Commemorating Jewish American Heritage Month


Jewish Americans have helped stitch the cultural fabric of the United States since this country's founding. Several prominent symbols of American identity, in fact, were Jewish American contributions - from "God Bless America," written by songwriter Irving Berlin; to the iconic Captain America, envisioned by comic writers Jack Kirby and Joe Simon; to the poem "The New Colossus," which was written by Emma Lazarus and is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty to welcome immigrants with open arms to their new home.

Many Jewish Americans throughout history have been prominent activists and advocates for justice and equality, not just for fellow Jews but for other marginalized communities. Jewish Americans have called for the end of slavery, marched for civil rights in Selma, and been arrested with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for protesting segregation. They have sued the Federal Government to stop travel bans targeting Muslim immigrants and discriminatory laws against LGBTQI+ communities. And they have helped bring about landmark Supreme Court decisions to create a more just, equal, and democratic society. While Jewish Americans vary greatly in race, religious practices, cultural traditions, and identities, as history shows us, many embrace the Jewish value of tikkun olam, or repairing the world.

But despite Jewish Americans' contributions to this country, we know that they have not always been welcomed. For hundreds of years, from their very arrival in New Amsterdam - now Manhattan - in 1654, Jews have faced antisemitic harassment, violence, and the threat of expulsion. Today, alarmingly, antisemitism is again on the rise. According to the FBI, out of more than 2,000 religion-based hate crimes in 2022, more than half were driven by anti-Jewish bias. In the wake of the terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas in Israel on October 7, marking the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust, harassment and violence against Jewish communities in the U.S. has spiked even further. President Biden has emphasized "our shared moral responsibility" to fight antisemitism, and has made this a priority with the creation of the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.

This month and beyond, I urge everyone to join us in honoring and celebrating the invaluable contributions of Jewish Americans - and standing up to discrimination and antisemitism in your own communities.

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