The Importance of Jewish American Heritage Month

Posted By on June 17, 2023

Three weeks later, I was given 15 minutes of my employers monthly all-office meeting to talk about Jewish American Heritage Month, as possibly the only Jewish and certainly only kippah-wearing person in the office.

When it was confirmed that Id have a chance to speak, I was less enthusiastic than one might have expected. I mulled through ideas in my head for a few days, unable to get away from the question of how I could possibly synthesize the importance of Jewish American Heritage Month, Jewish American history and antisemitism, all in 15 minutes or less.

Then, I realized how well-equipped I already was with plenty of talking points.

Last year, I had the opportunity to participate in the Glass Leadership Institute (GLI), a leadership development program that highlights all facets of the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), and empowers young professionals to fight antisemitism in their communities. Over the course of the year, GLI participants have the opportunity to hear from leaders at the Center on Extremism, the Education Department, the Israel & Middle East Affairs Department and plenty more.

After a remarkably interesting year, I was offered the chance to co-chair the GLI cohort and, in turn, hear each session again, along with an opportunity to attend the National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.

And thats where I was on April 30, when I learned about Jewish American Heritage Month for the first time.

Unpacking ideas from ADLs National Leadership Summit

From the very first plenary, the National Leadership Summit was unlike any other Jewish conference I had been to before.

The message was clear that we were there to listen, learn and lobby as we fight the arduous battle against antisemitism.

We were prepared for some things, like the otherwise startling statistics from the ADLs 2022 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which most of our nearly 15-person Detroit cohort had already familiarized itself with; we were unprepared for other things, like the early premiere of Disney+ and National Geographics new show A Small Light, which tells the story of the woman who hid Anne Frank and her family during World War II.

Prepared or not, the tone was set: antisemitism is as emotional, toxic and dangerous as ever, and it is our job to fight it.

Over the next two days, we learned about what it might mean to educate our way out of hate, how childrens literature can invite conversations about identity, bias and social justice, what antisemitism looks like both on the right and the left, and why, and so much more.

We also spent time mastering the four talking points that wed be discussing with our senators and their staffers during the culmination of the conference on Capitol Hill.

Tuesday morning, we rallied outside the Capitol as speakers from a variety of organizations, representing a multitude of different communities, spoke about the importance of combating antisemitism and all forms of hate.

We carried that motivation and energy with us into the offices of Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, as we lobbied our priorities: sharing the significance of the ADL 2022 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, stressing the importance of the Non-Profit Security Grant Programs continued funding, passing the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act, and passing the Jewish American Heritage Month Resolution.

We are very fortunate to have two senators who are partners in fighting antisemitism, racism and hate in all of its forms.

Sharing My Skills

When it came time to present on Jewish American Heritage Month in front of the office, I was prepared. I pulled out my lobby-day prep sheet and gave my office most of the shpiel that many of the GLI participants had given our senators just a few weeks prior.

After framing the state of antisemitism in America and locally even touching on the December 2022 Temple Beth El incident for a moment and the importance of combating antisemitism, I pivoted to the positives of Jewish American Heritage Month.

I spoke about the ways we can highlight the American Jewish community even when an antisemitic incident hasnt occurred, how Jewish people have contributed positively to American society for over 350 years and, more specifically, how the Jewish community has had a positive and lasting impact on Detroit.

Now, Jewish American Heritage Month carries a lot of weight not only with me, but also with an entire office of colleagues who listened attentively and asked meaningful questions afterward.

We dont realize how lucky we are to have ADL professionals fighting hate in our community every single day; Im fortunate to have participated in GLI each of the last two years and would recommend that others seize the opportunity as well.

Jeremy Rosenberg is a GLI Co-Chair and ADL of Michigan Board Member.

Editors Note: In the last 30 days, the House of Representatives voted on a $10 million increase in funding to support Non-Profit Security Grants, and the Jewish American Heritage Month Resolution passed in the Senate.

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The Importance of Jewish American Heritage Month

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