Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month at the White House: Looking toward the future
This year’s White House celebration of Jewish American Heritage month was a simpler affair than in years past. The program was President Obama, and his remarks were brief. (Watch the President's speech, or read the full remarks.) While others in the room resonated to the President's comments on antisemitism or on Israel, the statement that stood out for me came early in his remarks as he noted the occasion that brought those of us gathered in the East Room together.
“We don’t just celebrate all that American Jews have done for our country. We also look toward the future.”
My own preference would have been for a stronger link, a conjunction that more forcefully expressed the important ways in which knowledge of what American Jews have done – as immigrants, as members of a minority group or as participants in faith based communities -- both inspires and empowers new generations of Jews and other Americans to imagine what they can do or contribute as American citizens and global citizens toward a better future for all.
That is what motivated Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to push for legislation authorizing Jewish American Heritage Month. And that is what animates our daily work at the Jewish Women’s Archive – promoting knowledge of our past in order to foster a more just and equitable future.