A Diversity Message from Neil Meltzer, President and CEO, and Dr. Sybil Pentsil, Chief Diversity Officer – December 2023


At LifeBridge Health, we believe that every patient and team member deserves to feel safe and uplifted in being who they are. We are proud that our teams and communities include such a wide array of different faiths, cultures, backgrounds, orientations and identities, and hope that these messages help all to feel at home here at LifeBridge Health. Below, learn about some of December’s observances and please accept our heartfelt wishes for a wonderful holiday season.

World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day takes place every year on December 1 to raise awareness about the AIDS pandemic, mourn those lost to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and show support for those still suffering from the disease. While advancements have been made in the treatment of AIDS, it is still widespread – some 38 million people around the globe have the virus. On World AIDS day, many will don a red ribbon, the symbol of AIDS awareness, or wear red attire to draw attention to those affected by the disease both past and present.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities
December 3 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The annual observance of this day was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. This United Nations holiday raises awareness for the rights, dignity and well-being of individuals with disabilities.

Human Rights & World Migrants Days
Two United Nations observances take place in December – Human Rights Day on December 10 and World Migrants Day on December 18. Human Rights Day honors and raises awareness for the fundamental human rights which all people are entitled to. World Migrants Day raises awareness about the lives and challenges of migrants, those who move from their place of residence to another. Both observances give cause for reflection and education on affronts to human dignity suffered by many people all over the world.

This year, Hanukkah takes place December 7-15. The eight-day celebration of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, originates from the second century BCE, when the Israelites, led by Judah of Maccabee, overthrew the Seleucid rulers attempting to force upon Hellenistic customs and culture upon them. When they reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the Jews had only one untainted cruse of oil with which to light the seven-branch candelabrum known as a Menorah, yet miraculously, this one day’s worth of oil lasted for eight days, giving birth to the celebration of Hanukkah. Celebrations include gift-giving, eating special foods fried in oil, playing with dreidels and lighting a Menorah.

Winter Solstice
Taking place on December 21, the Winter Solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere and marks the official beginning of winter. For Pagans today, winter solstice remains a time to celebrate the return of the sun’s light.

Christmas, observed around the world on December 25, is traditionally a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. On Christmas Day, Christians of many different denominations will attend special church services. This holiday is celebrated secularly as well – Christians and non-Christians alike decorate trees, sing carols, spend time with family and friends, exchange gifts and more.

Observed December 26-January 1, Kwanzaa, was established in 1966 as a celebration of African American and Pan-African culture, and honors seven principles which originate widely across the African continent, expressed in Swahili: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). The name Kwanzaa is derived from the Swahili phrase for “first fruits,” and its ceremonies include decorating with art, Kente cloth and fruit, the sharing of libations, musical performances, reflections of the principle of each day and more.

Calls to Action
REFLECT: On the significance of the holidays celebrated in December.
RECOGNIZE: The importance of education surrounding AIDS and HIV.
RESPOND: Take some time to gather with friends and family as we welcome the new year.

J.E.D.I. Champion Nominations
The Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) Champion award is given to individuals at LifeBridge Health who embrace differences between team members, promote justice, equity, diversity and inclusion and go above and beyond to create a culture of belonging. A J.E.D.I. Champion is a team member who:

• Participates in J.E.D.I. education. 
• Develops/engages in opportunities for J.E.D.I. engagement across the institution. 
• Promotes a sense of belonging for all team members. 
• Demonstrates commitment to SPIRIT values.
• Supports institutional efforts to be just, equitable, diverse and inclusive.

To nominate a team member for the J.E.D.I. Champion Award please send an email to JEDI_Office@lifebridgehealth.org with the following information: 
• Your name and email address
• Name, email address and title of the nominee (the person you would like to nominate)
• A short paragraph outlining how the nominee fits the criteria listed