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Tribute to Jewish American Heritage Month

Location: Washington, DC

TRIBUTE TO JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH -- (Extensions of Remarks - June 13, 2006)

* Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to reflect on the inaugural Jewish American Heritage Month, which was celebrated across the country throughout the month of May. With the history of racial intolerance our country has witnessed, I believe we must remain steadfast in providing future generations opportunities to learn about the varied faiths and cultures that make this country so great.

* I am especially pleased that my colleague Congressman Joe Baca hosted a Special Order condemning hate crimes and racial intolerance. We must fight intolerance and stop the spread of hate-inspired acts and images, and I thank Congressman Baca for leading this important discussion.

* Mr. Speaker, we have seen how the national observance of Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month have brought, through education, greater awareness of the African American and Hispanic communities' contributions to our country. This past May, the many accomplishments of American Jews were recognized by the proclamation of Jewish American Heritage Month, issued by President Bush.

* When the Jewish community in Miami approached me with the idea to help designate a month to honor the contributions of American Jews, I realized the potential impact of this endeavor. It is my hope that Jewish American Heritage Month will make a difference in the fight against anti-Semitism.

* To those who would teach hate to their children, it might surprise them to learn that a Jewish man, Haym Salomon, was one of the largest financiers of the American Revolutionary War. To those who would paint graffiti on Jewish buildings, they should know that they have benefited from advances in medicine, trends in popular culture, and technological inventions, all developed by many famous and not-so-famous American Jews.

* Fortunately, we have leaders in government, the business community, law enforcement, and education who work to eliminate hateful words and actions and encourage acceptance and sensitivity to diversity.

* I am grateful to my colleagues who recognized the benefits that Jewish American Heritage Month would bring to the country, and I thank them for their unanimous support.

* Mr. Speaker, thank you for your support and commitment. Throughout the process, you were an instrumental and invaluable advocate.

* Leader Pelosi, Whip Hoyer, and Congressman Waxman, thank you for your leadership and guidance.

* And I'd especially like to thank Chairman Henry Hyde--who was the lead Republican cosponsor of the House resolution.

* Chairman Hyde helped immensely with spreading awareness of this resolution to our colleagues and the White House. I'd also like to acknowledge and thank Senator Arlen Specter who introduced and worked to pass identical legislation in the Senate. And once again, I would like to thank my colleagues, who unanimously passed the resolution.

* The amount of support for this initiative has been nothing short of inspirational:

* As the inaugural Jewish American Heritage Month comes to an end, national prominence of American Jewish heritage continues in communities across the country. In fact, many Jewish communities began their observances even prior to May.

* At the end of April, the Jewish Museum of Florida held a press conference with several community leaders to announce the Proclamation's release.

* At the beginning of May, the American Jewish Committee incorporated a celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month into their 100th Anniversary celebration here in Washington.

* On May 11th, the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia honored Senator SPECTER and celebrated the establishment of Jewish American Heritage Month at their annual gala dinner. On May 23rd, the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington hosted a breakfast reception in the Capitol where several Members including Representatives HYDE, RANGEL, CARDIN, BERKLEY, and LEWIS. And just last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recognized the conclusion of the inaugural Jewish American Heritage Month at a Jewish Heritage New York event at Gracie Mansion.

* Like so many of the ideas that generate in this body, the creation of Jewish American Heritage Month all started with one community that wanted to make a difference.

* I would like to thank two talented and dedicated women who helped lead this effort in Miami: Marcia Zerivitz of the Jewish Museum of Florida and Judy Gilbert-Gould of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

* Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington and its Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum, who brought the celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month to the Capitol Building.

* I respectfully request that the remarks made by their Executive Director Laura Apelbaum and their President Peggy Pearlstein be placed into the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD.


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