Dear Brothers, Sisters, and Friends of AHEPA:
Fraternal greetings! I am reaching out about a friend and community in need.
Together, the venerable histories of B’nai B’rith International and the Order of AHEPA have oftentimes come together to provide for a better world–a common vision that has spanned for over a century.
Often referred to as the “Jewish AHEPA” because of their fraternal lodge system, commitment to humanitarian aid worldwide, combatting defamation and anti-Semitism, pride for their heritage, and being a provider of safe affordable senior housing, B’nai B’rith International begins a series of events today to commemorate its 180th anniversary. This should be a time of tremendous celebration. And although the members of B’nai B’rith International can swell with pride, as they should on this momentous occasion, it is a commemoration amid dark and tragic times for Israel and its people. Indeed, difficult days lie ahead. As we stated, AHEPA stands with, and provides its unwavering support for, the people of Israel.
At the 2014 Supreme Convention in New Orleans, AHEPA presented B’nai B’rith International with the AHEPA-Archbishop Iakovos Humanitarian Award, becoming the first organization to receive the honor. Then-Supreme President Anthony Kouzounis, who led AHEPA on the historic inaugural Leadership Mission to Israel, Cyprus, and Greece with B’nai B’rith and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, presented the award.
Allan Jacobs, B’nai B’rith president at the time, stated in acceptance, “Our accomplishments as partners…has driven the relationship between our organizations…one which has grown stronger with each year.” He also cited a 1938 article published in B’nai B’rith Magazine that paid tribute to AHEPA’s passage of a convention resolution that condemned the “inhuman and cruel persecution of a race which has given so much to the world.” The Ahepans passed the resolution a month or so prior to Kristallnacht—the night of broken glass. We can take pride that our Order’s forefathers spoke out to condemn the persecution of Jewish people, long before many others.
In 1990, AHEPA filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the Georgia Supreme Court. It backed the legal position of B’nai B’rith’s Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP in support of a state law banning masks in public that was challenged by the KKK. The court ruled 6 to 1 to uphold the constitutionality of the anti-mask statute.
It is time for us, as Ahepans, to step up again.
Therefore, on this 180th anniversary of the founding of B’nai B’rith International, I appeal to our love, affinity, and respect for the bonds of fraternity and brotherhood to provide assistance to the B’nai B’rith Israel Emergency Fund. Individuals can donate online. Districts and chapters can send their checks, earmarked for the B’nai B’rith Israel Emergency Fund to:
B’nai B’rith International
1120 20th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20036.
In closing, we salute and commend B’nai B’rith International on 180 years of service as the global voice of the Jewish Community. We wish the organization and its members many more years!
Savas C. Tsivicos