Friday, November 22, 2013

Guest Post: Breaking Bread and Breaking Down Barriers by Paul Warhit

I just returned home from the Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast at Manhattanville College, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Duchesne Center, and the Westchester Jewish Council in addition to an impressive list of community partners.  They were the most enjoyable three hours I've spent in a long time.  We started by enjoying a delicious breakfast while giving honor to 3 deserving recipients for their efforts in promoting diversity throughout Westchester County.  That was followed by scintillating conversations with my tablemates discussing what each of us is doing to improve relations among different racial/ethnic/religious groups in our community and how we can collaborate to do even more.  The best part of this discussion is that it took place with people I did not know who looked and prayed differently than I do.  And that is a VERY GOOD thing.

The program's theme was "Building the Mosaic" and the event did just that.  Benzinger Hall was filled with 300 people of all colors, religions, nationalities, and sizes with three objectives in mind. 

#1- To greet each other and enjoy our company.
#2- To celebrate the level of success we've achieved in the area of diversity in Westchester County.
#3- To acknowledge that there is still much work to do and to discuss ways to cooperate to make sure no individual or group is left out of our welcoming community.

I left the Diversity Breakfast energized and thankful.  I was energized by the level of mutual respect and commitment to improve on a community that cherishes our diversity.  We acknowledge our differences and embrace the beauty that each of our communities brings to the larger table.  And I was thankful that Ilissa and I are able to raise our three children in an environment where people of all backgrounds treat each other with respect and recognize that we are all created in God's image and are deserving of each other's appreciation.

The message shared by those in attendance was a simple one, but one that can never be repeated enough.  Now it is time to return to the good work that we've begun.

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