JNS noted our letter, together with 20 other major Jewish organizations, to the heads of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as the next U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
Some 21 Jewish organizations wrote to the heads of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday urging them to swiftly approve Deborah Lipstadt as the next anti-Semitism envoy.
“As Jewish organizations dedicated to protesting the rights and security of the Jewish people, we believe that the U.S. Special Envoy position is crucial to addressing the global rise in antisemitic violence, harassment, vandalism, attitudes and incitement,” the groups wrote in a letter to Foreign Relations chairman Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and ranking member James Risch (R-Idaho).
The letter adds: “Every day that we delay filling this critical position, we are endangering people’s lives. We cannot let antisemitism become a wedge issue in today’s polarized politics.”
The organizations signing the letter include American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, Central Conference of American Rabbis, B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, J Street, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans, Jewish Women International, National Council of Jewish Women, NCSEJ, ORT America, Rabbinical Assembly, Reconstructing Judaism, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Jewish Federations of North America, Union for Reform Judaism, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism and World Jewish Congress.
It is the latest in a series of calls by American Jewish organizations urging the Senate to approve Lipstadt. Last week, the Orthodox Union, Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federations of North America also sent a letter to the Senate urging her approval.
Republicans have raised concern over Lipstadt’s past tweets, including calling Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) statements white supremacy when he said during a radio interview that he was not concerned by the mostly white insurgents at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but would be concerned if former President Donald Trump had won the election and those rioting at the Capitol were Black Lives Matters protesters or members of Antifa. She has also been criticized for appearing in an ad last year where she likened Trump’s rhetoric to Nazi Germany.
The Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Lipstadt is a Holocaust historian and author known for defeating a libel lawsuit from British Holocaust-denier David Irving in the late 1990s. She was nominated for the envoy position by Biden in July. The position was created in 2004, but upgraded to the rank of ambassador in 2020, requiring the nominee to be confirmed by the Senate.
JNS, Israel Hayom and Cleveland Jewish News included B'nai B'rith International's condemnation of the resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) that commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA) in its coverage of Durban IV (during UNGA).
A number of American Jewish organizations slammed a resolution adopted on Wednesday at a high-level meeting at the UN General Assembly that commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA) stemming from a notoriously anti-Semitic World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.
"The resolution predictably claimed that the DDPA offered 'a comprehensive United Nations framework and solid foundation for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,' and reaffirmed commitment to its 'full and effective implementation,' " stated B'nai B'rith International in a news release on Friday.
The original Durban declaration was censured by Jewish groups and nations such as the United States for allowing the presence of overt anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate, as well as including Palestinians as the only group named as victims of racism.
B'nai B'rith wrote that it has worked over the past few weeks in partnership with the Jewish Broadcasting Service on Durban, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The organization featured luminaries such as Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévi, former US National Security Advisor John Bolton and others, culminating in an hour-long interview with B'nai B'rith honorary president Richard Heideman, who led the Jewish delegation at the Durban conference and his wife, Phyllis Heideman, president of the International March of the Living.
In the past year, B'nai B'rith also lobbied other nations to join the United States and Israel in boycotting the anniversary conference, also known as Durban IV, leading to a total of 35 countries that declined to participate in the commemoration.
"This public disassociation by a substantial moral minority at the UN represents a meaningful victory against efforts to hijack the world body and the critical fight against racism – specifically, racism against people of African descent – for the purposes of delegitimizing Israel by obscenely equating only it and Jews' national liberation movement, Zionism, with racism," B'nai B'rith wrote in the statement.
Countries that boycotted the proceedings included Albania, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.
'A vicious slander against the Jewish state'
AIPAC also strongly condemned Durban IV on its Twitter account, while individually tweeting appreciation for countries that joined the boycott.
"The UN #DurbanIV conference is a cesspool of discriminatory, anti-Israel propaganda," AIPAC tweeted on Tuesday. "'Zionism=Racism' is a vicious slander against the Jewish state and its supporters. America and many allies stand proudly with Israel in boycotting this despicable conference."
Alex Safian, associate director at CAMERA, which monitors bias in reporting on Israel and the Middle East, noted that there was no improvement in Durban IV and the passed resolution than in the previous three conferences.
"The original Durban Conference in 2001 created the firestorm of renewed and growing anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and the statements yesterday from Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and her radical colleagues are just an example of this in our own Congress," he said in an email. "The United Nations was founded as a reaction to Nazism and the Holocaust, but the Durban process proves that fascists and bigots are still much more comfortable in the UN than Jews."
Anti-Israel members of the Democratic Party also motivated Zionist Organization of America national president Mort Klein to make a few phone calls to UN offices he had connections with to urge them not to attend Durban IV. His organization put out a news release lauding nations that announced they would not participate, though after that acknowledged following the proceedings only a little bit.
Klein said during one of his calls, one official him that "anti-Semites" in Congress had inspired a number of countries that were thinking of not participating in Durban IV to join.
"This one guy told me, you should know that inadvertently or directly, they've had an impact on several countries that participated, figuring they have to cover it because there are a dozen anti-Semites in Congress," said Klein, adding that the official also told him that he believed Jew-hatred will continue to grow in the United Nations.
