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Jewish American Heritage Month: A Commemorative Observances Legal Research Guide

History and Overview

Jewish American Heritage Month had its origins in 1980 when Congress passed Pub. L. No. 96-237, which authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating April 21 - 28, 1980 as Jewish Heritage Week. On April 24, 1980, President Carter issued this first proclamation, Proclamation No. 4752 External, for Jewish Heritage Week. In this proclamation President Carter spoke about the bountiful contributions made by the Jewish people to the culture and history of the United States. He also spoke of the significance of April 1980 in the Jewish calendar, which was the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Solidarity Sunday for Soviet Jewry, Israeli Independence Day, and the Days of Remembrance of Victims and Survivors of the Holocaust.

Between 1981 and 1990, Congress annually passed public laws proclaiming a week in April or May as Jewish Heritage Week, and Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush issued annual proclamations detailing important events in the history of the Jews. In 1991, Congress passed Pub. L. No. 102-30, which requested that the President designate the weeks of April 14-21, 1991 and May 3-10, 1992 as Jewish Heritage Week. In 1993, Congress passed Pub. L. No. 103-27, which requested that the President designate the weeks of April 25-May 2, 1993 and April 10-17, 1994 as Jewish Heritage Week. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton then issued three presidential proclamations between 1991 and 1994 for Jewish Heritage Week.

Between 1995 and 2006, Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush issued a series of annual presidential proclamations designating a week in April or May of each year as Jewish Heritage Week. On April 24, 1998, President Clinton issued Proclamation No. 7087, which celebrates the many contributions of Jewish Americans along with the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.

Then on February 14, 2006, Congress issued H.R. Con. Res. 315 which stated:

Resolved . . . that Congress urges the President to issue each year a proclamation calling on State and local governments and the people of the United States to observe an American Jewish History Month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

Pursuant to this resolution, on April 20, 2006 President Bush issued the first proclamation designating May 2006 as Jewish American Heritage Month. Since 2007 Presidents George W. Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden have issued proclamations for Jewish American Heritage Month. These proclamations celebrate the contributions of Jewish Americans and urge the people of the United States to learn more about Jewish Americans.