During its March 18 regular meeting, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners proclaimed March 21-27 as Forsyth Family Unity Week.
Commissioners encouraged families to celebrate the event by having a family dinner with each other at least one night next week. Rabbi Levi Mentz of Congregation Beth Israel was in attendance to receive the proclamation as he has spearheaded the Forsyth Family Unity Week project.
“We want to identify one value that we feel will be universal, will be something that everyone can identify with,” Mentz said. “Something that’s overlooked but is critical for civilizations. That’s why this year our focus is on family unity.”
Mentz worked with Forsyth County Schools and other religious groups across the county to lead a project to help families bring back the joy of sitting around a dinner table together and making connections.
“[We want] to reflect on the importance of our family unity and the blessing of our family units,” Mentz said.
He said that the project hopes families can take three actions next week.
The first is encouraging families to come together to have a planned family dinner at least one time in the next week. The second is at dinner, Mentz hopes that every family will make a positive resolution for how the family can stay better connected to one another going forward. And the third, because we are living in a digital age, Mentz encourages families to take a photo together and post it on social media with the hashtag #focofamiliesunited.
Forsyth Family Unity Week was born from the idea of every American president choosing a certain day each year to be recognized as Education and Sharing Day, USA. This year, President Joe Biden has chosen Wednesday, March 24 as that day.
Education and Sharing Day was established by the United States Congress in 1978 in honor of the seventh Rebbe of Chabad Hasidism, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. The day focuses on education and the exemplary efforts of the Rebbe for education. Education and Sharing Day is proclaimed each year on the Rebbe’s birthday based on the Jewish calendar, 11 Nissan. This day occurs four days before Passover.
“Values are as important, and one could argue even more important, than education,” Mentz said. “Because math and science don’t dictate how we live as human beings, our values do.”
Mentz said he wanted to uplift the value of family unity alongside Education and Sharing Day because “family unity is the bedrock of civilizations.”
He said that he believed the education of ethics and morality are transferred between a united family and that families that are united will be able to reap “many blessings” of being “upstanding moral and ethical human beings.”
With Mentz’s leadership, the county commissioners made an official and public proclamation that the county would observe March 21-27 as Forsyth County Family Unity Week. The Board of Education similarly made a proclamation at its meeting on Tuesday, March 16.
“We spent a lot of time together as a family. We talked to a lot of people that said, ‘Hey the good part about this is that we are having dinner together as a family,’” said Wes McCall, Board of Education vice-chair and District 1 representative.
District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper also worked closely with Mentz on this project and gave the proclamation at the commission meeting.
“Our community in and of itself is a family, but as we get more into our subgroups of that, your neighborhood is a family, but inside the walls of your home, that is your immediate family,” Cooper said. “And it is from the backbone of that [immediate family] and from that structure and that love and that support of one another that brings our future forward with a light … that cannot be replaced because nothing can outdo love.”
Forsyth County Schools will be sending announcements every day next week in celebration of Forsyth Family Unity Week. The county government website, forsythco.com, also sports an announcement detailing the week of education, love and unity.
“You’ve always got to start somewhere,” Mentz said. “We all want to change the world; everyone wants to go global and build a better world. Start global in your own dining room.”
“We all need to believe that we are all able to make this world a better place,” he said. “And the very first step to making this world a better place is making our own homes a better place.”
Sabrina Kerns contributed to this story.