Jewish American History, or Heritage, Month; what, when?
Having coffee this morning with a friend in the making, a person I met a month ago and had a click with, our conversation veered to Jewish subjects. The person, a female, new to Los Angeles, asked me: “did you know that past May was Jewish History Month, an official congressional awareness month? Look it up on the congressional calendar.”
I was astounded; I consider myself a well-informed person, but I had no idea. I then wondered how many of my fellow Jews know that this past May 2018 was Jewish American History Month.
Over the years I learned that in order to preserve the importance of a matter, subject, case and cause, one has to keep it in the headlines as a subject. Otherwise, no one will know or remember them.
In general, we, Jews, that includes Israelis living in the nation state of the Jewish people, Israel, get grade ‘F’ for Public Relations and Public Diplomacy work.
I see it my guilty conscience to tell the story of the month of May that passed and bring the subject of ‘Jewish-American Heritage-History and Beyond’ to the headlines. As the saying goes, it is never too late.
So what is Jewish American Heritage-History Month (JAHM)?
It is an annual recognition and celebration of Jewish American achievements in and contributions to life in the United States of America, officially celebrated during the month of May.
It was President George W. Bush, who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009, who, on April 20, 2006, first proclaimed the month of May as Jewish American Heritage-History Month. It was the result of cooperation with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), as well as the outcome of the lobbying efforts by the Jewish Museum of Florida, the South Florida Jewish Community, leaders for a celebration of Jewish Americans and Jewish American Heritage. Since then, the annual proclamations continue and have been made by Presidents George Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
President Bush wanted to proclaim a month that would recognize the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American life in general and the American culture. On February 14, 2006, Congress issued House Concurrent Resolution 315 – a non-binding legislative measure that lacks the force of law, appropriate when a law is not necessary – such as awards or recognition – which stated:
“Resolved … that Congress urges the President to issue each year a proclamation calling on State and local governments and the people of the United States to observe an American Jewish History Month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.”
The concurrent resolution was passed unanimously, first in the United States House of Representatives, on December 2005 and later in the United States Senate, on in February 2006
According to Library of Congress website, the month of May was chosen as the month of Jewish American Heritage-History Month because of the successful 350th Anniversary Celebration of Jews in America.
How the month of May serves Jewish-Americans as well as how this celebration enhances awareness of the myriad of fine contributions Jews made to life in America
The month serves as an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the depth of Jewish American heritage and the range and contributions to American culture;
The month acknowledges the Jews from many walks of life, i.e. community leaders and prominent Jewish Americans from Olympians and professional athletes to members of Congress, business leaders, scholars, scientists, military veterans, and astronauts, who have helped weave the fabric of American history;
The month brings to light the diversity of talents and accomplishments that the Jewish community had brought to the United States since pre-Revolutionary times. Even before North America became a nation it was a sanctuary for Jews seeking to live without the specter of violence or exile, from the time, more than 350 years ago, when a band of 23 Jewish refugees arrived to a place called New Amsterdam AKA the southern tip of Manhattan Island;
The month recognizes the hundreds of years through which Jewish Americans have fought heroically in battles and inspired the American people to pursue peace;
The month brings to light the Jews who helped build American cities, cured the sick, and paved the way in the sciences, arts, and the law and in American politics;
The month simply points out that Jews in America are recognized as the American people’s leaders, teachers, neighbors and friends.
President Donald Trump Proclamation
On May 1, 2018, President Donald Trump made his Jewish American Heritage-History proclamation.
In his statement Mr. Trump said:
“Jewish Americans have helped guide the moral character of our Nation. Jewish Americans have maintained a strong commitment to engage, deeply, in American society while also preserving their historic values and traditions. Their passion for social justice and showing kindness to strangers is rooted in the beliefs that God created all people in his image and that we all deserve dignity and peace. These beliefs have inspired Jewish Americans to build mutual-support societies, hospitals, and educational institutions that have enabled them and their fellow Americans to advance American society. Through their actions, they have made the world a better place.”
“The contributions of the Jewish people to American society are innumerable, strengthening our Nation and making it more prosperous. Jewish Americans have served in all levels of government and in the U.S. military, as well as contributed to the arts and established philanthropic and volunteer networks and Nobel Prizes won by Jewish Americans.”
“The American Jewish community is a shining example of how enshrining freedom of religion and protecting the rights of minorities can strengthen a nation. Through their rich culture and heritage, the Jewish people have triumphed over adversity and enhanced our country. For this and many other reasons, the American Jewish community is deserving of our respect, recognition, and gratitude.”
Opening The United States embassy in Jerusalem
During May 2018 Jewish American Heritage-History Month President Donald Trump contributed a grand prize to the Jewish American community and the Jewish nation at large. On May 14, 2018, upon the President’s instructions, the USA embassy that was located in Tel Aviv moved to Jerusalem. President Donald Trump completed a triangle of history connecting all Jewish Americans with the American Founding Fathers who believed deeply in the Bible and Zion-Jerusalem and the State of Israel.
Everyone I asked knows that February is African American History Month; the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society. How come everyone I asked does not know that May is Jewish American Heritage-History Month?
My question to my fellow Jewish Americans is: If the House Concurrent Resolution 315 states that Congress urges the President to issue each year a proclamation calling on State and local governments and the people of the United States to observe an American Jewish History Month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities, when and where these appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities took place? Or have I slept through them?
If you do not speak up for yourself, no one will speak up for you!