Months later, we’re still talking about our visit to Australia and New Zealand.
I was deeply impressed by the dedication of B’nai B’rith leadership at every stop. I listened to the reports made at the Convention, about projects that are meant to serve both the Jewish community and beyond.
I was particularly impressed – and noted this in my speeches and presentations -with the Courage to Care program. With the number of survivors and eyewitnesses to Hitler’s brutality now sadly ebbing, the need to “educate and remember” is an obligation of history we must assume with increasing urgency.
I was tremendously moved by hearing the testimonies of the school teachers who were able to spend some time at Yad Vashem, trips underwritten through the generosity of Courage to Care, as well as the descriptions of programs for school groups geared to hearing from survivors themselves or from videos that have been made in which they tell their stories.
I was encouraged to learn of plans to grow the program; indeed, I took back materials with me to Washington to see if BBI can’t engage in a similar program here in the States.
Michal and I came away from our visit with a deep appreciation of the vitality of the Jewish communities in both countries, and especially by the special brand of dedication that our B’nai B’rith brothers and sisters bring to their important work.
The well-known secret to our success over these many years (BBI is entering its 171st year) is the hard work and the caring of our many volunteers. BBANZ is carrying on that tradition into the 21st century.
Yes, the years on the calendar have changed, but the imperative to reach out to our fellow Jews and the broader community is the same as when we were founded in 1843, and when the first lodge was founded in Australia in 1944.
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