Mayor Bruce Teague proclaimed May as Jewish American Heritage Month in Iowa City during the Tuesday, May 3, 2022, City Council meeting. The full proclamation can be read here.

According to the American Jewish Archives, in 1654, after Portugal recaptured Brazil and expelled Jews and Protestants, a ship carrying twenty-three Jewish people arrived in New Amsterdam (modern day New York City). These were the first Jewish people to make this country their home. Now, 368 years later, we celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) and acknowledge the invaluable contributions and achievements - past and present - of Jewish people. The celebration originated in 1980 with Jewish American Week, according to the University of Alabama DEI. Efforts from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Penn.) assisted in establishing the annual recognition, and President George W. Bush authorized JAHM in 2006. It has been celebrated annually since then.

JAHM honors Jewish Americans and their achievements that have built our nation. Jewish people in Iowa have made notable contributions to all aspects of our society and culture. Examples include: Moses Bloom, the mayor of Iowa City from 1873 to 1875 and the first Jewish mayor of an American city; Libbie Hyman of Des Moines, author of the 1919 volume A Laboratory Manual for Elementary Zoology;  and Phillip Roth, an American novelist who taught at the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop in 1960.

Jewish Americans have had to show unwavering resilience for generations. Alongside Jewish American accomplishments is a history of racism, bigotry, and other forms of injustice, including anti-Semitism. As our Nation works to heal these wounds, JAHM aims to acknowledge the Jewish American efforts for a more just society as they lead social justice movements, ensure others have opportunities, and provide service in all areas.

You can celebrate JAHM in several ways: visit a Jewish museum, learn about Jewish history in a book or podcast, listen to Jewish music, or support a Jewish organization.

The proclamation was accepted by Human Rights Commissioner Mark Pries.

Date of publication

Wednesday, May 04, 2022