History Podcasts



May 22, 2015


Adas Israel Congregation
Washington, D.C.

10:57 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Thank you. Well, good morning, everybody!

AUDIENCE: Good morning!

THE PRESIDENT: A slightly early Shabbat Shalom. (Laughter.) I want to thank Rabbi Steinlauf for the very kind introduction. And to all the members of the congregation, thank you so much for such an extraordinary and warm welcome.

I want to thank a couple of outstanding members of Congress who are here. Senator Michael Bennet -- where did Michael Bennet go? There he is. (Applause.) And Representative Sandy Levin, who is here. (Applause.) I want to thank our special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, Ira Forman, for his important work. There he is. (Applause) But as I said, most of all I want to thank the entire congregation of Adas Israel for having me here today.

Earlier this week, I was actually interviewed by one of your members, Jeff Goldberg. (Applause.) And Jeff reminded me that he once called me “the first Jewish President.” (Laughter.) Now, since some people still seem to be wondering about my faith -- (laughter) -- I should make clear this was an honorary title. (Laughter.) But I was flattered.

And as an honorary member of the tribe, not to mention somebody who’s hosted seven White House Seders and been advised by -- (applause) -- and been advised by two Jewish chiefs of staff, I can also proudly say that I’m getting a little bit of the hang of the lingo. (Laughter.) But I will not use any of the Yiddish-isms that Rahm Emanuel taught me because -- (laughter) -- I want to be invited back. (Laughter.) Let’s just say he had some creative new synonyms for “Shalom.” (Laughter.)

Now, I wanted to come here to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month because this congregation, like so many around the country, helps us to tell the American story. And back in 1876, when President Grant helped dedicate Adas Israel, he became the first sitting President in history to attend a synagogue service. And at the time, it was an extraordinarily symbolic gesture -- not just for America, but for the world.

And think about the landscape of Jewish history. Tomorrow night, the holiday of Shavuot marks the moment that Moses received the Torah at Mount Sinai, the first link in a chain of tradition that stretches back thousands of years, and a foundation stone for our civilization. Yet for most of those years, Jews were persecuted -- not embraced -- by those in power. Many of your ancestors came here fleeing that persecution.

The United States could have been merely another destination in that ongoing diaspora. But those who came here found that America was more than just a country. America was an idea. America stood for something. As George Washington wrote to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island: The United States “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

It’s important for us to acknowledge that too often in our history we fell short of those lofty ideals -- in the legal subjugation of African Americans, through slavery and Jim Crow; the treatment of Native Americans. And far too often, American Jews faced the scourge of anti-Semitism here at home. But our founding documents gave us a North Star, our Bill of Rights; our system of government gave us a capacity for change. And where other nations actively and legally might persecute or discriminate against those of different faiths, this nation was called upon to see all of us as equal before the eyes of the law. When other countries treated their own citizens as “wretched refuse,” we lifted up our lamp beside the golden door and welcomed them in. Our country is immeasurably stronger because we did. (Applause.)

From Einstein to Brandeis, from Jonas Salk to Betty Friedan, American Jews have made contributions to this country that have shaped it in every aspect. And as a community, American Jews have helped make our union more perfect. The story of Exodus inspired oppressed people around the world in their own struggles for civil rights. From the founding members of the NAACP to a freedom summer in Mississippi, from women’s rights to gay rights to workers' rights, Jews took the heart of Biblical edict that we must not oppress a stranger, having been strangers once ourselves.

Earlier this year, when we marked the 50th anniversary of the march in Selma, we remembered the iconic images of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with Dr. King, praying with his feet. To some, it must have seemed strange that a rabbi from Warsaw would take such great risks to stand with a Baptist preacher from Atlanta. But Heschel explained that their cause was one and the same. In his essay, “No Religion is an Island,” he wrote, “We must choose between interfaith and inter-nihilism.” Between a shared hope that says together we can shape a brighter future, or a shared cynicism that says our world is simply beyond repair.

