Established in 2006, the Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge is a B'nai B'rith International program designed to encourage young authors and illustrators to promote tolerance and communicate a message of equality among all citizens, regardless of race, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation.
In it's eight years, the program challenged students in nine cities and regions, and published 24 books from 33 authors and illustrators. It also awarded more than $200,000 in college scholarships, $23,000 in school grants and donated 36,000 books to schools, programs and libraries in need.
One of those worthy book recipients was Schoolhouse Supplies, an award-winning nonprofit that supports public education in Portland, Ore. by giving students and teachers free classroom supplies.
After receiving a shipment of books from B'nai B'rith International, they thanked the organization in an email and in a post on their blog.
The post can be read in its entirety, below:
Don’t we look bookish!?
We are thrilled with a recent donation from B’nai B’rith International. With titles like “We are all Atoms” and “Pepper the Porcupine,” these very special books were published as part of the Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge.
This program invites high school students to develop innovate ways to teach lessons of diversity and tolerance to elementary-aged school children. Students working individually or as a team are asked to think about how tolerance and diversity can improve our world. The top three winners receive a college scholarship prize.
Books reflecting the diversity of our community are in high demand at the Free Store for Teachers, and with these great messages of tolerance and diversity, we feel very fortunate to have made a connection with Melanie Marconi, of BDI-Events who in turn helped to secure these great books.
We can’t wait to put these out on the shelves of the Free Store, (if we can pry them away from the staff).
Read to a child. Read often.
On Wednesday, Dec. 3rd, the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) announced the transfer of a government building in Croatia to the local Jewish community as restitution for properties illegally seized by the government.
B'nai B'rith International is a member organization of the WJRO and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin serves as the head negotiator when the organization meets with European governments.
In 2009, 46 European countries, including Croatia, signed the Terezin Declaration, a non-binding pledge to restitute stolen property to the rightful heirs and Jewish community. In April of 2014, Mariaschin explained why this declaration has been easier said than done (via the Jewish Telegraphic Agency):
"We had some leverage at a certain point in this process — the issue of countries coming into NATO or the EU — but that was accomplished in the 1990s or the early part of the 2000s. What we really are dependent on now is the moral imperative of the case, or the goodwill or lack of it by the governments involved, and on WJRO’s persuasive abilities. That’s a pretty challenging task."
Negotiations were completed yesterday, with a $4 million government property being turned over to the Jewish community. Read highlights from the announcement, via the JTA, Times of Israel, Arutz Sheva and The Jewish Forward.
The organization noted that country's restitution law does not apply to property seized during World War II, nor does it allow claims from citizens of most foreign countries.
Croatia has also not provided restitution for heirless Jewish-owned property confiscated by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Before World War II, an estimated 25,000 Jews lived in what is now Croatia; only 6000 survived. The rest were killed or deported to Germany by local authorities or the German Army itself. The exact figures remain disputed.
Some 2,000 Jews live in Croatia today, mostly in Zagreb.
The following letter was sent to the editor at Reuters, following their publication of an article entitled “Palestinian woman stabs Israeli, shot by security forces.”
To the Editor:
From top to bottom, “Palestinian woman stabs Israeli, shot by security forces” follows Reuters ongoing bias against Israel.
Starting with your carefully crafted headline, Reuters displays a false equivalence between the Palestinian terrorist who attacked an Israeli civilian and the fate of the attacker.
Through your selective memory, you are fueling a false narrative of Israel oppressing Palestinians, with no regard for relentless terror attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists.
This story fits in with a long-standing Reuters narrative, casting Israel as the aggressor and Palestinians as victims. Where is any mention of the recent spate of attacks on Jews at train stations and street corners? Where is a recap of the four rabbis murdered as they prayed at a synagogue last month by axe-toting terrorists? Where is discussion of constant Palestinian incitement?
