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Organizers: Part VII: The Advocates
By Sarah Kronenberg - January 11, 2009


B'Nai Brit in Montreal
The history of the Jewish people has too often been linked with discrimination and persecution. This has been true back to the days before the Hebrews were kept as slaves by the Pharaoh in Egypt and continued throughout history right up to the days when people were more educated and should have known better. But just as Jews have always had leaders and supporters they have always had advocates as well. None are better known in modern Jewry than B'nai B'rith and the Anti-Defamation League.

In 1843 Henry Jones and a group of other German-Jewish immigrants gathered in Sinsheimer's Café on New York's Lower East Side to confront what they called "the deplorable condition of Jews in this, our newly adopted country." They agreed to establish a fraternal service group for Jews called B'nai B'rith or Sons of the Covenant. Their first actions were to create an insurance policy that provided their members' widows with $30 toward funeral expenses, and an allowance of one dollar a week for the rest of their lives.

Each of their surviving children would also receive a stipend and, for male children, guarantees that he would be taught a trade. Some of their earliest achievements included building the first Jewish community center and Jewish library in the United States and a modern Jewish orphanage to serve children whose fathers were killed in the US Civil War. They also set up disaster relief funds to assist victims of floods and epidemics in the United States and around the world.

B'nai B'rith has also been a strong voice in fighting anti-Semitism in the United States and all over the world. Its first involvement was in Romania in the 1870’s when it stepped in to fight a particularly nasty anti-Jewish campaign and since those days has active in advocating for Jews and Israel ever since.
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