B'nai B'rith International kicked off February with a European Union Activism Seminar for college students, co-hosted with B'nai B'rith Europe, DOJAS and EUJS. The 20 participants came from a diverse background and geographic area, traveling from 19 different countries on four continents.
The primary goals of the seminar were providing an overview about how the EU works, building skills of advocacy with EU institutions and discussing issues that matter to the Jewish community.
B'nai B'rith organized panels with civil servants, diplomats, elected members of the European Parliament, lobbyists and staffers to show the participants how policy is made in the EU, from both an inside and outside perspective.
Jeremy Levin was a participant in the week-long seminar and left inspired to do more to advance Jewish causes in the EU.
"Last week was a phenomenal week, and I wanted to thank you for organizing the panels, meals, housing, and more for the EU Activism Seminar," Levin said. "I learned much more than I could have imagined, and have already begun to share my findings with friends and family, both within the EU and all over the world.
"Handfuls of people have contacted me with an interest in learning about our seminar, in addition to the great organizations that put on the event. I am gladly sharing what I gained while in Brussels."
Leeor Groen took advantage of the networking opportunities and is pursuing an internship to delve deeper into the world of Jewish advocacy.
"I am really appreciative of the unique opportunities we had and the things we got to see and do," Groen noted. "I took a particular interest in the work [Head of International Affairs in the Italian Ministry of Economic Development] Pasquale De Micco was doing, given that this is my field of study.
"I am very open to any opportunities and would really value the opportunity to come back."
View a slideshow from the event, below (all photos courtesy of EUJS):
B'nai B'rith celebrated its 171st birthday on Oct. 13, reviewing its first 17 decades at the forefront of Jewish advocacy in the United States and around the world.
Here is an infographic detailing the major achievements in the organization's history:
The events will commence with a panel discussion – organised for the first time by B’nai B’rith UK – and sponsored by Jewish News, entitled Jewish Women in Public Life.
It will be chaired by Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE (pictured) at the Jewish Museum on 18 September.
B’nai B’rith UK has invited a collection of the UK’s most distinguished women to discuss Women in Judaism in an open and celebratory fashion.
The high profile women set to take a seat on the panel alongside Baroness Neuberger are academic lawyer and current chairman of the Bar Standards Board Baroness Deech DBE; Baroness Hayman, who was the first lady speaker of The House of Lords; Dame Helen Hyde DBE, headteacher of Watford Girls’ Grammar School; Professor Julia Hobsbawm and chief executive of the Board of Deputies Gillian Merron.
Rabbi Neuberger, who was the second woman to become a rabbi in the UK and is senior rabbi at West London Synagogue, described the event’s importance: “It makes the point that there are now many women in leadership positions in the Jewish community, and points up a change in attitude to women across the community.
B'nai B'rith Teams With UNESCO, Plans Judeo-Spanish Symposium For European Day of Jewish Culture and Heritage (French)
On Monday, September 15, B'nai B'rith International and UNESCO will team up to host a symposium in Paris on "Judeo-Spanish Heritage trail and in the Mediterranean," in honor of European Day of Jewish Culture and Heritage.
The symposium was announced on CRIF.org, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, with a link for registration at the bottom.
Read the announcement below, in French:
L’UNESCO et la Représentation du B’nai B’rith International organisent le 15 septembre 2014 le colloque « Parcours judéo-espagnols et patrimoine en Méditerranée » à l’occasion des Journées européennes de la culture et du patrimoine juifs.
Dans le sillon du colloque organisé en 2012 à l’UNESCO par la Représentation du B’nai B’rith International, celui-ci a pour objectif de donner un coup de projecteur sur une langue que l’UNESCO a inscrite au nombre des langues en danger de disparition dans son « Atlas des langues en danger dans le monde » dont la première édition a paru en 1996.
La présence des Judéo-Espagnols en Méditerranée peut être retracée à travers des escales mais surtout leurs réseaux. Leurs parcours commencent dans la péninsule ibérique, d’où les Juifs furent expulsés en 1492. Un trajet migratoire les a ensuite portés vers différents ancrages disséminés en Amérique, en Europe occidentale et en Méditerranée.
Le brassage des cultures et des langues eut des conséquences de grande portée pour le développement du folklore et de la musique dans l'aire culturelle judéo-espagnole témoignant ainsi de l’énorme potentiel d'échange et de dialogue pour l'enrichissement mutuel des cultures. La formation d’une aire culturelle dans l’ex-empire ottoman a favorisé en particulier l’apparition d’une langue vernaculaire nouvelle, le judéo-espagnol oriental.
