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Winter 2023


IMPACT Welcome

This December issue of IMPACT has been particularly challenging. We started planning for it in September, blissfully unaware of the horrors that would unfold in Israel on Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists would infiltrate the Jewish state and murder 1,200 Israelis, injure more than 3,500, kidnap 240 and inflict forever scars. This issue was underway before the ensuing anti-Semitism would spike around the world hundreds-fold.

We opened our Israel Emergency Fund on Oct. 7 and immediately teamed up with B’nai B’rith Israel to assess needs around the country. You’ll read here how our aid efforts are helping Israelis.

Since our last issue, B’nai B’rith turned 180 years old. We transitioned our birthday year launch party to also focus on solidarity with Israel. In this issue, you will read about that event, and you can watch videos of some of the speakers.

Before the heinous attacks on Israel and after, B’nai B’rith’s Tikkun Olam is in full swing.

As always for this IMPACT newsletter, you will learn about our events and programs all over the world, spearheaded by B’nai B’rith subject matter experts and by volunteers.

As we continue our global work in all aspects of our portfolio, our top-of-mind focus right now is Am Yisrael Chai. If you want to help support our Israel Emergency Fund, click here.

Please enjoy this issue.

–Best wishes from the IMPACT team 

B’nai B’rith Donors Respond to the War in Israel

On Oct. 7, a barbaric Hamas attack thrust Israel into a battle against evil. The savage pogrom killed 1,200 people and injured thousands more. Terrorists stole 240 people back to Gaza as hostages.

The Israeli people have endured unimaginable pain and unspeakable horrors as they continue to demonstrate resilience, unity and hope.

B’nai B’rith opened its Israel Emergency Fund on Oct. 7.

Since then, generous contributions have enabled us, in partnership with B’nai B’rith Israel, to help soldiers on the front lines, assist the displaced and provide vital support to countless individuals and evacuated families.

Assisting The Displaced
B’nai B’rith has provided invaluable assistance to families and individuals in crisis. Focusing our efforts on Kibbutz Kfar Aza, decimated on Oct. 7, we provided displaced residents with stipends for groceries and basic needs.

Similar initiatives are underway for Kibbutz Be’eri, where deaths totaled more than 100. We are committed to providing care packages and other essential aid for residents.

In Sderot, another front-line community under fire, we supplied food and everyday essentials. First aid products were distributed to assist the injured.

Supporting IDF Soldiers and Units
The dedication and sacrifice of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers are nothing short of heroic. Donations to our Israel Emergency Fund supplied soldiers with towels, socks, facemasks, base layer items, thermal gear, windbreakers and more.

Additionally, we supported B’nai B’rith Israel lodge efforts to provide home-cooked meals and essential items. By helping the IDF, we ensure that those who protect Israel are well-equipped and supported, even in the most challenging circumstances.

Fulfilling Everyday Needs
For those forced to flee their homes without warning, the need for everyday items is paramount. We used donations to provide clothing, toiletries and everyday essentials to those in need.

Finally, we understand the importance of normalcy for children who have experienced trauma. Additionally, we have provided toys, books, and games to bring comfort and establish routine for these children.

As the war continues, we are committed to providing aid and support.

Please consider a donation today.

Diplomats Support Israel and Honor B’nai B’rith in Conjunction with 180 Anniversary

On Oct. 12, the Consulate of Germany in New York hosted an evening recognizing B’nai B’rith’s 180 years of service and demonstrating solidarity with Israel during its war with Hamas. Five days earlier, Hamas launched its savage attack on Israel, killing 1,200 Israelis and other international visitors, and wounding more than 3,500.

Welcoming speakers and audience members, B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin detailed B’nai B’rith’s longtime connection to Israel, acknowledging that “it’s impossible to focus on celebrating while Israel is at war…75 years after the founding of the world’s only Jewish state, Israel’s existence is threatened as never before.”

His sentiments were echoed by B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin, who directed his message to the organization’s “legacy…rooted in recognizing societal needs and taking action to improve the lives of the less fortunate.”

An installation on display at the Consulate of Germany highlighted B’nai B’rith’s work over three centuries.

Speeches by Israeli, German and American Ambassadors

Ambassador Gilad Erdan, Israel’s representative to the U.N. (right), with B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin. Erdan expressed his gratitude to B’nai B’rith and those allied with Israel during the crisis. “The gut wrenching stories we are hearing are too hard to bear,” Erdan said. “The magnitude of this tragedy is beyond comprehension.”
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, representative of the United States of America to the U.N., condemned Hamas’ violence, emphasized the Biden administration’s unwavering loyalty to Israel and recognized B’nai B’rith’s leadership in fighting anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitism. “We come together at moments of heartbreak and horror…Our partnership has never been more vital than it is today.”
German Consul General David Gill, flanked by Mariaschin and Riklin (right), affirmed that “Germany shares your grief, your pain, your consternation about the inhumane brutality.” He also recognized B’nai B’rith’s positive impact benefitting Jews and non-Jews alike: “We [in Germany] will never take this relationship for granted.”

B’nai B’rith Accomplishments Praised

President Joe Biden’s letter congratulated B’nai B’rith on its 180th birthday, maintaining a tradition of White House tributes beginning with President Grover Cleveland in 1885.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams issued a proclamation commending “B’nai B’rith’s supporting and uplifting people of all communities and backgrounds.”

B’nai B’rith Leaders Meet with U.N. Secretary-General

As Israel was defending itself against the most horrific attack in its history, a B’nai B’rith International delegation met with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Oct.11.

B’nai B’rith leaders expressed the urgency of protecting Israel’s diverse population from Hamas terrorists, who are guilty of mass atrocities, unprecedented since the Holocaust.

B’nai B’rith Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels discusses the meeting here: Israel at War: B’nai B’rith at the U.N . – YouTube


Never Again is Now

Seth J. Riklin
President, B’nai B’rith International

Israel and the world are significantly different today than on Oct. 6, 2023. On Oct. 7, observant Jews were readying for Shabbat, while the less observant, along with non-Jews, were getting ready for the weekend. Routines and rituals were repeated. What should have been a serene morning was shattered by the inhumane acts of murder, rape and torture by thousands of Hamas terrorists from Gaza who sought to send a message to Israel and the world in the most barbaric way possible. We have all read of the crimes committed, the horrors inflicted on innocent women, children, babies and the elderly.

I am also a different person today, after seeing photographs and videos, and listening to eyewitness accounts. When you are raised in civilized Western society, you tend to believe that everyone else in the world has the same values as you do. When you are Jewish, you are taught the sanctity of life from a young age. That is what makes the horrific, vicious actions of Hamas terrorists shocking to the core. Hamas knows that Jewish ethics and willingness to protect life at all costs is our greatest weakness, a weakness that they clearly sought to exploit with their torture and their hostage taking.

On Nov. 24 the first hostages taken by Hamas were released and returned to Israel. Just before writing this, I tearfully watched the families being reunited. The hostages have been forever changed by what they have endured. Their families have changed, with lives lost at the hands of the terrorists. It was heartening to watch the tears of joy shed, knowing that the joy of the moment would be the first step in what will be years of recovery.

As president of B’nai B’rith International, I have spoken with our brothers and sisters the world over. As Jews, we are under attack in ways that we have not seen since World War II. We have fearfully watched violent demonstrations on behalf of Hamas in major cities across the world. Our Jewish family and our allies have countered with our own demonstrations, and empty Shabbat tables—with seats for the missing hostages—set up in public places for all to see. Here in the United States, almost 300,000 people came together in Washington, D.C. on the Mall—America’s front yard—to show their support for Israel. B’nai B’rith was there.

Conjoined American Israeli flags held aloft during the Nov. 14 March for Israel at the National Mall, where B’nai B’rith leaders, staff members and volunteers were among the estimated 300,000 participants from all nations and faiths.

When faced with the challenges of such virulent hate, we must stand up to fight, each in our own way. Seeing the hundreds of thousands of IDF reservists and former soldiers answer the call and return to Israel to defend her against Hamas made my heart swell with pride. The return of so many to take up arms for Israel ensured that Israel would get up off the canvas after the brutal ambush, and not rest until the last Hamas soldier is vanquished. It is now up to the rest of the worldwide Jewish community to answer the call to aid Israel in dealing with the aftermath of the attack, as it mobilized thousands of its citizens to undertake its defensive raid on Hamas.

