This Week in History

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May designated Jewish American Heritage Month

April 20, 2006

In 2005 Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania introduced a resolution to designate a month to honor Jewish American culture and heritage. The official designation was primarily the result of advocacy by the Jewish Museum of Florida and Jewish community leaders in South Florida, who sought to recognize the more than 350 years of Jewish contributions to American history and culture.

Both Houses of Congress passed the resolutions unanimously. On April 20, 2006, President George W. Bush signed an official document declaring the month of May Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM). In May of that year, a number of national organizations, including 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, participated in JAHM by raising consciousness about the many contributions Jewish Americans have made.

In March 2007 a group of major national Jewish historical and cultural organizations, including the Jewish Women’s Archive, formed the JAHM Coalition.

For the 2008 celebration of JAHM, the Jewish Women's Archive launched This Day of Jewish American Heritage, a daily online feature that connects every day in May to significant moments in the history of American Jewish women.

The Coalition named Abby Schwartz as the first national JAHM coordinator in 2009. It also welcomed the Manischewitz Company as a corporate sponsor and partnered with SuperValu Foods to promote the 2010 celebration.

In May, 2010, Jewish women were front and center at the first ever White House reception marking Jewish American Heritage month. JWA's Executive Director Gail Twersky Reimer was in attendance.

To learn more about Jewish American Heritage month, visit Discover: Jewish American History Month.

See also: JAHM official website; JWA’s “This Day of Jewish American Heritage”; Video: Rep. Wasserman Schultz Recognizes Jewish American Heritage Month 2009; Jewish Women in Politics.

Sources: www.jewishamericanheritagemonth.us/index.aspx; www.jewishheritagemonth.gov; jwa.org/discover/throughtheyear/may/jahm.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - May designated Jewish American Heritage Month." (Viewed on April 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/apr/20/2006/jewish-american-heritage-month>.