As B’nai B’rith International celebrates its 175th anniversary we have the opportunity to reflect on all of our great
accomplishments. As my term as Young Leadership Network Chair draws to a close I want to take this opportunity to
reflect on all that was achieved. B’nai B’rith International owes much of its success to the involvement and dedication of volunteers, and the Young Leadership Network (YLN) is often the first introduction young adults have to the organization.
YLN groups and its members from Denver, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Washington D.C. and Florida get to experience
firsthand the truly global reach the organization has. Whether it’s a trip to Japan or a United Nations mission to Geneva
or simply meeting with their peers from various parts of the world — B’nai B’rith International lives up to its motto as the “Global Voice of the Jewish Community.”
For me, this year alone was one full of B’nai B’rith activities, whether it was in my hometown of Chicago or attending
a Leadership Forum in Prague and participating in a panel discussion. When we went on the tour of the Prague Jewish
quarter I was often reminded how important it is to B’nai B’rith to fulfill its core mission on a daily basis — in many
different ways — from humanitarian aid to fighting for Jewish causes. One example of this is when I participated on a
B’nai B’rith delegation to UNESCO in Paris to discuss the politicization of yet another U.N. agency. To have the opportunity and access to meet with diplomats and ambassadors from around the world — and to convey to them that the continued politicization of Israel on the international scene will not be met quietly — is truly an honor.
With this year’s Leadership Forum, celebrating the 175th anniversary of B’nai B’rith, there will also be a Young Leadership day before the start of the Forum. If you know someone in the age range, who you think would be a great fit, please send their information to email@example.com.
Where do I start, these past three years serving as vice chair have flown by and as I look back I am amazed by all I have learned. The past three years have brought me two moves and two new jobs, but the one thing that has made the adjustments to life in Chicago and back in Denver easier has been B’nai B’rith. The amazing events that we have been able to put on have fostered relationships that I know will continue to grow over my lifetime. We have had karaoke nights to discuss Japan, beer nights to celebrate Prague and one of my yearly favorites the Leadville cemetery cleanup in Denver. As I look forward I am hoping that we can grow on these events and bring new and exciting ideas to our Young Leadership Network (YLN) team.
One of the strongest opportunities that B’nai B’rith provides is its worldwide presence. I have had the opportunity to travel to Prague, Geneva and Japan with this organization, and not only explore these great new cities, but also had the amazing opportunity to meet with ambassadors and dignitaries from across the world. One of my biggest hopes for the future of YLN and B’nai B’rith is to find a way to offer more of these travel opportunities and make our global presence even stronger. It seems like every organization these days is going through growing pains as a new generation starts to get involved, I think for B’nai B’rith this can be a huge opportunity, a way to foster new young leaders and give them an outlet to help. As I look to the future of the Young Leadership Network I see so much potential in where it can go and where it can help the organization go. I am so grateful for the past three years and all the opportunities that I have had and I look forward to seeing what the next three years and beyond will hold for YLN and B’nai B’rith.
B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network continues to thrive in several core communities. Over the course of the last months, the Network has connected through conference calls, planning and updating each other on their respective activities throughout the country. Please take a look at the events over the last several months and what we have upcoming!
Young Leaders from around the nation traveled to Prague to attend the Young Leadership Pre–Conference Weekend from Oct. 27 –29, followed by the B’nai B’rith International/B’nai B’rith Europe Annual Leadership Forum from Oct. 29 – 31. The International conference, “Jewish Communities and Western Democracies: What’s the Future?” attracted B’nai B’rith leaders from Europe, the United States, Canada, Israel and Latin America.
Young leaders attended a gala dinner at the prestigious Rudolfinum. They also met with many distinguished diplomats from around the world and toured historic Jewish sites. Young leaders learned more about how B’nai B’rith is at the forefront of today’s most pressing issues; engaging with high-level speakers on topics such as leadership development in today’s busy world, anti-Semitism in Europe, Israel on the global stage, terrorism and radicalization in Europe and the future of minority communities in western societies; and making their voices heard on all things related to B’nai B’rith’s global agenda.
In March, the B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network travelled with a B’nai B’rith delegation to advocate for Israel in Geneva at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), and visited the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, where top lay leaders and staff challenged the body’s growing exploitation as a political tool against Israel.
For the third year now, a delegation of B’nai B’rith young leaders traveled to Japan in March 2018 as part of the Kakehashi Project, a cultural exchange program sponsored by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During this weeklong exchange, the young leaders traveled to both Japan’s capital city of Tokyo and Kyoto, a historic Japanese city located on the island of Honshu. Throughout their weeklong stay in Japan, our delegation of young leaders engaged in immersive, in-depth learning about Japan’s culture, government and history. During their time in Tokyo, our young leaders visited the famous Tsukiji Fish Market and sampled the sushi and sashimi sold there. They also toured Japan’s Diet, or Parliament, building and learned about the Japanese government. Other highlights included a tea ceremony session, during which the delegates learned how to brew matcha, or Japanese green tea, in the traditional manner. Additionally, our delegates met Israeli Ambassador to Japan Yaffa Ben-Ari and discussed with her key aspects of the Japan-Israel relationship. The delegation also met with Kentaro Sonoura, special advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to debrief about their experiences in Japan at the end of the trip and to discuss Japan’s foreign policy priorities. The delegates also spent several days exploring the richly historic Japanese city of Kyoto. There, the delegation visited the Kinkakuji Temple and learned firsthand how to perform the traditional Japanese Yuzen fabric dyeing technique. The delegates also visited the popular area of Arashiyama, including its famous Bamboo Grove and the Tenryuji Temple. They then toured the sake brewery Shoutoku Shuzo Company and participated in a sake tasting after the tour.