Our members and allies in the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, New Zealand and Australia have answered that call. We have stood up as part of our local Jewish communities to show our support for Israel and to defend ourselves from anti-Semites in our midst. We have lobbied our governments for protection and support for Israel. B’nai B’rith CEO Dan Mariaschin and I met with U.N. Secretary General António Guterres four days after the attack and exchanged ideas on how to fight hate and anti-Semitism. On Oct. 12 we held an event in solidarity with Israel that was well attended by ambassadors and embassy staff members and heard from the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield. We listened to the inspirational words of Israel Ambassador Gilad Erdan as he described the events in Israel.

The following week, I was in Washington, D.C. with leaders of all the major Jewish organizations to proclaim our solidarity with Israel. The event was well attended by members of Congress who shared their support for Israel. The following day I was on Capitol Hill with Gil Kapen, the executive director of our affiliate, the American Jewish International Relations Institute (AJIRI-BBI), meeting with members of the Congressional Appropriations Committee. I spent my day going from meeting to meeting with House and Senate members and their staffs, thanking them for their support of Israel in difficult times. Our message was well received.

As I hope you are aware, we opened a special Israel Emergency Fund to raise money for those in Israel who have been directly impacted by the attacks of Oct. 7. Our lodge members and supporters in Israel have gone to work for all of us, distributing the funds to those who need our help in the most efficient ways. I hope that you will do your part and contribute to this effort. I expect the war against Hamas to continue for months, with hundreds of thousands of Israelis displaced by the fighting, many recovering from the direct effects of the enemy’s atrocities.

All of us have been changed by the reality of Oct. 7. It is my hope and prayer that we can all find some positive change in ourselves, and a way to make the world a better place as a result. The only thing in life that we can count on is change, and we must always strive to make the best of the opportunities that change brings, even when caused by man’s inhumanity.

May we all find Shalom.

B’nai B’rith in Solidarity with the Jewish State at the March for Israel on the National Mall

The March for Israel the on National Mall—America’s front yard–united communities nationwide in support of Israel and its people to urge the swift release of the 240 hostages held by Hamas and combat increasing anti-Semitism.

The march was scheduled for Nov. 14 to coincide with a Congressional session where lawmakers were deliberating on emergency supplemental aid to Israel. An estimated crowd of nearly 300,000 gathered to show their support, waving Israeli flags and holding signs that called for action.

B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin at the Nov. 14 March for Israel rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“The March for Israel today in Washington was a powerful show of unity for Israel, but it also sent a clear message about the difference between good and evil,” said B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, who attended the March. “The Jewish community was joined by many friends in Congress, faith groups and so many others in declaring steadfast support for Israel in its war against Hamas, for the fight against global anti-Semitism and to remember and advocate for the immediate release of all hostages. We are proud to stand with Israel now, and always.”

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog addressed the crowd live from the Western Wall, vowing that Israel will rise again to rebuild itself and condemning the rampant anti-Semitism following the Hamas attack.

“We come together as a family, one big mishpacha, to march for Israel,” Herzog said. “To march for the right of every Jew to live proudly and safely in America, in Israel and all around the world. We come together to march for good over evil, for human morality over bloodthirst. We march for light over darkness.”

Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, reaffirmed President Joe Biden’s strong support of Israel and U.S. dedication to fighting anti-Semitism. “Jew hatred, the world’s longest, oldest form of prejudice has pierced and permeated too many countries,” Lipstadt said. “The fight will be a long one, but Jews have faced such challenges before and have overcome them.”

Rachel Goldberg, mother of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, delivered an impassioned speech about the fate of her son and other hostages, noting that the world stood by as they were, in effect, buried alive.

“Hundreds of thousands of people stood together today in the U.S. capital city and with one voice declared support for Israel’s defensive actions against Hamas,” B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin said. “It was an inspiring and meaningful demonstration to the world that Israel, and Jews throughout the Diaspora, will defend the home of the Jewish people from terrorists.”

As the war continues, B’nai B’rith will maintain our support of Israel by keeping our community informed, condemning war-related anti-Semitism and raising emergency aid for Israel.


The More Things Change…

Daniel S. Mariaschin
CEO, B’nai B’rith International

I’m writing this column some seven weeks after the horrific terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israeli communities on Oct. 7.

Each day brings new information from the battlefield, so that knowledge is best culled from the media outlets you watch or read. My purpose here is to convey some impressions about the reaction to the worst assault on the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

In almost every direction we look, we are watching what appears to be overt and pent-up resentment of Israel and those of us who support the Jewish state. The tsunami of anti-Semitism and “double standard-ism” is not limited to college campuses. I’m sure your inbox, like mine, is filled with video clips of media interviewers and pundits opining about Oct. 7 and the war with Hamas in Gaza that followed.

Some of the commentary is absolutely absurd in its bias. One British Sky News interviewer questioned an Israeli government spokesperson as to why Israel was trading 150 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 50 Israeli hostages. Was it because, she incredibly asked, Israel placed less value on Palestinian lives that the ratio of exchange was three to one?

The spokesperson called this an outrageous charge; indeed, all the Palestinian prisoners were connected to attempted stabbings and shootings of Israelis. One would assume that most people realize the sacrifice Israel makes to get its hostages back. Instead, it gets charged with unloading Palestinians in the swap because it doesn’t value their lives.

The world of international diplomacy is no different. True, on Oct. 7 or Oct. 8 many leaders in the community of democracies professed their belief that Israel has “a right to defend itself.” As the crisis wore on, that initial rush of support lessened by the day. Indeed, when the United Nations General Assembly got around to considering a resolution (around the time Israel’s cabinet declared war on Hamas) it voted to call for a ceasefire—never mentioning Hamas and the atrocities it had committed.

The vote was 120 for 14 against with 45 abstentions. Only four European countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia and Hungary) voted against the measure. That most European countries, many of which were the scenes of Holocaust barbarity, could not muster the diplomatic spine to call out Hamas and its latter-day Nazis for its thuggish brutality on Oct. 7 is reprehensible.

And it gets worse. One Spanish cabinet minister boasted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that she had told an Al Jazeera interviewer that Israel was engaged in genocide against the Palestinians. The Norwegian Justice minister offered, if asked, to assist in an investigation of “war crimes” committed by Israel.

And then there is the pogrom-like behavior of the out-of-control pro-Hamas mobs surging down the streets of major American cities. It isn’t enough just to march and carry flags: Israeli/Jewish-owned businesses and restaurants have had their storefronts daubed with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic graffiti. And that’s not the worst: as I write this, an Israeli restaurant in New York was entered by Pro-Palestinian “demonstrators,” who turned over tables, broke glass and intimidated diners. If this isn’t reminiscent of Berlin (and so many other places) in the 1930s, what is?

History repeats itself. On Nov. 1, a vandal or vandals entered George Washington University’s Hillel House and tore down some of the posters of the hostages taken by Hamas which were displayed in the first-floor windows. Now extra security has been added. The campus has been the scene for a number of pro-Hamas demonstrations including one in which slogans in support of the terrorists’ cause were projected onto the façade of the library.

What about the dearth of business leaders, celebrities, writers, human rights and women’s organizations which have failed to condemn Hamas genocidal attacks? A courageous few have: Performers like Jon Voight, Jerry Seinfeld, Jamie Lee Curtis and Debra Messing are in that regrettably small circle of people in the public eye who have not shied away from Israel in its hour of need. There should be many more, and it is a disgrace that some who surely know the difference between good and evil cannot muster the courage to speak out.

With all of this, Israel and its supporters are not without friends. While so-called “progressive” Members of Congress have been in the forefront of those who are Hamas apologists, there are many more who have stood up for Israel, loudly condemning Hamas and strongly pointing fingers at the role that Iran had played in fomenting this crisis, through its funding, arming and training of Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as its Iraqi and Yemeni proxies.

Here, I must make a sweeping accusation: Most media presenters have approached the war in Gaza in a way that suggests either being in denial or simply not wanting to be confused with the facts. The entire story of Hamas’ use of hospitals in Gaza as command centers and sanctuaries for its terrorist operatives has veered into simply lying and distorting how Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have approached this challenge.

