April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Riverdale Y, Bronx Borough President Host Chanukah Celebration

Riverdale Jewish Community Partnership donates $120K to Magen David Adom for new ambulance.

Kinneret Day School students perform.

On December 13, the Riverdale Y hosted a Chanukah celebration and menorah lighting in partnership with the office of Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. The event included musical performances by Kinneret Day School (KDS) and Riverdale Y students.

Rabbi Scott Kalmikoff, director of community engagement, opened the program. “Chanukah has an extra level of meaning in our lives this year,” he said. “There are a lot of emotions we are working through. On one hand, we want to celebrate proudly and openly, as Jews. We don’t want to live in fear or hide.

“We’re greatly appreciative of the support we’ve received from non-Jewish friends and elected officials. Sometimes Jewish communities feel alone. Over the last few weeks, we’ve received support across the spectrum in Riverdale and across our country. We’re here to bring light into the world and celebrate Chanukah as a community.” With the help of the KDS students, Riverdale Y Chief Operating Officer Matt Abrams Gerber lit the chanukiah.

Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson addresses the audience.

“Our children are the light of the world, representing the future, the promise for a better tomorrow,” Gibson said. “Since October 7th’s vicious attack, we’ve joined together mourning the loss of life, so much pain, devastation and heartache. During the celebration of Chanukah, it’s a blessing to gather in peace, solidarity and love.

“May the lights we continue to light on the menorah serve as the light of hope, faith, love, family, and our community, knowing that we are better together. Our faith is our foundation. We will never give up and allow those that want to destroy us to ever win.”

Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale (CSAIR) Rabbi Barry Dov Katz presented Magen David Adom (MDA) with a check of $120,000 from the Riverdale Jewish Community Partnership to purchase an ambulance. Since October 7, MDA has lost 14 ambulances. “A few days after October 7th, we were speaking as colleagues, rabbis of Riverdale and other communal leaders, and we realized that we needed to do something to respond,” he said. “We wanted to respond to the awful attacks of October 7th with a symbol of healing.”

New York State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz addresses the audience.

New York City Council Member Eric Dinowitz (District 11) stated: “One thing I learned as an elected official is empathy. On Passover, we say, ‘We were slaves in Egypt.’ On Yom Kippur we say, ‘This is for the sins that we have committed’; it’s very communal. We feel what other people are feeling. When October 7th hit, we felt pain in our hearts and stomachs.

“We think back to the story of Chanukah; that was a very dark time when the Greeks would tell us, ‘You cannot be who you are.’. … That is what we are being told now: ‘You cannot be Jewish and you cannot be where you are,’ whether it’s in Israel, or on our college campuses. And I think about how thousands of years later, we’re celebrating and we’re doing it with joy and without looking back with sorrow. We’re … teaching our children … that out of darkness comes light.”

CSAIR Rabbi Barry Dov Katz presents a check to Magen David Adom representatives to purchase a new ambulance.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark stated: “October 7th did nothing other than make us even stronger together, even though those bonds were already there. I’m proud to stand with you and the Jewish community here in the Bronx for the loss of lives that are happening since October 7th. I pray for peace every day. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can. Hate can’t drive out hate, only love can. … When somebody hates one of us, they hate all of us. That will not be tolerated in this borough.”

New York State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz (District 81) said: “Chanukah represents good defeating evil. Most of us below a certain age have never experienced what’s going on today. The hatred of Jewish people by so many on the political extremes, on the right and left, and on college campuses. … Can you imagine if this country, a week after 9/11, said, ‘We need a cease-fire right now,’ to turn the other cheek?

Check No. 1948 for $120,000 from funds collected by the Riverdale Jewish Community Partnership.

“This year Chanukah is more meaningful than ever. I’m grateful to everybody who stands up, speaks out, and shows up. … I’m so pleased we have friends who have spoken out. This will be the most memorable Chanukah because we’re all coming together.”

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