Des ancrages dans l’espace méditerranéen, singulièrement balkanique, seront présentés : depuis Majorque jusqu’à la Bulgarie et Istanbul où la langue est toujours vivante et enseignée en passant par Salonique « ville mère en Israël » et plus anciennement Venise, plaque tournante entre Europe chrétienne et empire ottoman.
Interventions et tables rondes permettront à des spécialistes des universités, de Picardie, de Paris-7 Diderot, de Bordeaux, de Venise, de l’Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) de l’Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO), de l’Université grecque ouverte et de l’Institut de recherches sur les Juifs en Allemagne (Hambourg), de débattre de la diversité que porte cette diaspora et d’échanger sur son unité constitutive et créative, notamment du point de vue linguistique.
Forum judéo-espagnol à l'Unesco
Lundi 15 septembre 2014 de 9h30 à 18h,
Salle IV, entrée
125, avenue de Suffren Paris 7
L'inscription est obligatoire à l-adresse mail suivante:
The B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem coordinated a delegation from B'nai B'rith Europe this week, to express solidarity with Israel.
The visit was covered by the Times of Israel in an article detailing daily updates on Operation Protective Edge:
A six-member group from B’nai B’rith Europe is visiting on a solidarity mission.
The group was briefed by government officials on the ongoing conflict with Hamas, learned first hand about the realities faced by Israelis in the most heavily shelled areas, and conveyed a message of unity with the people of Israel.
It visited Ashkelon, Sderot, areas in the Merhavim and Hof Ashkelon regional councils, and an Iron Dome battery.
English-language internet radio station TLV1, based in Tel Aviv, included a segment on France’s foreign ministry advising its citizens to avoid investing in parts of Israel. The concern is that this call for divestment could become a European trend.
On the program “So Much To Say,” B’nai B’rith International Director of European Affairs Nuno Wahnon discussed this troubling topic.
To hear his full interview, click the player below:
In accepting the award Döpfner said: “This award has made me extremely happy. We, the publishing company and its journalists stand firmly on the side of freedom, of democracy and of the Jewish people. My guiding principle is never to tolerate intolerance.”
At the conclusion of Dopfner’s remarks, he was greeted with a standing ovation.
Among the numerous dignitaries at the gala dinner were the Ambassador of Israel Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, the General Consul of the United States of America Kevin Milas, President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi and Charlotte Knobloch, for many years president of the Central Committee of Jews in Germany.
In the closing speech, Israel’s ambassador, noting the current football fever, nominated Mathias Döpfner the captain of Germany’s Friends of Israel team.
In a recent Q&A appearing on the B'nai B'rith Europe website, Senior Vice President Erika Van Gelder shares some interesting insight into her life, her time with B'nai B'rith and what she sees ahead.
Van Gelder was born in a displaced person's camp in Linz, Austria, shortly after World War II. After her mother passed away following childbirth, her father moved to Israel, leaving her in a children's home in Linz.
Her experiences in the children's home helped shape a lifetime of service to others, particularly in the Jewish community. Learn more about her story:
Q: Can you tell us something about your early life?
Van Gelder: My very early life was spent being taken from Linz by the Red Cross and brought to Budapest to friends of my future parents, and later being smuggled in a suitcase across the border into Romania. I must have been about one year old when I arrived in Arad, a city in Romania near the Hungarian border, in the region of Transylvania.
I remember a very happy childhood. My (new) parents, my mother's sister and her husband adopted me. They had no other children and they were the most fantastic parents one could wish for. I grew up with lots of love, warmth, understanding, a safe environment, with parents that stimulated me in my endeavors and, above all, believed in me.
Q: When and why did you join B'nai B'rith?
Van Gelder: "Because I never forgot my origins I started helping the Jewish Old Age Home in my home town, Arad, Romania. The Amsterdam BB lodge asked me to become a member in1994 and to continue my project through the lodge. Of course, I agreed."
Q: What have been your main areas of interest in B'nai B'rith so far?
Van Gelder: "The more involved I got, the more I realised that humanitarian aid projects were needed in all the ex-communist countries and that good communication and coordination was essential for any modicum of success. With this in mind, I proposed the creation of a permanent committee for Central and Eastern Europe (at the BB Convention in 1997).
"I chaired this committee from the beginning until 2004. That year I was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, non-Hodgkin's. I had chemotherapy for one year and it took me another two years to function normally. I am extremely lucky, so for me "la vita e bella". After this intermezzo, I became more active again. I never stopped the fund raising for the projects in Eastern Europe, but I could not do more."
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