The ranks of TV news personalities, anchors and reporters who have presented the attacks on Israel and the Jewish state’s justified objective of defeating Hamas in an unbiased manner are thin, but there are a number who throughout this crisis have conveyed a deep understanding of Israel and its need to unequivocally defeat Hamas. Through the intense, stressful weeks of the war, I often find myself saying out loud to those few fair-minded newscasters and pundits I’m watching, “Kol Ha-Kavod; thanks for telling it like it is!”

On a more personal scale, I’ve heard from a number of my public school and college classmates, all of whom are not Jewish, from colleagues at non-Jewish NGOs, and even from some diplomats, expressing support and understanding for Israel in the most heartwarming way.

I come away from all of this, though, with the deep impression that something is terribly amiss in the public reaction to the Hamas massacres and Israel’s justified response to it. A good part of this can be attributed to real-time, or latent anti-Semitism. But there also seems to be an inability to distinguish between right and wrong in a world driven by social media, where every Tweet or Facebook post is assumed to carry with it the truth.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the countless street interviews with young Pro-Palestinian demonstrators. I have no doubt that there are professional, ideologically oriented radicals leading these protests. That said, many seem to be out in the crowd for want of something to do. Alarmingly, these demonstrations have become a fashion, a place for young people to see and be seen. Many seem to be mindless about what it is they are calling for. Asked if they are repelled by Hamas atrocities, some say outright, “there is no proof.” Asked further if they know that the chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” means the elimination of Israel and Israelis, it evokes shrugs, defiance or worse, approbation. Can it be that a generation of young people has been raised to be blind to the difference between good and evil? Because social media provides instant retribution, otherwise intelligent persons are hesitant or afraid to be cancelled, shamed or otherwise taken over the rack for simply saying what was there for all to see; Hamas butchery of Jews on a peaceful Shabbat/Simchat Torah holiday in Israel in October.

If this is indeed the case, it is cause for deep concern, for Israel, for sure. But I am confident that the nation and its people will not only find the way back from this barbaric assault but be resilient in a way that only Israelis can. I am far more pessimistic about a world that seems to have lost its way; lost its moral compass.

And the wider implications of that, for all kinds of issues, and all that holds for the future, is troubling, indeed.

The B’nai B’rith Podcast: Conversations with B’nai B’rith

At the Conversations with B’nai B’rith Podcast, you’ll find quick and insightful interviews on topics that you care about and about which you want to learn more.

Hosted by CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, the podcast, part of our focus on Jewish identity and culture, includes discussions with a wide range of prominent and fascinating people.

In our podcast we reveal the story of Jewish participation in all areas of life in America, Israel and throughout the world.

In this issue of IMPACT we are shining a spotlight on our podcast with Mark Regev, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.K. and current senior advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel.

In this interview, recorded about a month into the war, Regev discusses eliminating the terror group Hamas, addresses the increasing calls for “pauses” and a “ceasefire” in Israel’s defensive war, the global spike in anti-Semitism and lack of empathy for Israelis and Jews since the Oct. 7 barbaric attacks, as well as the media’s near abandonment of fair and objective reporting.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester Visits B’nai B’rith Asher Rubin House in Delaware

United States Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester met with residents during her visit to the HUD property, B’nai B’rith Asher Rubin House in Claymont, Delaware on Sept. 6. An advocate for the needs of seniors, she was one of several legislators who introduced a bill expanding community-wide health care services earlier this year.

United States Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DEL) visited the Asher Rubin B’nai B’rith House in Claymont, Delaware on Sept. 6, where she toured the premises and engaged with residents. This visit provided the congresswoman with an opportunity to witness firsthand the vital role affordable housing has in all aspects of the lives of senior citizens.

Since the start of her tenure in Congress, Blunt Rochester has consistently prioritized the goal of ensuring that every individual, both in her home state and across the nation, has access to safe and affordable housing.

“One of the best ways we know we can accomplish that goal is by increasing our stock of affordable housing throughout our communities,” Blunt Rochester said. “That’s why organizations like B’nai B’rith are so important and why facilities such as the Asher Rubin B’nai B’rith House in Claymont play such a critical role in creating dignified housing for Delawareans. I want to thank B’nai B’rith for their commitment to allowing seniors in Delaware to age with dignity and I’ll continue my work in Congress to support affordable housing policy.”

Blunt Rochester toured two sample apartments, the building’s convenience store, library and computer room. She also engaged with residents and participated in a Q&A session that focused on various key topics, including health care, affordable housing, income security and nutrition.

B’nai B’rith House staff greeting the congresswoman included Jack Alger, senior property manager; Tammy Carter, property manager; and Tom Ingrassia, maintenance supervisor. Welcoming her from B’nai B’rith International was Evan Carmen, Center for Senior Services legislative director for Aging Policy.

“B’nai B’rith International thanks Congresswoman Blunt Rochester for visiting Asher Rubin B’nai B’rith House and speaking with residents about the critical importance that affordable housing, health care and income security play in their lives,” Carmen said. “Buildings like the B’nai B’rith House provide a vital resource for the community, and we appreciate the congresswoman taking the time to tour the property and speak with the residents.”

B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Update for Maui

The remains of an immolated home in Lahaina, Maui. Photo: Farm

Almost 100 people lost their lives and 2,700 homes were destroyed after catastrophic fires burned out of control on the Hawaiian island of Maui in August. At that time, B’nai B’rith opened its Disaster and Emergency Relief Fund, raising money to help those who were suffering.

Including B’nai B’rith’s initial contribution of $10,000, $17,200 was donated to Maui Economic Opportunity, an agency which provides temporary housing and essential support to assist fire victims in maintaining their daily lives and remaining employed.

LifePoint Health Chairman and CEO David M. Dill Receives 2023 B'nai B'rith National Healthcare Award

David M. Dill, chairman and CEO of Lifepoint Health Care received B’nai B’rith’s 2023 Charles S. Lauer National Healthcare Award in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 30. Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, who praised Dill’s leadership during the pandemic, said “When it comes to core mission, David has no boundaries.” Left to right: David M. Dill with B’nai B’rith’s President Seth J. Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin.

B’nai B’rith held a gala event in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 30 to honor David M. Dill, the recipient of the 2023 Charles S. Lauer National Healthcare Award. For the past 40 years, B’nai B’rith has presented the award to exceptional trailblazers in the healthcare industry.

B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin welcomed attendees and thanked Dill and the LifePoint Health team for their commitment to accessible healthcare: “His creativity, innovation and tireless efforts to improve the health and well-being of our society align with our organization’s 180 years of steadfast work to improve our communities.”

Chairman and CEO of LifePoint Health, Dill oversees a diversified healthcare delivery network including 60 community hospital campuses, more than 60 rehabilitation and behavioral health hospitals and over 250 additional care sites. He also serves on the Tennessee Rural Health Care Task Force, where he works to assure quality healthcare in the state’s smaller communities. Dill noted that “Our mission is making communities healthier in small towns. It’s family taking care of family.”

B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin, who made the award presentation, underscored Dill’s dedication to furthering and improving nonprofit healthcare.

Click here to read more about David Dill or to download the healthcare award journal.

Connect Leaders Experience Japan During Kakehashi Trip

B’nai B’rith Connect delegates at the Israel Embassy in Tokyo, where they engaged in a discussion with Deputy Chief of Mission Israel Strulov (first row, second from left). B’nai B’rith staff traveling with the group included: Development Associate Joshua Rutledge (second row, second from left) and Program Manager Liz Krebs (first row, far right).

Thirteen Connect young leadership group members were selected to represent B’nai B’rith and the Jewish-American community during the Kakehashi Project mission to Japan, taking place from Oct. 30-Nov. 7. In Tokyo and elsewhere, the Connect delegates engaged in discussions pertinent to Japan-Israel relations with a variety of officials and also spent time seeing historically significant sites.

The group was joined by B’nai B’rith staff, Program Manager Liz Krebs and Development Associate Joshua Rutledge.

This is the sixth time that Connect members have participated in the Kakehashi (Friendship Ties) Project, sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, intended to foster the building of intercultural ties and to offer Americans the opportunity to understand the country, its people and heritage. The pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 Kakehashi program, which occurred virtually in 2021. The overseas trips resumed last year.

