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NEWS of the Lodges




B’nai Brith Europe & B’nai B’rith Dr. Moses Rosen present : Inauguration of the "Bridges of Tolerance" project on Holocaust Education, June 3 to 5 2015, Bucharest


Kavala memorial 1

Sunday 17th May was meant to be a day of remembrance for the 1,484 Greek Jews of the town of Kavala who were annihilated by the Nazis. A long-planned Holocaust memorial was to be officially unveiled in the center of the city.

Instead, thanks to the disgraceful decisions by the mayor of Kavala, Dimitra Tsanaka - fuelled apparently by a combination of anti-Semitism and idiocy – the event was cancelled in a fiasco that (rightly) provoked international condemnation.

In an inexplicable and deeply offensive decision, Tsanaka, backed by the majority of the municipal council, decided to postpone the unveiling ceremony because the memorial - a Holocaust memorial to the Jews killed in WWII - bore the star of David. 

According to the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, the mayor of Kavala asked for the star's removal before the monument could be officially presented.

The shocking decision was immediately condemned by both Jewish groups and the Greek central government and was reported on extensively by the international press.

The Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KISE) attacked the decision as “unacceptable, immoral and insulting.” 

Many in Kavala also objected to the decision which was damaging to the reputation of the city.

About 100 people including 4 sisters from Israel whose parents had come from Kavala and Komotini and who had been killed in the concentration camps, marched through the city of Kavala today condemning the cancellation of the memorial unveiling ceremony. Some wore symbolic yellow stars of David during the silent protest.

The group marched on the town hall where they were met by the mayor.

According to Kavala-Portal, Tsanaka reportedly apologized for the incident which she attributed to a ‘huge misunderstanding’. She provided assurances that the memorial would be installed as planned on a date that would be decided on together with KISE – likely to be on June 7th.

 

However while Tsanaka admitted having made mistakes – it is notable that she did not acknowledge that one of those had been requesting the removal of the Star of David from the memorial. “Perhaps” she said, “I was wrong to trust so much the deputy mayor of culture, Michalis Lychounas, who took on entirely planning the event and the memorial. That was my mistake.”

 

But Mr Lychounas himself, in an article written about the incident in the Kathimerini newspaper, indicates that there was something perhaps deeper behind the disgraceful episode. After describing the many delays in actually succeeding in getting the memorial ready (it was actually first approved by the municipality in 2004 but was plagued with foot-dragging and interminable delays), Lychounas writes that:

“The preparations with all relevant organs continued with the goal of a celebration of memory, but also of the future, until the cries of horror were heard: “The symbols of Lucifer (Star of David), indifference over our dead (make a memorial for the Greeks killed of Asia Minor), a global Zionist conspiracy, freemasonry, the new order of things which seeks to destroy the nation and hysteria over supposed protests” were the arguments…The bitter truth is that there remains a segment of the Greek population which has powerful anti-Semitic feelings based on ignorance and prejudice and the education system does not do enough to eliminate the phenomenon.”

It is now up to Tsanaka to prove that such anti-Semitic prejudices have no place in the local government of Kavala.

Source: www.thetoc.gr- The Times of Change

 


Sammy Steinman zal




On 1 May 2015 ex-president Samuel "Sammy" Steinmann z''l passed away, 91 years old.

Sammy was one of the founding brothers of Norgeslosjen in 1952, and his passing represents a watershed in that we no longer have any of our founding brothers at our midst.

Of perhaps far more significance, Sammy was also the last survivor of all the Norwegian Jews who were deported to the concentration camps during the Second World War. In all, 772 Norwegian Jews were deported, of which only 34 returned.

After the war, Sammy returned to Oslo where he continued the family clothes business. He married and had three children, and was an active member of the Jewish community in Oslo, amongst other as president and active member of B'nai B'rith. Despite his social and outgoing nature, it was not until the early 1990s that Sammy first started talking about the horrors he endured during the war. Since then, and until the very end, he gave testimony in public, to schools, universities and on TV, not least in the 2012 TV documentary "The Tram to Auschwitz" which focuses on Sammy's story from when he was arrested by Norwegian police and escorted on the tram to the centre of Oslo, until returning to Oslo on 17 May 1945. For his tireless efforts Sammy was awarded the King's Medal of Merit (Gold) in 2012.

As a sign of respect to Sammy, and also to the other Norwegian Jews who perished and to the Norwegian Jewish community of today, Sammy's funeral was attended by H.R.H King Harald, the Prime Minister and other senior Norwegian officials.

Our deepest condolences go out to Sammy's family and friends.

On behalf of B'nai B'rith Norgeslosjen,

Alexander Levi
President

 

News from Denmark!

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12 men were sworn in as new brothers of Danmark Loge (BBDenmark – one of the few lodges only for men) on February 10th. – BUT it doesn’t stop here, as another two brothers will be sworn in at a meeting in our lodge on April 26th, where the lodge will be honored by a visit of the President of BBE, Erika Van Gelder.

14 new brothers in the Danmark Loge in this first half year of 2015 means about a 15 per cent increase in brothers which is the best result for several decades! Though the fine result for 2015 the commission for contacting candidates for a BB-membership does hope to find another 15-17 men to become brothers of Danmark Loge in 2016.

As the Danish Jewish Community counts less than 2.000 persons – BB Denmark is by now the biggest Jewish male organization in Denmark.

Steen Cadan

March 26, 2015

Edirne, Turkey

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B'nai B'rith Europe was present at a historic event – The re-opening of the Grand Synagogue in Edirne. Opened in 1906 after the big fire destroyed the existing dozen synagogues who served one of the largest Jewish communities on the Balkans at the time. About 20,000 Jews used to live in Edirne/Adrianopol and so, Sultan Abdulhamid ordered to build a new big synagogue. Presently, there are no Jews in Edirne. The synagogue collapsed in the 1980s.

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Please find attached an open letter expressing our opinion on the public debate regarding the monument of the "Saviors of Survivors" to be built in Poland.
 
Best regards.
Sergiusz Kowalski

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Dear Madam,
Dear Sir,

A discussion is underway about the erection of a monument to the fair, "Saviors of Survivors/Righteous Among the Nations", and its location. The Jewish B'nai B'rith in Poland think this monument, especially if it is to be erected beside first the: Uprising Monument of Ghetto Heroes and second: The History Museum of Polish Jews, will be exposed to manipulation - that the actions of the heroes will be presented as the norm in Poland. To prevent this from happening, the monument should express unambiguously that the Saviors were few, they risked rejection and ostracism from their environment, they were not the rule, but the exception.

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