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Public Statements

Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month in 2012

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Today, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) made the following statement in honor of May as Jewish American Heritage Month:

"I am delighted that this May we celebrate the seventh annual Jewish American Heritage Month, a time to honor the myriad contributions the Jewish community has made to the cultural fabric of the United States. The American Jewish experience is the story of the immigrant, the labor movement, and the battle for civil rights; Jews in America have blazed trails from the battlefield to the Supreme Court, from the sports field and symphony hall to the pages of our nation's history books. The American Jewish story is the American story.

"This month we celebrate the stories of American Jews like Emma Lazarus, the poet who was an important supporter of Jewish immigrants and the large international Diaspora of Jews. Lazarus is best known for her sonnet "The New Colossus," which is inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty:

"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'

"This well-known message and its prominence on our nation's most famous statue demonstrate the enduring roots the American Jewish experience share with the larger American story. Not only do the lessons and values of Judaism, so prominent in Lazarus's writing, complement the strivings of American history; the simple fact of these words' presence on our nation's symbol of liberty and justice shows that American Jews have helped shape our great national story.

"This May, I hope you will take a moment to visit and to learn more about Jewish American Heritage Month and the history of the Jewish community in the United States. As we reflect on the contributions that the Jewish community has made throughout our nation's history, we remain dedicated to forging a better world in the years to come."

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