So the heritage we celebrate this month is a testament to the power of hope. Me standing here before you, all of you in this incredible congregation is a testament to the power of hope. (Applause.) It’s a rebuke to cynicism. It’s a rebuke to nihilism. And it inspires us to have faith that our future, like our past, will be shaped by the values that we share. At home, those values compel us to work to keep alive the American Dream of opportunity for all. It means that we care about issues that affect all children, not just our own; that we’re prepared to invest in early childhood education; that we are concerned about making college affordable; that we want to create communities where if you’re willing to work hard, you can get ahead the way so many who fled and arrived on these shores were able to get ahead. Around the world, those values compel us to redouble our efforts to protect our planet and to protect the human rights of all who share this planet.

It’s particularly important to remember now, given the tumult that is taking place in so many corners of the globe, in one of the world’s most dangerous neighborhoods, those shared values compel us to reaffirm that our enduring friendship with the people of Israel and our unbreakable bonds with the state of Israel -- that those bonds, that friendship cannot be broken. (Applause.) Those values compel us to say that our commitment to Israel’s security -- and my commitment to Israel’s security -- is and always will be unshakeable. (Applause.)

And I’ve said this before: It would be a moral failing on the part of the U.S. government and the American people, it would be a moral failing on my part if we did not stand up firmly, steadfastly not just on behalf of Israel’s right to exist, but its right to thrive and prosper. (Applause.) Because it would ignore the history that brought the state of Israel about. It would ignore the struggle that’s taken place through millennia to try to affirm the kinds of values that say everybody has a place, everybody has rights, everybody is a child of God. (Applause.)

As many of you know, I’ve visited the houses hit by rocket fire in Sderot. I’ve been to Yad Vashem and made that solemn vow: “Never forget. Never again.” When someone threatens Israel’s citizens or its very right to exist, Israelis necessarily that seriously. And so do I. Today, the military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries is stronger than ever. Our support of the Iron Dome’s rocket system has saved Israeli lives. And I can say that no U.S. President, no administration has done more to ensure that Israel can protect itself than this one. (Applause.)

As part of that commitment, there’s something else that the United States and Israel agrees on: Iran must not, under any circumstances, be allowed to get a nuclear weapon. (Applause.) Now, there’s a debate about how to achieve that -- and that's a healthy debate. I’m not going to use my remaining time to go too deep into policy -- although for those of you who are interested -- (laughter) -- we have a lot of material out there. (Laughter.) But I do want everybody to just remember a few key things.

The deal that we already reached with Iran has already halted or rolled back parts of Iran’s nuclear program. Now we’re seeking a comprehensive solution. I will not accept a bad deal. As I pointed out in my most recent article with Jeff Goldberg, this deal will have my name on it, so nobody has a bigger personal stake in making sure that it delivers on its promise. (Applause.) I want a good deal.

I'm interested in a deal that blocks every single one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon -- every single path. A deal that imposes unprecedented inspections on all elements of Iran’s nuclear program, so that they can’t cheat; and if they try to cheat, we will immediately know about it and sanctions snap back on. A deal that endures beyond a decade; that addresses this challenge for the long term. In other words, a deal that makes the world and the region -- including Israel -- more secure. That’s how I define a good deal.

I can’t stand here today and guarantee an agreement will be reached. We’re hopeful. We’re working hard. But nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. And I’ve made clear that when it comes to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, all options are and will remain on the table.

Moreover, even if we do get a good deal, there remains the broader issue of Iran’s support for terrorism and regional destabilization, and ugly threats against Israel. And that’s why our strategic partnership with Israel will remain, no matter what happens in the days and years ahead. And that’s why the people of Israel must always know America has its back, and America will always have its back. (Applause.)

Now, that does not mean that there will not be, or should not be, periodic disagreements between our two governments. There will be disagreements on tactics when it comes to how to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and that is entirely appropriate and should be fully aired. Because the stakes are sufficiently high that anything that's proposed has to be subjected to scrutiny -- and I welcome that scrutiny.

