On May 6, the Westchester County Board of Legislators and Westchester Jewish Council celebrated Jewish History and Heritage Month with a special ceremony honoring the Anti-Defamation League of New York/New Jersey; John B. Harris, former Chair of ADL NY/NJ and currently a member of the ADL National Executive Committee, and Evan Bernstein, ADL New York/New Jersey Regional Director; as well as J-Teen Leadership, a program of the UJA-Federation of New York.
In delivering the event’s invocation, Rabbi Andrew Ergas of the Westchester Board of Rabbis noted that the gathering took place amid a recent wave of violent attacks at synagogues, churches and mosques across the world. “Here, in between the darkness and the light, we have to look backwards. We have to remember that there have been dark periods before us, but we have always overcome them through light and through memory.”
He added, “We all have a responsibility to remove ourselves from darkness. Let us remember to direct ourselves to the future.”
Legislator Mike Kaplowitz (D - Yorktown, New Castle, Somers) presented a proclamation to the ADL New York/New Jersey, and to Evan Bernstein, who was unable to attend due to illness. May 13 was designated Evan Bernstein Day in Westchester County. Kaplowitz noted that when hatred occurs against anybody, the ADL is a guarantor that the system does work.
Legislator Kitley Covill (D - Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers), presented a proclamation to John B. Harris, former Chair of ADL NY/NJ and currently a member of the ADL National Executive Committee. May 14 was proclaimed John B. Harris Day in the County.
“ADL has been on the front lines of combating anti-Semitism, fighting hate, educating, and advocating for justice and fair treatment for all,” Harris said.
He added, “ADL remains for me as important today as it was at the time of its founding. It works as an advocate, as a proponent for stereotyped minorities, and, we hope, as a conscience for a badly divided nation.” Harris mentioned that the ADL believes in justice and fair treatment for all. Legislator Nancy Barr (D - Harrison, Port Chester, Rye Brook), presented a proclamation to J-Teen Leadership, a program of the UJA-Federation of New York. J-Teen is a Westchester-based community service and leadership development organization that promotes community service projects planned by teens for teens. Nearly 1,000 teen volunteers participate annually in its programs. May 18 was announced as J Teen Leadership Day in Westchester.
Executive Director of J-Teen Leadership, Guy Felixbrodt, watched as Abe Baker-Butler, Advocacy Chair and Elected Officials Liaison on behalf of J-Teen Leadership said, “J-Teen has empowered me and countless other teens to harness their passions to repair the world.”
Explaining that the group, founded with a service trip to New Orleans to help in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, also holds annual interfaith gatherings for teens in Westchester, Baker-Butler said, “J-Teen embraces the belief that by bringing teens together from different faith backgrounds, we can create a less divided future.”
He concluded that, “J Teen is a cool spin on Judaism..”