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Overview

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 (external link) in April 1980.  In this proclamation President Carter spoke about the bountiful contributions made by the Jews to the culture and history of the United States.  He also spoke of the significance of April 1980 in the Jewish calendar, which was the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Israeli Independence Day, and the Days of Remembrance of Victims and Survivors of the Holocaust.

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 Jews.

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.  In 1993, Congress passed Pub. L. 103-27 which requested the President designate the weeks of April 25-May 2, 1993 and April 10-17, 1994 as Jewish Heritage Week.  Presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton then issued 3 presidential proclamations between 1991-1994 for Jewish Heritage Week. 

Between 1995 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.  On April 24, 1998, President Clinton issued Presidential Proclamation 7087 which celebrates the many contributions of Jewish Americans along with the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.

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 Bush issued the first Presidential Proclamation which designated May 2006 as Jewish American Heritage Month. On May 12, 2009 President Obama issued the Presidential Proclamation 8379 (PDF) which speaks of how Jewish American story is an example of the diversity in America History that enriches and strengthens the whole society.

Legislative Branch Material

The public laws between 1980 - 1993 which designate a week in April or May as Jewish Heritage Week are published in the United States statues at large which is available at many Federal depository libraries.  The specific citations are as follows:

  • Pub. L. 96-237, 94 Stat. 338 (1980)
  • Pub. L. 97-10, 95 Stat. 12 (1981)
  • Pub. L. 97-173, 96 Stat. 69 (1982)
  • Pub. L. 98-20, 97 Stat. 64 (1983)
  • Pub. L. 98-247, 98 Stat. 114 (1984)
  • Pub. L. 99-26, 99 Stat. 52 (1985)
  • Pub. L. 99-287, 100 Stat. 409 (1986)
  • Pub. L. 100-39, 101 Stat. 307 (1987)
  • Pub. L. 100-292, 102 Stat. 94 (1988)
  • Pub. L. 101-25, 103 Stat. 53 (1989)
  • Pub. L. 101-290, 104 Stat. 183 (1990)
  • Pub. L. 102-30, 105 Stat. 172 (1991)
  • Pub. L. 103-27, 107 Stat. 72 (1993)

Executive Branch Documents

Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders have been used by presidents to rule on substantive issues of law; to administrate the executive branch of government; and to make general announcements to the public. These general announcements which exhort the public to observe a holiday such as Thanksgiving or honor a particular group of citizens as in National Black History Month are usually issued in the form of a Presidential Proclamation. On many occasions Congress will pass a law specifically requesting the President to take certain action proclaiming the recognition of a particular group of citizens as Jewish or Hispanic Americans.

Listed below are links to the Presidential Proclamations for Jewish Heritage Week or Jewish American Heritage Month along with the citations to the Code of Federal Regulations or the Federal Register, the official publications for Presidential Proclamations.

Presidential Proclamations for the annual observances of Jewish Heritage Week and Jewish American Heritage Month can be browsed through American Presidency Project (external link) by selecting the year and clicking on the Display button.

Presidential proclamations as well as Presidential statements, messages, remarks for Jewish American Heritage Month can be searched from the Government Printing Office’s Advanced Search page in the collections for the Code of Federal Regulations, the Compilation of Presidential Documents and the Federal Register.

Web Resources

Jewish American Heritage Month

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Last Updated: 02/28/2014