But there are also going to be some disagreements rooted in shared history that go beyond tactics, that are rooted in how we might remain true to our shared values. I came to know Israel as a young man through these incredible images of kibbutzim, and Moshe Dayan, and Golda Meir, and Israel overcoming incredible odds in the ’67 war. The notion of pioneers who set out not only to safeguard a nation, but to remake the world. Not only to make the desert bloom, but to allow their values to flourish; to ensure that the best of Judaism would thrive. And those values in many ways came to be my own values. They believed the story of their people gave them a unique perspective among the nations of the world, a unique moral authority and responsibility that comes from having once been a stranger yourself.

And to a young man like me, grappling with his own identity, recognizing the scars of race here in this nation, inspired by the civil rights struggle, the idea that you could be grounded in your history, as Israel was, but not be trapped by it, to be able to repair the world -- that idea was liberating. The example of Israel and its values was inspiring.

So when I hear some people say that disagreements over policy belie a general lack of support of Israel, I must object, and I object forcefully. (Applause.) For us to paper over difficult questions, particularly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or about settlement policy, that’s not a true measure of friendship.

Before I came out here, the Rabbi showed me the room that’s been built to promote scholarship and dialogue, and to be able to find how we make our shared values live. And the reason you have that room is because applying those values to our lives is often hard, and it involves difficult choices. That’s why we study. That’s why it’s not just a formula. And that’s what we have to do as nations as well as individuals. We have to grapple and struggle with how do we apply the values that we care about to this very challenging and dangerous world.

And it is precisely because I care so deeply about the state of Israel -- it’s precisely because, yes, I have high expectations for Israel the same way I have high expectations for the United States of America -- that I feel a responsibility to speak out honestly about what I think will lead to long-term security and to the preservation of a true democracy in the Jewish homeland. (Applause.) And I believe that’s two states for two peoples, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. (Applause.) Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people on their land, as well. (Applause.)

Now, I want to emphasize -- that’s not easy. The Palestinians are not the easiest of partners. (Laughter.) The neighborhood is dangerous. And we cannot expect Israel to take existential risks with their security so that any deal that takes place has to take into account the genuine dangers of terrorism and hostility.

But it is worthwhile for us to keep up the prospect, the possibility of bridging divides and being just, and looking squarely at what’s possible but also necessary in order for Israel to be the type of nation that it was intended to be in its earliest founding. (Applause.)

And that same sense of shared values also compel me to speak out -- compel all of us to speak out -- against the scourge of anti-Semitism wherever it exists. (Applause.) I want to be clear that, to me, all these things are connected. The rights I insist upon and now fight for, for all people here in the United States compels me then to stand up for Israel and look out for the rights of the Jewish people. And the rights of the Jewish people then compel me to think about a Palestinian child in Ramallah that feels trapped without opportunity. That’s what Jewish values teach me. That’s what the Judeo-Christian tradition teaches me. These things are connected. (Applause.)

And in recent years, we’ve seen a deeply disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in parts of the world where it would have seemed unthinkable just a few years or decades ago. This is not some passing fad; these aren’t just isolated phenomenon. And we know from our history they cannot be ignored. Anti-Semitism is, and always will be, a threat to broader human values to which we all must aspire. And when we allow anti-Semitism to take root, then our souls are destroyed, and it will spread.

And that’s why, tonight, for the first time ever, congregations around the world are celebrating a Solidarity Shabbat. It’s a chance for leaders to publicly stand against anti-Semitism and bigotry in all of its forms. And I’m proud to be a part of this movement, and I’m proud that six ambassadors from Europe are joining us today. And their presence here -- our presence together -- is a reminder that we are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. (Applause.) Our traditions, our history, can help us chart a better course as long as we are mindful of that history and those traditions, and we are vigilant in speaking out and standing up against what is wrong. It’s not always easy, I think, to speak out against what is wrong, even for good people.

