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Jewish American Heritage Month

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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.

Black and white head-and-shoulders portrait of Albert Einstein, facing left.
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.

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