The White House released a proclamation designating April 7, 2017, as Education and Sharing Day, U.S.A in honor of the 115th anniversary of birth of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. The proclamation was signed by President Donald J. Trump and states that it is a day to “acknowledge the critical role of families, schools, and religious and other civic institutions in nurturing in our children the values that enable them to realize the full scope of their ambitions.”
It is the 39th year since the Rebbe’s date of birth was designated as a time to reflect upon the state of education in society, a bipartisan tradition that began with in 1978 with President Jimmy Carter and has been carried out by subsequent presidents ever since.
“Education and Sharing Day recognizes the remarkable efforts of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, to use values-based education to drive our nation’s children toward the American Dream,” stated Trump. “As an educator, Rabbi Schneerson understood that education is incomplete if it is devoid of moral development.”
In reacting to the very first designation of “Education Day,” the Rebbe expressed that while the timing of the day was a tribute to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement “which sees in education the cornerstone not only of Jewish life, but of humanity at large, and has been dedicated to this vital cause ever since its inception more than two hundred years ago—it is a fitting and timely tribute to the cause of education in general, focusing attention on what is surely one of the nation’s top priorities.”
The Rebbe spoke often about education as the bedrock of society, underscoring that it should not be limited to preparation for a career or even the acquisition of knowledge but, as he wrote to Carter, “education in a broader and deeper sense—not merely as a process of imparting knowledge and training for a ‘better living,’ but for a ‘better life,’ with due emphasis on character building and moral and ethical values.”
In President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 Education Day proclamation he echoed the Rebbe’s teachings when he noted that “throughout our history . . . our educational system has always done far more than simply train people for a given job or profession; it has equipped generation upon generation of young men and women for lives of responsible citizenship, by helping to teach them the basic ethical values and principles that are both our heritage as a free people and the foundation of civilized life.”
The Rebbe spoke about his hope that Education Day would become a permanent institution, one which due to the universal nature of education would lend further significance to other days, such as Father’s Day and Mother’s Day.
“It is fitting indeed that the U.S.A. has shown, through a forceful example to the world, that it places education among its foremost priorities . . . ” the Rebbe said. “The proclamation of Education Day USA is of extraordinary significance in impressing upon citizens the importance of education, both in their own lives as well as, and even more so, for the young generation in the formative years—particularly in the present day and age.”
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