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Jewish American Heritage Month

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Title: Jewish American Heritage Month  
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Jewish American Heritage Month

Jewish American Heritage Month
President Obama welcomes guests to 2010 JAHM White House reception.
Observed by United States
Significance Annual recognition of Jewish American achievements and contributions to the United States.
Begins May 1
Ends May 31
Date May
Duration 1 month
Frequency annual

Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) is an annual recognition and celebration of Jewish American achievements in and contributions to the United States of America. It is observed annually in the U.S. during the month of May.[1]

JAHM was set into law by President George W. Bush in 2006, according to the Jewish American Heritage Month Coalition. This is the achievement of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), as well as the Jewish Museum of Florida and the South Florida Jewish Community.[2] A similar month exists in Florida as Florida Jewish History Month but it occurs in January.[3]


President Jewish Museum of Florida and South Florida Jewish Community leaders for a celebration of Jewish Americans and Jewish American Heritage.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) urged the president to proclaim a month that would recognize the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to America and the American culture. The resolutions were passed unanimously, first in the United States House of Representatives in December 2005 and later in the United States Senate in February 2006.[4]

The Jewish American Heritage Month Coalition states that, "JAHM also enables the exploration of the meaning of religious pluralism, cultural diversity, and participation in American civic culture."[5]

According to Library of Congress hosted website,, May was chosen as the month of Jewish American Heritage Month because of the successful 350th Anniversary Celebration of Jews in America.[6]

Celebration and recognition

Guests at 2010 White House reception for JAHM welcome President Obama. Pictured guests include Vice President Joseph Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Jewish baseball hero Sandy Koufax (center left), and entertainer/activist Theodore Bikel (center right).

Celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month is encouraged on a national level. In some schools, assemblies have been held in celebration.

JAHM has been recognized in Madison Square Garden in New York City. It has also been recognized in some Jewish museums. Additionally, some institutions, including the Library of Congress, have included shorter periods within the month for special lectures, programs, or displays, such as the Library of Congress "Jewish Heritage Week" lecture series.

2010 White House reception

On May 10, 2010, the White House issued a press release noting that on Thursday, May 27, 2010,

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host the first ever White House reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month. The reception serves as an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the range and depth of Jewish American heritage and contributions to American culture, with guests representing the many walks of life that have helped weave the fabric of American history. Invitees include a range of community leaders and prominent Jewish Americans from Olympians and professional athletes to members of Congress, business leaders, scholars, military veterans, and astronauts.

At the May 27, 2010, reception, President Obama welcomed the invited guests, which included "members of the House and Senate, two justices of the Supreme Court, Olympic athletes, entrepreneurs, Rabbinical scholars", and he made special mention of Sandy Koufax, famous in the Jewish community for refusing to play baseball on Yom Kippur. He praised "the diversity of talents and accomplishments" that the Jewish community had brought to the United States since pre-Revolutionary times, saying that, "Even before we were a nation, we were a sanctuary for Jews seeking to live without the specter of violence or exile," from the time "a band of 23 Jewish refugees to a place called New Amsterdam more than 350 years ago."[7][8]

2011 White House reception

President Obama welcomes Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel at the May 17, 2011 White House reception in honor of JAHM

President Obama scheduled a second White House reception in honor of JAHM for May 17, 2011.[9] The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported that it was "less formal than the inaugural one last year, with brief remarks and a small Marine Corps band playing klezmer music."[10] The President noted the presence, among others, of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, and Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, newly appointed as Chair of the Democratic National Committee.[10]

In his remarks, President Obama noted that Jewish Americans "persevered despite unspeakable discrimination and adversity at times."[11] Despite the challenges these American Jews faced, the President noted their achievements in "the arts, science, the military, business and industry, and in public and community service."[11] In his remarks, he said:

"This month is a chance for Americans of every faith to appreciate the contributions of the Jewish people throughout our history –- often in the face of unspeakable discrimination and adversity. For hundreds of years, Jewish Americans have fought heroically in battle and inspired us to pursue peace. They’ve built our cities, cured our sick. They’ve paved the way in the sciences and the law, in our politics and in the arts. They remain our leaders, our teachers, our neighbors and our friends.
Not bad for a band of believers who have been tested from the moment that they came together and professed their faith. The Jewish people have always persevered. And that’s why today is about celebrating the people in this room, the thousands who came before, the generations who will shape the future of our country and the future of the world."[12]

In addition, a Marine Corps band playing klezmer music, and the "Maccabeats," a Yeshiva University a cappella group, provided entertainment.[10]

JAHM Coalition

Since 2006, JAHM programs have taken place across the country, but in March 2007 the JAHM Coalition was formed and convened by National Museum of American Jewish History, the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM), Jewish Museum of Florida, and the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. In 2009, the Coalition named a national coordinator.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Krieger, Hilary Leila (May 31, 2008). "US Jews, Asian Americans learn to make merry in May together". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved January 5, 2009. 
  2. ^ Reinhard, Beth (April 20, 2006). "Role of Jewish Americans to be recognized in May: Thanks to the efforts of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, President Bush is expected to make May Jewish American Heritage Month.". Miami Herald (Miami, Florida). Retrieved January 5, 2009. 
  3. ^ Sec. 683.195 Fla. Stat (2013).
  4. ^ "May designated Jewish American Heritage Month, April 20, 2006". Retrieved May 8, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Jewish American Heritage Month home page". Retrieved June 25, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Jewish American Heritage Month". U.S. Library of Congress. Retrieved June 25, 2010. 
  7. ^ Knoller, Mark (May 27, 2010). "Obama Honors Jewish Americans at White House Reception – Political Hotsheet". CBS News. Retrieved June 25, 2010. 
  8. ^ Rubin, Debra (June 1, 2010). "Koufax wows White House reception". Washington Jewish Week. Retrieved June 25, 2010. 
  9. ^, retrieved May 12, 2011.
  10. ^ a b c, retrieved May 17, 2011.
  11. ^ a b, retrieved May 17, 2011.
  12. ^, retrieved May 17, 2011.
  13. ^

External links

  • Jewish American Heritage Month website
  • Jewish American Heritage Month Coalition
  • American Jewish Historical Society
  • Jewish Women's Archive resources for JAHM
  • Short article on the archaeology of immigrant California Jews see Chapter 3.
  • Resources > Jewish communities > America > Northern America The Jewish History Resource Center, Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Feinstein Center. Comprehensive collection of links to Jewish American history, organizations, and issues.
  • United Jewish Communities of North America. Also site of population survey statistics.
  • Jews in America from the Jewish Virtual Library.
  • Jewish-American Literature
  • Thoughts About The Jewish People By American Thinkers
  • Jewish-American History on the Web
  • Jewish American Hall of Fame
  • The Jewish Impact on America
  • Jewish Success In The American Media
  • 2000–01 National Jewish Population Survey
  • 2005 Great Boston Jewish Community Study
  • Jewish American Heritage Month News
  • President Obama's remarks at 2010 JAHM White House reception.
  • White House Video of 2010 President Obama's remarks at JAHM White House reception.
  • YouTube video of Regina Spektor performing at 2010 JAHM White House reception.
  • Presidential proclamation for 2011 JAHM.
  • Youtube video, uploaded by White House: President Obama's remarks, 2011 JAHM White House reception
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