So I want to close with the story of one more of the many rabbis who came to Selma 50 years ago. A few days after David Teitelbaum arrived to join the protests, he and a colleague were thrown in jail. And they spent a Friday night in custody, singing Adon Olam to the tune of “We Shall Overcome.” And that in and of itself is a profound statement of faith and hope. But what’s wonderful is, is that out of respect many of their fellow protestors began wearing what they called “freedom caps” -- (laughter) -- yarmulkes -- as they marched.

And the day after they were released from prison, Rabbi Teitelbaum watched Dr. King lead a prayer meeting before crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. And Dr. King said, “We are like the children of Israel, marching from slavery to freedom.”

That’s what happens when we’re true to our values. It’s not just good for us, but it brings the community together. (Applause.) Tikkun Olam -- it brings the community together and it helps repair the world. It bridges differences that once looked unbridgeable. It creates a future for our children that once seemed unattainable. This congregation -- Jewish American life is a testimony to the capacity to make our values live. But it requires courage. It requires strength. It requires that we speak the truth not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard.

So may we always remember that our shared heritage makes us stronger, that our roots are intertwined. May we always choose faith over nihilism, and courage over despair, and hope over cynicism and fear. As we walk our own leg of a timeless, sacred march, may we always stand together, here at home and around the world.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 11:26 A.M. EDT

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims May 2018 as Jewish American Heritage Month

During Jewish American Heritage Month, we celebrate the profound contributions that the Jewish faith and its traditions have had on our Nation. Two hundred years ago, in April 1818, Mordecai Noah delivered his famous discourse before the members of America’s first synagogue, Congregation Shearith Israel, upon the consecration of their new house of worship. Reflecting on Jewish history as well as on the unique rights and privileges afforded to American Jews, Noah proclaimed that, “for the first time in eighteen centuries, it may be said that the Jew feels he was born equal, and is entitled to equal protection he can now breathe freely.”

Jewish Americans have helped guide the moral character of our Nation. They have maintained a strong commitment to engage deeply in American society while also preserving their historic values and traditions. Their passion for social justice and showing kindness to strangers is rooted in the beliefs that God created all people in his image and that we all deserve dignity and peace. These beliefs have inspired Jewish Americans to build mutual-support societies, hospitals, and educational institutions that have enabled them and their fellow Americans to advance American society. Jewish Americans marched for civil rights in Selma and fought for the freedom of their brethren behind the Iron Curtain. Through their actions, they have made the world a better place.

The contributions of the Jewish people to American society are innumerable, strengthening our Nation and making it more prosperous. American Jews have proudly served our country in all branches of government, from local to Federal, and they have defended our freedom while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The indelible marks that American Jews have left on literature, music, cinema, and the arts have enriched the American soul. In their enduring tradition of generosity, Jewish Americans have established some of the largest philanthropic and volunteer networks in the Nation, providing humanitarian aid and social services to those in need at home and abroad, acting as a “light unto the nations.” Universities and other institutions around the country proudly display Nobel prizes won by Jewish Americans in the fields of medicine, chemistry, physics, and economics.

In reaction to Mordecai Noah’s 1818 discourse, Thomas Jefferson wrote that American laws protect “our religious as they do our civil rights by putting all on an equal footing.” The American Jewish community is a shining example of how enshrining freedom of religion and protecting the rights of minorities can strengthen a nation. Through their rich culture and heritage, the Jewish people have triumphed over adversity and enhanced our country. For this and many other reasons, the American Jewish community is deserving of our respect, recognition, and gratitude.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2018 as Jewish American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to celebrate the heritage and contributions of American Jews and to observe this month with appropriate programs, activities, and ceremonies.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

George W. Bush Administration: Remarks for Jewish American Heritage Month

The faith and hard work of Jewish Americans have played an integral role in shaping the cultural fabric of America. During Jewish American Heritage Month, we celebrate the vital contributions of Jewish Americans to our Nation.

