During Jewish American Heritage Month, we pay tribute to Jewish Americans who helped make our country what it is today. Jewish people have a broad range of life experiences, coming from different countries, ethnicities, and all walks of life. While there are different ways of identifying as Jewish, according to Pew, Jewish people, both those practicing Judaism as a religion and nonpracticing people who consider themselves Jewish because of family, culture, or ethnicity, make up 7.5 million Americans.
Jewish American heritage month originated in April 1980, by President Jimmy Carter, who acknowledged that specific month of 1980 had significance as the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Solidarity Sunday for Soviet Jewry, Israeli Independence Day, and the Days of Remembrance of Victims and Survivors of the Holocaust. The week was expanded to several weeks and finally to the month of May in 2006 by President George W. Bush.
Jewish people have been present in the US since the colonization of the country and by the time of its founding, and as immigration from Europe increased, Jewish communities grew stronger in many American cities. Jewish people have faced dangerous and deadly Anti-Semitism throughout the course of American history to the present day. At the same time, Jewish Americans have created vibrant communities across the country and also faced concerted efforts for learning English and assimilating.
As with all heritage months, we celebrate our differences, acknowledge historical victories and setbacks, and fight for justice for people who may be of different backgrounds than oneself. This month brings Americans together to remember, honor, and be inspired by Jewish American history and culture as well as the countless individuals of those backgrounds who have made tremendous contributions to our country.
To help enhance your celebration with content you can use all year long, Green America is pleased to share Jewish American Heritage Month resources that highlight accomplishments and the justice still needed in society, the economy, and the environment. We do this as a reflection of our vision: “to work for a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the abundance of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come.”
Together, let’s celebrate and recommit ourselves to building a just society.
Holiday Background & Social Justice:
Jewish American heritage month
14 Ways to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month
18 Ways to Celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month
Keshet: Works for the full equality of all LGBTQ Jews and our families in Jewish life
Ken Burns: The US and the Holocaust
Reform Judaism: Racial Justice
Economy and Labor:
Dayenu: Tell Big Banks – Move your Dough
Jewish Center for Justice: Labor and Economic Justice Work
Repairing Our World: Jewish Environmentalism through Text, Tradition, and Activism
Dayenu: The Jewish Movement to Confront the Climate Crisis