Embracing Diversity 2016 – Style!



It’s Tuesday … I want to call it a tantalizing Tuesday … you’ll see in just a few paragraphs why!

So just recently, on Sunday, October 2nd, we saw the celebration of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana.  I have had the privilege of celebrating and learning about that holiday and Yom Kippur, “The Day of Atonement”, which is October 11th this year.  My mother used to cater many a dinner around these holy days for her Jewish clients in White Plains and Scarsdale, NY.  As well, my good friend Peter Zachary (RIP) and his family often invited me to celebrate some of these holy days with them while he  was alive.  He had a neighbor in Plantation who had invited me to their Sukkot Celebration a few years before Peter passed away from ALS.  Now yesterday, if I am not mistaken, the Islamic New Year was celebrated!  Look at how the Creator works in our most critical times to put these “holy days” so close as to almost force us humans to see the plethora of similarities we have rather than the differences …  So, let’s celebrate “diversity” y’all, and learn about each other and our cultures, which most, if I am not mistaken, are as unique as the variety of human forms of social organization, culture and spirituality usually embodied in “religion”.  Should I mention the German “Oktober Fest” here … or not?!?

Here we are in October, truly one of my favorite months though each and every one has something that I find solace or enjoyment in.  It is the month for Breast Cancer Awareness, and … Hispanic Heritage Month, which began September 15th and ends October 15th … so there is some overlap.  Yet, each of them have intense messages for humanity and together, they help us humans reflect on our diversity as we choose to celebrate one or the other … or BOTH!  I remember one year when I worked at The American Express Call Center in Sunrise, FL, I was selected to help plan events for the “Diversity Team”.  It was a tight group of thinkers, also very diverse, that was given a budget to plan and execute multi-cultural events to “honor” and give information on the many groups represented by the people that worked at the highly professional call center for American Express.  One event celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month gave me the opportunity to bring a saxophonist originally from Cuba but living in Miami named Ed Calle to the “stage” at our concert at the Call Center planned by the Diversity Team at AMEX back in 2000!  Those of you who really know me also know that I embrace diversity … as a life style!  It is fulfilling for me to learn about other cultures … their art and food, music and folklore, language and forms of spirituality, too!

Okay, now Hurricane Matthew is hitting Haiti, hurt Jamaica yesterday, and Gov. Rick Scott of Florida has declared that the entire state of Florida is in the “cone of concern” as the Hurricane is just as long as the entire state of Florida!  Sometimes, it takes natural disasters to bring people together again.  Just in case you decide to “embrace diversity” in your daily endeavors, keep an open mind.  Quite often, what we fear in others is a reflection of how we see ourselves.  Embrace ….


John I. Cook, Director

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