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NYC courts celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

October 20, 2021 Rachel Vick
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More than 70 participants from across the New York City court community gathered for a virtual Kings County Family Court Hispanic Heritage Month celebration Monday.

As part of the celebrations, Administrative Judge Jeanette Ruiz, who played an instrumental role in the initial creation of the event in 2013 and is retiring in the coming weeks, was honored for her contributions and leadership.

“We really need to celebrate our cultures, our backgrounds, our diversity,” Ruiz said, crediting her late husband with the encouragement to start the annual event. “I can think of no greater honor than to have this event continue throughout the years and have it become part of the culture of New York City Family Court.”

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She said she is inspired by her hope and the hope of her ancestors — “the hope and aspiration to not fall short.”

Hon. Reinaldo E. Rivera, associate justice for the Appellate Division, Second Department, served as keynote speaker and addressed an ever-present need for hope.

“Our aspirations are intensive; generation after generation, they are the source and the fuel to the fire, the fervor within each of us. From the fervor comes our thirst for justice, fairness, inclusion, participation and equality,” Rivera said, in English and Spanish. “Ignorance and intolerance… are pervasive and invasive cancers to the human soul but hope, in response to the aspirations in our hearts [is good].”

“We forge ahead; it takes effort, it takes courage and esperanza — hope,” he added. “The absence of hope [is] real and hurtful. Hope, [even] by itself… is invincible. May hope forge within each of us always, because hope responds to the aspiration in all of our hearts.”

Rivera said society has a responsibility to constantly embrace hope as an “integral part” of life and nurture it with faith and love. That hope, he added, is what has pushed women, people of color and Latin and Hispanic residents to continue fighting for a spot on the bench for hundreds of years.

The celebration ended with music, a dance break and the promise of homemade flan from Rivera when the event can be once again held in-person.

“We are multicultural and have different vernaculars and religious faith. However… we all have come here or been born here with a strong sense of hope,” said Hon. Javier E. Vargas. “What an appropriate theme as we emerge from this pandemic with a hope for tomorrow [and] con mucho amor.”

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