The first stop was Toyoko, where meetings were scheduled with diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Israel Embassy. In Fukuyama, located in the Hiroshima Prefecture, Connect members toured the Holocaust Education Center and Bible Garden and the Human Rights and Peace Center.

The Kakehashi group had the opportunity to meet and speak with Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Kiyoto Tsuji at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.
The travelers were in Fukuyama for a guided tour of the city’s Holocaust Education Center.

Delegates also visited the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island and the Peace Memorial Park and Museum located in nearby Hiroshima, where the history of the 1945 detonation of the atomic bomb and its aftereffects are documented. Moved by the exhibits, Kakehashi participant Morgan Mattler wrote to his tour guide: “I’ll never forget your words on making friends around the world. All that you taught us will stick with me for a very long time. Thanks for all you do.”

On his return to the United States, Mattler commented on the total experience, and the memories that he would continue to value: “As someone who has luckily been able to attend several organized trips, nothing was quite like Kakehashi. This cultural immersion and bridge building project was one of a kind.”

He further noted: “Partaking in valuable cultural experiences and witnessing Japan through not only its culture but also the lenses of diplomacy and Judaism was profoundly moving. Our diplomatic visits to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel Embassy to Japan were powerful. Visiting the Fukuyama Holocaust Education Center and JCC of Tokyo were unique, prideful and moving experiences. Experiencing the beauty of Miyajima Island, the sacred Sensō-ji (temple) and sites like the Tokyo Tower filled me with awe. As impactful as the tourist and diplomatic stops were, though, more than anything else, I came back to America knowing we have a true ally and friend in Japan and her people—a people who want nothing more than peace on earth, a goal I share with them. When we build bridges and new friendships around the world, we move closer to a day where those around the world can truly understand one another. Kakehashi so eloquently demonstrated the possibility of that future.”

Brandon Sirota, another Kakehashi traveler, wrote:

“Embarking on the seven-day journey into Japan through the Kakehashi Project as a Jewish American envoy with B’nai B’rith was not just a cultural exchange; it was a heartwarming journey that etched memories forever. Tokyo welcomed us with the towering embrace of Tokyo Tower and each meal became a delightful adventure into authentic Japanese cuisine, which we shared with newfound friends….

However, it was really in Hiroshima that the journey took a poignant turn. The Holocaust Education Center left an indelible mark and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum, along with the serene beauty of Miyajima Island, became places where stories of resilience and hope echoed. What made this experience truly special was the friendships formed: connections that transcended cultural boundaries. These bonds, woven through shared laughter, shared meals and shared stories ensure that Japan, with its depth and beauty, will call me back not just to explore its culture but to reunite with the people who made this journey unforgettable.”

Following the trip, B’nai B’rith continues to strengthen its partnership with the Japanese. B’nai B’rith staff met with JICE at its offices to discuss potential future alumni programs. Led by JICE, a Kakehashi Project Alumni Reception held at the Embassy of Japan was attended by Krebs, Kakehashi delegate Lauren Hoffman and Joshua Sushan, chair of B’nai B’rith Connect.


Gun Violence: When Is Enough, Enough?

By Mark D. Olshan
Associate Executive Vice President, B’nai B’rith International

Anyone who has read my columns over the years knows my politics lean center left. I have addressed policy issues like affordable housing, health care and income security, usually taking positions that are popular on the left side of the aisle. While I never considered myself a “radical liberal,” in the 1970s, after my discharge from military service, I sported a full beard and a very full head of hair, while driving cross country in my Volkswagen “bug.” Not the signs of a classic “conservative.” These days I do wish I had some more of my hair!

Given my background and political leanings, my knowledge of firearms may surprise you. Spending a number of years in the Boy Scouts, I was no stranger to guns, learning to use a .22- caliber rifle and frequently participating in skeet shooting.

Now let me really shock you: At one time, I supported the National Rifle Association (NRA). Perhaps surprising from a man who enthusiastically supports the Affordable Care Act and raising taxes on the wealthy to save Social Security.

Before the odysseys in my VW bug: A memory of my time in basic training, when I learned how to use a gun and became a skilled marksman.
A member of the elite Navy SEAL division checks his M14 rifle during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
Photo: of Defense

“Back in the day” the NRA was more focused on gun safety and education, values to this day I support. Obviously, in my humble opinion, the NRA has changed over time, making it unrecognizable as the organization I used to support.

I strengthened my firearm skills during the Vietnam War, while serving in the military. During basic training I became a skilled marksman. My experience focused on using the M14 rifle and M16 rifle. Suffice it to say, these weapons were quite a bit different from the ones I used in the Boy Scouts. For context, today I often refer to the M16 as a weapon of mass destruction.

The Washington Post, in an article titled “The Gun that Divides a Nation,” said it best:

“The AR-15 wasn’t supposed to be a bestseller.”

“The rugged, powerful weapon was originally designed as a soldier’s rifle in the late 1950s. ‘An outstanding weapon with phenomenal lethality,’ an internal Pentagon report raved. It soon became standard issue for U.S. troops in the Vietnam War, where the weapon earned a new name: the M16.”

I will never forget the feeling of the weapon I held in my hands the first time I fired an M16 rifle. No “sports minded” individual needs that much power for traditional hunting or target shooting. My training in firearms wasn’t just about understanding their lethal potential. I appreciated the importance of gun safety. Obviously, operating a firearm requires 100% of one’s attention.

So why am I telling you this? The reasons why our country can’t get commonsense gun reform legislation are just unacceptable. I get angry reading the news and learning about another shooting. It feels like an everyday occurrence. It’s come to the point where mass shootings aren’t even surprising.

In February 2018, Minneapolis high school students protested the proliferation of mass shootings and marched on behalf of gun reform laws that would place restrictions on the sale of assault rifles.
Photo: Blue

In 2022, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy organization, the United States had 636 mass shootings, in which 600 people died and over 2,700 were wounded. Let those numbers sink in for a second.

And please, I am not here to say we should confiscate everyone’s guns. There are millions of responsible gun owners, but does any individual really need military style weapons of war? A common theme for so many mass shootings is that the shooter used an assault weapon of war.

Sadly, gun violence isn’t limited to mass shootings. As the director for the Center for Senior Services, I pay close attention to how gun violence impacts older Americans. For example, conditions like dementia have made gun ownership for seniors lethal.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “as the disease progresses, the person may not recognize someone he or she has known for years and view him or her as an intruder. With a gun accessible, the result could be disastrous. Even if the person has past experience with guns, his or her current abilities will be altered because the safe use of firearms requires complex cognitive abilities and quick decision-making skills, which may be compromised due to dementia.”

My colleague Evan Carmen, in an article titled, “A Proactive Approach to Seniors, Guns and Dementia,” told the story of Larry Dillon, 65, with dementia, who mistook his wife for an intruder and in front of their granddaughter, killed her with a gun. Dillon slept with a 9 mm semi-automatic Glock pistol in his nightstand.

Making firearm use among people with dementia even more tragic is that people with mental health issues commonly use guns to die by suicide. I remember from the military that the responsibilities of gun ownership are immense, and these weapons in the wrong hands are just a disaster waiting to happen.

Fortunately, there is a little good news. In 2022, Congress passed, and President Joe Biden signed into law, legislation called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. This bill, among other things, appropriates money to states that implement red flag laws. Red flag laws let states be more proactive by allowing family members or law enforcement to petition the court to temporarily take firearms from individuals who are a risk to themselves or others. Hopefully, if such laws are more widely administered around the country, countless lives can be saved.

Unfortunately, this legislation alone will not solve the gun crisis crippling our nation. Commonsense gun reform measures like an assault weapon ban and universal background checks are critical to saving lives. In 2013, B’nai B’rith International leaders adopted a formal resolution that called for a ban on assault weapons, as well as a limit on magazine ammunition capacity.

Let me repeat, I am not seeking to abolish all guns. I am just calling for sensible laws to ensure that weapons of war, which have continuously been used in mass shootings, are taken off the streets. Banning assault weapons will save lives.