Throughout our history, Jewish Americans have contributed to the strength of our country and the preservation of our values. The talent and imagination of these citizens have helped our Nation prosper, and their efforts continue to remind us of America's gift of religious freedom and the blessings of God's steadfast love. Jewish Americans have worked to promote civil rights and build bridges of mutual understanding among the world's religions. Their deep commitment to faith and strong ties to family enrich our country and set a positive example for others.

This month is also a time to recognize the sacrifices of Jewish Americans who serve our Nation in the Armed Forces. These brave men and women are dedicated to freedom's cause, and all those who live in freedom live in their debt.

Jewish American Heritage Month is an opportunity to honor the accomplishments of Jewish-American citizens and to remember that our Nation is a melting pot of cultures. I join all Americans in celebrating the rich Jewish heritage and the many ways Jewish Americans contribute to a bright future for our country.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2007 as Jewish American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities to honor Jewish Americans across the country.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.

Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month

May is Jewish American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the contributions Jewish Americans have made to the United States since they first arrived in New Amsterdam in 1654.

Jewish American Heritage Month had its origins in 1980 when Congress passed Pub. L. 96-237, which authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating a week in April or May as Jewish Heritage Week.

On April 20, 2006, President George W. Bush declared that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month, after resolutions passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.

To celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month, here are some resources at the Woodruff Library:

Contains materials related to the history of Jewish people and communities in the U.S. from the 17th to the middle of the 20th century.

Jews and race in the United States:

The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity Eric L. Goldstein Oxford : Princeton University Press 2008

What has it meant to be Jewish in a nation preoccupied with the categories of black and white? “The Price of Whiteness” documents the uneasy place Jews have held in America’s racial culture since the late 19th century. The book traces Jews’ often tumultuous encounter with race from the 1870s through World War II, when they became vested as part of America’s white mainstream and abandoned the practice of describing themselves in racial terms. (Provided by publisher)

Related Video: Eric K. Ward, executive director of the Western States Center, is a nationally recognized expert on the relationship between authoritarian movements, hate, violence, and preserving inclusive democracy. Ward was interviewed by Prof. Eric L. Goldstein, author of “The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity.”

Jews in Hollywood:

From Shtetl to Stardom: Jews and Hollywood Lisa Ansell, editor Baltimore, Maryland: Project Muse, 2016

The influence of Jews in American entertainment from the early days of Hollywood to the present has proved an endlessly fascinating and controversial topic, for Jews and non-Jews alike. “From Shtetl to Stardom: Jews and Hollywood” takes an exciting and innovative approach to this rich and complex material. Exploring the subject from a scholarly perspective as well as up close and personal, the book combines historical and theoretical analysis by leading academics in the field with inside information from prominent entertainment professionals. (Provided by publisher)

By Tarina Rosen, Jewish Studies, REEES and Linguistics Librarian

Statement by President Joe Biden on the Rise of Anti-Semitic Attacks

In the last weeks, our nation has seen a series of anti-Semitic attacks, targeting and terrorizing American Jews.

We have seen a brick thrown through window of a Jewish-owned business in Manhattan, a swastika carved into the door of a synagogue in Salt Lake City, families threatened outside a restaurant in Los Angeles, and museums in Florida and Alaska, dedicated to celebrating Jewish life and culture and remembering the Holocaust, vandalized with anti-Jewish messages.

These attacks are despicable, unconscionable, un-American, and they must stop.

I will not allow our fellow Americans to be intimidated or attacked because of who they are or the faith they practice.

We cannot allow the toxic combination of hatred, dangerous lies, and conspiracy theories to put our fellow Americans at risk.

As Attorney General Garland announced yesterday, the Department of Justice will be deploying all of the tools at its disposal to combat hate crimes.

In recent days, we have seen that no community is immune. We must all stand together to silence these terrible and terrifying echoes of the worst chapters in world history, and pledge to give hate no safe harbor.

May is Jewish American Heritage Month, when we honor Jewish Americans who have inextricably woven their experience and their accomplishments into the fabric of our national identity overcoming the pain of history, and helping lead our struggle for a more fair, just, and tolerant society.

