Carnegie Mellon University’s Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter hosted a talk by
B’nai B’rith International President Moishe Smith Tuesday night at the fraternity’s house. Smith is the first non-U.S. citizen elected to serve as BBI president.
The CMU chapter, formed in 1987, hosted events this year with many prominent speakers. Past guests included Rabbi Danny Schiff, former Pittsburgh Councilman Sala Udin and Giant Eagle’s CEO, David Shapira.
Smith, an honorary brother in AEPi, “pledged” to be a member a couple of years ago in Palm Springs, Calif.
The partnership with AEPi includes educating the next generation of contributors to B’nai B’rith International and other Jewish nongovernmental organizations.
“We dedicate professionals to work with AEPi and give programming according to what the youth wants,” he said.
Scott Ridel, 20, president of AEPi said he will be looking now how to further help his community.
“It was really nice getting Mr. Smith to speak to us as a group and to talk to us about the issues we were curious about,” he said.
Talking in a casual manner to the crowd of about 30 brothers, Smith spoke about his experiences as a BBI member and how BBI contributes to the world.
Smith said he joined AZA, what is better known today as the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, when he was 14 and has never left the group since.
“No matter what chair I’ve been in BBI, I have always had wonderful opportunities,” he said. We are training the next generation of leadership working for the Jewish community and by extension — for the overall
BBI has developed a Global Round Table for its young leadership
“It is an opportunity to network, find jobs and help each other for the sake of helping each other,” he said.
In addition to the round table, BBI works strongly for senior advocacy, through housing, Medicare and other timely issues.
Smith said that one of the most important BBI issues is dealing with the Office of United Nation Affairs, since it is the only Jewish nongovernmental organization with an office in the United Nations.
One of the many goals of BBI is to show the United Nations how the Jewish population is living in America. For one example, the organization takes members of the United Nations to Borough Park, Brooklyn, an area with a large Jewish population, and shows them how they prepare for Passover.
Another approach is to introduce the United Nations members to rabbis from all branches and realms of Judaism, including Reform, Conservative and Orthodox.
Ridel was not aware of the complete realm of BBI’s contribution to the world.
“I had no idea about the specific structure in BBI and how they interact with other nations,” he said.
“We as an organization are finally making some headway,” Smith said.
Smith said that today, unlike in the past, people are making aliyah to Israel by choice and not because they have to. He said that there should still be, in addition to those coming to live in Israel, strong Jewish Diaspora
(Alon Melamed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)