Honoring Jewish American Heritage Month

By Inaara S. RSS Mon, May 1, 2023

Did you know that in 1654, 23 Jewish refugees sailed to the port of New Amsterdam (presently New York City) and established the first Jewish community in what we now call the United States? It has been nearly 400 years since this first Jewish community’s arrival and from that point forward, Jewish Americans have been an important part of and contributed to the fabric of the U.S., creating a legacy of history, culture, and community.

May is Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM). JAHM, established by the Presidential Proclamation in 2006 and renewed every year since then, is a national month of celebrating nearly four centuries of Jewish American history, heritage, cuisine, customs and rituals, and communities. This month is a time for Philadelphians of all ages across the city to learn more about and commemorate the impact and contributions of Jewish Americans in our city and throughout our nation’s history.

Throughout the month of May, people find ways to learn more about the diverse achievements and contributions of Jewish Americans, spread the word about JAHM with friends and family, and join in on the celebrations of Jewish American heritage.

Here are at the Free Library, there are a few different ways for you to commemorate JAHM:

  • Be sure to check out the Free Library’s book lists related to Jewish American history and culture. 
  • Browse for books about Jewish American figures and search for novels and nonfictional works written by Jewish American writers in the Free Library’s catalog.
  • Listen to podcast episodes of previous Author Events that have explored or discussed Jewish American heritage and identity. You can also watch previous Author Events discussions on the Author Events’ YouTube channel.
  • Explore the Free Library’s blog where you can find articles that share recommended books, inform what to cook during the Jewish holiday of Purim, and offer the history of Hanukkah and how it is celebrated each year.
  • Scroll through the archival items of the Free Library’s Digital Collections where you can find a number of historical items related to Jewish history and heritage. This includes a scroll that contains the Book of Esther, a print of the exterior of a Jewish hospital and home located in Philly from the late 19th century, and numerous manuscripts of Hebrew text.
  • Use the Free Library’s incredible databases to learn more about Jewish American heritage and history. Whether you’re interested in reading through historical newspapers, accessing world news, finding documentaries and films, or reading scholarly papers, there’s something for everyone! (You can also browse through our featured digital media databases to continue learning more.)

For many, this month will be a special time of reflection, community building, and celebration of the legacy and continued importance and impact of Jewish American heritage in the United States. Join the Free Library in May to commemorate Jewish American Heritage Month and spread the word!

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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Jewish American Heritage Month is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the rich and diverse history of Jewish Americans and their contributions to our society. As LeedailyRecommend Let's take this month to celebrate and honor their legacy in a meaningful way!
Emma - Texas
Tuesday, May 2, 2023