Let us all take up that work and create a nation that stands for, and stands up for, the dignity and safety of all of our people.

High school flunks Jewish Heritage Month, picking Meir Kahane as honoree

It had to be a mistake. Or perhaps some kind of prank? The email from Montclair High School stunned parents in the famously liberal New Jersey enclave Monday afternoon: Its pick to honor for Jewish American Heritage Month was the late ultra-nationalist radical Rabbi Meir Kahane.

The “daily announcements” email sent to students, parents and teachers highlighted Kahane’s founding of the Jewish Defense League — a militant organization noted for violence and bigotry — and quoted him saying that the group would “do the job that the Anti-Defamation League should do but doesn’t.”

Jewish Montclair parents, appalled by the selection of a far-right figure and convicted terrorist whose followers have been banned from Israeli politics, quickly barraged the school administration with complaints. The assistant principal sent a follow-up email two-and-a-half hours after the original apologizing “to our community members who may have taken offense” but did not explain how the selection was made.

After this article was published Monday night and criticism erupted on several Facebook forums, Montclair’s superintendent, Jonathan Ponds, send a districtwide email Tuesday afternoon with his own apology.

“On behalf of the district, I apologize for an eblast from Montclair High School this week that included information that was not researched or vetted properly regarding Rabbi Meir Kahane,” Ponds wrote. “Moments in history can be very painful, and we deeply regret this eblast. We are truly sorry for offending our families, staff, and community and thank those of you who reached out and expressed your feelings. The district will learn from this incident.”

Josh Katz, the father of a ninth grader and president of Temple Ner Tamid, a Reform congregation in neighboring Bloomfield, N.J., seemed equally frustrated and amused by what he said was a “pathetic” mistake. He did not see malice behind the email, instead attributing the choice of Kahane, who he called a “radical wacko,” to ignorance in the school administration.

“Tomorrow they’re going to be honoring Jeffrey Epstein or Meyer Lansky,” Katz joked. “I can’t believe how stupid it is.”

YOUR TURN: Pretty much anyone would be a better choice than Meir Kahane. Who should Montclair High School have highlighted for Jewish American Heritage Month? Send your picks with a line or more of explanation to [email protected]

Montclair, an urbane and racially diverse suburb about 13 miles from Manhattan, is an ultra-progressive place lovingly referred to by many residents as the “People’s Republic of Montclair.” The high school has a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter and the Black Lives Matter movement garnered strong support in the student body and from the local community.

But the Kahane fracas reminded many parents of prior tensions in town. On three occasions during the 2019-20 school year, swastikas and other antisemitic graffiti were discovered at the high school, whose enrollment is about 2,000. No charges were ever filed. At the end of 2019, a longtime NAACP leader made antisemitic remarks about Jews and gentrification at a public meeting.

The controversy also came amid growing anger among Montclair parents over the school system’s handling of the pandemic. The high school has yet to reopen for in-person classes.

Kahane has long been viewed as a dangerous figure occupying the far-right fringe of Jewish culture and Israeli politics. He was convicted in the United States of manufacturing explosives in 1971, and convicted in Israel of plotting an attack on the Libyan embassy in 1974. He was assassinated in 1990.

The Jewish Defense League has been classified as a far-right terrorist group by the FBI since 2001. Kach, the political party Kahane formed in Israel, and its successors have been barred from Israeli elections since 1994, though one former Kach activist and Kahane disciple, Itamar Ben Gvir, was just elected to the Knesset in March.

It was unclear how or by whom Kahane was selected for the daily announcement. The two-paragraph biography contained in the email appeared lifted from Wikipedia.

In the follow-up email apology, Assistant Principal Reginald Clark took “responsibility for the lack of vetting,” but gave no details about how it happened. He did not answer email inquiries from the Forward on Monday evening.

“The information was in no way meant to harm or cause discontent among our community members,” Clark wrote. “I do appreciate the prompt response and letters of correction in addressing the matter we must all learn from each other.

