Sunday, Oct. 29
On Sunday evening, Oct. 29, participants from 20 countries began the leadership forum with a chance to meet each other and socialize and enjoy a scenic cruise on the Vltava River, Pictured above, welcoming everyone to Prague were: Daniel Citone, president, B’nai B’rith Europe (holding microphone), with Tomas Kraus, president, B’nai B’rith Renaissance Praha.
Also shown are Gary P. Saltzman, president, B’nai B’rith International and Daniel S. Mariaschin, CEO and executive vice president, who welcomed all and, with Citone, also offered remarks on the following morning at the Opening Session. Saltzman said ”We hold our annual leadership forum every year to provide our members and supporters a chance to engage with business leaders and key government officials to express their concerns over issues such as anti-Semitism and incitement, and to learn about issues Israel and Jews around the world face.”
Monday, Oct. 30
The menorah lighting ceremony included participants from around the world. B’nai B’rith International Senior Vice President Sheila Mostyn of Canada lights one of the seven candles.
Minister Daniel Herman, of the Ministry of Culture, welcomed leadership forum participants to the Czech Republic to the first session on Monday, Oct. 30.
Sessions took place at the Vienna Diplomat Hotel in Prague’s Diplomatic District.
In his remarks, Daniel S. Mariaschin, CEO and executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International called for action during the 175th anniversary year, saying “Let us use our nearly 18 centuries of institutional commitment and action on behalf of the Jewish people and the State of Israel to lead the Jewish world in standing up for what is right, for us and for the broader Jewish community beyond, which we also serve. I look forward to working with each of you to build a stronger and ever-more-effective B’nai B’rith.”
International President Gary P. Saltzman shared his vision for B’nai B’rith’s future.
In the keynote address by Věra Jourová, EU commissioner, Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Czech Republic said “These values include preventing and combating all forms of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is not only a threat for European Jews, but also runs counter to the values Europe holds dear. The EU and the Jewish community are united in their openness for diversity. We both cherish our diversity.”
Her remarks may be read here.
A panel discussion, "Developing B’nai B’rith Leadership – a Global Perspective" was moderated by Eric Book, chair of Leadership for B’nai B’rith International, seated at left. Diverse points of view were offered by six other B’nai B’rith leaders: (L-R) Rebecca Saltzman Barsheshet, chair, Marketing Committee; Eric Engelmayer, senior vice president for Europe; Jay Feldman, member, B’nai B’rith Executive Board of Directors and Managing Director, Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) Foundation; Roberto Krochik, president, B’nai B’rith Isaac Rabin Unit, Argentina; Eduard Redensky, chair, Young Leadership; and Rachel Silvestain, vice chair, Young Leadership.
The session, "B’nai B’rith International Cooperation in Israel," featured two presenters: Haim V. Katz, chair, B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem, and Abraham Huli, international vice president, B’nai B’rith Israel and member of the B’nai B’rith World Center Executive Board. The speakers described efforts to recognize Jewish rescuers during the Holocaust and other programs.
Later that evening, Huli offered another presentation before showing "Defiant Requiem," a documentary film about the resilience and courage of the prisoners at the Terezin a concentration camp near Prague sometimes also known by its German name, Theresienstadt. Participants in Prague also had the opportunity to take a day trip to visit Terezin prior to the start of the forum.
The afternoon of Oct. 31 featured two panel discussions. The first, "Anti-Semitism in Europe: On the Rise?" had five panelists: Katharina von Schnurbein, coordinator on Combating Antisemitism, European Commission, from Germany; Gert Weisskirchen, chair, Central European Future Forum, from Germany; François Moyse, chairman, B’nai B’rith Luxembourg; Robin Sclafani, director, CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, USA/Belgium; Agnieszka Markiewicz, executive director, AJC Central Europe, of Poland; and Ilan Cohn. project manager, OSCE ODIHR, Israel It was moderated by Pavel Fischer, director, STEM, Member, Program Council, Forum 2000 Foundation of the Czech Republic.
Von Schnurbein, pictured above, stressed the importance of the European Union’s Resolution on Anti-Semitism.
"Israel on the Global Stage" was the topic addressed at the forum on Monday afternoon. Pictured above (L-R) are panelists Daniel S. Mariaschin, CEO and executive vice president, B’nai B’rith International; Daniel Martin Meron, ambassador to the Czech Republic, Israel; Shlomo Avineri, professor of Political Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, member, Program Council, Forum 2000 Foundation, Israel; Daniel Schueftan, director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa; Israel/Germany. Jiří Schneider, executive director, Aspen Institute Central Europe, Czech Republic; and Tomáš Pojar, vice president for International Relations, CEVRO Institute, Czech Republic who served as the moderator.
Tuesday, Oct. 31
“Changing the Face of Europe: Terrorism, Populism, Radicalization” was the first of two panel discussions specifically addressing challenges in Europe. Panelist Daniel Schueftan, director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, Israel, pictured above, said “We need to strengthen the middle of the political spectre. It is difficult but this is the way out" released on Twitter after the session. The panel also featured Zdeněk Kalvach, RFE/RL deputy director of Corporate Security, Founder, Soft Targets Protection Institute in the Czech Republic and Agnieszka Markiewicz, executive director, AJC Central Europe, of Poland. The moderator was Alexandr Vondra, director, Prague Centre for Transatlantic Relations (PCTR), member, Board of Directors, Forum 2000 Foundation in the Czech Republic.
The topic for the Closing Plenary was "The Future of Minority Communities in Western Societies." Pictured above, Michaela Marksová, minister of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic, speaking from the lectern. Seated from L-R, are Libor Rouček, former vice-president, European Parliament, co-chairman, Czech-German Discussion Forum, Czech Republic, who moderated a discussion with: Karel Schwarzenberg, former minister of foreign affairs, Czech Republic; Gary P. Saltzman, president, B'nai B'rith International; and Gert Weisskirchen, chair, Central European Future Forum, Germany.
Czech Republic Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg and B'nai B'rith President Gary P. Saltzman confer before the panel discussion on minority communities.
On Tuesday afternoon, B’nai B’rith Europe held the first session of its triennial convention to address business issues, consider reports and resolutions and conduct elections.
The leadership forum concluded with a Gala Dinner, held at the historic Rudolfinum, now home to the Czech Philharmonic. Above, Young Leadership Network participants pose for a photo on the ceremonial stairway leading to the cultural institution’s art galleries.
The evening’s program included remarks by David Mareček, director general of the Czech Philharmonic; Tomáš Kraus, president, B'nai B'rith Renaissance Praha; and Olga Menzelová, a film producer in the Czech Republic. It featured a musical performance by Ivo Kahanek, playing the Piano Sonata by Gideon Klein. Klein wrote the sonata at age 24, while imprisoned at Terezin in 1943.
A performance of the sonata by Kahanek at a different venue is posted here
On Wednesday, Nov. 1, B’nai B’rith Europe concluded its triennial convention, under the leadership of newly-elected president Serge Dahan, of France.
Planning is already underway for the 2018 International Leadership Forum, which will also celebrate the 175th anniversary of B’nai B’rith.
Photographs were taken by
Sunday: Ms. Eva Kořínková, Keynote.
Monday and Tuesday: Mr. Ondřej Besperát, Keynote.