Union Celebrates Jewish Heritage

NYC Public Advocate Letitia James presents an award to SSEU Local 371 President Anthony Wells. From left, Dr. Leonard Davidman, committee chair, president, Local 1189, Rabbi Michael S. Miller, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, Letitia James, Anthony Wells and Diane Silver, Chair SSEU Local 371 Jewish Heritage Committee. Photo: Mike Lee

By MIKE LEE

Summer came early, so it was of no surprise that the party was hot during the Jewish Heritage celebration at DC 37 headquarters.

The event celebrated the anniversary of the founding of Israel — known in Hebrew as Yom Ha’atzmaut — proclaimed in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948.

After an invocation by Rabbi Michael S. Miller, executive vice president of the Jewish Community Council of New York, Dr. Leonard Davidman, president of Psychologists Local 1189 and chair of the DC 37 Jewish Heritage Committee introduced DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.

In his remarks, Garrido stressed the importance of thoughts coinciding with action. Citing the recent commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who went to Memphis to support the strikers, Garrido said, “In his legacy, it was clear that Dr. King was more about actions than it was about words.”

Music was provided by the Howard Leshaw Ensemble. Photo: Mike Lee

The committee honored Cliff Koppelman with the Jewish Heritage Award, which was presented by Edward Hysyk, president of the Retirees Association of DC 37. After being introduced, the former president of Local 1070 and DC 37 Secretary told the crowd that, “In recognizing by what I did, you are also remembering the people who helped me along the way,” he said.

The committee also honored SSEU Local 371 President Anthony Wells, who is an international vice president of DC 37’s national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James presented the award to Wells. In her speech she lauded the vital contributions of the Jewish community for the labor movement.

“The history of the labor movement is inextricably tied to the Jewish immigrant story in America; both in standing up and lending their voices for fair and equal treatment, in speaking out against injustice,” James said.

During his speech, Wells spoke of the importance of cultural events at the union.

“The cultural events serves many purposes,” Wells said. “They serve as a celebration of the social and cultural contributions of that group for the working people of this city. What it also does is that these events give us opportunity to go beyond stereotypes, and actually learn about each other.”

In his talk, Galit Peleg, the counsel for public diplomacy at the Israeli Consulate in New York, returned to the theme of Israel at 70.

Music was provided by the Howard Leshaw Ensemble. Their performance was a mix of old jazz and pop standards, presented with a lively klezmer flair.

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