“Moving forward,” he added, “we will be sure to research in a more thorough manner all information disseminated to the community.”

The school’s apology did little to quell the dismay among parents.

One parent, who shared her response to the school with the Forward on the condition she not be identified, wrote, “To single out the extremist, radical, violent and despised Meir Kahane appears to be a decision made by a person seeking to deliberately bring harm to Jews, and Jews at Montclair High School in particular. This is an injury inflicted by the school, at a time when our kids are already beaten down and antisemitism is increasing on campuses everywhere.”

Oren Segal, vice president of the ADL Center on Extremism, said he was forwarded the email by multiple parents Monday afternoon, and that the organization would follow up with the school to learn more.

“I am wondering whether the apology truly recognizes the error that was made,” Segal said. “Community members have the right to know how the error was made beyond just an apology.”

That Kahane was quoted criticizing the ADL, a national leader in fighting antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, only added insult to injury. “At a time to celebrate Jewish American Heritage,” Segal noted, “to include in an email an unprovoked attack on an organization like ADL undermines the whole concept.”

Monday’s “Daily Announcement” email also included notes on Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month — with links to five new books and a lesson plan on resilience and resistance — and, for Mental Health Awareness Month, information on Webinars about schizophrenia and depression. Since May 1, at least two other daily announcements have highlighted Jewish Heritage month, with entries on Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Schneerson, an obscure descendant of the so-called “Alter Rebbe” of Chabad Hasidim, who met with President Ulysses S. Grant, and the first synagogue to be established in America, Congregation Shearith Israel in Manhattan, known as the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue.

While these choices were not offensive like Kahane, they struck many parents as odd, raising questions about whether anyone with knowledge of Jewish history had been consulted.

Katz, for one, said he doubted other ethnic heritage capsules would be so lazily compiled. “The whole point is that we’re trying to educate our kids on how to write things that are appropriate, well-researched and true,” he note. “And the administrators can’t do it.”

Even granting the school the benefit of the doubt, Katz struggled to make sense of the fiasco.

“You don’t want to choose Whitey Bulger for Irish American heritage month,” he said. “This is the same as that.”

Biden says Jewish ‘influence’ behind American cultural politics is ‘immense… immense’

“You can’t talk about the civil rights movement in this country without talking about Jewish freedom riders and Jack Greenberg,” he said, telling a story about seeing a group of Jewish activists at a segregated movie theater in Delaware. “You can’t talk about the women’s movement without talking about Betty Friedan” or American advances in science and technology without mentioning Einstein and Carl Sagan, or music and Gershwin, Bob Dylan and “so, so, so many other people.”

“I believe what affects the movements in America, what affects our attitudes in America are as much the culture and the arts as anything else,” he said. That’s why he spoke out on gay marriage “apparently a little ahead of time.”

“It wasn’t anything we legislatively did. It was ‘Will and Grace,’ it was the social media. Literally. That’s what changed peoples’ attitudes. That’s why I was so certain that the vast majority of people would embrace and rapidly embrace” gay marriage, Biden said.

“Think behind of all that, I bet you 85 percent of those changes, whether it’s in Hollywood or social media are a consequence of Jewish leaders in the industry. The influence is immense, the influence is immense. And, I might add, it is all to the good,” he said.

Jews have also been key to the evolution of American jurisprudence, he continued, namedropping Brandeis, Fortas, Frankfurter, Cardozo, Ginsberg, Breyer, Kagan. “You literally can’t. You can’t talk about the recognition of … rights in the Constitution without looking at these incredible jurists that we’ve had.”

“Jewish heritage has shaped who we are – all of us, us, me – as much or more than any other factor in the last 223 years. And that’s a fact,” he said.

It’s been picked up by the Times of Israel and Haaretz, the latter saying that Biden praised Jewish leaders for helping change American attitudes about gay marriage.


