Celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month

Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) is an annual recognition and celebration of American Jews’ achievements and contributions to the United States of America during the month of May. This special month was federally recognized in 2006, thanks to the advocacy efforts of Jewish American leaders. Today, approximately 7.6 million Jewish Americans make up roughly 2.4% of the total U.S. population, making the US the second largest Jewish population in the world after Israel. Massachusetts has the seventh largest Jewish population in the country. The country’s large Jewish population has produced trailblazers in nearly every field imaginable — whether it’s Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, composer Irving Berlin, film director Steven Spielberg, there are countless Jewish Americans whose contributions to our society and culture we celebrate this month, and all year long. We encourage you to join us throughout the month of May in recognizing their accomplishments, as well as honoring the struggles faced by Jewish Americans throughout history.

Check out our recommended JAHM curricula

Virtual Places to Visit

The First Jewish Americans
New-York Historical Society

Morale-Boosting Tours: Changing Lives Through the Arts
JDC Archives

Tenement Women: 1902
Tenement Museum

Echoes of the Maccabees: Restoring the Temple after WWII
National Museum of American Jewish Military History

Jewish-American Hall of Fame
Skirball Museum at HUC

The Lives of an Uprooted German-Jewish Family
Leo Baeck Institute

Generation to Generation: Family Stories Drawn from the Ruah Jewish Archives
The Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives (Heinz History Center)

Reading List for Kids & Teens

  • Bubbe and Bart’s Matzoh Ball Mayhem, by Bonnie Grubman; illustrated by Deborah Melmon
  • Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty, by Linda Glaser
  • Emmy Noether: The most Important Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of, by Helaine Becker; illustrated by Kari Rust
  • Feivel’s Flying Horses, by Heidi Smith Hyde; illustrated by Joana van de Sterre
  • Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story, by Lesléa Newman; illustrated by Amy June Bates
  • Hannah’s Way, by Linda Glaser; illustrated by Adam Gustavson
  • Kibitzers and Fools: Tales My Zayda Told Me, by Simms Taback
  • Mitzvah Pizza, by Sarah Lynn Sheerger; illustrated by Deborah Melmon
  • The People’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art, by Cynthia Levinson; illustrated by Evan Turk
  • The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs, by Chana Stiefel; illustrated by Susan Gal 
  • All Three Stooges, by Erica S. Perl
  • The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come, by Sue Macy; illustrated by Stacy Innerst
  • Going Rogue (At Hebrew School), by Casey Breton
  • Hammerin’ Hank: The Life of Hank Greenberg, by Yona Zeldis McDonough; llustrated by Malcah Zeldis
  • Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, by Loïc Dauvillier; illustrated by marc Lizano
  • Honey and Me, by Meira Drazin
  • How To Find What You’re Not Looking For, by Veera Hiranandani
  • I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, by Debbie Levy; illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
  • The Librarian of Auschwitz: The Graphic Novel, based on the novel by Antonio Iturbe; adapted by Salva Rubio; illustrated by Loreto Aroca
  • Osnat and Her Dove: The True Story of the World’s First Female Rabbi, by Sigal Samuel; illustrated by Vali Mintzi
  • Black Bird, Blue Road, by Sofiya Pasternack
  • Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Barry Deutsch
  • The Length of a String, by Elissa Brent Weissman
  • Linked, by Gordon Korman
  • Lucky Broken Girl, by Ruth Behar
  • Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein, by Susan Goldman Rubin
  • This Is Just a Test, by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang
  • The Trouble with Good Ideas, by Amanda Panitch
  • Turtle Boy, by M. Evan Wolkenstein
  • The Unfinished Corner, by Dani Colman, Rachel Petrovicz, Whitney Cogar, and Jim Campbell
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
  • Bernice Sandler and the Fight for Title IX, by Jen Barton; illustrated by Sarah Green
  • Color Me In, by Natasha Diaz
  • Dissenter on the Bench: Ruth Bade Ginsburg’s Life and Work, by Victoria Ortiz
  • It’s A Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes, and Other Jewish Stories, edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman
  • Lucy Clark Will Not Apologize, by Margo Rabb
  • Recommended for You, by Laura Silverman
  • Someday We Will Fly, by Rachel De Woskin
  • They Went Left, by Monica Hesse
  • The Way Back, by Gavriel Savit

Looking for more? Check out the Jewish Book Council and the CAMERA Education Institute

Video & Audio Resources

The Library of Congress has a comprehensive list of Audio and Video resources from the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, the National Archives, the National Gallery of Art, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and from their own collections. 

In 1881, Jewish American businessman Adolphus Simeon Solomons joined Clara Barton and others to form the American Red Cross.
Jewish immigrant Irvin Berlin wrote the iconic anthem "God Bless America" in 1918 while serving the U.S. Army during World War I.
Before his death in 1932, Jewish American philanthropist Julius Rosenwald supported the construction of more than 5,000 schools for African American children in the South, known as Rosenwald Schools.
German refugee, theologian, and activist Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel joined his friend Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. in late March, 1965 for the famous march from Selma to Montgomery and devoted his life in service of social justice.
In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first Jewish American woman appointed to the US Supreme Court.
In 1999, Time magazine named Jewish American mathematician and physicist Albert Einstein "Person of the Century."
The 23 adults and children who would form the first Jewish community in the US came from Brazil in 1654.
Solomon Franco, a merchant who arrived from Holland in 1649, is Boston’s first recorded Jewish resident. However, he was not allowed to settle there. Instead, the Puritans at the General Court paid him off to return to Holland.