Read young leader Laura Hemlock’s blog on her experience traveling this year here.
We will be accepting applications this fall for the next Kakehashi Trip in 2019! Stay tuned!
B’nai B’rith Denver and Temple Emanuel Denver partnered for a Happy Hour, Lecture and Onsite Genetic Screening for Young Professionals and Couples with JScreen on May 3. The event was an informative introduction to a very important topic many people don’t know about. The event was free to attend with the option to pay for discounted genetic screening.
B’nai B’rith Denver also recently hosted its 22nd annual mitzvah event, the historic Leadville Hebrew Cemetery cleanup the weekend of June 22-24. The weekend’s events garnered 100 volunteers at the cemetery as well as nearly 50 attendees at the Shabbat services and oneg in Leadville’s beautifully restored Temple Israel. A short memorial service was also held in honor of early Jewish pioneers in Leadville. Hands-on activities included a general cleanup of the cemetery grounds, including cutting weeds, pruning tree branches, cemetery picket fence painting and sprucing up soiled grave markers. In addition, a large amount of food was donated to help feed the hungry in the Leadville community. Many first-time volunteers participated this year.
The cleanup next year — our 23rd consecutive year — is already scheduled for June 21-23, 2019.
By Jessica Kreger, chair, B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network, South Florida
On June 3, the B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network of South Florida joined the senior residents of the B’nai B’rith Apartments of Deerfield Beach, Florida for a Sunday afternoon Art and Wine Party.
“We had nine people from the young leadership group and nine residents. It was a really nice afternoon,” said James Lynch, the building’s administrator. “The young adults all really enjoyed themselves and mingled well with the residents.” Led by art instructor and B’nai B’rith receptionist Angie Arroyo, attendees learned to hone their painting techniques while creating a tropical landscape, complete with ocean waves lapping an island, a wind-blown palm tree and curving mountain.
Participants chatted over wine and cheese, and resident art work was on display in the room. While the paintings dried, Lynch took the young adults on a tour of the facilities, which include three towers with a combined 270 units, a community garden, coffee shop, internet lounge, fitness room and libraries in each building. The intergenerational event was not only a special opportunity to meet new friends, but also provided young adults the chance to see the senior advocacy and housing pillar of B’nai B’rith International in action. The young adults were pleased to learn that B’nai B’rith sponsored the cost of what may be life-saving power generators after the buildings lost power during Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
On June 20, B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network of New York kicked off the start of summer with an in-depth briefing on the implications of the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA), and the U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council with our own David Michaels, director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs. The talk was an informative and fascinating insider’s look at the important issues facing the Jewish community in the international arena.
Honoring both Jewish tradition and Japanese culture, members of our Young Leadership Network (YLN) in Washington, D.C. community gathered at the high-tech store, Studio Xfinity Live on July 13, to celebrate the start of Shabbat and to learn about our YLN’s spring trip to Japan as guests of the Japanese government’s Kakehashi Project. The dinner was hosted by Dee Sampson, chair of Young Leadership in D.C. who recently traveled to Japan, and was co-sponsored by Sakerum and Bar-Code restaurants. Dee is excited to help grow the BBYLN community of D.C. and work with the Network on engaging programming that educates and supports the mission of B’nai B’rith and its endeavors of global Jewish unity and continuity. The evening was a lovely start to the 2018 year where together, the young leaders lit Shabbat candles, ate sushi and drank sake.
On August 15, BBYLN-DC partnered with the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, D.C. for an exciting young professional networking event. It was wonderful evening of mingling at the awesome offices of Social Tables at the third annual Jew Kids on the Block happy hour. Attendees enjoyed drinks and light appetizers while getting to know the Jewish organizations of D.C. that provide programs for young professionals. YLN-DC chair, Dee Sampson greeted newcomers to the B’nai B’rith International table introducing them to what we have to offer while building new relationships!
Meeting with the Bahá’í International Community’s Office! Stay tuned for details.
Nov. 11: Community Service event helping victims of Hurricane Sandy
Washington, D.C.: Shabbat Dinner & Embassy Visit: dates to be announced shortly
During the Leadership Forum, on Monday, Oct. 15, we have a very exciting panel discussion presented by the Young Leadership Network: “The Crisis of Zionism in Progressive Spaces”
A conversation between B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, leading Democratic Strategist Ann Lewis, Zioness Founder/CEO Amanda Berman and journalist Emily Shire
You don’t want to miss it!
Visit www.bnaibrith.org/young-leadership-network.html to keep up to date on events!