Board of Legislators Celebrates
Jewish American Heritage Month
On Monday, May 9, the Westchester County Board of Legislators and Westchester Jewish Council (WJC) celebrated Jewish-American Heritage Month with a virtual ceremony lauding AJC Westchester/Fairfield and Rabbi Howard Goldsmith of Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester for their important community work and notable efforts on behalf of the people of Ukraine.
The program began with a moving invocation by Rabbi Howard Goldsmith.
Board Chair Catherine Borgia (D – Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton, Ossining, Peekskill) presented the night’s first proclamation to AJC Westchester/Fairfield, which had been nominated by WJC.
AJC (American Jewish Committee) is the leading global Jewish advocacy organization. Established in 1906, it works to impact policy and opinion on critical issues facing the Jewish people. AJC Westchester/Fairfield connects the local community with AJC’s global advocacy work by providing over 140 educational programs and advocacy initiatives each year.
In her presentation, Borgia said, “With CEO David Harris at the helm, AJC is at the forefront of current relief efforts in Ukraine such as donating and delivering necessary supplies, flying 141 Ukrainian Jews to Israel, and funding generous grants for refugee assistance … Locally, AJC Westchester/Fairfield, organized the March 18th “community of conscience” multi-faith prayer service in White Plains, along with WJC and the Westchester Human Rights Commission. The program included faith leaders and elected officials from across Westchester County to support the people of Ukraine.
“For all of the important work that AJC Westchester/Fairfield does here in the community every day, and with special commendation this year for their advocacy on behalf of the people of Ukraine, we present this proclamation.”
In his acceptance video, David Harris reflected on his happy years spent raising his family and involved with the Jewish community in Westchester County. He thanked the Board and WJC for the recognition and said, “We are meeting at a time when the world is in flux. In particular, so much of AJC’s focus is on Ukraine and that includes our operation here in Westchester … the American Jewish Committee, consistent with our core values of defending democracy and human dignity will continue to stand with Ukraine until there is victory.”
The Board declared May 10, 2022 “AJC Westchester/Fairfield Day” in Westchester County.
On behalf of Vice Chair Nancy Barr (D – Harrison, Rye Brook, Port Chester) who was not able to shoot the presentation video, Legislator Erika Pierce (D – Bedford, Lewisboro, Mt. Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers) presented a proclamation honoring Rabbi Howard Goldsmith of Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester, and President of the Westchester Board of Rabbis.
She said, “I have had the pleasure of knowing Rabbi Goldsmith for several years, and I know him to be intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, and a dynamic leader who excels at bringing people together …he brings progressive values to his Rabbinic role, where he embraces diversity and inclusion.
Rabbi Goldsmith is the President of the Westchester Board of Rabbis, and in this role, he has felt compelled to assist the Ukrainian people, as they endure the horrors of war. In cooperation with religious and secular leaders across the County and in partnership with other Jewish organizations like WJC and AJC, Rabbi Goldsmith has helped to mobilize the community to organize supply drives, raise funds for refugees, and lobby for generous refugee resettlement, as well as military support for Ukraine. Rabbi Goldsmith’s commitment to helping those in need, and rising to the occasion when a crisis hits, exemplifies the concept of Tikkun Olam — repairing our world.”
Rabbi Goldsmith accepted the honor with these words, “Serving as the President of the Westchester Board of Rabbis has been one of the greatest honors of my rabbinate …The role has allowed me to participate meaningfully in Westchester civic life, representing the Jewish community at a wide variety of official events. These events, together with my service as a chaplain for the Westchester County Police Department, have allowed me to bring the Jewish spirit of Tikkun Olam to the important work done by those in government service and law enforcement.”
The Board declared May 11, 2022 “Rabbi Howard Goldsmith Day” in the County of Westchester.