May is Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM), a national commemoration of the contributions Jewish Americans have made to American society and a recognition of the long history of the American Jewish community. Established in 2006, with bi-partisan legislation and signed into law by President George W. Bush, this month-long celebration highlights achievements in the arts, academia, politics and business, noting the significant impact to the nation’s identity and culture.
Often spawned by a desire to escape persecution, Jewish immigration to what is now the United States, can be traced to the early 17th Century, with a large wave in the 19th century, and continued growth into the mid-20th century. JAHM provides an opportunity to recognize the rich cultural traditions, values and customs these immigrants brought to their new home. Nonetheless, Jewish Americans still comprise only 2.4% of the adult population in the United States.
The celebration of JAHM is marked by art exhibits, workshops, motion picture screenings, concerts, educational programs and lectures, aimed at increasing the respect for, and understanding of, the Jewish American experience. These events are often hosted by community organizations, universities, libraries and museums.
JAHM provides an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of Jewish Americans to American society, and to promote greater understanding and respect for Jewish culture and traditions. However, JAHM also presents a chance to increase diversity and promote inclusion, by reinforcing the idea that an educated, prosperous and vibrant society is one that values the contributions of all citizens, regardless of race, religion or background.
Daniel M. Lieberman, Esq. is a partner in the firm’s Lancaster office.