The Hebrew Watchman (Jewish Scene Magazine) included letters from both B'nai B'rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and Memphis-area B’nai B’rith leader Harold I. Steinberg to Germantown Municipal School District superintendent Dr. Jason Manuel in response to a district administrator comparing vaccine papers to yellow stars.
Several prominent Jewish community leaders, rabbis, organizations and Congressman Steve Cohen have responded to a Facebook post by an administrator in the Germantown Municipal School District comparing vaccine papers to yellow stars.
Within days, Memphis-area news outlets aired and published information concerning the comments by the administrator, Janna Matykiewicz, at Houston High School. The post, which has since been taken off Facebook, read “What’s the difference between vaccine papers and a yellow star? 82 years.”
Rabbi Jeremy Simons of Temple Is- rael commented to NBC Action News 5 that “to know this came from an ed- ucator... it was shocking and deeply distressing.”
Rabbi Sarit Horwitz of Beth Sholom spoke with ABC Local 24 saying “vac- cines are about giving life and uphold- ing life for everyone, for ourselves, for our families, for our larger community whereas the mass genocide of the Jew- ish people was about killing people.”
Letters were also sent to Dr. Jason Manuel, superintendent Germantown Municipal School District concerning her remarks. A student started a petition to fire the administrator at change.org, which at the time of this article had re- ceived 2,417 signatures.
Read more in the Hebrew Watchman.
Charles O. Kaufman, president B’nai B’rith International and local B’nai B’rith member Harold I. Steinberg sent the following letters to Dr. Manuel.
Letter from B'nai B'rith International President Charles O. Kaufman to Dr. Jason Manuel, superintendent Germantown Municipal School District:
Dear Dr. Manuel,
There is no confusion surrounding the message behind Janna Matykiewicz’s Facebook post: “What’s the difference between vaccine papers and a yellow star? 82 years.”
By invoking the yellow star used by Nazis to segregate and identify Jews as a population to be demonized, your colleague has entered something more than simply a poor use of a metaphor from history. Imagine the message that already is filtering through the Germantown school community, not just Houston High School.
This is an administrator who has a problem relating events in history to the management of today’s Covid-19 pan- demic, which has exploded into a most serious health concern with the current wave of variants. It is a matter of ignorance, pure and simple, a lack of sen- sitivity and perhaps latent hatred. This was no slip of the tongue or an example taken out of context.
A severe reprimand, a suspension or dismissal is certainly in order. In the meantime, it is important for Ms. Matykiewicz, faculty and students to understand why such parallels are so abhor- rent, and I trust you will wisely guide your colleagues to make this circumstance a teaching opportunity.
Frankly, Jews around the world have enough problems with anti-Semites casually accusing Jews and Israel of acting like “Nazis” or practicing “Apartheid.” And now the unmistakable 82-year time frame of wearing yellow stars. These are false narratives, if not blood libels, of modern times.
Today’s education system has many successes, to be sure, but this incident is proof that education is sliding into a very deep hole of learning deficits.
B’nai B’rith has worked in the Memphis area and around the world to serve the good of the community and stamp out anti-Semitism and we stand ready to assist you in solving this problem.
President, B’nai B’rith International
Letter from Memphis-area B’nai B’rith leader Harold I. Steinberg to Dr. Jason Manuel, superintendent Germantown Municipal School District:
Dear Dr. Manuel,
As a member of the Sam Schloss Lodge of B’nai B’rith, founded in Memphis in 1854 (yes, in 1854), I am proud of its long record of service. As an example, following the assassination of President Lincoln, the entire lodge marched in a local memorial procession. In addition, B’nai B’rith has an unmatched record of support to the United States and members of the military service. President Truman sent a letter to B’nai B’rith thanking the organization for its “amazing amount of national service.” There are many other examples I could cite.
I am also a member of the Germantown Financial Advisory Commission. I have long been proud of the commission’s steadfast support for quality education in our city and the Germantown Municipal School District. But the recent news report about Janna Matykiewicz’s post on Facebook tells me that there is more work to do.
Simply stated, Ms. Matykiewicz must be disciplined, suspended or terminated. GMSD cannot allow such remarks to go unanswered.
Students at Houston High School should benefit from administrators who clearly understand that America is stronger for its diversity. I ask that you ensure this message is received by students, faculty and staff, not only at Houston High School, but throughout the entire GMSD.
I stand ready to assist you in any way.
Harold I. Steinberg
Israel Hayom covered the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem awarding a special citation to Israeli musician and author Danny Sanderson for his contributions to Israel-Diaspora Relations through the Arts during his 50-year career.
The B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem announced Sunday that Israeli singer, songwriter and author Danny Sanderson will receive a special citation for Fostering Israel-Diaspora Relations through the Arts.
The citation was established in 2014 and has been presented to Nurit Hirsh, David D'Or, Idan Raichel, David Broza, Yehoram Gaon and the Shalva Band.
B'nai B'rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin as part of its report on American Jewish organizations supporting Israel through the latest round of violence against the Jewish state (and increased anti-Jewish backlash).
