Following up on a proposal made by B’nai B’rith International on Feb. 27 calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to appoint a special coordinator on domestic anti-Semitism, B’nai B’rith, in conjunction with NCSEJ, has taken the plan directly to the attorney general.
In the letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin and NCSEJ Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Mark B. Levin, write:
“A frightening wave of anti-Semitism has been unleashed, and seems at the moment, unchecked. This official would focus the Department’s efforts to monitor anti-Semitic hate crimes and pursue those responsible. He or she would also cooperate with officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security in their efforts to keep Jewish communities safe from threats.”
The letter also notes: “The normalization of anti-Semitism, like any hate crime or speech, is a direct threat to our democracy and the preeminent ideals of tolerance and diversity on which this nation was founded. In the wake of the rising number of domestic anti-Semitic incidents, it is vital that DOJ exert much-needed leadership to shine a spotlight on these crimes and send an important message that combating anti-Semitism is a priority for the United States government.”
Click here to read the letter to Attorney General Sessions.
B’nai B’rith and NCSEJ also published a joint op-ed for FoxNews.com outlining the importance of the long-standing U.S. anti-Semitism envoy.
Click here to read the Op-Ed.
The B'nai B'rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ) will confer their joint "Jewish Rescuer's Citation" upon Naftali Backenroth-Bronicki who risked his life saving Jews from deportation and extermination during the Holocaust in Drohobych, Poland. The citations will be conferred at a ceremony on March 7 at Beit Hatfutsot – Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel at 18:30 (local time).
Backenroth was born in 1905 in Drohobych, Galicia. Heir to an oil family, Backenroth studied agriculture in France as part of his plan to make Aliyah, but returned home after graduating to help his family cope with the severe economic crisis at the time. Between 1939 and 1941, under Soviet rule, Backenroth was appointed as county agronomist by Nikita Khrushchev, then a regional official.
With the German invasion of Drohobych in the summer of 1941 and the beginning of the destruction of the Jewish population in the town and the surroundings, Backenroth started to systematically organize and employ Jewish workers who were conscripted under the Gestapo orders. Recognizing that if the Nazis became dependent on Jewish labor there was less chance that they would be deported and murdered, Backenroth initiated the establishment of workshops, agricultural farms and a horse riding school for the Germans that provided an excuse to employ Jews and save them from death. The status he attained as "foreman" of Jewish labor in Drohobych allowed him to extract Jews who were detained in a major actzia (mass round-ups of Jews during the Holocaust) in 1942 and bring them back to work. When it became evident that the work permits were only a temporary defense from deportation and murder, Backenroth used the means accessible to him in the workshops to build bunkers, which served as a hiding place for dozens of Jews. They survived the war with his assistance.
In 1943, in a clever ruse, Backenroth was recognized by the Gestapo as an “Aryan.” Despite the danger to him and to his family from the local population he continued to play, befuddle and confuse the Nazis. His position as an “Aryan” allowed him to move freely and organize a food supply system for the Jews who survived in the bunkers and hiding places he created.
Thousands of Drohobych Jews were executed at the Bronitza forest nearby. In memory of them, Backenroth changed his name after the war to Bronicki.
When Backenroth-Bronicki was asked why he does not tell stories about that period of his life he said, "what accompanies me all the time, are not the Jews I was able to save, but the memory of all the Jews I could not rescue."
From the committee considerations: Backenroth-Bronicki is a symbol of Jewish solidarity during the Holocaust, expressed in surprisingly varied initiatives to rescue Jews from deportation and extermination. The resourcefulness, dedication, wisdom and courage demonstrated by Backenroth-Bronicki against the Gestapo from the moment he realized he could save the lives of Jews, is a marvel of risk-taking and limit-testing on a daily basis. His unique personality, authoritativeness and reliability, made him likeable to both his enemies and friends—among them two Germans who helped with the rescue operations, and later received Righteous Among the Nations. These rescue operations ensured the survival of dozens of Jews. Therefore the committee decided to honor Backenroth-Bronicki with the Jewish Rescuer Citation.
“The heroism of Naftali Backenroth-Bronicki should put to rest once and for all the notion that the Jewish people didn’t fight back, which has wrongly tainted Holocaust historiography for more than 70 years,” B'nai B'rith World Center Director Alan Schneider said. “It is very important for Jewish rescuers to be included among the categories of all who rescued Jews.”
The Citation will be presented posthumously to Backenroth-Bronicki’s son Yehuda Lucien, who as a child was complicit in some of his father’s rescue efforts.
Since its establishment in 2011, the Jewish Rescuers Citation has been presented in order to correct the public misconception that Jews did not rescue other Jews during the Holocaust. To date 162 heroes were honored for rescue activities in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland and Holland.
The ceremony will take place at the annual memorial for the survivors of Drohobych, Borislav and the Surroundings organization. Participating in the ceremony is Alan Schneider, director of the B'nai B'rith World Center and Yehuda Bronicki, son of Naftali Backenroth, family and friends.
For more information please contact: Alan Schneider, Director, B'nai B'rith World Center, Tel: 02-6251743, 052-5536441 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine to Receive B'nai B'rith's Distinguished Achievement Award
B’nai B’rith International has selected Dr. Peter J. Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, to receive its Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of key community and corporate leaders from around the world.
Hotez will receive the award during a dinner reception on March 2 at the Hyatt Regency Houston Galleria.
Hotez is a world-renowned physician-scientist of neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development. He is the leader in product development partnership for creating new vaccines for hookworm infection, schistosomiasis and Chagas disease and SARS/MERS. At the 2006 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, Hotez co-founded and launched the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, which supplies millions of people around the world with medicines.
“Peter J. Hotez is one the foremost experts on often overlooked tropical diseases—maladies that affect millions of children and adults around the world. Without Dr. Hotez the medical industry would be years behind in its research of creating new vaccines,” B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman said. “It is my pleasure to honor Dr. Hotez with the B’nai B’rith Distinguished Achievement Award.”
In 1980, Hotez graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in Molecular Biophysics. He earned his biochemistry Ph.D. in 1986 from Rockefeller University and an M.D. from Weil Cornell Medical College in 1987. He has authored two books: “Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases” and “Blue Marble Health: An Innovative Plan to Fight Diseases of the Poor Amid Wealth.” Additionally, Hotez has written more than 400 original papers on several medical subjects.
In 2014, Hotez had the honor of being selected by the White House and U.S. State Department as the United States Science Envoy, where he focused on establishing science diplomacy initiatives between the U.S., the Middle East and North Africa. During 2016, at the height of the global Zika epidemic, Hotez emerged as a key leader on the issue, and testified before the U.S. Congress on the matter several times.
“Dr. Hotez’s work on tropical diseases has been instrumental in the medical field, and his expertise has been sought after by many. His commitment to saving lives, especially of those who suffer from lesser known diseases, or diseases that most often afflict the poor, is inspirational and gallant,” B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “B’nai B’rith is honored to recognize Dr. Hotez with this award.”
Hotez is also currently a professor of pediatrics, molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine at Texas Children’s Hospital, an endowed chair of Tropical Pediatrics at Texas Children’s Hospital and the president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. Hotez is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and in 2011 he was president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Also in 2011, he was honored with the Abraham Horwitz Award for Excellence in Leadership in Inter-American Health by the Pan American Health Organization of the World Health Organization.
For more than four decades, B’nai B’rith has presented the Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of the accomplishments of key community and corporate leaders around the world. These exceptional individuals and companies are honored for their community service, dedicated leadership and commitment to improving the lives of the individuals they serve.