St. Johns County Recognizes St. Johns County – Israel Friendship Day
St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners Chairman, Christian Whitehurst, and St. Johns County Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller, Brandon Patty, joined members of St. Johns County’s Jewish community to recognize the third annual St. Johns County – Israel Friendship Day on October 17.
“At a time when our friends in Israel are mourning the loss of their loved ones, St. Johns County is in mourning with them,” said St. Johns County Board of County Commission Chairman, Christian Whitehurst. “This year our celebration of Israel Friendship Day has taken on a new level of significance. We want to send a clear, strong message that we stand side by side to support the Israeli people, in their time of need.”
“The horrific attacks on Israel last weekend sadly confirms again that our Jewish friends face not only threats but real hate and violence. Here in St Johns County, we stand against antisemitism and alongside the Jewish community and our neighbors and friends in solidarity with Israel,” said Clerk of Court and County Comptroller, Brandon J. Patty. “We will not support violence or any discriminatory practices counter to our American values.”
“Today especially, this event is so important to the Jewish Community and for every citizen of every democratic nation,” said CEO of the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Northeast Florida, Mariam Shpeen Feist. “The support we have received from the St. Johns County Sherrif’s Office and elected officials is not only heard and recognized by your constituents here but also by your brothers and sisters in Israel.”The history of the Jewish community in St. Johns County goes well into the past, as the county was one of the first places in the country to be inhabited by Jewish settlers in the 16th century. Since then, the Jewish community has enriched the cultural diversity of the county and has found a home and haven in St. Johns. This is evident from the establishment of the first synagogue in 1898, and the diversity of Jewish congregations in our county.
“Let’s fight back together – in the spirit of Israel Friendship Day – by adding light, good deeds, morality, friendship, kindness, love. The evil-doers may have plenty of hate but they have no power over that,” said Director of Chabad at St. Johns County, Rabbi Mendel Sharfstein.
In honor of St. Johns County – Israel Friendship Day, a new art installation will be displayed at the St. Johns County Administration Building Rotunda called Israel at 75: The Pioneering Spirit. These images celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary and portray early decades of the country’s independence. The installation is part of a collaboration with the Mishkan Museum of Art in Ein Harod. The artist’s countries of origin reflect their migration to the Holy Land. Beth El – the Beaches synagogue was the first organization to host the installation in Jacksonville.
Participating in the program will be Rabbi Sharfstein Mendel, Chabad of St. Johns County; Rabbi Benjamin Dyme, Beth El – The Beaches Synagogue St. Johns County; Rabbi Levi Vogel, Chabad – Lubavitch of St. Augustine; Rabbi Nochum Kurinsky, Chabad at the Beaches; Jill Metlin and Mariam Shpeen Feist of the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Northeast Florida, and St. Johns County Sheriff, Robert A. Hardwick.