(Washington, D.C., Jan. 28, 2019)--B’nai B’rith International and the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations hosted a joint event entitled, “India: A Distant Haven During the Holocaust” on Jan. 28 at the headquarters of the world body in New York. The event, commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day, featured Dr. Kenneth Robbins, an expert on the Indian Jewish community, and Stephen Tauber, a Holocaust survivor whose family fled from Austria to India. Indian Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin and B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman gave opening remarks. CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin introduced Robbins and Tauber.
The two guest speakers discussed Jews in India on both a macro and a personal level. Robbins spoke about minorities’ contribution to Indian society, and India’s history of religious tolerance. He also outlined the movement of Jews to India during different periods of history.
Tauber told a more personal story of his own family, which left Vienna and traveled to India on an Italian ship. His family worked to maintain its Jewish traditions in a tiny community. In 1941, the family settled permanently in the United States.
“Ken is a font of knowledge about India, and particularly the intersections between Indians and Jews… Ken’s work epitomizes the phrase ‘labor of love,’” Mariaschin said, praising Robbins. Mariaschin addressed Tauber by expressing his thanks “for your presence, for your story – and that you and your family were fortunate to find rescue in India and ultimately a new life here in the United States.”
In his remarks, Kaufman emphasized the U.N’s role in fighting hatred and violence. "Although the U.N. does not always live up to its original promise, that promise remains and so does our commitment to see it realized. This is particularly so as anti-Semitism, other forms of hatred and even mass atrocities persist on our planet. Even worse, anti-Semitism persists as Holocaust-denial, that grave injustice, only stands to intensify as more time following World War II passes and we lose more of the survivors, the first-hand witnesses to the unthinkable crimes of the Nazis. And as memory fades, so do lessons – which is something that our world cannot afford."
B’nai B’rith, distinguished for its exceptional role at the United Nations since the body’s very founding, has annually marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day and maintained longstanding ties to India. B’nai B’rith leaders have visited the country, met with senior Indian government and other officials, dispatched humanitarian aid in India during periods of emergency and sponsored a traveling exhibition on intercommunal coexistence in the Indian city of Cochin (Kochi).
To view an archived video of the event, click here.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org