May 13

The Marketeers Club: Jewish American Heritage Month

Emily Giller is UNP’s Exhibits Coordinator/Media Planner and has a secret talent for drawing and painting. 

On April 20, 2006, former president George W. Bush proclaimed that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month. This proclamation gave recognition to the history of the United States and the Jews that helped build that history.

Throughout the month of May we remember and commemorate Jewish American innovators, such as Albert Einstein. We celebrate the artists Marc Chagall, Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg, and Annie Leibovitz. And we pay tribute to the ground breakers, such as Hank Greenberg and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

As Elie Wiesel said, “I marvel at the resilience of the Jewish people. Their best characteristic is their desire to remember. No other people has such an obsession with memory.” It is with the memories of their past that the Jews can celebrate their achievements and the future those achievements provide.

HiltonI am proud to say that I work for a press that cares so deeply about the history of the Jewish people. The Jewish Publication Society (JPS), a partner of the University of Nebraska Press (UNP), has made promoting Jewish literacy its mission for more than 125 years, which is evident in the beautiful books that are published every year. From the shocking anti-Semitic images in Hatemail to the rituals mentioned in Bar Mitzvah: A History by Rabbi Michael Hilton, to the modern retelling of Talmud tales in A Bride for One Night by Israeli Knesset member, Ruth Calderon, JPS and UNP have helped give a voice to Jewish culture, issues, traditions, and heritage.

These books, plus so many others, help serve as a reminder of the past. The Jewish Book Council is also celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month by promoting its favorite Jewish titles.

Whether you read a book from our press or another press, it’s important to remember that every author has a unique tale to tell and we as readers need to take it upon ourselves to listen and learn from these stories. Whether they are stories about the Holocaust, tales about Jewish tradition, or even stories about Jews who have contributed to baseball history, there is something out there for everyone.

My challenge to you as a reader is to select a book that relates to Jewish history and consider how that particular story contributed to the history of the United States. It’s hard to appreciate what we have in the present if we can’t first recognize where it started in the past.

-Emily