NEW YORK MAYOR ADAMS PRESENTS SHINE A LIGHT’S CIVIC COURAGE AWARD FOR COMMUNITY BUILDING TO DR. MICHAEL LOMAX AND EBONI WILLIAMS FOR WORK COMBATTING HATE AND ANTISEMITISM

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Attendees at Annual Hanukkah Celebration at Gracie Mansion Included Family Members of Hostage Victims of October 7th Terrorist Attacks in Israel Attendees Lit Menorah Molded From October 7th Terrorist Attack Car Remains

New York, Dec. 12, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — At the city’s annual Hanukkah celebration at Gracie Mansion, New York City Mayor Eric Adams today honored two New Yorkers who are combatting hate and showing solidarity with the Jewish community: Dr. Michael L. Lomax and Eboni Williams. Lomax and Williams were honored with Shine A Light’s Civil Courage Award for Community Building for their work in combating hate and antisemitism. The award is dedicated to non-Jewish leaders who have stood up and taken a leading role in fighting antisemitism.

Shine A Light is a coalition of more than 60 Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and businesses dedicated to shining a light on the dangers of antisemitism through education, community partnerships, workplace engagements, advocacy, and media. In attendance at the Hanukkah celebration were also families whose loved ones are currently being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza following the October 7th terrorist attacks in Israel. Together, attendees lit a Menorah that was molded with the remains of an Israeli license plate from the October 7th terrorist attack at the R’eim Music Festival in southern Israel. The menorah was designed by Eliyahu Skaist and is engraved with the words of the prophet Micah (7:8):
“Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise again; though I sit in darkness, God is my light.”

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“Hanukkah tells the story of shining light into darkness — a lesson all too important to remember as hate rears its ugly head around the world today. But there’s no room for hate in New York City and today’s Hanukkah celebration shows that no matter who you are or where you come from, we all have a role to play in standing up for what’s right,” said Mayor Adams.

“Few people embody the concept of light overcoming darkness like the two people we honor tonight: Dr Michael Lomax and Eboni Williams — both who have done so much to promote the shared bond between African Americans and the Jewish community. They remind us that we are a city with people from every corner of the world, and, regardless of our differences, our communities will always come together to help and protect our fellow New Yorkers. I also want to thank the families of hostages still being held captive in Gaza for your courage. Finally, tonight, we celebrate and reaffirm our commitment to the spirit of Mitzvah and of Tikkun Olam, and recommit ourselves to repairing our world together. My mother used to tell me and my siblings, “If you find yourself in a dark place, you make the determination if that dark place is a burial or a planting.” The menorah we lit tonight was molded with the remains of an Israeli license plate from the October 7th terrorist attack and fulfills the true meaning of Hanukkah by shining light into darkness.”

The Adams administration is on the frontlines of combatting hate in New York City. Mayor Adams announced the launch of ‘Breaking Bread, Building Bonds’ a citywide initiative in partnership with UJA Federation of New York to combat the rise in hate crimes in many communities across the city, and foster mutual understanding between New York City’s diverse neighborhoods. The program, which builds on an initiative that was launched when Mayor Adams served as Brooklyn borough president, aims to organize meals citywide with a group of 10-12 diverse New Yorkers at each meal. To date, more than 1,000 Breaking Bread, Building Bonds gatherings have taken place with more than 10,000 New Yorkers.

Mayor Adams also created the city’s first-ever Jewish Advisory Council in June. Members of the council focus on all issues affecting Jewish New Yorkers, including public safety, quality of life, and education, and will ensure Jewish communities across New York City are connected with all of the city’s resources and services available.

Finally, since the start of his administration and especially in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Israel on October 7, Mayor Adams has hosted and attended various interfaith meetings to promote peace, acceptance, and unity among different religious and cultural groups across the five boroughs.

“I am deeply gratified and humbled to receive this award recognition from Mayor Adams, Shine A Light, and the UJA Federation of New York,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and chief executive officer, United Negro College Fund. “As we reflect on the remarkable impact of Black-Jewish allyship, let us remember that allyship is not just about supporting a cause or lending a helping hand. It is about recognizing our shared humanity, standing up against injustice, and working together to build a world where everyone has equal opportunities to thrive.”

“I’m both humbled and honored to receive this award from Mayor Adams and Shine A Light,” said Eboni K. Williams. “In this acute moment of devastating antisemitism, I’m more determined than ever to continue my work towards restoring solidarity and deep relationship between Black American and Jewish American communities.” 

“Mayor Adams has been a champion in fighting antisemitism, supporting Israel, and celebrating the enduring contributions of the Jewish people to New York,” said Elan S. Carr, CEO, Israeli-American Council, and former United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. “Today’s Hanukkah celebration at Gracie Mansion, in the presence of a delegation from Israel of families of hostages held by Hamas, is a perfect example of his moral clarity and commitment. Especially during this ‘Festival of Lights,’ we thank Mayor Adams for being a bright light during this time of too much darkness in our world.”

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About Dr. Michael L. Lomax

Dr. Michael L. Lomax is the current president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the nation’s largest private provider of scholarships and educational support to Black students. Dr. Lomax has been promoting the shared bond between African Americans and the Jewish community his whole life. He oversaw the National Center for Black-Jewish Relations, housed on the campus of Dillard University. Recently, in light of rising antisemitism across college campuses, Dr. Lomax helped found a coalition of colleges, universities, and higher education institutions to stand with Israel against Hamas, alongside 13 other university leaders, including The City University of New York Chancellor, Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.

He is also a leading advocate of college readiness and the universal need for a quality education, from pre-school through high school, that prepares children for success throughout and after college. Under his leadership, UNCF has raised over $3 billion and helped more than 110,000 students earn college degrees; launched the Institute for Capacity Building to help member historically Black colleges and universities become strong, more effective, and self-sustaining institutions; and awarded 10,000 individual scholarships alongside 400 scholarship programs annually. 

Before leading UNCF, Lomax served as president of Dillard University and as a professor of literature at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges. 

About Eboni K. Williams

Eboni K. Williams is a proud New Yorker and the host and executive producer of the podcast Holding Court with Eboni K. Williams with Warner Music Group and the show The Grio with Eboni K. Williams on The Grio television network. Williams is also an attorney and public commentator on Black culture and history.

Williams has a long history of supporting the Jewish community and Israel, with a focus on supporting Black and Jewish collaboration. In 2019, she worked with the JewBelong to eradicate antisemitism within and beyond Black communities, and, in 2021, she featured the first Black Shabbat on national television.

More recently, Williams served as a panelist at an event co-hosted by the National Black Empowerment Council, UJA Federation of New York, and the Anti-Defamation League to help unpack antisemitism and anti-Blackness with the goal of collaboration and healing between the communities. This past year, Williams facilitated the inaugural event “Black and Jewish Healing Journey: Exploring the U.S. Holocaust Museum and National Museum of African American Culture.”

CONTACT: Roy Betts UNCF 2407033384 [email protected] 

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