(June 2, 2021 / JNS) The flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas lasted 11 days until a ceasefire was negotiated, but for Jewish community organizations, the fight continues within the United States. Recent weeks have seen a surge in violence against Jews and unlike during previous conflicts, Jews and Jewish groups this time around saw the emergence of a better-organized campaign by pro-Palestinian groups to smear Israel in the public sphere, leading to increased anti-Semitism.
The result is that American Jewish organizations—both new and traditional—see the need to work together to properly combat the new threats.
Shoham Nicolet, co-founder and CEO of the Israeli-American Council, said that as tensions were ramping up in Jerusalem, he and IAC staff held a virtual meeting to decide whether or not to hold rallies in support of the Jewish state.
They already knew that the escalation of violence looked like it was going to be serious. As they contemplated dates and times for their first round of rallies, each member began receiving messages on their WhatsApp Messenger from family and friends in Israel. Hamas had begun launching rockets into the center of the country.
The participants took a break from the meeting to call their relatives, and when they returned, they said, each was motivated to proceed with rallies as soon as possible. While they originally were planning to hold rallies in a few days’ time or on the nearest Sunday, they decided to organize them within the next 24 hours.
During and after the conflict, the IAC was instrumental in hosting a number of large, in-person rallies throughout the United States, in many places joined by local Jewish organizations such as the Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Relations Councils and Jewish Community Centers.
In Los Angeles, where Nicolet lives, they held a rally in Beverly Hills, which he said was one of the largest he had ever seen. Another rally in New Jersey brought together some 3,000 people.
For the second round of rallies, another decision had to be made, said Nicolet, as the ceasefire had already been announced.
‘The community feels much less safe’
The staff had another serious discussion, realized that while the Israeli conflict was winding down, one within North America was heating up against Jewish people and those Israelis living in the Diaspora, prompting another round of rallies with the organized Jewish community.
“First of all, the demonization of Israel is getting into the mainstream, and this is a big issue that we have to deal with because these are lies and blood libels we didn’t hear at such level. It’s really extensive and on social networks, but not only,” explained Nicolet. “And the second part is that, again, it’s not a secret … the community feels much less safe.”
The violence, he continued, was not just anti-Israel. “We hear anti-Semitic statements and anti-Zionist statements, and these are concerns,” said Nicolet. “It went way beyond the military conflict that was taking place in Israel.”
Contrasting with previous times when Israel was involved in a conflict against Iranian terror proxies Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north, the anti-Israel presence both in the media and on the street has been far better organized and outspoken.
“If there ever was a moment where our community needs to come together, it is now. Many in our community have been stunned by the rapidity of assaults on us as supporters of Israel and as Jews,” said Dan Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International in an email. “Unlike the past, the Internet has been the force multiplier that spreads this particular virus in ways never before. But this perfect storm of Jew-hatred knows no political or ideological nuance. Each of us—organizations and individuals alike—has an obligation to stand up now against this dangerous, ominous, and unprecedented wave of anti-Semitism.”
Unlike in other conflicts, Jewish organizations faced hurdles in organizing. First, the speed of the conflict, lasting only 11 days—as opposed to the 51 in the summer of 2014 against Hamas in Gaza—gave organizations less time to coordinate a response, especially with the Shavuot holiday in the middle of the rocket-launching.
Read the full article on JNS.org.
The Jewish Journal included B'nai B'rith International's tweet calling out Kamau Bobb, Google’s Global Lead for Diversity Strategy and Research, for his offensive 2007 blog post, "If I Were A Jew."
Kamau Bobb, Google’s Global Lead for Diversity Strategy and Research, is under fire for a 2007 blog post in which he said if he were Jewish, he would be concerned about Israel’s “insatiable appetite for vengeful violence.”
The post, which was first unearthed by the Washington Free Beacon, began with the following: “If I were a Jew today, my sensibilities would be tormented. I would find it increasingly difficult to reconcile the long cycles of oppression that Jewish people have endured and the insatiable appetite for vengeful violence that Israel, my homeland, has now acquired. This reconciliation would be particularly difficult now, in November, 79 years after Kristallnacht – the Night of Broken Glass.”
Bobb’s post went on to criticize Israel for invoking “collective punishment” against the Gaza Strip and for “destroying buildings and breaking the glass” in the West Bank. The post eventually concluded: “If I were a Jew I would be concerned about my insatiable appetite for war and killing in defense of myself. Self defense is undoubtedly an instinct, but I would be afraid of my increasing insensitivity to the suffering others. My greatest torment would be that I’ve misinterpreted the identity offered by my history and transposed spiritual and human compassion with self righteous impunity.”
Jewish groups condemned Bobb’s blog post. The Simon Wiesenthal Center tweeted that Google should “fire this #antisemite.” Stop Antisemitism similarly tweeted, “How is the obscene, antisemitic bigot still employed there?”
B’nai Brith International similarly tweeted that Bobb’s post was “appalling.” “How did #Google promote someone with such hateful, anti-Semitic views to lead their diversity strategy?”
StandWithUs Israel Executive Director Michael Dickson tweeted that Bobb also wrote a blog post about how if he were an Arab, “the ability of the United States and Israel to not only dictate the terms of my subjugation, but characterize my desire to be free as rooted in hatred would burn.” The post also stated that “you cannot beat a people and demand that they not fight back in order to peacefully negotiate an end to the beating.”