In addition, a federal universal background check is badly needed. While there already is one to check an applicant’s criminal, mental health and domestic abuse background, there are too many loopholes allowing people to purchase a gun and evade the law’s requirements. According to the FBI, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System takes less than two minutes to run. I don’t think it’s too onerous to ask someone to wait a few minutes to purchase a gun.

We need reasonable gun reform, and every moment in which elected officials sit on the sidelines is a wasted opportunity. What will it take to stir the conscience of our country from apathy into action? How many more shootings are needed for Congress to act? Is there any limit?  Until further laws are enacted, the status quo will prevail, which means more and more people needlessly suffer and die. 

Mark D. Olshan, who holds a doctorate in psychology, is associate executive director of B’nai B’rith International and director of the organization’s Center for Senior Services.

Students Tackle Issue of Modern Anti-Semitism with 2023 None Shall Be Afraid Essay Contest

In the age of social media, anti-Semitism online has reached unprecedented levels. In one study,  more than 10% of all tweets about Jews or Israel contained anti-Semitic language. To counter this trend, B’nai B’rith International invited college students for the second consecutive year to enter the None Shall Be Afraid Essay Contest.*

A panel of judges from B’nai B’rith International evaluated the essays, telling how the entrants propose to tackle rising anti-Semitism on the internet. The top three winners were awarded scholarships of $2,500, $1,000, and $500, respectively. The winning essay was published in the winter 2023 issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine.

B’nai B’rith created the contest to keep a focus on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in our society today. None Shall Be Afraid was inspired by the 1790 letter from George Washington to the congregants of Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island, where he quoted Micah 4:4, “Everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

Amit Sapir, the first-place winner, is a 21-year-old senior at the University of Florida. In his essay, published below, he draws from personal experiences to remain optimistic.

Second place winner is Ella Eason, 18, University of California–Santa Cruz, Class of 2025. In her essay, Eason discusses how anti-Zionism can morph into anti-Semitism. She highlights the importance of incorporating Jewish history into education to counteract anti-Semitism online.

Sophia Chertog, 18, Nova Southeastern University, Class of 2027, won third place with her essay. Inspired by her internship for a state senator, she created an online site promoting inclusion of all religions and backgrounds, with the goal of amplifying unheard voices online.

To learn more about B’nai B’rith’s None Shall Be Afraid initiative, visit our section on Combating Anti-Semitism on our website,

*Important note from B’nai B’rith: The contest was launched, essays were submitted, and winners were chosen well before the Hamas terror attacks in Israel on Oct. 7, which also unleashed an explosion of anti-Semitism globally by hundreds-fold.

Winning Essay by Amit Sapir
University of Florida, Senior

As my foot slid into the gravel of the railroad tracks, my mind boggled with emotions. Confusion overran anger, anger constructing anxiety. August of 2019. Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland. Seventy-five years prior, my ancestors stood in my footsteps. Yet, unlike myself, they would never step outside of those gates.

It was just eight years ago when laughter filled the air as I paraded down the streets of Jerusalem on my 13th birthday to be crowned “bar mitzvah majesty.” As I sang before the Western Wall kingdom, Your Majesty noticed a Frenchman waving his Israeli flag, displaying love for our Judaic performance. For such chivalry I repaid my fellow knight with a formal salutation of a high-five. It wasn’t until a couple weeks later that I found out that this nameless knight had been the victim of an anti-Semitic terrorist attack in Paris. Social media and news outlets shared the unspeakable truth that the terrorist entered a kosher deli, and this French Jew that I met only months prior jumped in the line of fire to save other Jewish customers shopping for Shabbat dinner. He had come to Israel for the first time when we crossed paths, and the few seconds of unconditional love and joy he displayed for my bar mitzvah has always had a special place in my heart.

Panic struck within the kingdom I always expected to harbor such stability and celebration. I feared the light of hope was lost, contemplating whether anything has changed in how the world thought of Jews.

After reading a book after my bar mitzvah called “All the Light We Cannot See,” anger and confusion from Poland resurfaced. I was mad at the author for making me empathetic toward a Nazi. For portraying the Germans in a positive light of innocence. For forgetting to mention the suffering and havoc of Jews. But I realized the truth later on: The novel is the symbol of good conforming to wrong, the virtuous obedient to evil. The reality was that despite the Holocaust’s immorality, the light of hope was brightened when contrasted against conformity and obedience, two fatal flaws of human civilization.

Amit Sapir
Age: 21
Senior, University of Florida
Expected Graduation: 2024

The light of hope. I’m inspired by the resonating message: “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.” Throughout history, the Jewish people maintained their sense of optimism. Yet, there are many opportunities for pessimism to seep through the openings and undermine the mentality we’ve developed for a lifetime. Anti-Semitism was one of them. The idea of hostility and prejudice against a community I always found loving and selfless had the potential of extinguishing that light of hope. My perspective is exemplified in my commitment to ensuring that everyone continues to sparkle with light in their eyes, never giving up on aspirations for hope and sanguinity among all people.

Our social media-driven world provides a duality in establishing a society reflective of brightness and the light of hope.

The idea that social media have revolutionized the power of perspective can be both advantageous yet misleading; therefore, it’s the power of the moral to shine bright in factual determination despite the dark. Anti-Semitism can be countered through the interconnected reliance of social media in the dissemination of validity and strength for pro-Judaic initiatives. We treasure the idea of universal communication, especially when the Jewish people once faced adversity and hardship through the propaganda of the Nazi Party. The evil desire for racial superiority, as spurred by the eugenics movement of the 20th century, must be constantly retaliated through the voice of justice, resonating through the intricate beauty of networking and intertwined communication systems of the modern era.

We’re given the opportunity of life to spread brightness into the eyes of others before our time comes to close them forever. I’m grateful for this blessing of sight and light, especially by staying optimistic in how our common humanity can reconcile our diversity. Challenging life’s meaning is the truest expression of the state of being human. Our diversity harmonizes through an understanding of how conformity and obedience to authority can dismantle that humanity through hate. It’s about making sure society moves forward to eliminate that hate to create our version of the perfect race: the human race, one that runs on love. Whether bringing a Jewish perspective to the social media community, encouraging unity through our diversity, or living the life my ancestors or the Frenchman should have been given, I remain determined to be the light the world cannot yet see.


Pierre van Paassen: Sounding the Alarm

Pierre van Paassen’s photo appeared next to his byline in a 1933 issue of B’nai B’rith’s magazine, the National Jewish Monthly.
Van Paassen speaks at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal, 1945.
Photo: Jewish Public Library Archives, Montreal

A journalist who often faced risks defending the powerless and the persecuted, Pierre van Paassen (1895-1968) is remembered as an avid Zionist and advocate for humanitarian causes who spent years living in pre-state Israel, where he penned eyewitness accounts of Arab violence, and who later decried the murderous intentions of Nazi leaders.

An avowed Socialist, van Paassen was a well-known Toronto Star reporter whose syndicated articles were familiar to readers of B’nai B’rith’s magazine, the National Jewish Monthly. Days after Hitler became Chancellor in Germany in March 1933, van Paassen, conducting interviews there, ran into trouble with the National Socialist government for his writings and activities: He was sent for a short time to Dachau, then a concentration camp for political prisoners.

His October 1933 article “Jewish Untouchables” revealed the extent of Jewish persecution through words of Hitler’s henchmen and experiences of Jewish citizens who he knew. When he attempted to visit them, “no response came to my repeated ringing [of the doorbell]. Were they afraid to open? I dared not even make inquiries of the ‘Aryan’ neighbors for fear of directing suspicion…It is the middle-class intellectual, the Jew who felt himself wholly German, the law-abiding citizen, who has been smitten the hardest [by impoverishment and fear].” The author, believing people around the world were blind to the reality of the situation, intended them to perceive the relentless horrors endured by German Jews.

In the same year, he edited a collection of essays, “Nazism: An Assault on Civilization.”

In his correspondence, Isaac Rubinow, B’nai B’rith’s Secretary (equivalent to today’s CEO), quotes van Paassen’s warning to him that Hitler was intent on wiping out the Jews.

Still attempting to spur action on the part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his cabinet, van Paassen quit his newspaper work and became a Unitarian minister, continuing as an outspoken ally for Israel and for American civil rights legislation. His many books include two bestsellers, a memoir, “Days of Our Years” (1939) and “The Forgotten Ally” (1943) about the Jewish contribution to the war effort. The second volume of his reminiscences, “To Number Our Days,” was published in 1964.

