B’NAI B’RITH receives grant for “The Romanian Jewish Heritage” Project

Washington, D.C. (Nov. 5, 2002)-The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded B’nai B’rith International $96,110 in support of a new Romanian Jewish Heritage Project. B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin met today with U.S. Ambassador to Romania Michael Guest, USAID-Romania Director Denny F. Robertson, and Lee Rosner, director of World Learning, which supervises the Romanian American Sustainable Partnership umbrella grant program to discuss the grant.

While in Romania, Mariaschin also will meet with Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania President Dr. Nicolae Cajal, Romanian Minister of Culture and Religious Affairs Razvan Theodorescu, Foreign Ministry Secretary of State Cristian Diaconescu, Director General of the Foreign Ministry Michnea Constantinescu, and presidential advisors Ion Talpes and Victor Opaschi.

The main goals of the 12-month project are development of a community archive, creation of an internet heritage trail, establishment of a Romanian Jewish Heritage Foundation, and the establishment of an ethnic minority outreach program. B’nai B’rith is partnering with the Federation to ensure that the goals are met.

The community archive will amass data on Romania’s two largest communities, Bucharest and Iasi, from the 19th and 20th centuries. Written in English and Romanian, the archive will be housed at the Federation and will offer worldwide online access via B’nai B’rith’s website, http://bbinet.org. Continuing to focus on Bucharest and Iasi, the internet heritage trail will feature some 100 sites of interest in the two cities, and will be fashioned into walking and/or driving tours. These will be downloadable with links to relevant websites, and will also be available at Federation headquarters.

As stated in the grant agreement, it is intended that the project will continue past the 12-month mark. In order to do so, a Romanian Jewish Heritage Foundation will be established. B’nai B’rith also will conduct a minority outreach program, making available to Romanian minority groups its resources to promote inter-ethnic and inter-religious dialogues. Through the program, B’nai B’rith will establish a series of lectures and seminars, and encourage dialogue between representatives of Romania’s minority groups.

“This generous grant will offer us the opportunity to strengthen the connection between the Romanian and American Jewish communities, as well as between Romania and the U.S.,” Mariaschin said. “Romania has produced many important figures in modern Jewish history, such as Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, and a great number of American Jews have ancestral roots in Romania. This program will allow for connectivity, will help to foster ethnic understanding, and will help to reinvigorate the Jewish culture in Romania.”

B’nai B’rith began its involvement in Romania in 1888 when it created a network of schools that taught hundreds of Jewish children religious and secular subjects. B’nai B’rith’s presence in Bucharest was reestablished in 1995, after a 50-year absence following the Holocaust.

With representation in 58 countries, B’nai B’rith International is a global leader in the areas of international affairs, Latin America matters, senior housing and Jewish identity. As the oldest Jewish organization, B’nai B’rith advocates for Jewish unity, security and continuity worldwide.