This summer, Israel embarked on a defensive military operation, launched in the aftermath of relentless Hamas rocket attacks into Israel. But the Reuters narrative omits that fact and focuses on a false game of casualty counting.
As a global news agency, Reuters has a powerful platform. Unfortunately, it continues to shape global public opinion according to its own narrative rather than the facts.
Allan J. Jacobs Daniel S. Mariaschin
B’nai B’rith International President B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President
The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) is "the legal and moral representative of world Jewry in pursuing claims for the recovery of Jewish properties in Europe."
B'nai B'rith International is one of 14 member organizations, and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin serves as the head of the WJRO negotiating team.
Earlier today, WJRO was proud to release the following statement, announcing the return of property to the Jewish community in Croatia, which amounts to nearly $4 million.
Read the release in its entirety, below:
‘Important First Step in Addressing Nation’s Holocaust Legacy’
NEW YORK, Dec. 3, 2014 – The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) welcomes the Croatian government’s transfer of a valuable parcel of land and office building in central Zagreb to the local Jewish community.
Croatia will restitute the government-owned property at 6 Dezmanova St., a 6-story building situated on 874 square meters of land, in lieu of a building once owned by the Jewish burial society. That original Jewish-owned building, now in use by another entity, was expropriated during World War II and then nationalized by the Communist government.
“This is a long-awaited, but important first step in addressing the legacy of the Holocaust in Croatia and in ensuring that the Jewish community can continue to revitalize itself in a democratic Croatia,” Daniel S. Mariaschin, head of the WJRO negotiating team and executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International, said. “The income from this restituted property, valued at about $4 million, will help to fund the operation of the Zagreb Jewish Community’s facility for the elderly, among other essential communal needs.”
“We welcome this latest decision by the Croatian government,” WJRO Chair of Operations Gideon Taylor said, adding, “We ask that the government build on this positive action by returning additional properties to the Jewish community and providing restitution for private and heirless Jewish-owned properties.”
The original Jewish-owned building at 8 Amruseva St. was built in 1927 by the Jewish burial society, a social welfare institution serving the Zagreb Jewish Community. The Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia confiscated the property in 1941. After a brief return to the Jewish community in 1947, the building was nationalized by the government a month later. The property is currently owned by the Croatian Agricultural Cooperative Union. The Zagreb Jewish Community filed a claim for the return of the property in 1997.
Croatia’s decision comes ahead of Dec. 8-9 negotiations with WJRO representatives and after joint negotiations in April with WJRO representatives and a U.S. delegation led by Amb. Douglas Davidson, who then served as the special envoy for Holocaust issues, and Kenneth Merten, ambassador to Croatia. The talks occur in close coordination with the Zagreb Jewish Community.
Originally, the restituted property was owned by the Kleins, a Jewish family killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Croatian government in 1950 nationalized the property, which was later given to Croatian Radio Television. The government later took possession of the property because of tax debts.
Before World War II, more than 25,000 Jews lived in what is now Croatia; about 6,000 of them survived. The wartime Independent State of Croatia was ruled by the fascist Ustaše regime, which murdered Jews and others in concentration camps in Croatia, including Jasenovac, while overseeing deportations to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Today, some 2,000 Jews live in Croatia, mostly in Zagreb.
Croatia’s Jewish communities had submitted claims for 135 communal properties under Croatia’s 1996 restitution law, yet only 15 non-cemetery properties were ever returned. Jewish private property owners from Croatia generally have not recovered their properties because the country’s restitution law does not apply to property seized during the Holocaust or allow claims by citizens of most foreign countries. Croatia also has not provided restitution for heirless Jewish-owned property confiscated during the Holocaust.
Arie Bucheister, who also led the WJRO talks and serves as chief of staff of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, said, “We thank the American government for its sustained leadership on restitution in Croatia. We also commend the government of Israel for its ongoing support of WJRO’s restitution efforts.”
Both B’nai B’rith International and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany are WJRO member-organizations.
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