A Jerusalem street is named in his honor.

B’nai B’rith Engages with Delegates during U.N. Opening Session

B’nai B’rith staff and volunteer leaders annually engage in sideline discussions with delegates and diplomatic personnel involved in the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly. From left: Daniel Heideman, AEPi member; Millie Magid, B’nai B’rith U.N. Affairs chair; Dr. Maliki Osman, minister for Education and Foreign Affairs in the Singapore Prime Minister’s Office; B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin; Richard P. Schifter, chair, AJIRI-BBI; David Michaels, B’nai B’rith director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs.

B’nai B’rith International conducted a series of intensive meetings in New York with international leaders and diplomatic officials on the sidelines of the opening sessions of the United Nations General Assembly during the week of Sept. 18.

An official U.N. NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) since 1947, B’nai B’rith maintains a dedicated office of U.N. affairs, enabling staff and volunteer leaders to interface with members of the international body, to advocate for fair treatment for Israel and to stand for the cause of human rights for Jews and all peoples.

B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin observed: “The importance of the face-to-face meetings that take place during this time cannot be overestimated. Through them, we have the opportunity to raise our international agenda with prime ministers, presidents and foreign ministers—the principal movers of global foreign policy.”

In dialogue with representatives from around the globe, B’nai B’rith expressed deep concern over Iran’s continually advancing nuclear program, its support of terrorist policies and its allies’ violent acts. B’nai B’rith continued to support Israel, voice opposition to Palestinian efforts to block the negotiation of peaceful solutions in the Middle East and to encourage new initiatives to fight continually rising anti-Semitism.

B’nai B’rith monitors speeches with content detrimental to Israel delivered at the U.N. and its satellite agencies, including at the U.N. Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva, where B’nai B’rith representatives have the opportunity to respond publicly.

Webinar: Objections to Proposed Ruling on Israel by U.N. International Court of Justice

When the United Nations General Assembly asked The Hague’s International Court of Justice (ICJ), an entity functioning under the U.N. umbrella, to issue an opinion on the legality of Israel’s political system and policies toward its Arab citizens, B’nai B’rith, as on a previous occasion, submitted a response evidencing the request as detrimental to peace efforts, and called on international support for Israel.

A Sept. 7 roundtable discussion led by B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin focused on the opinions of the lawyers who wrote and submitted arguments against the proposed ICJ ruling at B’nai B’rith’s behest in December 2022.

Recalling “B’nai B’rith’s dynamic presence in the land of Israel,” Mariaschin noted that “we have not been silent” while Millie Magid, chair of the B’nai B’rith Office of U.N. Affairs, said that “all those with an interest in justice and equality of nations should take an interest in what is unfolding in The Hague,” further remarking that “if the forces demonizing, delegitimizing and assaulting Jews, including Israeli Jews, are to be stopped, the ICJ must draw a line in the sand and not abet political prosecution of Israel.”

Emphasizing B’nai B’rith’s unwavering support of Israel, Heideman urged others to “Stand up, speak out, speak forcefully and make it clear that Israel, like every nation state in the world, deserves to be treated with equality.”

Panelists included: Avigail Frisch, Israeli embassy legal advisor in the Netherlands; former B’nai B’rith President Richard D. Heideman, senior counsel at Heideman Nudelman & Kalik, and attorney Joseph H. Tipograph, also of Heideman Nudelman & Kalik; Yifa Segal, founder, International Legal Forum; David Matas, senior legal counsel, B’nai B’rith Canada; and B’nai B’rith staff David Michaels, director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs and Alan Schneider, director, World Center-Jerusalem.

In October, B’nai B’rith called on countries that had submitted objections to the formation of a COI to contribute further arguments before the Oct. 25 deadline, stressing the detrimental consequences to the Jewish homeland in light of the ongoing war initiated by Hamas. In the letter urging action, it was noted, “For the ICJ to proceed with issuing an advisory opinion that ignores, talks around, justifies, equivocates or minimizes the savagery of the Hamas-led massacre can only show its inability to administer meaningful productive justice and the need for its immediate dismantling of Hamas.”

 B’nai B’rith has led Jewish communal engagement with the United Nations since its founding in 1945 and will continue to express solidarity with Israel and condemn the misuse of international political and legal instruments to attack the world’s only Jewish state.

Read B’nai B’rith’s full submission to the ICJ here.

Read the Executive Summary here.

B’nai B’rith Leaders Acknowledge Israel Support

U.S. Rep Henry Cuellar of Texas is flanked by B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin (left) and Gil Kapen, AJIRI-BBI executive director (right).

B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin and American Jewish International Relations Institute-B’nai B’rith International (AJIRI-BBI) Executive Director Gil Kapen attended a special Capitol Hill meeting with Rep. Henry Cuellar on Oct. 17, where they discussed Israel’s war with Hamas and President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel, which was scheduled for the following day. Both Riklin and Cuellar hail from Texas.

Riklin noted: “Rep. Cuellar, who is planning his own visit to the Jewish homeland with members of the Appropriations Committee, was thanked for his support of Israel.”

Event Sheds Light on European Neo-Nazis: Annual Marches Glorifying Nazism

MP Petra Bayr, general rapporteur on Combating Racism and Intolerance for the Council of Europe (PACE) hosted a roundtable discussion on Oct. 11 devoted to B’nai B’rith’s report “On Europe’s Streets: Annual Marches Glorifying Nazism.” From left: Alexandre Guessel, special representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and other forms of religious intolerance and hate crimes; and panelists Grischa Stanjek, who co-founded the extremist monitoring group Democ; Johanan Seynave, director, B’nai B’rith Europe; Alina Bricman, B’nai B’rith EU Affairs director and Bayr. Stephane Teicher (far right), B’nai B’rith head of delegation to the Council of Europe, provided introductory remarks.

At a time when chants of “Gas the Jews” can be heard on Europe’s streets, B’nai B’rith held an event to discuss the anti-Semitism perpetuated by Nazi sympathizers who conduct annual marches glorifying Nazi Germany and spreading anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Held at the Council of Europe (CoE) in Strasbourg, France, on Oct. 11, “On Europe’s Streets: Annual Marches Glorifying Nazism,” addressed the findings from a report of the same name published by B’nai B’rith International and the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.

“As violent anti-Israel demonstrations veer into anti-Semitism in America and across the world, we see the co-option of Nazi imagery and vile Holocaust distortion and victim-inversion by the far-left and radical Islamists,” said Alina Bricman, B’nai B’rith’s director of European Union Affairs. “The marches depicted in the report are organized by the far-right, white-supremacist milieu—one that is both anti-Semitic and Islamophobic. Yet their appeal reaches far beyond the radical-right, into the mainstream and all the way across the ideological spectrum. Effective action to ban such regularized and normalized marches glorifying Nazism is thus essential to preserving a public space free from hate.”

The event was co-hosted by Austrian MP Petra Bayr, with greetings from B’nai B’rith International Head of Delegation to the CoE Stephane Teicher, who in his opening remarks expressed solidarity with Israel and underscored the common concern regarding anti-Jewish hatred amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

B’nai B’rith Europe Director (and editor of the report) Seynave, along with Bricman, who led the project; and Grischa Stanjek, the report’s researcher and author and co-founder of the Berlin-based extremist monitoring group Democ, provided expert insights on the emerging trends from these marches and policy recommendations.

Each year, cities across Europe witness far-right marches that honor WW II-era war criminals, in blatant defiance of existing continent-wide legal provisions prohibiting Holocaust denial, distortion and hate speech inciting violence. These marches led by neo-Nazis, spanning from Madrid to Helsinki, share a common theme: anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial, distortion, and the glorification of Nazi war criminals and their collaborators.

B’nai B’rith Latin America Participates in Annual Kristallnacht (November 1938 Pogroms) Observances

Participants in Uruguay’s Kristallnacht Commemoration on Nov. 9 in Montevideo included (from left): Hamas massacre survivor Chen Moshe Mizrachi; Ianai Silberstein, president of the Masorti (Conservative) Congregation in Uruguay and B’nai B’rith Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn.

