WHITE PLAINS — Members of the Board of Legislators attended the annual Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast, co-sponsored by event founder, American Jewish Committee (AJC) Westchester/Fairfield, Westchester Jewish Council (WJC), the Ecumenical and Interreligious Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College, OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates Westchester and Hudson Valley, and Iona University. In addition to the Legislators depicted above, Legislator Jewel Williams Johnson (D – Elmsford, Greenburgh, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, White Plains) and Legislator Terry Clements (D – New Rochelle, Pelham, Pelham Manor) were in attendance.
Iona University hosted the event at their Hynes Athletic Center, where over 400 guests – the largest turn out in the breakfast’s 22-year history – came together in solidarity under the theme “Hate Will NOT Divide Us: Celebrating Our Diverse Roots and Shared Values Since September 11, 2001.”
The program was kicked off by the Iona University Pipers, and featured invocations and prayers for unity from spiritual leaders across the County, inspirational songs performed by the Iona University Singers, a video message from Governor of New York State Kathy Hochul, and addresses from New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Westchester County Executive George Latimer. Westchester Board of Legislators’ Chair Vedat Gashi participated in the Unity Call and Response Prayer. In addition, there was a call to action from AJC, followed by table discussions before the concluding remarks and benediction.
Board Chair Vedat Gashi (D – New Castle, Somers, Yorktown) said, “While it’s important every year to come together at this event – to acknowledge and celebrate our differences as well as our commonalities – it is both necessary and cathartic to do so this year.”
Vice Chair Nancy Barr (D – Harrison, Port Chester, Rye Brook) said, “The dramatic increase in anti-Semitic sentiment, incidents and crimes since the Hamas massacre of Israeli citizens on October 7th makes it more important than ever for communities of faith and people of diverse backgrounds to unite against hate in all its forms. The unprecedented turn out at this year’s Diversity Breakfast is a testament to the strength of Westchester’s diverse community and the shared value of celebrating this diversity. I am thankful that I was able to participate, along with so many other community members, to unequivocally stand up against hate.”
Majority Whip Tyrae Woodson-Samuels (D – Mount Vernon) said, “As we prepare to give thanks this Thursday, it is meaningful to take time beforehand to give thanks to each other by sharing empathy and understanding our diverse experiences.”