Westchester County’s government officials were treated to a festive Chanukah celebration on the fifth day of Chanukah, as the seven Chabad Lubavitch Shluchim to Westchester County New York visited the headquarters of Westchester County government offices bringing the joy and inspiration of Chanukah in the spirit of Pirsumei Nissa to the highest levels of county government.
The Menorah lighting ceremonies at the headquarters of Westchester County government were a crowning touch to the more than twenty Chabad Lubavitch Public Menorah displays throughout Westchester County including Westchester’s largest Menorah, 30 feet tall, located in Scarsdale.
The prominent delegation of Shluchim included: Rabbi Yosef Y. Butman of Armonk –Chappaqua-Pleasantville, Rabbi Yehuda L. Heber of Yorktown-Somers-Cortlandt, Rabbi Dovid Labkowsky of Briarcliff- Ossining-Croton-Sleepy Hollow, Rabbi Mendel Silberstein of Larchmont-Mamaroneck, Rabbi Benjy Silverman of the Rivertowns and Rabbi Arik Wolf of Bedford-Pound Ridge, led by Westchester’s head Shliach Rabbi Velvl Butman.
After clearing the security scanners and check points, including a special permit for the religious artifacts, the Shluchim began their packed schedule of Menorah lighting ceremonies by visiting the executive office chamber of the Westchester District Attorney, The Honorable Janet DiFiore.
District Attorney DiFiore invited the staff members of the Office of District Attorney’s many departments, including the heads of the high-ranking crime and narcotics special investigation units and top levels of law enforcement departments.
The Shluchim celebrated a Chanukah Menorah lighting ceremony at the District Attorney’s executive office, singing festive Chanukah songs, saying L’Chayim, distributing Chanukah gelt, dreidels and Chabad Lubavitch Chanukah brochures with each Shliach sharing an inspiring Chanukah message of the Rebbe.
The Shluchim presented the DA with an elegant gold and silver Pushka replica of Yerushalayim, and one dollar Chanukah gelt for charity, sharing the Rebbe’s message of the significance of the dollar bill’s graphic “eye that sees” explaining that “In G-D We Trust” inspires society to conduct itself in a law abiding, moral and ethical life style.
DA DiFiore proudly displayed her collection of Tzedakah pushkas presented to her over the years by Chabad Lubavitch of Westchester County which is prominently displayed year-round as a centerpiece in the official DA conference room where high level meetings take place.
The DA admirably expressed appreciation for all the good work done by the more than 3,000 Chabad Houses around the world, guided by the Rebbe’s leadership and teachings.
DA DiFiore spoke of her joy of reading the book Toward a Meaningful Life, which is based on the Rebbe’s s teachings, which the Shluchim presented to her last year and is part of her library at home.
The DA quoted from the Rebbe’s message shared during last year’s visit and spoke of the inspiration and great insights one learns from the Rebbe’s teachings. She told of frequently sharing with friends and colleagues the Rebbe’s teachings regarding faith and the spirit of the law and how it is critical for a child’s education and character.
DA DiFiore noted the important emphasis the Rebbe places on law and government, as they help society live in a safe and law abiding environment.
New York State Supreme Court & District Administrative Judge, Hon. Alan D. Shenkman lights the Menorah
Following the festivities at the DA’s office, the Shluchim visited the judicial office of New York State Supreme Court & District Administrative Judge, Hon. Alan D. Shenkman.
Judge Shenkman recounted some of his early childhood memories of his Jewish education, then with candle and flame in hand , Judge Shenkman proudly proceeded to lead a Menorah lighting ceremony in his office.
Each of the Shluchim shared a Chanukah message of the Rebbe with Judge Shenkman. After hearing from all of the Shluchim, the judge expressed his gratitude and admiration for the wisdom and inspiration of the Rebbe’s insights.
207 days honoring the Rebbe
At 2:30 pm, the delegation of Shluchim entered the secured office suite of Westchester’s highest ranking government executive, County Executive Mr. Robert P. Astorino.
