Philadelphia, PA - Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) is a national commemoration of the contributions that American Jews have made to the fabric of our nation's history, culture, and society. The theme for May 2018 is American Jews and Music which focuses on the rich and deep influence of American Jews on American music across decades and genres.
First established by presidential proclamation in 2006 and renewed every year since, JAHM encourages people of all backgrounds to learn about and draw inspiration from more than 360-years of Jewish life in this country.
"Through JAHM, we honor the values of inclusion, acceptance, and religious liberty cherished by this country," says Ivy Barsky, CEO and Gwen Goodman Director of the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) in Philadelphia, the lead sponsor of JAHM.
Inspired by the 2018 global Leonard Bernstein centennial celebrations, this year's JAHM theme recognizes the many Jewish Americans who helped create the nation's soundtrack – individuals who have been shaped by American life, society, and culture, and in turn enriched America's musical repertoire, from classical compositions to rock and roll. West Side Story composer and humanitarian Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) used the power of music to respond to the social crises of his day. Songwriter Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was an Eastern European immigrant who produced timeless hits, including God Bless America, while fighting for the United States in WWI. Singer Fanny Brice (1891-1951), the child of Jewish immigrants, delighted audiences with her vaudeville acts, inspiring a stage and film portrayal by another widely successful artist—global stage and screen sensation Barbra Streisand (b. 1942). Chart-topping hits have been produced by Bob Dylan (b. 1941), Carole King (b. 1942), Paul Simon (b. 1941), Regina Spektor (b. 1980), and countless others. The musical output of these creative individuals continues to entertain and inspire today