“All of this begs the question whether (1) @Google did due diligence when selecting @kamaubobb for the sensitive position of global Google DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) Director and (2) whether he should remain in these positions,” Dickson tweeted. “@Google – what say you?”
Meghan McCain, co-host of ABC’s “The View,” said during a June 2 segment that Google “should’ve googled him” and that she’s tired of “having the conversation over and over about why antisemitism is the last passable form of bigotry in the United States.” “If they said this about Black people, or Asian people, or LGBT people, he would be fired already. And he’s not, which says that Google’s okay with a little bit of soft antisemitism.”
Tablet Magazine senior writer Yair Rosenberg, on the other hand, argued that Bobb should have been “given a chance to account for how he’s changed/grown over the last 10 years when it comes to understanding Jewish people” and he could have “emerged as a better ally… instead, we get gotcha pieces in conservative outlets that aren’t interested in helping people empathize with each other and move beyond past problems, but rather in fashioning 10-year-old errors into the latest ammo in a culture war.”
The New York Post reported that they obtained an email from Bobb to Google’s “Jewgler” Employee Resource Group stating that he was “deeply sorry” for the post. “What I wrote crudely characterized the entire jewish community. what was intended as a critique of particular military action fed into antisemitic tropes and prejudice. i think we can all agree, there is no easy solution to this situation. but that’s beside the point. the way I expressed my views on that conflict were hurtful.”
Google did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.
The San Marcos Record previewed a conversation B'nai B'rith International President Charles Kaufman will be having with the Rotary Club of San Marcos, Texas on the challenge of tackling rising anti-Semitism.
Charles Kaufman, president of B’nai B’rith International, will discuss the continuing challenge of antisemitism at the May 12 meeting of the Rotary Club of San Marcos. Rotary meets at noon at the San Marcos Academy and visitors are welcome.
B’nai B’rith, founded in 1843, has fought against various forms of antisemitism, from the blood libels of centuries past and pogroms of Europe, to negative narratives about the state of Israel. B’nai B’rith is also a service and humanitarian organization with chapters in more than 50 countries on five continents. It is a major sponsor of nonsectarian, affordable senior housing in the U.S., and has engaged in disaster relief services for 150 years.
In addition to his leadership role at B’nai B’rith, Kaufman is on the faculty of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University. His early career was in newspaper journalism, from which he transitioned to owning a public relations firm in Austin. He teaches public relations and advises a student public relations agency at the University. He also co-authored a textbook titled, “Engaging Public Relations.”
Rotary is a nonprofit, nonpolitical, and nonreligious service organization. The San Marcos Club celebrates its 100th Anniversary on Dec. 1, 2021. The club provides scholarships and does a wide range of local service projects, as well as participating in international projects sponsored by Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation.
For more information about B’nai B’rith: https://www.bnaibrithorg/aboutus.htmland the Rotary Club of San Marcos: https://smtxrotary.com/.
The Algemeiner included B'nai B'rith International's response to the U.S. administration's decision of continuing not to attend any events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the infamous Durban Declaration in its roundup of responses from Jewish and pro-Israel organizations.
Leading Jewish organizations welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to stick to the US policy of not attending any events to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration in September due to their “anti-Israel sentiment.”
A US State Department spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post Monday that the US would not take part in planned Durban anniversary events, saying that it “remains deeply committed to combating antisemitism at home and abroad. Furthermore, the United States stands with Israel and has always shared its concerns over the Durban process’s anti-Israel sentiment — used as a forum for antisemitism and freedom of expression issues.”
Commenting on the decision, B’nai B’rith International said it “salutes the US administration for taking a principled decision, like its predecessors, to deny legitimacy to a UN framework that purports to fight prejudice but is fundamentally marred by it.”
“The 2001 conference was poisoned by manifestations of virulent anti-Zionism and open antisemitism. We urge all countries of goodwill to do similarly — and we will continue to insist that all forms of hate, including those targeting Jews, not be given a platform by foremost international institutions,” B’nai B’rith stated.
The UN is scheduled to hold a special “Durban IV” event on Sept. 22 to mark the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, from which the US and Israel previously withdrew over objections of anti-Zionism. Israel was singled out from the Durban conference declaration and was depicted as being racist and as committing “crimes against humanity,” “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid” and “genocide” against the Palestinians.
“Kudos for rejecting hate. The 2001 Durban Conference was an orgy of hate so vile that the US and Israel pulled out in disgust,” Avi Mayer, Managing Director of Global Communications at the American Jewish Committee (AJC), tweeted in response to the US decision. “It was so bad that even the UN’s Mary Robinson, who chaired it, said there was ‘horrible antisemitism present.'”
New York, NY, May 5th, 2021 . . . Dianne Lob, Chair, William Daroff, CEO, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, issued the following statement:
“We applaud the Biden Administration’s decision to refuse to participate in commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the UN World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, which openly embraced antisemitism and anti-Israel extremism.
Michal Cotler-Wunsh, a former member of Knesset for Israel’s Blue and White Party, said: “Durban was the ecosystem for declared escalation in the war waged on Israel, weaponizing international law and it’s institutions. The orchestrated, systematic implementation of this strategy threatens not only Israel, but shared values and foundations of democracy and human rights.”