B’nai B’rith commemorated the 85th anniversary of the horrific pogroms which took place during Nov. 8-9, 1938, known as Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass, in public events throughout Latin America, which were attended by dignitaries, Jewish community members and special guests.

The tragic events in Germany, Austria and other parts of Europe are recognized as the beginning of the Holocaust.

On Nov. 9, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou participated in a remembrance ceremony attended by more than 700 people, as he lit a candle to honor Israelis murdered in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. Also speaking were B’nai B’rith Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn, Hamas massacre survivor Chen Moshe Mizrachi and keynote speaker Fernando Lottenberg, Organization of American States (OAS) commissioner to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

Lottenberg decried the escalation in anti-Semitism, urging that governments need to actively protect the rights of their Jewish citizens. He described a recent document signed by all special envoys for Combating Anti-Semitism urging governments ensure the safety of Jewish communities, combat increasing anti-Semitism and unequivocally condemn Hamas and its proxies.

B’nai B’rith Argentina held an interfaith event at Buenos Aires’ Church Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, which featured keynote speaker Fabiana Loguzzo, ambassador to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (known as IHRA) and representative for Combating Anti-Semitism, who stressed the importance of fighting the wave of anti-Semitism that has occurred after Oct. 7. Rabbi Silvina Chemen emphasized the need to declare Hamas as terrorists who pose a threat to people of all faiths.

A Kristallnacht commemoration in Lima, Peru called for the safe return of hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7. The German and Austrian ambassadors led the event alongside rabbis.

Ceremonies in Costa Rica occurred on Nov. 21.


2023 European Days of Jewish Culture Dwells on “Memory”

An event described as a “virtual and real journey through Jewish history” in Şoldǎneşti, Moldova, featured a klezmer recital played in a rustic setting.
The dramatically illuminated bima of Brussels’ Great Synagogue, built in 1878, provided the perfect backdrop for an evening of music and speeches marking the opening of European Days of Jewish Culture, this year exploring the theme of memory.

Attracting thousands of attendees during its four-month run this autumn, the 2023 European Days of Jewish Culture, funded by individuals and organizations from both the private and public sectors, encompassed hundreds of special exhibits, tours, culinary demonstrations, performances and book talks in multiple languages and dialects, all focused on the theme of memory.

Promoted by the AEPJ (European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage), the 2023 festival received support for the first time from the cultural heritage arm of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization), which in November 2022 collaborated with B’nai B’rith for its Hebrew language conference, and the European Union Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values program (CERV), whose online training sessions and seminars extend into 2024.

During the festival’s opening event on Sept. 3 at the Great Synagogue in Brussels, audience members were treated to a concert and speeches from Katharina von Schnurbein, European Union commissioner on Monitoring and Combatting Anti-Semitism and Alan Schneider, B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem director. Schneider praised the evening’s award recipient, “[Madame] Claude Bloch, founding president of the B’nai B’rith Strasbourg Lodge, [who] initiated in 1996 what has become the European Day of Jewish Culture—perhaps the most outstanding event on the cross-European Jewish calendar. She then launched the Open House Day in Alsace, opening Jewish sites to the public for the first time. In 2000, with François Moyse as B’nai B’rith Europe director, the first European Days of Jewish Culture took place. B’nai B’rith is proud to have been among the earliest supporters of AEPJ.” Bloch’s late husband was a driving force behind B’nai B’rith Europe.

Schneider noted the connection between B’nai B’rith and Israel’s National Library, a festival partner whose holdings include books and periodicals acquired from the public library founded by the Jerusalem Lodge in 1892.

B’nai B’rith Europe mounted an exhibit in Bratislava, Slovakia, on World War II diplomatic rescuers and Hilleel Lodge’s “Open Monuments Day” offered heritage tours, concerts and Jewish book markets in several Dutch cities. B’nai B’rith U.K. published its annual guide to the country’s virtual and in-person events, with lodges hosting an audience-participation murder mystery evening in Cheshire, an architectural survey of British synagogues and a “Music and Memory” roundtable.

IMPACT: Emerging Leaders Fellowship Launches its Third Year

Top row: This year’s opening session of IMPACT: Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program, coordinated by B’nai B’rith Director of EU Affairs Alina Bricman (far left) was led by CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin (second from right).

Now in its third consecutive year, B’nai B’rith’s IMPACT: Emerging Leaders Fellowship program, conceived and coordinated by B’nai B’rith Director of EU Affairs Alina Bricman, conducted its first online session on Oct. 10.

A new cohort of 30 young fellows from Argentina, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States was selected for the program, intended to orient young Jewish leaders pursuing careers in the Jewish communal field.

The fellows acquire advocacy, diplomacy and civic engagement skills from insiders offering various perspectives on topics ranging from fundraising to governmental relations.

Confronting the dramatic situation in Israel, with the Hamas attacks against the Jewish state launched on Oct. 7, days before the IMPACT group met for the first time, its members shared a common goal and agenda of supporting the Jewish homeland in every way possible.

The first session, led by B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, was followed on Oct. 26 by an interactive discussion with student leaders from countries including Australia, France and Latin America who spoke about the rise of anti-Semitism on campus, at an all-time high during the war waged by Hamas against Israel. Presentations continue through December.

Connect Diplomatic Encounters in New York and Washington

On Sept. 12, Jewish leaders from B’nai B’rith Connect young professionals group attended a Diplomatic Encounter session hosted by the Bulgarian Consulate in New York City. The evening’s speaker, Consul-General of the Republic of Bulgaria Angel Angelov talked about his nation’s present-day relationship with the Jewish community in his country and in New York.

Included in the photograph are B’nai B’rith board member and past Connect Chair Scott Knapp (holding sign, center right) and B’nai B’rith staff taking part in the event: Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels; Vice President of Development and Strategic Initiatives Andrea Cure (first and second from left); and Program Manager Liz Krebs (far right). Angelov appears fifth from left. Connect participant Phil Beylison commented: “I really enjoyed the event, [as] an opportunity to build connections with exceptional young Jewish professionals in a unique diplomatic setting.”

Hosted by B’nai B’rith at its Washington D.C. headquarters, a Dec. 1 Connect Shabat dinner highlighted a conversation with the Croation Ambassador to the United States Pjer Šimunović (4th from right), who spoke to the 20 attendees about recent events in his own country and around the world and detailed his nation’s diplomatic relations with America and Israel. Connect chair Joshua Sushan is third from the right.

South Florida Youth Leaders Make a Difference in Colombia

Two B’nai B’rith of South Florida youth leaders led a successful mission this summer, when they aided underprivileged communities throughout Colombia.

Adrian E. Sanchez and Joshua Strauss, both honors students from Don Soffer Aventura High School and David Posnack Jewish Day School respectively, led a six-week “Leadership in Human Rights Initiative in Latin America,” a collaboration between B’nai B’rith of South Florida and Fundación Colombiana de Servicios Comunitarios (The Colombian Foundation of Community Services), a Catholic nonprofit which helps economically challenged Bogota communities.

Sanchez and Strauss spent their first day in Colombia buying essential items and preparing a communal meal for the 60 underprivileged families. Over the ensuing days, they traveled to vulnerable areas in and near Bogota, distributing food and essentials to those in need.

The mission concluded with visits to social service organizations and nonprofits, including the Be+ Foundation, Bogota’s Food Bank, and Constructive Activists, where Sanchez and Strauss gained insight into nonprofit management and South American and international human rights issues. They also visited significant cultural sights.

B’nai B’rith of South Florida Youth Leaders Adrian E. Sanchez (back row, right) and Joshua Strauss (back row, left) aided impoverished children in Bogota, Colombia, under the guidance of Fundacion Colombiana de Servicios Comunitarios Director Sister Ligia Neira (left). The children, who lived in the areas that Sanchez and Strauss visited, received awards for leadership and academic excellence and were given household items and food packages for their families. Other families from the community were also provided with food, purchased with monies raised by Sanchez, Strauss and their Florida schoolmates.

Sanchez and Strauss previously represented the state of Florida at the National Celebration of the 80th anniversary of Holocaust Survivors in Bulgaria in March. Read about the Bulgaria trip here.

After returning from Bulgaria, the two were inspired to support human rights on a much larger scale. They immediately began planning and raising money for their trip to Colombia to assist economically challenged families.

