Trip Marking 50 Years of Israeli-German Relations Initiated by World Center
One of the world's leading women's soccer teams, FFC Turbine Potsdam, will visit Israel on January 18-23 to mark 50 years since the establishment of German-Israeli diplomatic relations. B’nai B’rith World Center Trustee and B’nai B’rith Frankfurt Lodge President Ralph Hofmann initiated the visit.
The team’s trip will be a milestone for women's soccer in Israel. It will provide an opportunity to improve the sporting level, while also increasing interest in women's soccer and improving sporting ties between the two countries. The Israel Ministry of Culture and Sport, the German and Israeli Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Israel Ministry of Tourism, the Embassy of Germany in Israel, the Netanya municipality, the Israeli Embassy in Germany and the Israel Football Association have partnered with B'nai B'rith to realize this ambitious project.
Turbine Potsdam is a top team in the women’s Bundesliga, the professional soccer league in Germany, and is one of the leading teams in Europe. Founded in 1971 in what was then East Germany (GDR), Turbine Potsdam won the GDR league six times in the 1980s. Since reunification, the Turbine Potsdam has claimed the league title in 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2012. They won the German Football Federation (DFB) Cup in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and won the UEFA Women's Cup in 2005 and UEFA Women's Champions League in 2010. Turbine Potsdam also took home the DFB Hall Cup in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2014. A number of team players served on Germany's under-20 national team that won the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup this year in Canada. Several are also members of the German national team. At home the team enjoys a large devoted fan base. Bernd Schroder, who serves as a volunteer, has coached the team for the entirety of its 43 years of existence.
The team's visit will include an official friendly match with the Israeli national under-19 team, training clinics and visits to significant national and historical sites including Jerusalem's Old City, Masada and Yad Vashem. The visit was coordinated by the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem—the official presence of B'nai B'rith International in Jerusalem and its public affairs arm in Israel.
Nearly thirty players and professional staff will participate in the visit, in addition to two representatives of the German television station RBB.
The press is invited to cover the training clinic on January 19 at 15:30 at the Israel Football Association's National Team Training Center in Shefayim and the friendly game on January 20 at 18:00 at the Herzliya Municipal Stadium in Herzliya, in the presence of Israel's Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat, German ambassador to Israel Andreas Michaelis and other dignitaries.
For further details please contact Alan Schneider, director of the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem, at 02-6251743, 052-5536441 or by email at email@example.com.
B'nai B'rith World Center and JRJ Committee Conferred Jewish Rescuers Citation on Holocaust Rescuer at Bronx YM-YWHA
B’nai B’rith International, the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ) was honored to confer the joint Jewish Rescuers Citation on Berta Davidovitz Rubinsztejn, a rescuer who operated in German-occupied Hungary.
The citation was presented to Rubinsztejn on Nov. 6 at the Riverdale YM-YWHA in the Bronx, N.Y., with her family, friends and community present. But there was a special guest in attendance as well: Meir Brand, traveling from Jerusalem to attend, was rescued by Rubinsztejn when he was 7 years old, scrounging for food on the streets of Budapest in the spring of 1944.
“This is a great moment for me as this citation is awarded to Berta who of all people most deserves it,” Brand told the audience before Rubinsztejn was presented with the citation. “I am standing here only because of what Berta has done for me which allowed me to raise a wonderful and prosperous family.”
The citation ceremony opened with Riverdale YM-YWHA President Bradd Gold and CEO Deann Forman addressing attendees, followed by Rabbi Avi Weiss from the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and Rabbi Steven Exler, who led the memorial prayer in memory of the victims of the Shoah.
A representative of New York State Assemblyman Jeffery Dinowitz and New York State Sen. Jeffrey Klein issued a proclamation from New York State, and delivered thoughtful words and congratulations to Rubinsztejn. Documentary filmmaker Gaylen Ross spoke too. Ross was responsible for bringing Rubinsztejn’s story to life in her documentary “Killing Kasztner” and ultimately nominated her for the citation.
The citation was presented to Rubinsztejn by B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, who recounted her harrowing story and the work of other Jewish rescuers who have received the citation.
“We know that Berta is here today to represent an important part of the Shoah—those who are here to tell the story and be the eye witness to this horrible event in Jewish history—to make sure we never forget those who were lost and those who have lived to keep this memory alive,” Mariaschin said. “I am honored to be here to be part of this tribute to Berta and make this presentation in person on behalf of B’nai B’rith International.”