“In declining to participate in celebratory events, the United States is rightfully rejecting the despicable hatred that was leveled against the Jewish State and the Jewish people twenty years ago. We encourage other nations to join the US in continuing to fight racism, bigotry, and antisemitism, while rejecting and not participating in such odious proceedings,” said Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chair Dianne Lob, CEO William Daroff, and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein, in a statement.
The Jewish Link covered B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin's meaningful conversation with the Torah Academy of Bergen County's (NJ) Israel Advocacy Club.
Israel Hayom quoted B'nai B'rith International President Charles Kaufman in its coverage of the Holocaust Museum of Oporto (Porto) opening its doors, something B'nai B'rith has been encouraging for several years.
The Holocaust Museum of Oporto (Porto) opened its doors to the public on April 5th, the first day after Portugal eased lockdown measures and allowed cultural institutions to reopen, all the while adhering to coronavirus restrictions.
Within two days, 500 visitors made it to the museum, among them young people, senior citizens, Jews, and members of other religions. This is the first time a museum dedicated to the Holocaust is inaugurated in Portugal.
The museum portrays Jewish life spanning decades, from before the Holocaust, during the Nazi era, including life in ghettos, labor and concentration camps, the Final Solution, the death marches, and the liberation, all the way to the establishment of the State of Israel.
The museum has reproductions of Auschwitz barracks, a name room, a flame memorial, a study center, and photographs and screens showing actual footage of before, during, and after the genocide.
It also exhibits archives relating to refugees who passed through Oporto, including official documents, testimonies, letters, and hundreds of individual files.
Moreover, the museum has signed a cooperation protocol with Oporto's Jewish Museum to combat antisemitism in Europe.
"These museums in Oporto should serve as a beacon of light to the rest of Europe, a land darkened today by resurgent antisemitism," President of B'nai B'rith International Charles Kaufman said.
"For the growing Jewish community of Portugal, we urge you to teach future generations the glory of our past and the Holocaust as they repel attempts to disparage us in the future," he said.
The Texas Jewish Post covered our donation of COVID-19 relief kits to local organizations in the Texarkoma Region of the United States.
A donation of COVID-19 relief kits will help local organizations combat coronavirus. Alex Nason, B’nai B’rith community coordinator and president of B’nai B’rith in the Texarkoma Region, presented local organizations with COVID-19 relief kits provided by B’nai B’rith International.
Jewish Family Services of Tarrant County, the Tarrant County Molly and Max Barnett B’nai B’rith Apartments, and Strengthening After-School Programs through Advocacy, Resources and Collaboration (SPARC) received kits containing a cloth face mask and travel-sized hand sanitizer, both imprinted with the B’nai B’rith logo.
These kits, made possible by B’nai B’rith International, will help ensure that recipients stay safe during the pandemic.
Jewish Family Services of Tarrant County, a program that provides transportation for seniors to bring them together for activities and meals, received 25 kits. Hedy Collins, senior program director, accepted the kits from Nason.
The Tarrant County Molly and Max Barnett B’nai B’rith Apartments house 95 low-income seniors. Each resident received a COVID kit, accepted on behalf of the residents by Board President Dan Sturman and Property Manager Tiffany Bell.
SPARC provides after-school programming and training to serve all Fort Worth schools. Tobi Jackson, executive director of SPARC and first vice president of the Fort Worth Independent School District board of trustees, accepted the kits.
“Seeing the appreciation from the kit recipients who are familiar with B’nai B’rith International was very nice,” Nason said. “And hearing how surprised and appreciative people were who didn’t know about B’nai B’rith International and its disaster relief doings was priceless. It made me very proud to be a part of B’nai B’rith.”
These donations are some of many made as part of B’nai B’rith’s project to provide 3,000 COVID-19 relief kits to communities around the United States. B’nai B’rith community coordinators around the country are donating kits on behalf of B’nai B’rith to local agencies dedicated to serving their community.
“Every community in America is facing the challenge of responding to the needs of vulnerable populations. We want to be part of the solution and help make sure everyone stays safe,” said Rebecca Saltzman, senior vice president and chair of the B’nai B’rith Disaster and Emergency Relief Committee.
As the U.S. experiences a high level of transmission of the virus, this project will help people follow the CDC recommendation for the “consistent and correct” use of face masks, as well as guidance to use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not readily available. Since it began in March 2020, the B’nai B’rith COVID-19 relief campaign has supported projects around the world to help keep people safe and alleviate the effects of the pandemic.
The B’nai B’rith Disaster and Emergency Relief Fund has responded to man-made and natural disasters around the world since 1865.
In a letter read to the lobby’s inaugural gathering, President Reuven Rivlin stated that while in “Spain precious communities were forced leave their faith, their life and the values they grew up and raised their families” five hundred years ago, “Spanish Jews are still with us, and we must not forget them.”
According to lobby founders MK Robert Ilatov and Ashley Perry, increasing numbers of the descendants of Jews around the world have become interested in exploring their heritage and reconnecting with the Jewish people.
