Jewish American Heritage Month Kicks Off May 1, 2012

Apr 30, 2012, 15:14 ET from Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM)

CINCINNATI, April 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM), a national commemoration of the contributions that Jewish Americans have made to the fabric of American history, culture, and society, announces expanded plans for its 2012 celebration. The main priority of JAHM, observed annually in May, is to raise the national consciousness regarding contributions by Jewish Americans to our country's heritage through a variety of events and programs nationwide. JAHM's objective is to highlight history and culture across all 50 states.

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In his proclamation of April 30, 2010, President Barack Obama declared: "As leaders in every facet of American life … Jewish Americans have shaped our Nation and helped steer the course of our history." The first-ever White House reception in honor of JAHM was hosted by the President and First Lady Michelle Obama on May 27, 2010. The President has supported JAHM annually through events and proclamations. It was President George W. Bush who declared in 2006 that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month.

"As one who has been part of JAHM since its inception, we could not be happier that it is headquartered in Cincinnati. The Jewish contributions to our country have manifested themselves in diverse locations across the nation. Cincinnati, Ohio is a place in which significant portions of our history culminate. This includes the beginning of Manischewitz, the home of Reform Judaism and the contributions of Isaac Wise," noted Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of The American Jewish Archives (AJA) at Hebrew Union College­­–Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).

"We are proud to commence efforts for JAHM 2012. JAHM's objective increases tolerance and understanding and decreases anti-Semitism. We thank our major benefactors, including Empire Kosher Poultry Inc., Manischewitz and The Biography (BIO) Channel. JAHM is historically rich due to the high-level involvement of some of our nation's leading historians and their continued commitment," said JAHM national coordinator Jennifer Mooney, executive communications director for Northlich, a Cincinnati advertising agency.

JAHM 2012 is anticipated to be even more comprehensive in scope than previous years. A&E Networks' BIOChannel will feature profiles of well-known Jewish personalities. The five confirmed segments, airing 7/ 6c AM are:

  • May 1: Ben & Jerry. They both had a passion for food. In 1977 they took a $5 correspondence course to learn about ice-cream making. From there, Ben & Jerry's brand ice cream was born.
  • May 8: Jon Stewart. The New York native began his career as a stand-up comic, but transitioned into television as the hosts of MTV's first ever talk show. Stewart began hosting The Daily Show, which has become an icon for young people worldwide.
  • May 15: Dustin Hoffman. Clips from The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, Rain Man and other classics, plus an early 20th Century Fox screen test, highlight this portrait of screen legend Dustin Hoffman.
  • May 22: Billy Crystal. An in-depth look at the comic's life, from his childhood in New York as the son of a jazz concert promoter to his career on the comedy club circuit, which eventually led to a part in the small-screen hit Soap. Watch as Crystal follows his dreams to a role on Saturday Night Live and a series of memorable films.
  • May 29: Albert Einstein. Learn more about the man behind the theories: from his early years as a passionate young physicist to his move to the United States. This program covers Einstein's key theories and explores his work for international peace in his later years.

"We are excited to partner with JAHM for the third year in a row," said Libby O'Connell, senior vice president and chief historian at A&E Networks. "BIO's objective is to inform and engage viewers by giving them an insider's looks at the lives of exceptional people. We are pleased to expand this concept by educating teachers and students across America about the contributions of Jewish Americans."

BIO Classroom will air the JAHM profiles every Tuesday morning at 7/6c during the month of May in schools across the country. Additionally, BIO will support JAHM with cross-promotion between the organizations' websites.

JAHM is seeking additional corporate and foundation support to ensure the longevity of its mission. JAHM 2012 plans include increased educational outreach and resources; a PSA and media campaign; a national speakers' bureau; a traveling exhibition of Jewish American history; a national writing contest for middle-school students; expansion of the JAHM website ( and a national infrastructure for JAHM, including point persons in each state.

The JAHM Advisory Committee consists of leaders from major national organizations whose mission is the preservation of Jewish American history: the American Jewish Archives, the American Jewish Historical Society, Jewish Women's Archive, the National Museum of American Jewish History, the Council of American Jewish Museums, the Jewish Historical Society of Washington, D. C., and the Jewish Museum of Florida. The advisory committee also includes representatives from Manischewitz and Empire Kosher.

Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) is a national month of recognition of the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture, celebrated in May. JAHM acknowledges the achievements of Jewish Americans in fields ranging from sports and arts and entertainment to medicine, business, science, government and military service.

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