May is Jewish American Heritage Month, which looks to celebrate the accomplishments of the Jewish community while honoring their roots and history. Officially recognized by Congress in 2006, JAHM is an opportunity to both commemorate the resiliency and contributions of the Jewish community and simultaneously renew efforts to address antisemitism.
The Jewish community is one that has experienced deep discrimination, persecution, and virulent hatred throughout history — and still today, is witnessing a rise in antisemitism. From Poway, to Pittsburgh, to Colleyville, there is no doubt that hate and violence persists. And at the same time, the Jewish story is one of courage and resilience.
Whether you’re part of the Jewish community or a proud ally, here are four ways to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month from your college campus.
- Attend A shabbat dinner.
This tradition is just one of many that you can honor with your Jewish friends. Shabbat, which starts Friday evening and goes until Saturday at sundown, is the day of rest. It’s typically honored with a blessing over challah, wine, and candles, and many Jewish communities share a meaningful meal with their friends and family. You can help honor this timeless tradition by supporting your friends at Shabbat dinners. Hillel International is the largest Jewish campus organization in the world and looks to create meaningful experiences for Jewish young people. You can find your campus Hillel here.
- support local, jewish-owned businesses and restaurants.
From Canter’s deli in Los Angeles, to Katz’s Delicatessen in New York City, to Zaftigs Delicatessen in Boston, Jewish delis and restaurants are at the epicenter of Jewish culture. Supporting local Jewish-owned businesses can allow you to learn more about the community while also enjoying delicious food, including kugel, latkes, rugelach, matzo ball soup, deli, pastrami, and more. Honor this month with a campus field trip to your local Jewish restaurant or bookstore.
- Push your congresspeople to support relevant legislation.
The Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons Act (HEAL) looks to survey the current status of — and strengthen the impact of — Holocaust education nationally. The Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NGSP) looks to protect nonprofits, including religious institutions such as synagogues. Urge your members of congress to cosponsor the Holocaust HEAL Act, and to support an increase in $360 million for NGSP.
- give back to your community.
The Jewish community has been a longtime champion of repairing the world, also known as tikkun olam. Volunteer for — and donate to — causes you care about, reinvigorating your efforts to make the world a better place. In the famous words of Emma Lazarus, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”