April 26, 2010 Library of Congress to Celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month With Lectures and Website

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

The Library of Congress’ month-long celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month will open with the first of several programs honoring the contributions of Jewish Americans. The program, featuring a keynote address by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 5, in the Members of Congress Room, located on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C.

Other speakers at the opening program include Abby Schwartz, Jewish American Heritage Coalition; Daniel S. Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith International; and William C. Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America. Songs will be performed by students from the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital.

The program is free and open to the public; reservations are not required.

Other public programs to be held at the Library in celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month are as follows:

At noon on Thursday, May 6, Chaplain Arnold E. Resnicoff will discuss “Faith and Foxholes: Religion in the Military” in the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room, Room 220 of the Thomas Jefferson Building. Chaplain Resnicoff (ret.) is a decorated military officer and a rabbi.

At noon on Monday, May 10, attorney and author Robin Gerber will deliver a lecture about Mattel Inc.’s Ruth Handler titled “Barbie’s Jewish Mother and Corporate Genius” in the Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the Library’s James Madison Memorial Building at 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Gerber is a Senior Fellow in Executive Education at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

At noon on Thursday, May 13, Jenna Weissman Joselit, Charles E. Smith Professor of Judaic Studies and professor of history at George Washington University and a former Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, will deliver a lecture titled “Child’s Play: The Judaization of Adolescence in 20th-Century America.” The lecture will be held in the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room, Room 220 of the Thomas Jefferson Building.

In 1654, after Portugal recaptured Brazil from the Dutch 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 Jewish American Heritage Month during the month of May.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, 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 www.loc.gov/exhibits/haventohome/ and in a companion publication that can be ordered at www.loc.gov/shop/.

A Jewish American History Month website is accessible at www.jewishheritagemonth.gov. 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 and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.


PR 10-076
ISSN 0731-3527