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Friday, April 18, 2008

Bush cites Chabad education project

A U.S. president for the 30th consecutive year has proclaimed Education and Sharing Day USA, a project of Chabad-Lubavitch.

Ten Chabad emissaries from around the world visited President Bush in the Oval Office Tuesday. Bush signed a proclamation making Wednesday Education and Sharing Day USA.

Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, the chairman of the executive committee of Agudas Chassidei Chabad, said the annual event was instituted by the Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in 1978 when Jimmy Carter occupied the White House.

It is repeated annually on Schneerson’s Hebrew birthday, which began Tuesday night, in honor of his interest in teaching moral values in school. Schneerson was an early advocate of a Department of Education separate from the former Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

“It’s symbolic but an important component of calling attention to education, which the rebbe said was far more than teaching tools” such as math and reading skills, “but involve the development of character,” said Shemtov, who also is the national director of Friends of Lubavitch. “Education is the root of civilization, and the lack of it, or its distortion, is the reason for all the evils in the world.”

Some presidents receive the annual delegation more warmly than others, Shemtov said, adding that "today we came away with the feeling it was more than symbolic.”

The emissaries presented Bush with a Passover Haggadah. Bush signed a second Haggadah that will be sent to Jewish troops overseas.

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