Jewish Heritage Graphic

White Plains, NY — On Monday evening, the Westchester County Board of Legislators and Westchester Jewish Council (WJC) celebrated Jewish-American Heritage Month with an in-person ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Westchester Day School and recognizing the vital humanitarian efforts of the Westchester Jewish Council for Immigration (WJCI) and the Resettlement Committee for Refugees.

Vice Chair Nancy Barr (D – Harrison, Port Chester, Rye Brook) convened the ceremony, beginning with a moving invocation by Rabbi Daniel Rockoff. She said, “Tonight, we celebrate and honor several Jewish organizations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to contribute to and enrich our community. I personally would like to congratulate each of you and to thank you for all of your efforts which serve to benefit our Westchester community.”

Legislator Catherine F. Parker (D – Harrison, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye) and Elliot Forchheimer, Executive Director of WJC, presented the first proclamation to Rabbi Daniel Rockoff, Head of School for Westchester Day School. Parker said, “Founded in 1948 Westchester Day School serves as the primary Modern orthodox co-ed day school for toddler- eighth grade students in the Westchester community. As the legislator representing Mamaroneck, I am proud that WDS calls my district home. I love the school’s mission – to prepare students to live as mensches and lifelong learners; to inspire students to impact the world around them by cultivating a commitment to Torah, midot, community and academic rigor.”

Rabbi Rockoff expressed his gratitude for the honor on behalf of the school, saying, “On the occasion of our 75th anniversary, we are excited to look ahead to the next chapter in our history and in the history of the Jewish community in Westchester County. We are, I believe, the first Jewish day school in the County. Our founding coincided- not coincidentally- with the founding of the State of Israel … It is a special honor to be included alongside WJCI, and the Resettlement Committee for Refugees. Many of our families throughout our school’s history have included those who found refuge in our communities and found safe haven on the shores of our school. Thank you again for this special honor.”

The Board declared Wednesday, May 3, 2023, “Westchester Day School Day” in Westchester County.

Legislator Parker also presented the second proclamation to Larchmont constituent Holly Rosen Fink, President and Co-Founder of WJCI. She said, “The Golden Rule says, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration exemplifies this as they welcome the stranger to our County by providing much-needed services to help make the transition to American life for these displaced world citizens as seamless as possible.”

Ms. Fink thanked Legislator Parker and the entire Board, saying, “Partnership is everything to our small and mighty volunteer-led and run organization.”

“In 2021, when Kabul fell and again in 2022, when war broke out in Ukraine, several of our partners acknowledged that WJCI had the potential to mobilize our community to help refugees fleeing danger. Since then, we have funded and created over 30 groups of volunteers and given over $100,000 to the volunteers doing critical resettlement work. This work has saved hundreds of lives and mobilized hundreds of volunteers.”

“All of us at WJCI do this work because we were all once refugees. This work is ingrained in us as members of the Jewish community in Westchester. Thank you for believing in us and thank you for supporting our work on behalf of refugees.”

The Board declared Thursday, May 4, 2023, “Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration Day” in Westchester County.

Vice Chair Barr presented the third proclamation to the four Co-Chairs of the Resettlement Committee for Refugees: Pat Rind, Community Synagogue of Rye, Andrea Dulberg, Nancy Hart, and Florence Reiss Kraut, Jewish Community Center of Harrison.

She said, “Several years ago, the Ahmadi family arrived as refugees from Afghanistan and settled here in Westchester, but their extended family was left behind. Tremendous effort went into getting the entire family out of Afghanistan when the U.S. pulled out in 2021. After a harrowing, arduous journey, all 13 finally settled here in Westchester.”

“When the call went out that help was needed to resettle these families, Pat, Andrea, Nancy, and Florence, with the support of WJCI and their synagogue communities, jumped in to help. The refugee families needed everything initially - a home, furniture, food, transportation, clothes and school supplies, plus jobs, so that they could support their families going forward. They needed help navigating life here in the U.S., and tonight’s honorees have dedicated, and continue to dedicate, endless hours to help these families as they adjust to life here. In the process, true friendships have developed.”

In accepting the proclamations, Pat Rind remarked, “The work of the Resettlement Committee has been one of collaboration from the beginning. There are many members, all bringing along their knowledge, enthusiasm, time, and effort to provide support for these families in every possible way. Imagine leaving your home on almost no notice amid fear and chaos and being allowed to take just one bag per person? What would you need upon landing in an entirely new country and culture? Whatever it is you think you would need … we had a committee for that and volunteers committed to helping these families, who we’ve come to know and care about, navigate it.”

The Board declared Friday, May 5, 2023, “Resettlement Committee for Refugees Day” in Westchester County.

Read Program from Monday night's event.