Rabbi Yossi Mendelson, Rabbi of Congregation Machane Chodosh of Forest Hills, Chaplain at New York Presbyterian-Queens and Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, and Clergy Liaison to the 112th NYPD Precinct, was honored with delivering the invocation at New York City Hall last month on Wednesday, October 12 (Chol HaMoed Sukkos). Rabbi Mendelson shared a moment with NYPD Inspector Richie Taylor, Commissioner of Community Affairs for the Department, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, and Council Member Lynn Schulman who had chosen the Rabbi for the distinction because of the warmth and inspiration shown by the Rabbi, his Rebbetzin Mushky, who founded Central Queens Jewish Community Circle, and their seven delightful children.

Rabbi Mendelson, a Chabad Lubavitch-affiliated rabbi, spoke of the mitzvah of Hakhel, publicly gathering, that occurs once in seven years, following the year of Sh’mitah after Sukkos. “The entire Jewish nation from oldest to youngest, even the smallest babies, would gathering in the plaza outside of the Beis HaMikdash in Jerusalem to hear the highest political official in the nation read inspiring scriptures intended to motivate the nation to rededicate themselves to the service of G-d and their fellow residents.”

The rabbi continued: “We bring to mind the universal and eternal source of life that embraces us all and, in whose sight we are all gathered as one. As we gather, we reflect on our individual voice and then how it is gathered with those with whom I serve. What does it contribute to the gathering and how is it enhanced by the others gathered with me?”

Rabbi Mendelson then discussed each of the Ushpizin with whom the Jewish nation gathered individually for each day of Sukkos, and he encouraged the elected officials to find their own voice in the one they most associate themselves with. “True goodness is only present when they are all gathered. When we gather, our work is praise, and I pray that this illustrious gathering be blessed to be truly united for the spiritual and material wellbeing of its members, all those who live in this great city, and the impact we have beyond, and then our work is praise.”

By Shabsie Saphirstein