In Support of Jewish Children: Clinton, Pataki, Guiliani . . .

by Baila Olidort - NEW YORK CITY

January 15, 2004

More than 600 guests turned out in support and celebration of the realization of a dream at last night’s Jewish Children International Tzivos Hashem dinner.

Greeting the guests at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City were some of New York City’s most distinguished officials, present and former. Among them, Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, Senator Hilary Clinton, State Senator Major Owens, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Dan Gillerman, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, and a surprise showing by Governor George Pataki.

All of them spoke with heartfelt enthusiasm for the work of Tzivos Hashem, the largest children’s organization in the world, now in the finishing stages of construction on the much acclaimed Jewish Children’s Museum. The $30 million structure rising majestically above Eastern Parkway at Kingston Avenue was designed by architects Charles Gwathmey and Robert Siegel, who were named guests of honor at last night's dinner.

Speaking of their work, Director of Tzivos Hashem, Rabbi Yerachmiel Binyaminson said, "The building that they designed is extraordinary. It is the physical embodiment of the museum—an original, high-tech, completely state-of-the-art structure with a foundation in timeless traditions. And it’s gorgeous too."

The evening also paid tribute to Mrs. Devorah Halberstam who was highly instrumental in galvanizing support for the Museum after her son Ari, was murdered in the infamous Brooklyn Bridge terror attack in 1994. All spoke of the inspiration they took from Halberstam's unrelenting efforts to facilitate support and enlarge on the vision of the museum. Some people who suffer losses, said Guiliani who recalled the recent terror of 9/11, recede from society in their grief and sorrow. Others, he observed, like Mrs. Halberstam, take their anger and sorrow and channel it into something positive and constructive. The Museum is dedicated to Ari's memory.

Tzivos Hashem has upwards of 600,000 children enrolled as members. Established in 1980 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, the organization would draw all Jewish children under the age of 13 to enlist as members, in the “army of Hashem,” where, through a wide variety of Jewish incentives, they would facilitate positive changes in their homes, schools and communities towards enhanced Jewish identity and involvement.

Today, Tzivos Hashem, with its headquarters in Brooklyn, has grown into a comprehensive Jewish children’s organization. The Museum—the only Jewish children’s museum in the world, is expected to open in the spring.

"When the Museum doors finally open later this year, and children experience its magic for the first time, all of the long nights and hard work will pay off a thousand-fold," said Rabbi Binyaminson.

"It will be a day that we will remember forever, a day that will honor the wisdom and vision of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson whose love for teaching children knew no bounds."

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