Stories of triumph and bravery always get us in the mood for celebrations, and this Jewish American Heritage Month in May is no different. From contributing important scientific discoveries to raising the flag for the abused and neglected, the Jewish population has had a huge role to play in where America stands today on the world stage. The more than 350-year history has given us names like Albert Einstein and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — both of whom fought through hard times to emerge victoriously. In order to honor the Jewish communities’ continued achievements, May was declared as Jewish American Heritage Month by former president George W. Bush back in 2006.
HISTORY OF JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
Jews first arrived on American soil back in 1654 in New Amsterdam. In search of better opportunities and lifestyles, they made the U.S. their new home base, finding in it a space where they could openly practice their faith and lead their lives freely without the fear of persecution. The efforts to create a Jewish American Heritage Month had been in the pipeline since 1980. The U.S. Congress passed and authorized a bill that would allow President Carter to designate a special week in either April or May for Jewish heritage celebrations. Finally, in April of 2006, the whole month of May was dedicated to recognizing and honoring Jewish contributions and achievements.
Albert Einstein and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are some of the most prominent Jewish American figures. Einstein faced ridicule and bullying growing up with many of his teachers giving up on him. If he had succumbed to society’s ugliness, we, as human beings, might have missed out on a lot of great things today. Likewise, Ginsburg faced sexism at her workplace. People did not want to work with her just because she was a woman and many still believed that a woman’s place was in the kitchen. However, she pushed on and became the harbinger of many helpful laws.
Jewish people have also been great advocates for other minorities and their rights in America. They participated in the Civil Rights Movement, having showed up at voter registrations, rallies, sit-ins, e.t.c. All the achievements by Jewish people, big and small, deserve to be recognized and celebrated — and there’s no better time than in Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM).
JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH TIMELINE
1980 – JAH Bills and Laws in Congress
In honor of Jewish American Heritage (JAH), the first set of laws and proclamations are introduced and passed in the U.S. Congress.
2007 – JAHM Coalition
The Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) Coalition is formed, bringing together all organizations and parties that wish to take part in the occasion.
2010 – More than 5 Million Miles Traveled
Garrett E. Reisman, the first Jewish astronaut to go to space, takes the original 2006 JAHM proclamation bill to space, and it travels around the Earth 186 times.
2020 – National Partnerships
JAHM teams up with national organizations to fight through the coronavirus pandemic.
HOW TO OBSERVE JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
- Read up on Jewish Americans
There are tons upon tons of famous Jewish American figures. Albert Einstein and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are just two, and their contributions, while extremely significant, are just the tip of the iceberg. So go on and research more on iconic Jewish personalities, both living and dead.
- Celebrate with your Jewish loved ones
There’s no better way to honor the day than by spending it with those who are being celebrated. Make a day (or a month, in this case) out of it by spending time together, going to museums, reading about Jewish history, and listening to your friends’ and their families’ journeys.
WHY WE LOVE JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
- It’s a celebration of Jewish American achievements
Despite facing persecution and racism through time, the Jewish American community did not give up and has come through each time. If it were not for them considering America their home and dedicating their achievements to the country, the American image might have been very different today.
- It’s a celebration of resilience
Never giving up is a core tenet of taking full advantage of life. If Jewish Americans had given up in the face of hardships and difficulties, a lot of brilliant minds and ideas would have been lost.
- It’s a celebration of humanity
No matter from which religion we come, our skin color, or our socioeconomic backgrounds, we are all human beings at the end of the day. Remembering our humanity and work for its betterment together is the only way to survive and thrive.
Link to article: JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH -May 2023 – National Today