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9 Ways to Celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month

9 Ways to Celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month

Hanukkiah with the Statue of Liberty to hold each candle

May is Jewish American Heritage Month, established by President George W. Bush in 2006. Learn more about the history of the month… then get to work celebrating it! Here are just a few ideas, applicable in May and all year long.                                              

  1. Visit a Jewish museum or a site of historical Jewish interest. Visit a Jewish museum, a Holocaust memorial museum, New York City’s Tenement Museum… the list goes on, and nearly all of these museums offer online experiences and exhibits, too. You can also visit an historic synagogue for a look at your local Jewish history.
  2. Eat something Jewish. Whip up your bubbe’s favorite recipe or choose from one of ReformJudaism.org’s many, many recipes of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic origins. Not a big cook? Have lunch at your local Jewish delicatessen. What’s more Jewish-American than corned beef on rye?!
  3. Learn more about North American Jewish history. Take our 10-question quiz to find out how much you already know – and maybe learn something new! You can also explore the Jewish American Heritage Month website to learn more about, well, Jewish American heritage and history.
  4. Read something Jewish. Whether you choose a book about religion, about the Jewish American experience, or just something written by an American Jew, there’s plenty to choose from. Not sure where to start? Visit the Jewish Book Council, CCAR Press, Fig Tree Books, or Behrman House.
  5. Research your family’s history. Try to determine when the first members of your family immigrated to America, then create a family tree for future family members to cherish. Take it a step further by recording an interview with your oldest living relatives to create a digital history of your family’s Jewish history.
  6. Watch something Jewish. Choose a film about the Jewish-American experience, like Hester Street or Driving Miss Daisy, or tune into something by Steven Spielberg, Mel Brooks, J.J. Abrams, or another favorite Jewish director (Wikipedia has a long and helpful list for your browsing pleasure).
  7. Raise your voice, Jewishly. As Jews in a democratic society, we have the privilege and the responsibility to make our voices and views heard on ethical and moral matters. Check out the work of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism to learn how to get involved in Jewish social justice work on a national scale.
  8. Become a member of a synagogue. What better way to show your commitment to American Judaism than by joining a congregation? Our find-a-congregation tool will help you locate a Reform Jewish synagogue in your community. Reach out to the staff ahead of time for more info, or simply show up for Shabbat services.
  9. Support your favorite Jewish organization. Do your part to further and strengthen the work of the Jewish people by making a one-time or recurring contribution to a Jewish nonprofit that’s near to your heart. (May we recommend ReformJudaism.org? Wink, wink.)

How are you celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month? Let us know in the comments below.

Kate Bigam is the social media and community manager for the Union for Reform Judaism, serving as a content manager and editor for ReformJudaism.org. She is a proud alumna of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Eisendrath Legislative Assistant fellowship and also served as the RAC's press secretary. A native Ohioan, Kate grew up at Temple Beth Shalom in Hudson, OH, and holds a degree in magazine journalism from Kent State University. She and her fiancé live in Cleveland.

Kate Bigam
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