Congressman Eliot Engel, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York, share a laugh at a joint Sukkot and Hispanic Heritage Month celebration–co-sponsored by Borough President Diaz, Consul General Aharoni and the Jewish Community Relations Council–at Salanter Akiba of Riverdale’s lower school on Monday, October 6.

The Consulate General of Israel in New York joined with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., JCRC-NY and other local officials to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month and the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot

At what first seemed a coincidence of the calendar, two communities met at the Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy Monday night October 6, to jointly celebrate the arrival of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot and National Hispanic Heritage Month. The timeliness of the shared celebration highlighted the important contributions made by both the Hispanic American and Jewish Communities here in New York City, and honored the personal journeys that both communities have endured as they share their unique culture and heritage with the New York area.

In attendance were members of both the local Hispanic and Jewish communities, as well as distinguished guests, such as Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.; Congressman Eliot Engel; New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; New York State Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein; New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera; New York Assemblyman Marcos Crespo; New York City Council Member Andrew Cohen; Consul General of Israel in New York Ambassador Ido Aharoni; and Executive Vice President & CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater New York, Rabbi Michael S. Miller, among others.

The event, which was sponsored by the Consulate General of Israel in New York, the Office of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and JCRC-NY, highlighted not just the Jewish and Hispanic peoples’ experiences with migration, but underscored how each community’s own exodus has uniquely shaped them today.

“There are many parallels between our Jewish and Hispanic cultures that we must celebrate and embrace, and in a city like New York, it’s imperative that both communities support one another, said Congressman Eliot Engel (D-Bronx & Westchester). “As the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the AJC Latino Jewish Caucus, I am committed to further strengthening the ties between our two communities. Together, we can advance our common goals and our shared vision for the future.”

Consul General of Israel in New York, Ambassador Ido Aharoni remarked, “In celebrating the holiday of Sukkot this year, we not only reflect upon the story of the migration of the Jewish people and the temporary dwellings they lived in, but we also remember the difficult personal exodus so many Latinos faced when emigrating to the United States.”

“Just as the Jewish people in Israel carried with them their heritage and culture, so too have the Latinos who have come to this country,” Aharoni added. “Both of our communities have understood that preserving a rich heritage while building a new home is paramount to ensure a meaningful future.”

Said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. (D), “This was an amazing event, one that brought together the Latino and Jewish communities of not just The Bronx but the entire City, both of which have played important roles in reshaping their communities. This evening not only helped ring in the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot and celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, it also offered our Latino and Jewish communities a chance to bond through stories, music and even Kosher Mexican food. Both groups left realizing that they share a lot more in common than a date on the calendar, and it is my sincere hope we can replicate this event in the future.”

Said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D–Manhattan), “I’m proud to be part of the shared history of journey’s at the 2nd Annual Celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month and the Holiday of Sukkot. The ties the Latino and Jewish communities have to each other and to our great City are deep and strong and I thank the Israeli Consulate, the JCRC and my colleagues in government for hosting tonight’s celebration. Chag Sameach and Felices fiestas!”

Said NYS Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), “As we celebrate both Hispanic American Heritage Month and the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot we honor the rich traditions, important histories, and tremendous contributions of both cultures. I am delighted to be part of this special event, where we not only extend our great mutual respect for one another but celebrate the strong communities we continue to build together,”

Said Brenda Torres Barreto, Director of the New York Regional Office of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration,“Puerto Rico is proud to be the home of the largest Jewish community in the Caribbean, as such, in 2005, the Senate of Puerto Rico approved Resolution 1480, recognizing the contributions, of our ‘Jewish community to the Puerto Rican way of life, and to celebrate the friendship which exists between the peoples of Puerto Rico and Israel.’ Our histories have been intertwined since the start of our history, and they continue to be. Today, we celebrate both of our cultures, experiences, beliefs, and values. We both rejoice in speaking the language of our ancestors and eating the foods that brought together families in good times and bad.  Today, we dance and lift up our voices in songs of joy as they did.”

Said Rabbi Michael S. Miller, Executive Vice President and CEO, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, “Sukkot is a joyous festival made all the more jubilant by the coming together of family and friends in the sukkah, a temporary dwelling with a thatch roof commemorating the 40 year journey of the Children of Israel during Biblical times from slavery in Egypt to nationhood in Israel, the Promised Land. The sukkah is also viewed in Jewish tradition as a singular symbol of peace, Sukkat Shalom. As Jews celebrate their spiritual heritage, we are doubly blessed to peacefully gather together in the sukkah this evening with sisters and brothers from the Hispanic community, who have experienced their own journeys, as they celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. May the festival of Sukkot continue to serve as a binding force bringing Jews, Hispanics and New Yorkers of all faiths and ethnicities closer together.”