The position for United States ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom is likely to be filled by Rabbi David Saperstein, in a move that was praised by B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
Saperstein, one of the most influential rabbis in the United States, currently serves as the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. If he is approved, he will fill a position that has sat vacant for almost a year.
Jewish and Israel news, JNS.org, wrote an article on the nomination, including extensive quotes from Mariaschin.
Read an excerpt of the article below:
Daniel Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International, called the nomination an “outstanding choice” and noted the decades during which he has witnessed Saperstein’s work on religious freedom.
“I think David got nominated to this position because of his experience, his expertise, his caring, his sensitivity to these issues, and his being able to speak out,” Mariaschin said. “The commendatory part of this here is that someone who was so deserving and who can do so much good, has been nominated for the position.
"David is very well connected internationally and his reputation, his writings, his speaking—all of those things are known in so much of the world in which we operate and we’re going to operate, so I think that’s a big plus.”
B’nai B’rith’s Mariaschin said a new religious freedom ambassador “is going to be welcomed in a lot of places, and in those places where religious freedom is being abridged, they should know that they’re going to have in our [ambassador] someone who is keeping a very close eye on what they’re doing.” In particular, Mariaschin noted the proliferation of violence against Christians at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria terrorist group, as well as religious persecution in Africa, South Asia, and Iran.
“There are many [instances of religious persecution], it’s almost as if you don’t know where to start, and unfortunately the list is long and it is growing longer,” he said.
During Pope Francis' historic visit to Israel and the Middle East last week, he was greeted by a delegation at the Western Wall that included B'nai B'rith International director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels.
Michaels had a front-row view for many of the meetings and greetings during the two-day visit, and was a quoted source in a Q&A published in The Jewish Week after the trip.
Read an excerpt below and click through for the full story:
Also in Israel for the visit was David Michaels, director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs for B’nai B’rith International. He pointed out also that there was a diversity of religious leaders at the presidential residence — including Muslims who knelt in prayer.
There were leaders of the Hindu faith, Sufis among the Muslim leaders, Sikhs, Christian Orthodox leaders and many others in the audience. That to me signaled that the pope is universally admired, and that people are very hopeful that he may be able to achieve a greater level of comity among the different faiths.
On Wednesday, April 16, residents of the B'nai B'rith Strauss Manor joined in an interfaith, inter-generational Easter egg decoration session with students from Palo Verde High School in Tucson, Ariz.
The event was a hit, as students mingled with seniors for several hours on their artistic endeavors. According to the Manor's Facebook page, "interaction with children enhances socialization, increases emotional support and improves health."
Check out some of the best photos of the event in the slideshow, below:
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