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B’nai B’rith Connect: Busier Than Ever


Connect delegates who traveled to Japan for the 2019 Kakehashi Project cultural exchange are pictured with B’nai B’rith Director of Donor Engagement Richy Leitner (far left) and B’nai B’rith Director of Legislative Affairs Eric Fusfield (fourth from right).
Young men and women making a difference through their involvement in B’nai B’rith Connect (formerly the Young Leadership Network) prove that proactive and impassioned commitment, fueled by love for Jewish tradition, is alive and well.

Connect, a group comprised of members younger than 42, offers a contemporary approach to B’nai B’rith’s tradition of building bridges, fighting prejudice and improving lives. Dedication and focus  link the group to the philanthropic spirit of B’nai B’rith’s founders. Proud of Connect’s achievements, B’nai B’rith ensures opportunities for educating and training of these talented individuals and welcomes them as the next generation of innovative Jewish leaders.

Connect represents a vital part of its members’ lives. New York Connect Chair, writer and fundraiser Laura Hemlock has observed: “B’nai B’rith International Connect allows me to engage in meaningful events and conversations centered around issues that are important to my peers and me. From anti-Semitism to anti-racism, Connect gives us a platform to be heard and make a difference in the Jewish community, locally and globally.”

2020: Connect-tions for a New Normal

After a very busy and successful 2019, Connect launched its 2020 season in New York with a lively January disaster relief fundraiser and a presentation by Ari Berman of IsraAID, an organization based in Israel that partners with B’nai B’rith to implement recovery in the aftermath of natural and manmade disasters worldwide. B’nai B’rith is a founding member of IsraAID.

Successfully adapting to social restrictions imposed by COVID-19, Connect members stayed in touch via online get-togethers and kept current about subjects that affected them, through interactive Zoom conversations and webinars, all of which are posted to B’nai B’rith’s YouTube channel. Rebecca Rose, associate director of development and special projects at B’nai B’rith has commented that “Since the pandemic, virtual programs have allowed our leadership to connect in a way we never expected. The possibilities for programming have become endless as leaders from different regions have been able to get to know one another and work together on the issues they are passionate about.”

In the spring, Connect hosted a webinar with Elan S. Carr, Department of State special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. Hosted by Connect’s chair Senior Vice President Scott Knapp and B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, Carr talked about the causes and context of the rise of anti-Semitism during the pandemic.


Elan S. Carr, United States special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, was the guest speaker for an online Connect program on May 21st.


A flyer for the August 26th online presentation on race and Jewish identity.
An international audience accessed an August roundtable webinar on the repercussions of campus anti-Semitism and the rights of its victims. Moderated by Rose and Hemlock, the panel included former Jewish student leaders and legal experts from North and South America and Europe. The audience also learned about B’nai B’rith’s newest digital resource in the fight against anti-Semitism, “None Shall Be Afraid.”

During another webinar in August, Eric Fusfield, B’nai B’rith director of legislative affairs, engaged in a compelling dialogue with Stacey Aviva Flint, executive director of Congregation Bonai Shalom in Boulder, Colorado and Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein, public affairs advisor at the Jewish Federations of North America about racial diversity in the Jewish community.