When Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) joined Congress in 2004, her constituents in South Florida sent her with a task. Dedicate a month comparable to Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, and Women’s History Month that honors the Jewish community’s contributions to the U.S.

Resolutions passed in both the U.S. Senate and the House urging the President to proclaim a month specifically recognizing Jews in America and their many contributions to American culture, history, military, science, and government.

In 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed May as Jewish American Heritage Month. And every year since, Presidents, Obama, Trump, and Biden have recognized the occasion.

Here are five ways to learn about the Jewish people’s contributions to American progress and celebrate throughout the month.

 1)      Take in a museum

There are so many repositories of Jewish history throughout the U.S. You’re bound to find one close enough for a day trip. Here are just a few.

In New York, the Center for Jewish History and the Museum of Jewish Heritage welcomes visitors to learn about the broad tapestry of Jewish life going back centuries. A walking tour of the Lower East Side where most Jews lived at the turn of the 20th Century, including The Tenement Museum, also provides a window into the American Jewish experience.

Down south, the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in New Orleans and the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta explores the remarkable stories of the Southern Jewish adventure.

Meanwhile, during the month of May, the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee will feature pieces confiscated by the Nazis; and the Skirball Cultural Center of Los Angeles is showcasing the prints by renowned American artist Frank Stella about the power of Jewish storytelling, inspired by a series of lithographs by the Russian Jewish artist El Lissitzky.

2)      Curl up with a good book

This year’s National Jewish Book Awards recognized a wide range of authors and subject matter. Walkers in the City: Jewish Street Photographers of Mid-Century New York by Deborah Dash Moore transports readers to New York City between the 1930s and the 1950s as captured by young Jewish photographers. Sabrina Orah Mark’s memoir, Happily: A Personal History, With Fairy Tales is a humorous and meaningful look at the author’s life journey from an upbringing in the Brooklyn Orthodox community to raising two Black sons in rural Georgia. 

Renowned author James McBride’s new novel The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store explores the relationship between Jews and Blacks in an early twentieth century small town in Pennsylvania. Loving Our Own Bones: Dis­abil­i­ty Wis­dom and the Spir­i­tu­al Sub­ver­sive­ness of Know­ing Our­selves Whole by Julia Watts Belser is a spiritual journey into disability awareness. The author reimagines disability in the Bible and current culture and spurs deep thinking and conversation about social justice, disability, and spirituality.

 3)      Watch a TV show or movie

Watch Adam Sandler’s newest movie You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah about the story of two best friends whose bat mitzvah plans go awry as they fight for the attention of the same popular boy. The film stars Sandler and his wife, Jackie Sandler, as well as his daughters, Sadie and Sunny Sandler. It is a sweet and delightful exploration of family relations, teenage years, and love. Great choice for a family night!

For those who enjoy reality TV, there is nothing more charming than Netflix’s Jewish Matchmaking, a reality dating show that manages to portray the complexity of Jewish identity, in a sensitive way. This success is very much linked to the warm, loving, and playful personality of the matchmaker herself, Aleeza Ben Shalom. You might even learn a few interesting tips if you are single!

Of course, you cannot have missed the entire controversy around Bradley Cooper’s prosthetic nose in Maestro, a film which was nominated for seven Oscars this year. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can find it on Netflix! Bradley Cooper does a beautiful job at telling the story of famed Jewish composer Leonard Bernstein.  

On Amazon Prime, you can watch the hit show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, set in the late 1950s and early 60s, which provides a glimpse into the post-WWII American Jewish life when a Jewish housewife in New York City becomes a standup comic. In its fifth and final season, the show’s creators went above and beyond, transporting viewers through time, and showing us the fate of all the characters we love so much. No spoiler alert, but this final season provides us with a satisfying ending to a show that gave us a nostalgic and wondrous look at mid-20th century Jewish New York.

Finally, HBO viewers can tune into The Plot Against America, a series based on the Philip Roth novel about an alternate American history during World War II, told through the eyes of a working-class Jewish family in New Jersey who watch as aviator Charles Lindbergh becomes president and steers the U.S. toward fascism.

 4)      Become a next-level Jewish chef

Up your kitchen game and stock up on new recipes. Fresh off the press is The Jewish Holiday Table: A World of Recipes, Traditions & Stories to Celebrate All Year Long by Naama Shefi, the founder and Executive Director of the Jewish Food Society, an organization dedicated to preserving Jewish cuisine around the world. This stunning book provides a collection of 135 recipes and stories from around the world, with beautiful photos to match. It is as much a celebration of resilience, tradition and joy as it is a resource for holiday cooking.  

Social media influencer Jake Cohen’s new book I Could Nosh: Classic Jew-Ish Recipes Revamped for Every Day is a fun and inspiring collection of recipes melding traditional Jewish flavors and modern influences. Listen to Jake on AJC’s People of the Pod as he discusses how sharing recipes and their connected stories from across the Jewish world is his form of Jewish advocacy. 

For those of you who cannot resist Italian cuisine, join celebrated cookbook author Leah Koenig in her exploration of Rome’s centuries-old Jewish community. Portico: Cooking and Feasting in Rome’s Jewish Kitchen is a beautiful collection of Roman Jewish recipes that are accessible and that tell meaningful Jewish stories. 

If you have been to Jerusalem, you may very well have stopped by Chef Moshe Basson’s restaurant Eucalyptus. In his first cookbook, The Eucalyptus Cookbook, Chef Basson reveals his Levant cultivated culinary innovations where Iraqi scents and sense, old world wisdom, and the trials and struggles of building a home in a new land are palpable to the touch and to the taste. 

Meanwhile, author Benedetta Jasmine Guetta recently published her first English-language cookbook Cooking alla Giudia, a celebration of Italy’s Jewish cuisine, largely inspired by the influx of Jewish immigrants from Middle Eastern and North African countries, as featured in The Forgotten Exodus.

5)      Listen to American Jewish voices

There are so many amazing American Jewish voices available right from your phone! 

For perspectives on current events and issues that affect American Jews, listen to AJC’s weekly interviews on People of the Pod or Shalom Hartman Institute’s podcasts Identity/Crisis and For Heaven’s Sake with Donniel Hartman, Yossi Klein Halevi, and Elana Stein Hain on topics related to political and social trends in Israel, Israel-Diaspora relations, and the big questions about Jewish identity today. Dan Senor’s Call Me Back provides fascinating political and geopolitical analysis from the world’s top experts. 

For a wide variety of Jewish voices and topics,” tune into Unorthodox, a podcast by the team at Tablet Magazine. Tablet’s limited series podcast Gatecrashers offers an eye-opening look into the history of Jews in the Ivy League.  

Or listen to some lyrics from some of today’s top Jewish performing artists in a variety of genres including rapper, songwriter, and record producer Nissim Black, legend Barbara Streisand (who just came out with an incredible memoir, which she narrates herself on the audiobook!), rock star Pink, and bluegrass innovators Nefesh Mountain. Listen to American reggae singer and rapper Matisyahu’s interview on AJC’s People of the Pod about his shows being canceled in many cities in the United States because of anti-Israel protests.

Want to get off your phone? You can also hear some legendary Jewish voices by visiting AJC’s collection at the New York Public Library, the mother of all American Jewish oral histories. The 156,000 pages of transcripts, 6,000 hours of taped interviews, and 2,250 informants chronicle “the American Jewish experience in the 20th century.”

BONUS LEARNING: Test your knowledge of the rich culture and heritage of the Jewish people and their many contributions to our nation by taking our quiz!