May is Jewish American Heritage Month

May is Jewish American Heritage Month

May 03, 2024

May is Jewish American Heritage Month.

Jewish people have been part of the story of the United States since its inception, from the promises of its founding, to the many ways the country has failed to live up to those promises, to the fights to make those promises a reality. And in this critical moment for American Jews, we can celebrate one important aspiration of our American dream: a true democracy, where all voices are heard and all people are free.

Our ancestors experienced violence and oppression at the hand of authoritarian movements, dictatorships, and laws that restricted their rights and threatened their safety. Today, under the unfortunate and false banner of “Jewish safety,” we are seeing firsthand what an authoritarian attack on democratic rights and principles looks like.

We’re seeing efforts to restrict dissent and penalize protests. On campuses across the country, student activists — including Jewish students — have been targeted, harassed, arrested, and punished. We’re seeing gag legislation that suppresses free speech. Politically-motivated, narrow definitions of antisemitism are moving through a codification process in Congress.

These moves toward authoritarianism will not make Jews safer. And they are part of a familiar formula, as bad actors purposefully use these contentious, flashpoint moments to divide and isolate us, preying on Jewish fear to empower themselves. But we won’t let them succeed.

Our Jewish ancestors were victims of — and fought against — state violence, laws that restricted their freedoms, and attempts to rupture their communities. As we often say: We’ve seen this before.

As we mark Jewish American Heritage Month, we know our heritage, as American Jews, is a legacy of embracing democracy and rejecting authoritarianism.

In challenging moments, even when we feel fear and tension, we must remember that our Jewish American future relies on our thriving democracy and the safety of our neighbors, along with our own.

We will follow the lineage of our ancestors by creating a country where all are safe, all are represented, and all are free.