Obama Declares Rebbe’s Birthday ‘Education Day’
The anniversary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s birth—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—is again officially a day of special note for American citizens. President Barack Obama signed a proclamation declaring March 31, 2015, corresponding to the 11th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan, as “Education and Sharing Day, USA.”
In a document dated March 30 and made public Monday by the White House, the president honored the Rebbe’s longstanding efforts in education for Jews and non-Jews alike, noting that the Rebbe dedicated his life to promoting education as the cornerstone of humanity. A tireless advocate for youth around the world, the Rebbe believed that “as long as there is still one child that does not receive an adequate education, we can neither be satisfied nor slacken our efforts,” wrote the president.
“Because of leaders like the Rebbe, we have made great strides toward achieving quality education for all—but his legacy is not only a story of progress, it is also a call to remember his words and take up this unfinished task,” according to the document, which focused on girls, in particular, and the need to boost their educational opportunities.
“Across the globe, girls have pushed forward to pursue an education in the face of poverty and threats to their safety. They are bold, ambitious, and undeterred by immense challenges,” stated Obama. “Today, we are called to meet their resolve with a commitment worthy of their character. On Education and Sharing Day, U.S.A., we recognize educators, pioneers of change, and all those who have unlocked the spark of something extraordinary within a child, and we rededicate ourselves to building a world where the destiny of every young person is limited only by the size of their dreams and the power of their imagination.”
The first public recognition of the anniversary of the Rebbe’s birth was prompted in 1978 by Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, at the time the Rebbe’s personal envoy to Washington, D.C., who worked with congressional members to urge U.S. President Jimmy Carter to declare the day “Education and Sharing Day” in the Rebbe’s honor. That goal came to fruition, and the day was formally inaugurated on April 18, 1978. It has been deemed such by all succeeding presidents.
A few years later, in recognition of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s 80th birthday, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives issued House Joint Resolution 447 to set aside April 4, 1982, as a “National Day of Reflection.”
At the time, President Ronald Reagan declared: “The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s work stands as a reminder that knowledge is an unworthy goal unless it is accompanied by moral and spiritual wisdom and understanding. He has provided a vivid example of the eternal validity of the Seven Noahide Laws, a moral code for all of us, regardless of religious faith. May he go from strength to strength.”