CRC and JCC partner with Virginia Beach public libraries for National Jewish American Heritage Month

June 22, 2018

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On April 20, 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed May to be Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM). The announcement was the crowning achievement in an effort by the Jewish Museum of Florida and South Florida Jewish community leaders. Their dedication resulted in resolutions introduced by Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania urging the president to proclaim a month to recognize the history of Jewish contributions to American culture. The resolutions passed unanimously, first in the House of Representatives in December 2005 and in the Senate in February 2006.

Now, each May, across the nation Jewish Americans who have helped weave the fabric of American history, culture, and society are celebrated. In Washington, D.C. alone, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have joined in raising national consciousness about the contributions of Jewish Americans to the nation’s heritage.

This year, the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, Simon Family JCC’s Jewish Life and Learning department, and the Virginia Beach public library partnered to celebrate some of the contributions that Jewish people and Jewish traditions have had on the nation.

Virginia Beach Public libraries displayed local Jewish American history with generous support from Ohef Sholom Temple, sharing photographs and details from the temple’s archives. Artifacts ranged from those of Moses and Eliza Myers—the first Jews to arrive in Norfolk in 1787—to those of Jewish volunteers, soldiers, and the Red Cross, as well as pieces from Jewish life and business in the 1940s.

In addition, an exhibition on vintage Jewish fashion from Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, was displayed at the Central Library. On Tuesday, May 22, the Virginia Beach Central Library featured a screening of Across Oceans and Generations, The Jewish history of Tidewater, presented by Joan London Baer, the film’s executive producer.

The Virginia Beach Joint Use Library displayed another Beit Hatfutsot capsule exhibition about Jewish sports with a collection of black and white images from across the globe.

Plans are already underway for Jewish American Heritage month in May 2019. To get involved in the project, contact Melissa Eichelbaum, assistant CRC director, at MEichelbaum@ujft.org.

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