Rubinsztejn, 92, was born in Poland and fled with her family into still unoccupied Hungary where Jews were not yet being rounded up. She made her way to Budapest where she joined the Zionist youth movement Habonim Dror. Rubinsztejn assumed a Gentile identity and would covertly plan and carry out various operations, including weapons smuggling. As Rudolf Kastner—a leader of the Jewish Aid and Rescue Committee—negotiated with the Nazis in the summer of 1944 the departure of a trainload of Jews from German-occupied Hungary to neutral Switzerland. The goal of Habonim Dror was to put as many orphaned children onto the train as possible. One of these children was Brand.
Brand was smuggled with two young cousins into Hungary in August 1943 after his parents sensed that the liquidation of the ghetto they had lived in for two years was near. After a three-week hike to the Slovakian border, Brand arrived in Budapest and was abandoned. Posing as a Gentile, he lived on the streets for nine months, scrounging for food and sleeping in bombed-out buildings. When Rubinsztejn found him in his battered state in April 1944, she instinctively knew he was Jewish and took him home, nursing him back to health. In June 1944 Rubinsztejn put herself and about 20 Jewish children—including Brand—on the Kastner train.
Rubinsztejn dedicated herself to Brand’s recovery throughout the trip—including a terrifying and life-threatening incarceration in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp—until they arrived in Switzerland. The two made Aliyah in 1946.
Rubinsztejn emigrated from Israel to the United States in 1960, where she currently resides with her family. She was very involved with many organizations including the Bronx Democratic Party, and counts former New York City mayors Abraham Beame, Ed Koch and David Dinkins along with former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo among her acquaintances. She was active in the Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale, in Riverdale, N.Y., and still visits the Riverdale YM-YWHA every day where she organizes the monthly "Café Europa" gathering of Holocaust survivors.
“The most important outcome of all your efforts Berta, and of which I'm forever in your debt, is that I was able to arrive safely in Israel, the only one of my whole family,” Brand said. “Together with my wife Hana I have raise a wonderful family of three children and nine grandchildren.”
The Jewish Rescuers Citation was established in 2011 by the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ) and B’nai B’rith World Center to set right the historic record—that thousands of Jews were active in rescue efforts throughout Europe, putting their own lives at risk in order to save other Jews from deportation, hunger and death at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators. To date nearly 100 citations have been presented to rescuers who operated in France, Germany, Holland, Greece and Hungary.
“We are proud to honor these two Jewish heroes and gratified that through our decade-long efforts there is growing acknowledgement that their recognition as models for Jewish and human solidarity is long overdue,” Director of the B'nai B'rith World Center and a founding member of the JRJ Committee Alan Schneider said in advance of the ceremony.
B’nai B’rith Hosts New Chair of European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Israel on First Visit to Jewish State
Member of the European Parliament and newly appointed Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Israel Fulvio Martusciello, a Christian Democrat from Italy, visited Israel this week for the first time at the invitation of B’nai B’rith International. Joining Martusciello on the trip was MEP and previous delegation chair Bas Belder, a European Conservative from the Netherlands.
The two day visit was prepared in tandem by the B’nai B’rith International EU Affairs Office in Brussels and the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem. The delegation met with the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi; MK and Chair of the Economic Affairs Committee Avishay Braverman; MK and Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Zeev Elkin; and MK and Chair of Knesset Lobby for the Struggle Against Anti-Semitism Shimon Ohayon. The delegation also met with the Head of the Bureau of the European Division of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Shmuel Revel. Major issues raised during the meetings included EU-Israel relations, the Iranian threat and the latest on anti-Semitism throughout Europe.
The delegation also visited Yad Vashem and the Old City of Jerusalem.
“Unfortunately people don’t know what they are talking when they talk about Israel,” Martusciello said. “This visit was an eye opener for a country that I always have the will to visit.” During the meetings Martusciello mentioned the importance of Holocaust education in Europe and, in particular, the need for accurate information about the real situation in Israel.
World Center Director Alan Schneider and Director for EU Affairs Nuno Wahnon, who accompanied the MEPs on the visit, noted the importance of having leading EU political figures dealing with EU-Israel relations visit Israel early in their tenure. The visit laid the foundation for a future cooperation between B’nai B’rith and the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Israel.
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