President George W. Bush signed a proclamation declaring April 16, 2008 – the 106th anniversary of the birth of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory – Education and Sharing Day, USA.
In the Oval Office ceremony Tuesday morning, which was attended by nine Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries from around the world and a Chabad-Lubavitch Chasid who serves as a New York City middle school principal, Bush also inscribed a Passover Haggadah that will be sent to Jewish troops stationed in Iraq.
Rabbi Avraham Shemtov, the Philadelphia-based chairman of the Chabad-Lubavitch umbrella group Agudas Chasidei Chabad and national director of American Friends of Lubavitch, called attention to the fact that Bush's signing marks the 30th such proclamation issued by the White House. Five presidents have marked the Rebbe's birthday throughout the years, he said, but the content of the latest document goes further in identifying education as the foundation of an individual's life.
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"It illuminates what the Rebbe said so many times: Education is not only the means of survival in life, it implies the molding of character," explained Shemtov. "Education covers the entire roadmap of a person's existence.
"Proclaiming an Education Day," he continued, "in connection with the Rebbe's birthday emphasizes education's importance in our society."
The president, who briefly shared words with each member of the delegation, thanked Chabad-Lubavitch for its work with children. He also praised its dedication to Jewish military personnel.
Besides Shemtov, the delegation included Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the Washington, D.C., director of American Friends of Lubavitch; Rabbi Yisroel Shmotkin, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin; Rabbi Tzvi Grunblatt, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Argentina; Rabbi Yisroel Diskin, senior Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Germany; Rabbi Sholom B. Lipskar, director of The Shul of Bal Harbour, Fla., and founder of the Aleph Institute, an organization that serves the needs of Jewish military personnel and prisoners; Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Northern Colorado; Rabbi Yosef Gopin, director of Chabad House of Greater Hartford, Conn.; Rabbi Yitzchok Yehuda Yeruslovsky, head of the Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinical court in Israel; and Shimon Waronker, the Bronx principal who turned around a troubled middle school.