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Fri May 26, 2023, 03:10 AM

(Jewish Group) What Is Jewish American Heritage Month? A Proud Jew Explains

The Jewish calendar is filled with well-known holidays—most people have heard of Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah and Passover even if they don't celebrate them. But every May, Jewish American Heritage Month invites people of all faiths and observance levels to celebrate in a different way. The holiday is all about acknowledging and celebrating the contributions Jewish Americans have made to this country.

"All of this is an antidote to antisemitism," says Emily August, chief public engagement officer for the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, which organizes the monthly holiday. That's important, because there's been an alarming increase in antisemitism in America (cases rose by 36% from 2021 to 2022) and internationally. With that in mind, the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism and the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History partnered on a monthlong campaign using the hashtag #StandUpToJewishHate to raise awareness of and stand up to antisemitism.

But the celebration goes beyond that. Jewish American Heritage Month is a way of inviting people to embrace all things Jewish in the most positive ways possible. It centers on our cuisine and our major contributions to science, law, tech, literature and, yes, the movie industry. "Jewish Heritage Month is about history, culture and knowledge," says historian Miriam Mora, PhD, director of academic and public programs at the Center for Jewish History.

As for me, I have always been proudly Jewish, if not vocally or visibly Jewish. My faith and observance, though deeply ingrained, were mostly shared with family and friends. But as the child and grandchild of Holocaust survivors in a world tainted by antisemitism, I feel that I must speak up and speak out often about my Jewishness. Where it once felt like a responsibility, it now feels like an honor to share my love and great pride in Judaism. One of my role models in all things Jewish pride, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism for the U.S. Department of State, mentioned something in a Zoom meeting for female chaplains that stuck with me. She said that no matter where she travels in the world, even throughout the Middle East, she proudly wears her Jewish Star (aka the Magen David or Shield of David) necklace. Inspired by Ambassador Lipstadt, I do too.


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