“For many of us in this room who are the descendants of those persecuted and forcibly converted in Spain and Portugal, we know that it would have been impossible for our ancestors to have even dreamed of this moment,” said Perry, a former advisor to erstwhile Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and the founder of the Reconnectar NGO.
According to Spanish Ambassador Fernando Carderera, more than the requests of more than 4,300 Sephardic Jews for citizenship have been approved since the recent passage of a bill providing the descendants of the expellees with the opportunity to reconnect with Spain.
B’nai B’rith’s Alan Schneider told the Post that he believes that the new initiative sends a message to interested parties that Israel and the Jewish people reciprocate their desires and that “its going to be easier for them now to investigate their Jewish roots, to find out about Jewish tradition, learn about their traditions and how they relate to Judaism and eventually to decide if they want to take the greater leap of rejoining in a formal way with the Jewish people.”
“I think it also sends a message to the Jews in Israel and Jews around the world that there potentially is a much deeper margin of potential supporters, of family actually, there who feel close toward the Jewish people and the state of Israel and eventually can be called upon to be our supporters even if they choose to stay in their current status,” he said.
In 1876, when B'nai B'rith was only 33 years old, it commemorated America's centennial celebration by commissioning a statue, Religious Liberty, in Philadelphia that represented tolerance and religious freedom.
Nearly 140 years later, some things never change, as the statue remains a landmark in Philadelphia and B'nai B'rith International continues to promote education, religious freedom and tolerance for all groups.
With Pope Francis scheduled to visit Philadelphia this weekend, and address religious freedom in the vicinity of the statue, Religious Liberty was the subject of an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Read excerpts from the paper, below:
A statue representing religious freedom and immigration stands at the site where Pope Francis will deliver a speech on those themes.
It stood in Fairmount Park for more than 100 years before being moved to the grounds of the Jewish history museum in 1986. In 2010, the statue was moved again, down the block to the museum's current location on Fifth Street and Market.
The statue was crafted by prominent Jewish sculptor Moses Jacob Ezekiel, a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. He was the first Jewish cadet to attend the the Virginia Military Institute.
Ezekiel carved the sculpture from Carrara marble - Michelangelo used the same marble for his Pieta.
"The place to go to study was Italy, even [for] Moses, who was the first big American Jewish sculptor," said Cheryl Kempler, B'nai B'rith's archivist.
Immigration is an important topic for both the Pope and B'nai B'rith, according to Daniel Mariaschin, B'nai B'rith international executive vice president.
Mariaschin said B'nai B'rith sent a delegation to the Vatican in June to discuss with the pope religious liberty and the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
"Our organization grew in this country as a result of immigration," Mariaschin said. "The pope's visit, with all this coming together, it is important."
The Arizona Jewish Post highlights the pair of B'nai B'rith low income senior housing properties in Tucson, focusing on the quality of life enjoyed by its residents, as well as its visionaries, Holocaust survivors Gerd and Inge Strauss.
B'nai B'rith is the largest national Jewish sponsor of federally subsidized housing for the elderly in the United States. Our Senior Housing Network in the U.S. consists of 42 buildings in 26 communities, encompassing more than 4,000 apartment units and serving more than 8,000 people.
Read more about these properties and their residents, below:
Many Tucsonans are surprised to learn that the Jewish community sponsors not one but two nationally recognized independent housing communities for low and very low income seniors: B’nai B’rith Covenant House of Tucson and the Gerd & Inge Strauss Manor on Pantano.
Covenant House resident Carolyne Vogel feels gratitude and relief for the Covenant House. “For years, I worked all the time and didn’t have any close neighbors,” she says. “Now I have two really good friends here. At Covenant House, it’s very relaxing. I feel safe here.” A four-year resident, she feels so secure that her basic needs are met, she’s liberated to focus on her hobbies.
Liz Kanter Groskind, president of the Strauss Manor board, echoes the sentiments of her counterparts at Covenant House. “We get handwritten thank you notes from the residents all the time,” says Groskind. “They truly appreciate all the extras. We simply believe that those who have the least should live somewhere dignified, beautiful and safe. We’re not going to let you merely subsist.”
Although both facilities house residents from diverse backgrounds, the numerous Jewish residents, including several Holocaust survivors, appreciate the Jewish touches that the boards provide, from menorot in the spacious and elegantly decorated lobbies, to Jewish library materials, to brisket and latkes during Chanukah and more.
Both properties were the vision and work of longtime Tucsonan Gerd Strauss, who died in 2009.
Holocaust survivors Gerd and Inge Strauss, childhood sweethearts from Germany, immigrated to the United States in 1947 and relocated to Tucson in 1986. Strauss brought both properties to fruition in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and B’nai B’rith International, the largest national Jewish sponsor of federally subsidized housing for the elderly in the United States.
After building the 119-unit Covenant House in 1995, he went on to establish the 80-unit Strauss on Pantano facility that bears his name, which opened in 2006. Residents spend 30 percent of their income on rent; the rest is subsidized by HUD. Going into his 90s, Strauss was planning a third property in Sahuarita, which never materialized.
Tucson was lucky to benefit from the timing of Strauss’ vision and energy. “Section 202 program funding [HUD capital advances and operational subsidies] doesn’t exist anymore. It is difficult to recreate the types of programs our communities enjoy,” Olshan laments. B’nai B’rith continues to support the Tucson properties by providing technical and professional training to their supervisory boards and management and employment company, Biltmore Properties.
