Maurice Honigbaum, was President of the BBE Continental from 1985 to 1993, a period during which the BBE had to face the fall of the Berlin Wall and its consequences. This Frenchman, originally from Metz, and former president of a furniture company in Nicoise, helped the BB to flourish both in France and in the rest of Europe.
He started his militant activity very young, before the war, he was hired by the OSA, to hide children and help them to cross the Swiss border illegally. This young youth leader also crossed the Swiss border, where he met his wife, Rachel.
In 1960 he entered the BB in the oldest lodge in Nicoise, the Lodge Nice-Cote d’Azur. Very quickly, he also asserted himself on the community level, investing himself in the collection of the Unified Jewish Appeal, as well as for the ‘Bonds’ (Israel’s national loan). In 1996, he created the Nicosia Community Council, which would later become the CRIF of the region. In 1983, at the Copenhagen Congress, he was elected to the Executive Committee of the continental BBE. But it is from 1985 that he could better show his leadership skills, when he was elected president of the continental BBE, during the Congress of Nice, organized with great brilliance by all the lodges of this city. His lodge had moreover worked a lot in the collection of money for the Jews of the USSR. On March 15, 1992, the Carmiel Lodge of Sofia was installed, and 80 new members were inducted, in the presence of government representatives and ambassadors from Israel, the US, Germany, and other countries. The day after the installation, President Honigbaum and Henry Schneider, the missionary for Eastern Europe, were received by the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Jelio Jeslev, who expressed his best wishes for the new lodge.
Under his leadership, the BB was able to re-establish links with the communities of Eastern Europe and enable the creation or reopening of lodges in the Baltic States, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Under his chairmanship, the BB has made its presence felt whenever it can help, within the limits of its resources, populations in need.
The BBE also mobilized for “Operation St. Petersburg ”, launched by President Maurice Honigbaum and the Lodge of Strasbourg, sending food, medicines and clothing in full wagon loads to Jewish communities in Eastern Europe (Lithuania and St. Petersburg).
It will then be under the chairmanship of his successor, Bent Melchior, that the other lodge will come into being, with specific programmes to help the underprivileged in Eastern Europe.