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Public Statements

Urging Observance of American Jewish History Month

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

URGING OBSERVANCE OF AMERICAN JEWISH HISTORY MONTH -- (House of Representatives - December 14, 2005)

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Madam Speaker, throughout the past year, the 350th anniversary of Jewish life in America has been marked by ceremonies and celebrations across the United States. As the festivities come to an end, Chairman Hyde and I would like to establish a formal recognition of American Jewish life by creating American Jewish History Month. This is why I have introduced a resolution calling for a Presidential Proclamation in order to create an executive order to designate the month of January as American Jewish History Month to be observed with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.

To date, 252 of our esteemed colleagues have expressed support for American Jewish History Month. I wish to thank Chairman Hyde and Mr. Cantor for their continued support and assistance.

American Jewish History Month would honor the contributions of American Jews to society. Additionally, creation of this month would celebrate the legacy of the American Jewish experience and the rich cultural heritage of American Jewish communities.

Similar to Black History Month in February and Women's History Month in March, American Jewish History Month would present educators with the opportunity and tools to teach diversity and cultural awareness.

As Congress continuously strives to promote understanding and awareness of the many cultures of American society, we believe education is a necessity to combat ignorance and misunderstanding. Though support for Jewish communities, Holocaust education and efforts to combat anti-Semitism is well-known in Congress, support among the American public is not as prevalent.

Sadly, ignorance about Jews and our history, culture and contributions to American society remains widespread in the United States. This ignorance leads to hatred and bigotry, and one way to stop it is through education. As we all know, education leads to understanding.

American Jewish History Month will educate millions of Americans about the rich cultural traditions of the Jewish people, whose contributions to medicine, the arts, science and technology have shaped the fabric of American society and global history.

The previous debate demonstrates the need for more education and understanding of the traditions, beliefs and history of not just the Jewish communities but all minority religions in America. It is clear to me after listening to the proponents of the previous resolution that an American Jewish History Month would heighten the sensitivity of those who simply do not have enough information, exposure or tolerance for minority faiths.

It is my hope that the next generation of Americans, from all faith traditions, will have their knowledge, tolerance and understanding heightened and enhanced by the creation of American Jewish History Month.

I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the 252 Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle who have supported the efforts to establish a formal month. While the expression of the House's sentiment is meaningful, it is essential that the President formally create American Jewish History Month via executive order and put the full strength of the White House behind this effort so that we can enhance the education and understanding of Americans about Jewish cultural traditions.

Additionally, I would like to thank the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Cantor), the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde), Leader Pelosi, and Speaker Hastert for their support and steadfast commitment to helping to establish this month. It is my hope that in the future there will be a permanent American Jewish History Month in addition to a Presidential Proclamation.

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

In conclusion, I want to thank again Speaker Hastert and Mr. Cantor from Virginia for their efforts to help us bring this resolution to the floor. I also want to thank Leader Pelosi and the rest of my colleagues for their assistance.

I do want to recognize Speaker Hastert in particular, because he has committed to personally contact the President to urge him to take this resolution and to go ahead and create the executive order. So I look forward to working with him towards that end.

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