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NEWS - Lodges and B'nai B'rith updates

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B'nai B'rith Budapest wishes to make public its position in connection with the work of art project to commemorate the German occupation of Hungary as follows:


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B'nai Brith Canada was proud to be present as Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave his historic address to the Israeli Knesset.

The excitement and deep emotion were palpable among the broad and diverse Canadian delegation which filled the visitors' gallery. Everyone present rose to their feet in yet another standing ovation as their Prime Minister vowed that Canada will stand with Israel "through fire and water."

"Prime Minister Harper once again clearly articulated Canada's unwavering support by putting Israel's right to defend itself at the forefront. Harper's message that the Canadian government will continue to stand with Israel was powerful and welcomed.

"In addition, the shouted objections and dramatic exit of two Arab Members of Knesset just as Harper decried the rising tide of the new antisemitism -- with Israel as its target -- and the lies of apartheid provided a real-time demonstration of the vibrancy of Israeli democracy.

"Harper's unequivocal commitment to the safety and security of the Jewish people proves once again that the title bestowed upon Canada as Israel's best friend is well deserved and will continue into the future."

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The President and members of the Executive Committee of B'nai B'rith Europe congratulate our colleague Serge Dahan, President of B'nai B'rith France, on his election to the Executive Committee of the Representative Council of Jews in France (CRIF).
Ralph Hofmann installs the Evi & Sigi Feigel Unity Lodge

On Sunday, 8th December 2013 the installation of the first mixed B'nai B'rith Lodge of the city of Zürich was celebrated. Naming the new lodge Evi and Sigi Feigel is designed to honour this couple's well-known achievements in the fields of Jewish and political activities, also recognised outside Switzerland.

The President of B'nai B'rith Europe, Brother Ralph Hofmann was in charge of the festive ceremony. The 33 founding members and many guests, including a number from the old-established AKL Lodge, enjoyed a splendid new installation ceremony. Evi Feigel's sister Ursula Richter and her husband Albert were installed as honorary members.

In her opening address, the lodge's first President, Madeleine de Beer, made it quite clear that it had been high time to arrive at the decision to found this lodge. This was the logical consequence following the decision by the AKL Lodge to refuse admission to women, and this 40 years after women had obtained the right to vote in Switzerland. The ESF Lodge's aim is to be modern and open within the B'nai B'rith framework, and of interest to its members who want to be active and involved in the lodge's philosophy.


Following the various introductory messages accompanied by symbolic gifts, among which the Lodge Gavel in wood and silver, the Lodge Council listed the activities planned for the next 12 months.
The ambience during the remainder of the evening and during the dinner was friendly and relaxed. Those Lodge Presidents visiting from the German speaking countries, Ralph Hofmann and his wife Simone, Herbert Rubinstein, Alexander Mandelbaum, Miguel Freund and other guests from Geneva and Basle, all our keen supporters, also had opportunities to address us. Piano and song enlivened the evening which even had a Foundation Cake as dessert.
This launch of the Evi and Sigi Feigel Lodge has shown that the founding members are keenly motivated. The evening already brought expressions of interest from potential new members.
At a Gala Dinner in Frankfurt on Sunday, 1st December 2013 the members of the Frankfurt Schönstädt Lodge, together with numerous guest personalities, looked back on the illustrious history of B'nai B'rith in Frankfurt and, indeed, in Germany.

B'nai B'rith was founded in New York in1843 by German Jewish immigrants, but it was not until 1882 that the first Lodge was formed in Germany itself, in Berlin. Six years later, in 1888, a B'nai B'rith Lodge was formed in Frankfurt, the 20th to be created in Germany. Its President was Charles Hallgarten. The objectives of the founders were that the lodge should be the centre of the spiritual life of its members, that it should care for their welfare and that it should work towards strengthening the Jewish community. This remains the central objective of the Frankfurt Lodge to this day.


The Lodge grew in importance and numerous leading personalities were initiated. It created a body to fight against anti-Semitism (already a growing problem in 1890), it defended the interests of Jews being persecuted in Russia and Romania, and it created the basis of what was later to become the central Jewish charitable organisation in Germany.


Bratislava, Slovakia, 2nd December 2013

by Eva Salnerová, President of B'nai B'rith Tolerancia Bratislava
On December 2, B´nai B´rith Tolerance in Bratislava, Slovakia hosted the Bridges of Tolerance (MOSTY TOLERANCIE) project. The event took place in the old historic building of Pisztory Palace which was confiscated in the past by the Communist government and turned into Lenin´s Museum. Among the invited guests was the Senior Vice-president of B'nai B'rith Europe, Erika van Gelder. The first event was a discussion entitled „Bridges of Tolerances versus Antisemitism". The guests were prominent personalities from Slovak political and cultural life. Member of Parliament and head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, František Šebej; a historian specializing on the war-time Slovak State, Ivan Kamenec, and a political analyst and director of the Institute of Public Affairs, Grigorij Mesežnikov. The moderator of the debate was Ľuba Lesná, a writer and journalist, member of B'nai B'rith Tolerance.

                                             SEBEJ               KAMENEC

                                                         Frantisek Sebej                                                        Ivan Kamenec

The discussion focused on the increasing number of antisemitic incidents across Europe, its manifestations, causes, consequences. Kamenec quoted pieces of legislation and statements during the Holocaust in Slovakia and drew parallels with the situation in Slovakia. Mesežnikov offered results of a survey dealing with attitudes to the Jews, stressing that hatred and intolerance of Jewish people has had a growing tendency all over the Europian Union. Šebej highlighted the fact that intolerance of Jews often hides behind anti-Israel sentiments.

In the evening a monodrama written by BB Tolerance member Ľuba Lesná was based on the story of Mahler´s niece Alma Rose who was a prisoner in Auschwitz concentration camp. It was followed by a presentations by two leading experts, Ján Vyhnánek and Adrian Rajter. Vyhnánek presented photographs and stories about Jewish musical life in Bratislava and Rajter, musician and son of a well known Slovak musician recalled the work and life of his father and his Jewish contemporaries.

The audience included many personalities from Bratislava cultural and social life. They showed great interest and took an active part in our event.

We would like to thank B'nai B'rith Europe, but especially Erika van Gelder for initiating the project. We would also like to express our appreciation to our sponsors the Hilleel Lodge Amsterdam and the Lodge from Copenhagen.

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