In 1843, Bnai Brith’s founders made a investment, an investment that today, continues to yield high returns. As one of our first official acts, B’nai B’rith created a fund to help widows and orphans on New York’s Lower East Side.
That initial investment not only helped the needy but it provided seed money for an organization which today counts members in 36 countries and whose mission includes everything from youth work to senior citizen housing, from adult education to support for the state of Israel
As one of the world’s oldest and most respected service organizations, we have won the admiration of leaders around the globe. The dawn of a new era in Eastern Europe and the Middle East has opened up new areas of cooperation for B’nai B’rith. Our leaders have met with business leaders and heads of state in Jordan, Tunisia, Morooco, Poland and Romania.
A succesion of American Presidents have praised B’nai B’rith. Most recently, President Bill Clinton said “Americans of every faith try to take the values we learn from our religions and put them to work in communities. No one has done that better than the Americans who do the work of B’nai B’rith”
B’nai B’rith work begins with helping those who cannot help themselves. Older than the American Red Cross, B’nai B’rith has provided disaster relief since the days of the Chicago Fire (1S71) and the San Francisco Earthquake (19O6). When earthquakes struck Kobe, Japan and Los Angeles, California, B’nai B’rith zaponded with immediate aid. When Hurricane Andrew devastated neighborhoods in South Florida, B’nai B’rith volunteers were on hand with food and clothing. When the collapse of the Soviet Union rest&tcd the fluw of pharmaceuticals to Cuba, B’nai B’rith humanitarian mission.
B’nai B’rith has devoted particular attention to America’s elderly, the fastest growing population in the country. Our Caring Network program provides seniors and their loved ones with nationwide source of information on services for the aging. B’nai B’riths Senior Citizens Housing Program is the largest Jewish sponsor of non-sectarian, affordable housing for the elderly with 35 senior housing complexes in the United States, and similar projects in Canada, Israel New Zealand, and Austria.
The family is the foundation of the community and the B’nai B’rith Center for Jewish Family Life works to support the family by sponsoring the Pre Teen Dialogue, a program where trained group workers help parents and children confront the controversial issues which often drive families apart. The Center also organizes trips which enable families to, explore their heritage together in Israel and Europe.
B’nai B’rith believes that young people must be taught the lessons of community involement and lndership. The B’nai B’rith Youth Organization for teenagers and the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation for college students, do just. that. Whether it is working with inner city young people to stamp out hatred helping to build a home for the needy, speaking out for the people of Bosnia or working for the environment these young volunteers are learning lessons that will motivate them for the rest of their lives.
These young people will someday take their place as adult members of B’nai B’rith, making sure that the mission which began in 1843 will be earned on well into the next century.