May is Jewish American Heritage Month, a great opportunity to celebrate the important contributions Jewish Americans have made to America since the first group of Jews arrived in New Amsterdam in 1654.

The United States has many heritage months that celebrate the various communities that form the mosaic of our country, including Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and more. By celebrating heritage months, we learn about one another, we honor the richness of our diverse nation, and we strengthen the fabric of American society. 

Jewish American Heritage Month originated in 1980 when Congress passed a resolution, which authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating April 21-28, 1980 as Jewish Heritage Week. Following a series of annual presidential proclamations designating a week in April or May of each year as Jewish Heritage Week, President George W. Bush proclaimed May as Jewish American Heritage Month on April 20, 2006. The proclamation began with efforts by the Jewish Museum of Florida and South Florida Jewish community leaders that resulted in resolutions introduced by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. These resolutions urged the president to proclaim a month that would recognize the rich history of Jews in America and the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American society. The resolutions passed unanimously, first in the House of Representatives in December 2005 and in the Senate in February 2006.

Since 2007, Presidents Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden have all issued proclamations for Jewish American Heritage Month, which celebrate Jewish Americans and encourage all Americans to learn more about Jewish heritage and contributions to the United States

Over the past 369 years, Jewish Americans have given to their communities and this nation as loyal and patriotic citizens, always grateful for the safe harbor that America provided for them. Jewish Americans have served in government and the military, have won Nobel prizes, headed universities and corporations, advanced medicine, created and performed in enduring works of performing and visual art, written great American novels, and become emblems of justice as members of the Supreme Court, and so much more. Perhaps most importantly, American Jews have always pushed America to live up to its promise as a nation that upholds freedom and justice for all.

This month, we hope you will join us in celebrating the many contributions of Jewish Americans in the last 369 years and that you will learn more about the history, culture, accomplishments, and diversity of the American Jewish community.