By Michael Perlman
It is always timely to commit good deeds, uphold our values as a team, and set an example for all generations, beginning with our youth, in order to build a solid foundation for a healthier and most respectful life ahead.
On April 12, Yud Aleph Nissan, also known as the eleventh day of Nissan, the 120th anniversary of the Rebbe’s birth was commemorated with a ceremony at Queens Borough Hall.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson OBM (1902 – 1994), was a leader of world Jewry. Today there are over 5000 Chabad emissaries worldwide, delivering the Rebbe’s mission of goodness and kindness to life, making the world a better place at large. He continues to be highly regarded for stirring the conscience and awakening the spirit.
Rabbi Mendy Hecht, founder of Chabad of Forest Hills North, along with a delegation of Shluchim from Queens Chabad emissaries, were invited to Queens Borough Hall and presented with a proclamation by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who designated April 12, 2022 as “Education and Sharing Day.”
It was also coordinated by Rabbi Mordechai Hecht of Anshe Sholom Chabad JCC in Kew Gardens, who extended the honor for Rabbi Mendy to attend.
“The Rebbe was a strong advocate for educating children, while mentioning the freedom of this country to do so, and using this opportunity after fleeing Nazi Germany to this safe haven to live freely through a moral and ethical life,” said Rabbi Mendy. The Rebbe receives recognition annually as a result of advocating for education of our youth and providing a moral compass, where American presidents since 1978, celebrate Education and Sharing Day. Rabbi Mendy continued, “On a day of the Rebbe’s 120th birthday, there is no better time to honor the Rebbe in this manner, especially since Queens is where the Rebbe’s resting place is situated, while many other states and cities are following suit.”
The proclamation read, “Whereas the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, was a passionate advocate for children and stressed the importance of educating children in ways that will help every child develop a strong intellect and a solid moral character; and whereas the Rebbe helped turn this guiding principle into reality by establishing a network of several thousand schools and educational centers in the United States and around the world; and whereas in 1978, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the Rebbe’s birthday as a national Education and Sharing Day has since been issued regularly upon the authorization and request of the Congress and the designation of the President.”
The proclamation continued, “On April 12, 2022, the nation will commemorate the 120th anniversary of the Rebbe’s birth as ‘Education and Sharing Day, USA,’ as Americans are called upon to follow the Rebbe’s example by working toward the furtherance of education and the betterment of society; and whereas the 2.4 million residents of Queens, ‘The World’s Borough,’ wholeheartedly join in this year’s commemoration of Education and Sharing Day, USA, as we pursue the Rebbe’s goal of helping all children receive an education that will help them succeed in all facets of life.”
Rabbi Mendy is hopeful that Education and Sharing Day at Queens Borough Hall will become an annual tradition. A proclamation was presented in the past by prior Queens BP Melinda Katz, as well as by BP Donovan Richards last year with a citation. Rabbi Mendy said, “We are confident that with this important message of educating our youth in a time of chaos and turmoil, it will become an annual tradition. We are thankful that BP Richards has shown his full support, to the extent he requested our presence on the Rebbe’s Birthday, to proclaim this special day without delay.”
Rabbi Mendy and his colleagues shared a universal message of increasing acts of kindness, as well as promoted the Rebbe’s teachings of universal values. This can be further implemented throughout communities on various levels, beginning with schools. The Rebbe was a strong advocate of a moment of silence. Rabbi Mendy explained, “I mentioned at the event that this moment of silence at the beginning of each day of school, was to ensure that each child reflects in a moment on something more meaningful than the craziness and all destruction transpiring around us. This doesn’t have to be restricted to religion, but something meaningful that should be guided by the child’s parent. The Rebbe intended that this would facilitate a more moral compass to a child, making this world a better place through good education, peace, and good deeds.”
A mandatory moment of silence is already legislated in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The most recent states are Arizona, Florida, and Kentucky, which Chabad played a major role in implementing. “Now we need it to be mandatory in New York, where it is optional,” said Rabbi Mendy. “Along with my colleagues, we asked for BP Richards’ support of this important legislation, starting in Queens, and hopefully will bring it on a state level as well. We hope to work further with the BP to accomplish this.”
At the ceremony, Rabbi Mendy presented BP Richards with a personalized Siddur featuring the Rebbe’s directive, recalling an earlier occasion when the presentation of a Siddur was made to the president. He explained, “The Rebbe suggested this gift on a similar occasion, stating that at the beginning of the prayer book, it mentions how upon waking up, we thank G-D for giving us another day, as in ‘Modeh Ani.’ Sharing this with the borough president is a beautiful idea to live by.”
It is significant for schools to practice religion freely, as in the case of Queens Jewish day schools. Rabbi Mendy takes pride in a very positive ceremony, marked by the assurance of BP Richards that he stands in solidarity with Queens Jewish Day Schools in support of freedom of religion. He said, “The Jewish faith offers a method of educating our children, and making sure we can have that freedom, makes it simpler for our children to practice and continue our Jewish heritage and values for generations to come, as taught in our Holy Torah. I commend him on how he will continue to work throughout Queens to promote the universal values taught by the Rebbe.”
Rabbi Mendy considers it a true honor. “We are all very thankful to the BP for taking out time from his extremely busy schedule to meet with us and honor the Rebbe in such a beautiful way. Now let’s all celebrate better education and sharing with our families and friends!” He topped it off with “L’Chaim!”