  1. ^ Krieger, Hilary Leila (May 31, 2008). "US Jews, Asian Americans learn to make merry in May together". Jerusalem Post . Retrieved January 5, 2009 .
  2. ^ Reinhard, Beth (April 20, 2006). "Role of Jewish Americans to be recognized in May: Thanks to the efforts of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, President Bush is expected to make May Jewish American Heritage Month.". Miami Herald (Miami, Florida) . Retrieved January 5, 2009 .
  3. ^ Sec. 683.195 Fla. Stat (2013). http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0683/0683.html
  4. ^ "May designated Jewish American Heritage Month, April 20, 2006" . Retrieved May 8, 2012 .
  5. ^ "Jewish American Heritage Month home page" . Retrieved June 25, 2010 .
  6. ^ "Jewish American Heritage Month". U.S. Library of Congress . Retrieved June 25, 2010 .
  7. ^ Knoller, Mark (May 27, 2010). "Obama Honors Jewish Americans at White House Reception – Political Hotsheet". CBS News . Retrieved June 25, 2010 .
  8. ^ Rubin, Debra (June 1, 2010). "Koufax wows White House reception". Washington Jewish Week . Retrieved June 25, 2010 .
  9. ^ whitehouse.gov, retrieved May 12, 2011.
  10. ^ abc www.jta.org, retrieved May 17, 2011.
  11. ^ ab www.washingtonpost.com, retrieved May 17, 2011.
  12. ^ www.whitehouse.gov, retrieved May 17, 2011.
  13. ^ JewishAmericanHeritageMonth.com.

President Declares May As Jewish American Heritage Month

Today President Biden issued a Proclamation (full text) declaring May 2021 as Jewish American Heritage Month. The Proclamation reads in part:

Alongside this narrative of achievement and opportunity, there is also a history — far older than the Nation itself — of racism, bigotry, and other forms of injustice. This includes the scourge of anti-Semitism. In recent years, Jewish Americans have increasingly been the target of white nationalism and the antisemitic violence it fuels.

As our Nation strives to heal these wounds and overcome these challenges, let us acknowledge and celebrate the crucial contributions that Jewish Americans have made to our collective struggle for a more just and fair society leading movements for social justice, working to ensure that the opportunities they have secured are extended to others, and heeding the words of the Torah, “Justice, justice shall you pursue.”

A website honoring the month has been created by The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Jewish American Heritage Month

To continue this month’s commemorative observations, May is also Jewish American Heritage Month. The Law Library has a unique and growing collection on the subject of Jewish law.

Jewish American Heritage Month is a month to celebrate the contributions Jewish Americans have made to America since they first arrived in New Amsterdam in 1654. Jewish American Heritage Month had its origins in 1980 when Congress passed Pub. L. 96-237, which authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating a week in April or May as Jewish Heritage Week.  President Carter issued this first proclamation, Presidential Proclamation 4752 , in April 1980.

Albert Einstein, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Between 1981 and 1990, Congress annually passed public laws proclaiming a week in April or May as Jewish Heritage Week and Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush issued annual proclamations which detailed important events in the history of the Jewish people. In 1991, Congress passed Pub. L. 102-30 which requested the President designate the weeks of April 14-21, 1991 and May 3-10, 1992 as Jewish Heritage Week. Between 1993 and 2006, Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush issued a series of annual presidential proclamations designating a week in April or May of each year as Jewish Heritage Week.

Then on February 14, 2006, Congress issued House Concurrent Resolution 315 which stated:

“Resolved … that Congress urges the President to issue each year a proclamation calling on State and local governments and the people of the United States to observe an American Jewish History Month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.”

Pursuant to this, on April 20, 2006 President George W. Bush issued the first Presidential Proclamation which designated May 2006 as Jewish American Heritage Month. On April 29, 2011, President Obama issued this year’s proclamation.

Most legal documents related to this commemorative observation can be found on the Law Library of Congress page. If you wish to contact the Law Library, please call 202-707-5079.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Watch the video: ΤΑΛΜΟΥΔ: ΟΛΗ η ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ 1 (January 2022).