“Throughout this journey, I have gained profound insights into the realms of human rights and leadership,” Strauss said. “But what resonates with me the most is the indomitable power of united teenage efforts. We have proven that we can succeed, exemplifying the extraordinary spirit of compassion and unity that defines our exceptional communities.”

While in Colombia, Sanchez was interviewed on “Salio El Sol,” a Colombian morning news show, where he shared how his inspiration to help the underprivileged was sparked when he helped a sick child receive dire medical care.

In recognition for their impact on the community, both teens received a “Leadership in Human Rights Initiative Award” from Fundación Colombiana de Servicios Comunitarios.

Sanchez noted the involvement of his peers, who helped with fundraising efforts and support: “The unwavering dedication of teenagers like us, students from Don Soffer Aventura High School and David Posnack Jewish Day School, who tirelessly followed us every step of the way and provided their incredible support, played an immeasurable role as we extended vital aid to these impoverished Colombian families enduring dire poverty. It is amazing to see what we as teenagers and students can achieve if we join forces.”

Watch the Salio El Sol interview here.

B’nai B’rith Honors Jewish Rescuer: Musician Alma Rosé

Photo: Fayer

Violinist and conductor Alma Rosé (1906-44), niece of composer Gustav Mahler, saved many who played under her baton in the all-female Orchestra of Auschwitz-Birkenau but did not herself survive. Rosé posthumously received The Jewish Rescuer Citation from B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust on Oct. 1 at Kibbutz Netzer Sereni in Israel.

Jane Alexander and Vanessa Redgrave starred in Arthur Miller’s dramatization of the orchestra’s story, “Playing for Time,” televised in 1980.

Mariaschin Speaks During B’nai B’rith Historian’s Conference

B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin delivered online greetings for “Trials and Transmissions,” a conference in New York held from Oct. 11-13 exploring research opportunities focusing on German rabbis in the U.S. It was organized by Cornelia Wilhelm, author of “The Independent Order of B’nai B’rith and True Sisters: Origins of a New Jewish Identity 1843-1914.”

Mariaschin warmly remembered Wilhelm’s 20-year connection to B’nai B’rith, praising her discoveries about the German-Jewish origins of the organization. He described her new project: “From 1933, the rabbis [who came here] became a force in what Cornelia has revealed as a pivotal role in shaping Jewish values, which in turn played a part in bringing important changes to attitudes in America as a whole. Their diverse but always erudite views on theology, the meaning of worship and the imperative of furthering social justice resonate today.”

A workshop chaired by academic Cornelia Wilhelm, author of a book tracing the evolution of B’nai B’rith from its inception through the onset of World War I, focused on research investigating the American careers of German immigrant rabbis in the United States, took place in October.

Co-sponsored by Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich, where Wilhelm is on faculty, New York University and the Leo Baeck Institute, the sessions called on archivists and historians to pinpoint resources for further research. Throughout the country, more than 250 mostly Reform clergymen led congregations and youth groups, taught religion or wrote about Judaism in the post-World War II era.

Wilhelm is adding information to her extensive database on the rabbis, which she hopes to enlarge through materials from personal collections, archives and libraries suggested by workshop participants.

B’nai B’rith Bowling League President Plans for Growth

The B’nai B’rith Lucky Strikes team played in the 1954 International B’nai B’rith Bowling Association (IBBBA) sectional tournament. It’s hoped that this activity, once a major aspect of B’nai B’rith’s fraternal and recreational culture, will enjoy a revival.

In 1950, IBBBA voted to terminate its membership in the American Bowling Congress, the umbrella organization for leagues nationwide, to protest its exclusion of Black bowlers. In response, the Congress changed the discriminatory rule.
Photo: Upper Midwest Jewish Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis, Minn.
Winners of the 2018 IBBBA sectional tournament, played in Denver. From left: Jerry Rose; Howie Gerenraich; Howard Waxer; Mitch Lefton.
Photo: courtesy of Howard Waxer

A resident of Farmington Hills, Mich. and current president of the International B’nai B’rith Bowling Association (IBBBA), Howard Waxer has launched his plans this season for growing its membership by inviting bowlers from all over the world to join and benefit from its rewards and incentives.

Organized in 1939 for B’nai B’rith teams and bowlers in the United States and Canada, IBBBA could boast as many as 20,000 members during the 1960s and 1970s: the sport was a big part of lodge culture. Today membership totals 414.

A bowler for more than three decades, Waxer is an athlete who competed in Maccabiah games in Israel and Chile in the early 2000s. Maintaining friendships with enthusiasts of the sport in many countries, Waxer is also involved as longtime president of the Metropolitan Detroit B’nai B’rith Bowling Association.

Waxer, who has now opened IBBBA membership to Jewish leagues and individual Jewish bowlers outside North America, has adopted a mission to “create pride among Jewish bowlers,” wherever they are.

During the 2023-24 season, IBBBA league (a group of teams that can compete against one another) membership is free for new bowlers at this time. Players competing in a wide variety of tournaments win prizes, including plaques and trophies, by bowling a high score; leadership abilities are also recognized. Those who bowl a perfect score of 300 receive a special 300 Game Plaque.

Until the pandemic, the association’s sectional bowling tournaments were organized in major American cities but are now conducted online, with lanes in different locations. It is hoped that the games can soon take place on site. Each player pays a $25 fee to enter these sectional tournaments, which pay out cash awards. Funds raised are used for charitable initiatives like scholarships.

Leagues and bowlers worldwide who are interested in supporting B’nai B’rith’s mission and developing new friendships through their involvement in the association can contact IBBBA through its Facebook page or by sending an email to its Executive Secretary Mark Sperling at

Garsek Lodge Celebrates Thanksgiving with Area Seniors

The Nov. 15 festivities for residents of the Mollie and Max Barnett Apartments hosted, prepared and served by Garsek Lodge members.

On Nov. 14, Isadore Garsek Lodge volunteers in Fort Worth hosted a pre-Thanksgiving lunch for Jewish Family Services senior group members at Beth-El Congregations.  On November 15, the lodge served a second pre-Thanksgiving lunch for residents of the B’nai B’rith Mollie and Max Barnetts Apartments in the same city.

More than 140 holiday meals “with all the trimmings” were served to guests during this annual activity.

Garsek Chaplain and Immediate Past President Alex Nason observed: “The Thanksgiving seniors lunch tradition is over 30 years old, but it never gets old to see the smiling, happy faces of the seniors attending the lunch.”

Through the year, Garsek reaches out to the Fort Worth-Dallas community, enhancing life for people of all ages.

AJIRI-BBI Honors Guatemala

Ambassador of Guatemala to the United States Alfonso Quiñonez holds the award honoring his country’s friendship with Israel at B’nai B’rith’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. With him are B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin (center) and AJIRI-BBI Executive Director Gil Kapen.

Leaders and board members of AJIRI-BBI (American Jewish International Relations Institute-B’nai B’rith International) and its umbrella organization, B’nai B’rith, thanked Ambassador of Guatemala to the United States Alfonso Quiñonez for his friendship and for his country’s loyalty to Israel, when they presented an award of appreciation to him on Sept. 8.

Founded by the late Ambassador Richard Schifter and a part of B’nai B’rith since 2020, AJIRI-BBI engages in dialogue with the diplomatic community to support Israel’s cause and combat anti-Israel bias at the United Nations. Read more about AJIRI’s mission in the Fall edition 2023 IMPACT.


B’nai B’rith Remembers Camelot

The White House group included (from left): former B’nai B’rith President Frank Goldman; President Label Katz; President John F. Kennedy; B’nai B’rith Women President Berdie Kudler; Executive Vice President Maurice Bisgyer. Photo: Abbie Rowe, White House Photos/B’nai B’rith

During the May 1962 Supreme Grand Lodge Convention in Washington, D.C., B’nai B’rith leaders met with President John F. Kennedy at the White House, where they presented him with a Jewish-themed silver and velvet wall plaque decorated with a menorah and a banner held by two lions, where an engraved dedication appeared:

“In greetings to John F. Kennedy, President of the United States, from B’nai B’rith International convention.”

With thanks, Kennedy remarked that “The long history and wide range of B’nai B’rith interests have been a positive and constructive force for a good part of the history of our Nation.”