Once again, the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building was packed with more than 200 legislators, Jewish leaders and their supporters who participated in a bi-partisan celebration of American Jewish Heritage Month to recognize the many contributions of the Jewish people to the United States.
President Donald Trump declared May as Jewish American Heritage Month, following the practice of several recent administrations. The month-long series of events has been held annually since 2006, with special exhibits and talks at museums and other cultural institutions highlighting the contributions of Jews to American culture, including the arts, science, medicine, sports, business, government, and military service. The annual celebration first began in 1980 as a week dedicated to American Jewry, and in 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed May as Jewish American Heritage Month, an initiative led by Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the late Senator Arlen Specter. Each subsequent President has continued this tradition.
“Having the United States Congress celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month is a testament to the uniqueness and greatness of the United States of America, which has allowed Jewish Americans to stay true to their faith and to be participants and contributors in all aspects of American life,” said Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group, coordinator of the annual event. Greg Rosenbaum emceed the congressional program that featured an incredible line up of Members of Congress including: Senators Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown, Tim Kaine, Amy Klobuchar, Jeff Merkley, Jeanne Shaheen, Brian Schatz, Chris Van Hollen, Representatives John Faso, Joseph Kennedy, Brad Schneider and the driving force behind Jewish American Heritage Month, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The program included special introduction from Ivy Barsky, CEO of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and co-chairs Stanley Treitel and Morris Oiring. Ezra Friedlander welcomed representatives from the Federation of Jewish Communities of Hungary, Rabbi Shmuel Radnoti and Andras Buchler, who reinforced their wish to preserve Jewish heritage for all our children and creating a closer relationship with the American Jewish communities. They showcased a new Hungarian translated Siddur (prayer book) and declared that the current Liska Rebbe, HaRav Tzvi Hersh Friedlander, residing in Brooklyn, is the spiritual owner and guardian forever of the cemetery and graves of the Liska Rebbes of yesteryears, buried in the town of Olaszliszka, Hungary.
Representative Joseph P. Kennedy presented a surprise award to Anne and Joseph B. Stamm on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary and in recognition of their lifelong philanthropic and humanitarian service to the Jewish community; their civic works on behalf of local and national issues; and Mr. Stamm's dedication to quality, appropriate, and cost-effective healthcare services.
Senator Jeanne Shaneen and Chris Van Hollen praised Martin Handler in recognition of his decades long involvement in the leadership of multiple early childhood education and special education entities, including federal Head Start and Early Head Start programs serving underprivileged children and families living in poverty.
Senator Richard Blumenthal recognized the Honorable Paul Packer, Chairman of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, appointed by President Trump, for his accomplishments of the preservation and protection of the cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings associated with the foreign heritage of United States citizens.
“The fact is most of have been lucky, I've lived my entire life in a country that not only allows one to celebrate my heritage, but it includes it as a part of the Nation's mosaic” remarks by Mr. Packer summarizing the sentiments of the Jewish American Heritage Month celebration.
Rabbi Hershel Billet, of the Young Israel of Woodmere, recently member to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, appointed by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer delivered the benediction.
May has been proclaimed by President Obama and United States Congress, Jewish American Heritage Month. Despite years of oppression and persecution, Jews have always risen up to help bring improvement and progress to society.
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