By COLlive reporter
U.S. President Donald Trump has proclaimed Education and Sharing Day USA on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 to coincide with the birth date of the Rebbe on the 11th of Nissan.
Trump hosted a delegation of Chabad Rabbis from around the country in the Oval Office of the White House to join him for the signing of the proclamation on Tuesday afternoon.
The day was established by the United States Congress when it passed a joint resolution in April 1978 calling for a permanent Education Day, noting “the importance of education to the lives of [the country’s] citizens and to the well-being of the Nation.”
The idea of one day dedicated to thinking about the education of youth in the United States, focusing particularly on the higher meaning of education, has resonated across party lines, a rare unifying space in a sometimes fractured political and societal arena.
Each sitting U.S. President annually signs the proclamation and makes it a point to meet a delegation of Chabad Rabbis to call for increased focus on education, and recognize the efforts of The Rebbe for education and sharing for all people.
Leading the delegation was Rabbi Avraham Shemtov, National Director of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), who coordinated the activities surrounding the very first Education Day celebration in Washington, D.C., back in 1978.
The delegation included:
Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Executive Vice President of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) – Washington, DC; Rabbi Moshe Herson, Dean of the Rabbinical College of America and Head Shliach of New Jersey; Rabbi Yisroel Shmotkin – Head Shliach and Executive Director of Lubavitch of Wisconsin in Milwaukee; Rabbi Zalman Levertov – Head Shliach and Executive Director of Chabad of Arizona in Phoenix; Rabbi Yehoshua Harlig – Head Shliach and Executive Director of Chabad of Nevada in Las Vegas; Rabbi Levi Klein – Head Shliach and Executive Director of Chabad Lubavitch of Tennessee in Memphis; Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum – Director of Chabad of Livingston in New Jersey; Rabbi Isser New – Associate Director of Chabad of Georgia in Atlanta; Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz – Director of South Dakota Jewish Center in Sioux Falls.
After passing through the security procedures (which now include handing in all smartphones) the delegation headed to the Roosevelt Room for a brief wait preceding the signing ceremony in the Oval Office. Recently appointed National Security Advisor, Amb. John Bolton, who was there on other business, briefly exchanged greetings with the delegation relating his high regard for the work of Chabad Lubavitch the world over.
A few minutes later, the group was escorted into the Oval Office, after which The President warmly welcomed them to the White House. Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, who headed the delegation, recited the traditional prayer made upon meeting a Head of State. The President expressed his repect for the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of blessed memory, particularly the phenomenal efforts he initiated and inspired regarding education.
Rabbi Abraham Shemtov then proceeded to share with The President the Rebbe’s message regarding birthdays and their significance as a time of introspection, as well as am opportunity for the meaning and purpose of life.
The President then signed the official Proclamation designating March 27, 2018 – corresponding to 11 Nissan 5778, the 116th birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe – as Education and Sharing Day USA.
Rabbi Levi Shemtov then presented two gifts to The President on behalf of the delegation. The first was a silver menorah, which was given along with an explanation of the significance of the shamash, the middle “utility” candle, as a symbol of the public servant. The second was a leather-bound Passover Haggadah with The President’s name embossed in gold on the cover. The President also inscribed an identical Haggadah to be sent to Jewish active-duty soldiers currently in the theater, who will be able to use it at their Passover seder while serving our nation.
After receiving the gifts, The President took a moment to greet each member of the delegation, as they departed the Oval Office.
This year, for the first time, proclamations or the equivalent have been issued by the governors of all 50 states and the mayor of Washington, D.C., recognizing the day and what it stands for. Some 100 more city and local proclamations, from Alameda, Calif., to Tumwater, Wash., to El Paso, Texas, have been issued, Chabad.org reports.
Education Day is about highlighting the higher purpose of education, with the Rebbe stressing, in 1978, that “the educational system must… pay more attention, indeed the main attention, to the building of character, with emphasis on moral and ethical values… Education must put greater emphasis on the promotion of fundamental human rights and obligations justice and morality, which are the basis of any human society… ”
And thus the need for a specific day, similar to Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, when awareness could be raised for a vital societal institution, in this case, education. Because of education’s pervasive role in shaping the next generation, it would, in fact, bolster other days on the calendar, such as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
Rabbi Levi Shemtov says that the 40th-anniversary milestone and the record number of states, counties, cities and towns around the nation officially marking Education Day could not have come at a better time.
“Education Day is all about looking a bit deeper, finding the greater meaning that life brings,” Shemtov told Chabad.org. “If ever there has been a time for that type of effort, it’s now. Education Day can be the vehicle to help this meaning come to the fore. Right now we’re seeing the start of a community conversation, from this country’s leadership to the rank and file.”
“Education and Sharing Day, U.S.A.” issued on March 27, 2018
A quality education can give every child, regardless of his or her circumstances, the opportunity to grow, thrive, succeed, and achieve their version of the American Dream. On Education and Sharing Day, we acknowledge the power that a solid academic foundation, combined with the transformative power of
time-honored values and ethics, can have in helping young people achieve lives of purpose and passion.
Today, we honor the life and legacy of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was a widely respected scholar and leader of faith who believed in the potential of all persons and sought to empower young people through education, character development, and civic pride.
Throughout his long and distinguished life, Rabbi Schneerson inspired millions of people, across multiple generations, through his example of compassion, wisdom, and courage in the face of oppression. He recognized that access to education, paired with moral and spiritual development, could transform the world for good, and he devoted his life to these principles.
His commitment to invest in the lives of the next generation led to the establishment of academic and outreach centers to help grow and engage young minds and provide them with spiritual and material assistance. Thanks to his drive and dedication, these educational and social service centers can be found in every State and throughout the world.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe believed that even in the darkest place, “the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.” His life is an example of the power of one person to influence the lives of many. May we strive to be that light for future generations, instilling in them the value of education and the virtues of courage and compassion that can impact our communities and the world for the better.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 27, 2018, as “Education and Sharing Day, U.S.A.” I call upon government officials, educators, volunteers, and all the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.
DONALD J. TRUMP