Jewish American Heritage Month May 2023

May is Jewish American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the contributions those of Jewish heritage have made to the United States 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.

On April 20, 2006, President George W. Bush declared that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month, after resolutions passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.

To celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month, we recommend the following curated list of resources, both at Emory and beyond.

Digitized collections

Jewish Historical Newspapers (Emory access only)

Yizkor Memorial Books. Yizkor (memorial) books document the history of Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust. Most often privately published and compiled through the collective efforts of former community residents, they describe daily life through essays and photographs and memorialize murdered residents. See an example to the right.

Vilna Collections. The greater part of these collections is in New York, with a significant remnant in Lithuania. The materials in these collections represent Jewish life throughout Europe, including Eastern Europe, Central and Western Europe, and the Americas. The time frame runs from the 17th century to 1940, with the bulk of materials dating from the years between the two world wars. They are among the few prewar Jewish collections to have survived the Holocaust.


Rose Library

Rose Library recently made available the following Southern Jewish Studies Collections –Bert and Esther Lewyn papers, Jack Boozer papers, and Morris Abram papers.

The combined Geffen and Lewyn Family Southern Jewish Collections Research Fellowship, which funds a fellowship award for research in the Southern Jewish collections, is also worth noting.

Rose Library also provides access to the papers of Rabbi Jacob M. Rothschild, a prominent Jewish leader in Atlanta from the 1930s to the mid 1980s. The papers were used extensively in Melissa Fay Greene’s book “The Temple Bombing.”

Audiovisual collections

Our Academic Video Online Premium Collections has a curated Jewish Studies channel with over 1,000 videos of interest to Jewish studies and communities around the world. We highlight two new notable ones below:

Land of Promise: The Jews of South Carolina (Video). “Land of Promise” is a fascinating, richly illustrated documentary that explores the Jewish experience in South Carolina from colonial days to modern times. It is a heartwarming story of religious tolerance, economic and political opportunity.

Delta Jews (Video). For over a century, the largely rural region of the Mississippi Delta has been home to a thriving Jewish community, rooted generations-deep in its rich soil. Jews became an integral part of Delta life, forging a hybrid identity that was deeply Jewish and distinctively Southern. Their numbers have dwindled in recent years, but a small number of Jews have stayed on, determined to maintain a Jewish presence against all odds. Through the eyes of those who remain, Delta Jews traces the history of the community and its relationship to its white Christian and Black neighbors.

—Chris Palazzolo is the head of collection management and the social sciences librarian

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