The two chief rabbis of Israel, along with the 12 members of the Chief Rabbinical Council, issued a proclamation calling for Jews worldwide to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the birth of the RebbeRabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau, with 12 colleagues who serve as rabbis in cities across Israel, explained the Rebbe’s vast legacy and life’s work, writing how “his great soul, which descended to earth on Erev Shabbat (Friday), 11 Nissan, 5662 (1902), was destined to revolutionize the Jewish world … . He began—with tremendous love—to strengthen the Jewish nation, which was crushed and moaning after the Holocaust.” The anniversary this year is on Tuesday, April 12.

The Rebbe’s work continues 27 years after his passing in an even greater measure than before, the rabbis noted, carried out by the Rebbe’s thousands of emissaries who lead Jewish communities worldwide with dedication and sacrifice. “Just recently, we saw the heroic self-sacrifice of the holy emissaries in Ukraine, the birthplace of the Rebbe,” they observe. “Under the terror of shelling and rocket fire, they risked their lives to continue their work.”

A leader with a global vision for humanity, the Rebbe was a great Torah scholar who spent his “days and nights studying and teaching,” the letter goes on to say. Among the Rebbe’s major innovations in Torah scholarship was to “pave new pathways in understanding Rashi’s commentary on the Torah and to reveal new depths in Maimonides’s Mishnah Torah.”

Noting the Rebbe’s belief in the power of the individual, they encourage teachers and educators to “impart to the next generation the value of a moral lifestyle, positive character traits, and the will to increase goodness and holiness” on the anniversary of the Rebbe’s birth, which was enshrined in the U.S. as “Education and Sharing Day, U.S.A” in 1978.

Education Day Marked in Israel

This year, for the first time, Israeli lawmakers have written “Education Day” into law in their country as well, to be marked on the 11th of Nissan. President Isaac Herzog, a grandson of Israel’s first chief rabbi and his namesake, who met and maintained correspondence with the Sixth Rebbe—Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory—also joined the call to the public to mark “Education Day,” hosting a Chabad delegation at the President’s Residence exactly 108 years after his great-grandfather, Rabbi Yoel Herzog, met the Fifth Rebbe—Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn—in Paris.

Herzog, who met the Rebbe in his youth, recalled the Rebbe’s blessing to him and expressed his pride in Chabad’s work. “I see the emissaries of Chabad in Israel and around the world, and I am amazed by their noble work,” he said.

Israel’s chief rabbis concluded their proclamation with a “call on everyone on this special date to strengthen and increase the honor of Heaven; for everyone to dedicate time to contemplate [the Rebbe’s] great legacy; to delve into the study of his rich Torah; and to do more mitzvot following his ways.”

A full-text translation of the proclamation can be read here.