In April 2013, he was named Australia's first (and so far only) honorary citizen, after prolonged advocacy from members of the B'nai B'rith lodge. Advocacy efforts also produced several rounds of limited edition stamp sales, but the one set to be released in October is the first mass-distributed Wallenberg stamp in Australia.
Read more about his life and enduring legacy courtesy of The Australian Jewish News:
The 70c Wallenberg stamp will be available as a first-day cover and card, and will come in various groupings.
It is due to be issued on October 5. Israel, Argentina, Canada, Hungary, Sweden and the United States have already issued Wallenberg stamps.
A MASS-circulation Australian postage stamp honouring Raoul Wallenberg...is set to be issued next month, after a long personal campaign by Judi Schiff of Melbourne.
In 2010, Wallenberg appeared on a limited-edition stamp sheet issued in conjunction with Melbourne philately company Max Stern & Co, marking the 25th anniversary of B’nai B’rith’s Raoul Wallenberg Unit.
But Schiff campaigned for Wallenberg to be recognised on a standard Australian stamp, using online petitions platform Change.org, where she gathered more than 520 signatures. Her involvement with the B’nai B’rith Raoul Wallenberg Unit inspired her tireless drive for a Wallenberg stamp.
“I’m over the moon that this has finally happened after repeated submissions and requests over decades,” Schiff told The AJN, saying that for years she had been told it was Australia Post policy to only use Australians on stamps, with the exception of the Queen.
Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin represented B'nai B'rith International at the home of Israel's Ambassador Ron Dermer during his annual Rosh Hashanah reception.
Mariaschin's presence was noted by Jewish Insider, which also offered the context of the gathering and a transcription of Dermer's toast to the New Year. Read excerpts from the article below:
Approximately 150 guests, including Jewish leaders, diplomats, journalists and members of Congress, gathered last night at the home of Israel's Ambassador Ron Dermer and his wife Rhoda in Chevy Chase to toast the upcoming Jewish New Year.
Dermer began by joking: "I hope you all had a more uneventful summer than I (laughter)... I could do boring for while. It'd be fine for me. But we are obviously meeting at a time when everyone is discussing the deal with Iran, a few of you raised it with me tonight not surprisingly, and I want to take this opportunity to let you know that Israel is opposed to the deal (laughter). I know that comment is going to set the entire twitter-sphere ablaze.
"The right of Israel to convey its views about a deal with an Iranian regime that actively works and openly calls for our annihilation... should not be the subject of controversy. It should be self-evident. But to some, it’s not. Because while no one questions the right of the Ambassadors of the other P5+1 countries to meet with members of Congress and explain why they believe this is a good deal, some have questioned whether it is appropriate for Israel to make its case to those same members of Congress. That’s pretty disturbing. Because there is no country in the world that has a greater right than Israel to weigh in on this issue because there is no country in the world that has more at stake than Israel.
"But regardless of where you stand on the nuclear deal with Iran, on this Rosh Hashana, let us all raise a glass and toast the fact that the Jewish people are voiceless no more. Israel has provided us with a shofar, with a sovereign voice among the nations. Israel will continue to blow that shofar with pride. And on this Rosh Hashana, let us also toast a privilege we all have – the privilege to live at a time when the Jewish people not only have a voice but when we also have the power and will to defend ourselves – a will that no deal and no force on earth will ever break." [Transcript; Audio]
Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai Birith International said it would be a “mistake” to close out the debate on an issue where “every [congressman] should be heard,” especially as the White House failed to whip up support among some of the most powerful Democrats in Congress.
While both groups acknowledged that the president has enough support to keep Congress from killing the deal...they called for legislation demanding accountability while registering the wide opposition to the deal.
Mariaschin called it “just the beginning of the process on the Iranian issue,” encouraging bipartisan measures to “ensure greater accountability.”
Jewish groups, pro-Israel lobbies and, of course, Israel, among others are concerned the nuclear deal will empower Iran to work toward carrying out its stated goals of occupying Jerusalem and destroying the Jewish state; just Wednesday morning Khamenei predicted the “Zionist regime” would no longer exist in 25 years, which also happens to be when the final provisions of the nuclear deal expire.
“One has to be extremely skeptical going forward. [The Iranians] say they got the better end of this deal,” said Mariaschin, noting Iranian claims to victory over the international sanctions regime that will disintegrate with the deal’s implementation.
Sometimes providing comfort is the only way to deal with a tragic or troubling situation.
That was the reason for the B'nai B'rith Cares for Kids program, which has brought tens of thousands of teddy bears and stuffed animals to children in difficult situations over the last 18 years. B'nai B'rith Buddy Bears (pictured below) are the face of the program, and have been widely distributed in Chicago this summer.
In June, several B'nai B'rith volunteers from the Chai Unit donated bears at the La Rabida Joli Burrell Children's Advocacy Center in Park Forest. The center, which counsels children with trauma in their lives, greatly appreciated the donation.