The Shluchim were invited to continue a long-standing tradition of a Chabad Lubavitch Chanukah reception at the executive chamber, and joined together for a Menorah lighting ceremony with County Executive Astorino, Deputy County Executive Mr. Kevin Plunkett and their executive and administrative staff.
Each of the Shluchim shared with County Executive Astorino a Chanukah message from the Rebbe, as Mr. Astorino attentively listened to the many lessons of the Menorah and the holiday of Chanukah.
The Shluchim presented County Executive Astorino with an elegant Pushka replica of the second Beis Hamikdash, highlighting the exact location where the Menorah stood.
With the Pushka in hand, the Shluchim gave Mr. Astorino a dollar for Chanukah gelt, emphasizing the words “In G-d We Trust” which are prominently displayed on the American dollar bill, as well as the inscription of the divine “eye that sees”. Mr. Astorino later placed an additional dollar of his own into the Tzedakah Pushka which is prominently displayed on Mr. Astorino’s executive desk.
The Shluchim explained the importance and significance of giving charity, acts of goodness and kindness, drawing on the message of unity stated on the United States dollar bill “E Pluribus Unum” – out of many, one.
County Executive Astorino told the Shluchim of his personal deep faith in G-d, how it is American tradition to recognize the creator as it is well known that the founding fathers wanted to ensure the freedom to practice religion and faith in G-d, as faith in G-d is the essential foundation of a civilized society and especially of a child’s education.
In honor of the 207 days leading up to Chof Ches Sivan 5771-2011 , which will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin to the United in 5701-1941 , County Executive Astorino issued a proclamation, proclaiming “207 Days of Education & Goodness and Kindness” in honor of the Rebbe.
The text of the proclamation:
“Whereas the miraculous victory – culminating with the rededication of the sanctuary in Jerusalem and the rekindling of the Menorah which had been desecrated and extinguished by the enemy – has been celebrated annually ever since during these eight days of Chanukah, especially by lighting the Chanukah Menorah, also as a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness.
“Whereas the Chanukah Lights remind us in a most obvious way that illumination begins at home, within oneself and one’s family, by increasing and intensifying the light of goodness and kindness in the everyday experience, as the Chanukah Lights are kindled in growing numbers from day to day. Though it begins at home, it does not stop there. Such is the nature of light that when one kindles a light for one’s own benefit, it benefits also all who are in the vicinity.
“Whereas the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, has established more than 3000 Chabad Lubavitch centers around the world, spanning six continents, and encouraging all people, regardless of race, color or creed, to prepare for Moshiach, by doing additional acts of goodness and kindness, hastening the biblical promise of a world of universal peace and harmony with recognition of the creator.
“Whereas Thursday June 30th 2011, corresponding to the 28th of Sivan 5771, celebrates the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson to the United States of America, Monday, Sivan 28, 5701, June 23, 1941, having been miraculously rescued from the European Holocaust.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ROBERT P. ASTORINO, COUNTY EXECUTIVE OF WESTCHESTER COUNTY, do hereby proclaim the upcoming 207 days leading up to the 70th anniversary of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin’s arrival to the United States of America, December 6th, 2010 corresponding to 29 Kislev 5771, through June 30th, 2011 corresponding to 28 Sivan 5771, as “207 Days of Education & Goodness and Kindness”.
In Westchester County New York in recognition of and in honor of The Rebbe.”
County Executive Astorino warmly thanked each of the Shluchim for the visit, and expressed his appreciation for honoring him with such a prominent delegation.
Rabbi Velvl Butman shared with Mr. Astorino an overview of the many activities of Chabad Lubavitch throughout Westchester County, including the recent expansion of Chabad Lubavitch of New Rochelle and Chabad Lubavitch of White Plains, as well as the launching of new programming for Chabad Teen Club, Camp Gan Israel, Friendship Circle and the current dealings for a new Chabad House.
County Executive Astorino congratulated the addition of the new Shliach Rabbi Yehuda L. Heber to Yorktown-Somers-Cortlandt and the upcoming appointments of two more new Shluchim to Westchester County.