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B’nai B’rith Celebrates 150th with Russians and in Congress

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B’nai B’rith International celebrated its 150th anniversary this week in some unusual places.

The Russian Embassy hosted a panel discussion and luncheon in honor of the event Thursday, and House Speaker Thomas Foley (D-Wash.) was scheduled later in the day to recognize the occasion on behalf of Congress in his office at the House of Representatives.

B’nai B’rith set aside the whole week for activities to celebrate its 150 years of service to the international Jewish community.

Culminating the festivities was to be an address by President Clinton at a havdalah service at the Jefferson Memorial on Saturday night.

The embassy luncheon was the first B’nai B’rith event of its kind at the Russian compound, said Art Shulman, director of communications for B’nai B’rith.

Over 60 B’nai B’rith members and guests were invited to the heavily guarded embassy, previously the embassy of the Soviet Union and once the site of numerous anti-Soviet demonstrations by Jewish groups.

There they heard Russian and American diplomats talk about prospects for democracy in Russia.

Deputy Ambassador Andrei Kolosovsky spoke about President Boris Yeltsin’s recent dissolving of the Russian Parliament and the renewed drive toward a democratic government there.

Yeltsin does not “want to abandon the democratic track, the democratic process,” said Kolosovsky.

Kolosovsky was followed by William Danvers of the State Department, who spoke of Clinton’s support for Yeltsin.

Danvers said the administration’s plans for its relations with the former Soviet republics are to support democratic reform, help build market economies, aid in the control of nuclear proliferation and help to ensure stability in the region.

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