In July, B'nai B'rith members attended the city council meeting in Country Club Hills (suburb of Chicago) to present dozens of Buddy Bears to the local police and fire departments (click on images to enlarge):
B'nai B'rith International condemned the song and commended the university for seeking to overhaul the band's culture. The organization's statement was featured in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, excerpts of which can be found below:
The song, titled “Goodbye Kramer,” appeared in a book of parodies updated in 2012 and circulated privately by members of the university’s marching band, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The lyrics, to be sung to the tune of the 1981 Journey hit “Don’t Stop Believin’,” include references to Nazi soldiers “searching for people livin’ in their neighbor’s attic” and a “small town Jew … who took the cattle train to you know where.”
B’nai B’rith International, a Jewish human rights and advocacy group, condemned the song’s authors and praised the university’s response.
“It is never acceptable to trivialize Holocaust imagery,” B’nai B’rith said in a statement Thursday. “To do so in a jovial tone and completely for the sake of offending is even more abhorrent.”
This week, we mark the 10 year anniversary of the horrific July 7 London terror attacks.
In the aftermath of the attacks, read the thoughts of then B'nai B'rith International President Joel Kaplan, which appeared in the Fall 2005 Issue of B'nai B'rith Magazine:
The Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind (CLB) held its third annual "Shot in the Dark Golf & Dinner Classic" on Friday, May 1, 2015 at the Lakewood Country Club in Rockville, Md.
The event's purpose was to demonstrate an appreciation for vision loss and how it can be overcome. B'nai B'rith International, a long-time supporter of CLB was a proud financial sponsor of the event and had leadership in attendance at the classic.
National blind golf champions Bruce Hooper and Phil Blackwell ran the golf clinic for CLB clients to learn the fundamentals of golf including chipping and putting.
This year a Casino Night was added to the event. Local sports media personalities Steve Buckhantz and Andy Pollin were the emcees for the evening, and the golf tournament kicked off after sundown.
Watch the event highlight video, below:
In light of the current wave of unrelenting attacks against Israel's legitimacy, B'nai B'rith International joined B'nai B'rith Europe, local lodges and dozens of other Jewish organization to rally in support of Israel outside of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
B’nai B’rith is highly critical of the report issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) “independent, international commission of inquiry” into Israel’s defensive operations against Hamas in Gaza during the summer of 2014. The report inherently lacks credibility and should not be taken as a serious evaluation of the necessary counterterrorism actions of the Israel Defense Forces.
B'nai B'rith International's Israel/Middle East policy includes issues such as fighting terrorism; supporting Israel's right to defend itself; preventing Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons; preserving the unity of Jerusalem; promoting the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim countries; and supporting direct negotiations between the parties to the Middle East conflict while affirming the importance of Israel's critical security needs.
Photos below courtesy of Israel In Switzerland:
B'nai B'rith International and multinational leaders met with Pope Francis on Thursday at the Vatican.
B'nai B'rith’s was the first international Jewish audience with the pope since the Vatican announced an agreement on church issues with “the State of Palestine,” and the pope separately acknowledged non-recognition of Israel as amounting to anti-Semitism.
Before he was known around the world at Pope Francis, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio hosted B’nai B’rith’s Kristallnacht commemoration in Buenos Aires in 2012.
Learn more about the latest visit from the international media coverage recap, below:
I am pleased to greet you during your visit to the Vatican. My predecessors met with delegations of B’nai B’rith International on several occasions, and today I offer you my welcome with renewed respect and affection.
Your organization has enjoyed relations with the Holy See since the promulgation of the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate. This document constituted a milestone on the path of mutual knowledge and esteem between Jews and Catholics, based on the great spiritual patrimony that, thanks be to God, we share in common.
Looking back on these fifty years of regular dialogue between the Catholic Church and Judaism, I cannot help but thank the Lord for the great progress that has been made. Many initiatives fostering reciprocal understanding and dialogue have been undertaken; above all a sense of mutual trust and appreciation has developed. There are many areas in which we as Jews and Christians can continue to work together for the good of the peoples of our time. Respect for life and creation, human dignity, justice and solidarity unite us for the development of society and for securing a future rich in hope for generations to come. In a particular way, we are called to pray and work together for peace. Unfortunately, there are many countries and regions of the world that live in situations of conflict – I think in particular of the Holy Land and the Middle East – and that require a courageous commitment to peace, which is not only to be longed for, but sought after and built up patiently and tenaciously by everyone, especially believers.
During these moments together, I wish to recall with heartfelt gratitude all those who have fostered friendship between Jews and Catholics. I particularly want to mention Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II. Saint John saved many Jews during the Second World War, met with them numerous times, and greatly desired a conciliar document on this theme. Regarding Saint John Paul, his various historical gestures remain very much alive in our memories, such as his visit to Auschwitz and to the Great Synagogue of Rome. With the help of God, I wish to walk in their footsteps, encouraged too by the many beautiful encounters and friendships I enjoyed in Buenos Aires.
May the Almighty and Eternal One bless our dialogue abundantly, especially during this year in which we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, so that our friendship may always grow deeper and bear abundant fruit for our communities and the entire human family.
B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin moderated a panel during the 5th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, offering some remarks on behalf of the organization before introducing the speakers.
Watch his segment below, along with the additional remarks from the six presenters:
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