Jewish American Heritage Month 2021
Updated: May 28, 2021
Here at the Undaunted Foundation, we have been vocal about the rise in antisemitism worldwide, and specifically in the United States. With the recent events between Israel and Palestine, American Jews and their houses of worship have received an increase in hateful behavior.
(Photo from National Museum of American Jewish History: nmajh.org)
We would like to underscore the fact that American Judaism does not equal Zionism, and that as Martin Luther King Jr. so wisely instructed us, hate cannot dispel hate. In all of our activism for the suffering of our Palestinian brothers and sisters, please be watchful of our American Jewish community, many of whom are actively seeking justice for Palestine even as they suffer hate speech at home.
The month of May is celebrated as Jewish American Heritage Month. The purpose of the month is to celebrate the unique and powerful contributions of American Jews throughout all facets of our society, historically and in the present.
These months of celebration, cultural awareness, and the sharing of experiences serve a beautiful purpose, in uniting us in common appreciation of the differences among us that give us strength, depth, and a multi-faceted understanding of the world.
The theme for this year’s Heritage Month is broken up in to two parts. The first is a quote from the ancient Rabbi Hillel, “If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now--when?” These words strike deep to the core of our purpose here at the Undaunted Foundation. Finding purpose in looking outside of ourselves, looking for ways to stretch and serve others outside our direct circle, is the heart of the neighbor mentality we seek to cultivate.
The second half of the theme is a celebration of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama. Rabbi Heschel was a remarkable man who believed that Jewish theology gave clear instructions on how to treat our fellow neighbors, including civil rights and peace activism. His example of reaching outside of one’s direct community of influence, seeing injustice, and fighting for what is right is exactly the kind of example we need to amplify.
As May draws to a close, we encourage you to ponder the words of Rabbi Hillel, “If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now--when?” and find one small, meaningful way that you can answer that call.
We also encourage you to visit the website of the National Museum of Jewish American History and learn more through their online resources. There you can watch video interviews with Asian-Jewish Americans, view online Museum exhibitions, and learn more about the experience of Jewish Americans. You can find these resources here.