May 2, 2007 Library of Congress To Celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month with Lectures and Web Site

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Peggy Pearlstein (202) 707-3779

With a national theme of “The American Jewish Experience: Celebrating Religious Pluralism, Cultural Diversity and Commitment to American Civic Culture,” the second annual Jewish American Heritage Month will be celebrated by the Library of Congress with public lectures and a new Web presentation.

In 1654, after Portugal recaptured Brazil and expelled its Jewish settlers, a group of 23 Jewish refugees arrived in New Amsterdam (now New York City) seeking a safe haven and ultimately made a home for themselves and their descendants in the New World.

In 2004, the 350th anniversary of this historic event was observed across the country and at the Library of Congress. On the heels of this observance, the House and Senate passed resolutions and President George W. Bush proclaimed that, beginning in 2006, the nation would commemorate American Jewish Heritage Month during the month of May.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who in 2005 became the first Jewish woman to represent Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives, said, “The passage of this resolution in both houses of Congress shows the deep support that exists across this country for the formal recognition of the 350 years of enrichment that Jews have contributed to American culture.”

The Library’s extensive holdings include numerous items pertaining to Jewish history and Jewish Americans. Some of these items were featured in an exhibition titled “From Haven to Home: 350 Years of Jewish Life in America,” which is accessible online at and in a companion publication that can be ordered at

A Jewish American History Month Web site is accessible at This Web portal is a collaborative project of 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.

The Library is also sponsoring several lectures in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month. The lectures are free and open to the public; tickets are not required. Those planning to attend should contact Peggy Pearlstein at (202) 707-3779 or [email protected]

At 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, Zachary M. Baker will deliver the Eighth Annual Myron M. Weinstein Memorial Lecture on the Hebraic Book in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The lecture is titled “A Bibliographer Encounters the Muses: Reflections on the Yiddish Theater and Its Legacy.” Baker is the Reinhard Family Curator of Judaica and Hebraica Collections at Stanford University Libraries. The lecture series honors Myron M. Weinstein (1927-1998), whose 29-year tenure at the Library was spent in the Hebraic Section.  

At 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 17, Ella Milch-Sheriff will discuss and show segments from her musical works in an audiovisual presentation titled “Composing the Holocaust” in the Whittall Pavilion, located on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building. The event is sponsored jointly by the Library’s Music Division, the Hebrew Language Table and the Embassy of Israel.

At 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22, Alan Kraut will present a lecture titled “Jewish Bodies: Immigrant Encounters with American Medicine in the 19th and 20th Centuries” in Room 220 of the Thomas Jefferson Building (the African and Middle Eastern Conference Room). Kraut, professor of history at American University in Washington, D.C., is a specialist in U.S. immigration and ethnic history, the history of medicine in the United States and 19th century U.S. social history. He is the author or editor of seven books and more than 100 articles and book reviews. His latest work, “Covenant of Care: Newark Beth Israel and the Jewish Hospital in America,” was published in January 2007.


PR 07-099
ISSN 0731-3527