Shavit, Germany Ambassador Konrad Georg Graf von Waldersee, Italian Ambassador Teresa Castaldo, Greek Ambassador Eleni Leivaditou.
Read highlights of the event from Radio JAI, Iton Gadol (linked here, here and here), Palermo Online and the Jewish News Agency, below (Spanish):
El rabino Dr. Leo Baeck, gran líder espiritual del judaísmo alemán de aquellos años sostuvo que "mil años de vida judía en Alemania habían llegado a su fin".
Además de las sinagogas destruidas, casi un centenar de judíos murieron en la ocasión; miles fueron deportados a "incipientes" campos de concentración. La denominación "noche de los cristales rotos" se debe a que, además de las sinagogas fueron rotos los vidrios de gran cantidad de tiendas, locales y negocios; tal vez, esa noche debería denominarse "la noche de las sinagogas destruidas".
Si bien antes del año 1938 hubo actos de violencia "la noche de los cristales rotos" marca un momento decisivo en la carrera antisemita nazi.
Caption: B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin discussed “Issues Facing World Jewry Today” at the October B’nai B’rith Real Estate luncheon at the The Cornell Club in New York City.
Pictured (L-R): Robert Shapiro, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, Gerald Morganstern,Goetz Fitzpatrick LLP, Pres. Allan Jacobs, B'nai B'rith International, Mariaschin, Lydia Sklar, Sklar Realty Group, Greg Kraut, Avison Young, Jeff Mitzner, First American Title Insurance, and Harry Zlokower, Zlokower Company Public Relations.
On Veteran's Day 2014, B'nai B'rith International is reminded of the tremendous sacrifice given by military men and women to ensure the freedom of future generations.
This is a long-held position by B'nai B'rith, which has worked closely with the military to ensure that the service men and women, as well as their families, were given the resources necessary to adjust to life after combat.
One such effort was made by the National Service Committee for the Armed Forces and Veterans (S.C.A.F.V.) in October, 1950, in response to the outbreak of war in Korea. The resolution approved by the committee called for:
"...the members of B'nai B'rith and all our fellow citizens to participate actively in civil defense as individuals and as groups in our communities and to support and strengthen our civil defense machinery, local, state and federal."
Put into practice, B'nai B'rith raised funds for active military personnel, veterans and their families, partnering with the USO and Veterans Affairs to ensure the resources were routed where they were needed most.
These projects included sending special kits and supplies to soldiers fighting on the front lines in Korea, sponsoring community farewells for draftees, entertaining GIs in training before deployment, serving patients in 150 veterans hospitals through entertainment and supply distribution, furnishing more than 70,000 tuberculous kits to ill veterans, collecting books and magazines, distributing The National Jewish Monthly and mobilizing volunteer workers in every major city.
In June of 1951, military brass lauded the contributions of B'nai B'rith to the support effort, as covered by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and The National Jewish Monthly:
One particularly impressive statement came from G.C. Marshall, Secretary of Defense:
"I was glad to learn that B’nai B’rith, through its National Service Committee for the Armed Forces and Veterans, has resumed its programs of religious, recreational, and personal services for the benefit of the men and women in our armed force.
"In World War II similar services of B’nai B’rith won the praise of the men and women in uniform, and gained official citations and recognition both of the Army and the Navy.
"I feel confident that the same high standard of service so characteristic of B’nai B’rith will be maintained during the present emergency."
B'nai B'rith continued with the S.C.A.F.V. program, earning additional praise from the military after the conclusion of the conflict.
Via The Jewish Telegraphic Agency on March 6, 1956:
The Veterans Administration has presented a certificate of appreciation to B’nai B’rith for ten years of continuous voluntary service to hospitalized veterans across the nation.
The presentation was made at the annual meeting of the B’nai B’rith National Service, Committee for the Armed Forces and Veterans which took place here yesterday at the Hotel Statler.
Dr. William S. Middleton, chief medical director of the VA, made the presentation to Philip M. Klutznick, world president of B’nai B’rith, in connection with the tenth, anniversary of the organization of the Veterans Administration Voluntary Service to be observed during National VAVS Week, April 15 to 21.
Plans for continued B’nai B’rith participation in volunteer work at military and veterans hospitals, with the Ground Observer Corps, civil defense and the Red Cross were outlined at the sessions of the National Service committee.
On Tuesday evening, B'nai B'rith Argentina held its annual recognition ceremony for the Human Rights awards recipients. Embassy representatives from Germany, Brazil, Greeze and Bulgaria joined B'nai B'rith and community leaders attending the event.
This year's four winners are: Beatriz Pellizzari from The Plant, a project dedicated to helping people with disabilities to have a better life; Rabbi Alexander Avruj and Father Jose Maria (Pepe) Di Paola for the work they have done combating homelessness and hunger over the last decade; and Dr. Fernando Polack from the Infant Foundation, working to prevent infant and adolescent deaths through disease prevention and education.
The event has been covered extensively by Vis A Vis in tweets and articles (links here and here), highlights of which can be found, below (Spanish):
B'nai B'rith International contacted The Heinz Endowments, expressing dismay and deep concern over a grant previously given to Pittsburgh eatery Conflict Kitchen, which has served anti-Israel propaganda to diners as part of it's "Palestine" campaign.
The Heinz Foundation responded, denouncing the kitchen's current campaign and clarifying the timing of its one-time $50,000 grant (given in 2013).
The release was covered in articles run on The Algemeiner and the Jewish News Service. Read highlights from those reports, below:
The European Union's new Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini will make Israel her first destination in office.
This comes one week after B’nai B’rith International hosted the EU’s Israel Relations Chair Fulvio Martusciello at the World Center in Jerusalem.
According to an article in the Times of Israel, this is a return trip for Mogherini, who visited the country as Italy's foreign minister during the height of Operation Protective Edge this summer.
Read more about her visit and views in the article's highlights, below:
On November 1, Federica Mogherini will succeed Catherine Ashton as the union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. Less than a week later, she is scheduled to arrive in Israel for her first official visit, sources in Jerusalem confirmed Tuesday.
Mogherini — currently Italy’s foreign minister — will arrive in the region on November 7 and stay for two days. She is expected to also visit senior Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah.
“It’s very important that Ms. Mogherini comes to Israel on November 7. It’s her first official visit,” said Fulvio Martusciello, a member of the European Parliament from Italy and the new president of its delegation for relations with Israel.
Having known her for a while, he believes she understands Israel’s many predicaments, he added, but refused to elaborate.
“I hope we will be able to work together,” Martusciello, who is currently visiting Israel at the invitation of B’nai Brith International, told The Times of Israel Tuesday during an interview in the Knesset.
Mogherini is a member of Italy’s center-left government led by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who is known to be generally friendly toward Israel and tough on Iran’s nuclear program.
B'nai B'rith Argentina announced the recipients of their 2014 Human Rights awards, which will be bestowed on four individuals in a ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 4 in Buenos Aires.
The announcement was featured in a blog post on Vis a Vis, and can be seen below in its entirety (Spanish):
For nearly 20 years, B'nai B'rith International has operated legal missions to Cuba under the auspices of the Cuban Jewish Relief Project.
Through our partnership with the Maimonides lodge we have initiated the Tzedakah Project, providing direct gifts in small amounts to assist 120 elderly Cuban Jews across the island.
Our mission participants have also carried down thousands of pounds of religious material contributions to enhance the ability of the Jewish population in Cuba to practice their religion, as well as medicines and other necessities, while building personal friendships to last a lifetime.
Look at images from the October, 2014 trip to Cuba:
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