In close cooperation with the Frankfurt B'nai B'rith Schönstädt Lodge B'nai B'rith Europe organised the first Young Leadership Seminar this year from 18th to 20th October. Some 50 young people from many parts of the world participated (France, Turkey, Switzerland, Israel, Russia, Germany and even 4 delegates who came specifically from Argentine.)
One of the major reasons for the success of this seminar was the all-round support provided by our Treasurer Brother Kurt de Jong, and the organising team expresses its sincere thanks to him.
The proceedings began on Erev Shabbat in Frankfurt's main synagogue, followed by a Kabbalat meal in the rooms of the Frankfurt Lodge, where the participants were welcomed by Ralph Hofmann, John Reeves and young lodge members Sister Dr. Toni Singer, Jewgenij Singer, Vice-President of the Frankfurt Lodge and Dr. Adrian Strack, Lodge Council member. Participants were welcomed in every one of their languages, leading to a good deal of laughter. Allan J. Jacobs, President of B'nai B'rith International was present throughout the seminar. Sacha Stawski, Director of Honestly Concerned and organiser of this year's Israel Congress in Berlin, addressed the group on the subject of press reporting on Israel.
A Shabbat morning service was organised in the lodge premises, led by Rabbi Soussan, Rabbi Friberg and Beni Marokko. The serious part of the seminar began after the Kiddush with a discussion on "How do you build up the interests of young people in the lodge?" led by the younger lodge members Dr. Adrian Strack, Jewgenij Singer and Kirill Boguslavski. Lunch was followed by a discussion on the anti-Semitism prevalent in the various countries, in Russia, in Turkey and in France. Rabbi Soussan spoke of the difficulty encountered by many young Jews in finding a suitable partner.
A Question and Answer session, involving Allan Jacobs and Ralph Hofmann, produced some interesting questions such as:
• What was your route to the Presidency?
• How do you think lodges can attract young people?
• Do you think that lodges should have quotas on matters of gender?
• Should lodges have age limitations for their Council members?
• What is your view of Jewry in the diaspora?
• How do you see the relationship with the State of Israel?
Jewgenij Singer had put these questions together. The two Presidents gave their views which showed up some of the different standpoints between USA and Europe.
Participants were particularly impressed by the talk by Stephan Kramer, General Secretary of the Central Committee of Jews in Germany. His subject was "Lobbying" and he emphasised the vital need for Jews to speak with one voice if one wished to achieve results.
The Havdala ceremony, led by John Reeves, and accompanied on the piano by Marina Lebenson, was particularly moving. Dinner was followed by party time on a party boat, "King Kameah Boat", with all sorts of music, including Israeli music, and entertainment, lasting well into the early hours. Despite the late night, everybody turned up next day at 11-30 for the concluding discussion which contained one important message: the number of participants for such a seminar – 50 people – is absolutely right to enable people to get to know each other and to establish worthwhile contact.
The weekend concluded with a fascinating sightseeing tour led by Rabbi Andrew Steinmann visiting old Jewish Frankfurt. The old ghetto of Frankfurt was the oldest of Europe and traces remain to this day.
A Happy Sightseeing Group
This was a seminar for young people, run by young people, who found the whole experience very worthwhile. The Frankfurt team has decided to repeat the exercise next year, again limiting the numbers to about 50. They deserve our appreciation and congratulations.
Summary of a report by Simone Hofmann