Jewish American Heritage Month

A Little History

In 2004, members of the Jewish Museum of Florida and South Florida Jewish community leaders advocated for the month of May to be designated Jewish American History Month to commemorate the 350th Anniversary of American Jewish History and contributions to American culture, which was organized by the Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History. In response, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania introduced resolutions that passed unanimously in the House of Representatives in December 2005 and later in the Senate in February 2006. 

On April 20, 2006, George W. Bush proclaimed that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month. Since then, annual proclamations have been made by Presidents Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden.

An excerpt from Proclamation of Jewish American Heritage Month, 2023

President Joe Biden

This month, we celebrate the enduring heritage of Jewish Americans, whose values, culture, and contributions have shaped our character as a Nation. For generations, the story of the Jewish people — one of resilience, faith, and hope in the face of adversity, prejudice and persecution — has been woven into the fabric of our Nation’s story. It has driven us forward in our ongoing march for justice, equality, and freedom as we recommit to upholding the principles of our Nation’s founding and realizing the promise of America for all Americans.

A Few Facts.. Did you know?

  1. In 1654, 23 Sephardi Jewish refugees sailed from Brazil to the port of New Amsterdam (presently New York City) and established the first Jewish community in the United States.

  2. Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island is the United States' oldest synagogue and began services in the current building in the year 1763; the congregation was founded in 1658.

  3. The bagel was brought to the United States by Jewish immigrants from Poland in the late 19th-century.

  4. As of 2020, the American Jewish population is estimated at 7.6 million people, accounting for 2.4% of the total US population.

  5.  The words "…give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…" on the Statue of Liberty were written by a Jewish woman, Emma Lazarus.

  6. Shabbat is the Jewish Day of Rest. Shabbat happens each week from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. During Shabbat, special prayers are said and parts of the Torah are read out. Those that are observant must eat three meals during Shabbat and one of the meals includes bread, challah. 

  7. In 1977, the "I Love New York" logo was designed by Milton Glaser, Jewish American graphic artist..