May is Jewish American Heritage Month

Check out these programs

May is Jewish American Heritage Month

Jewish American Heritage MonthJewish American Heritage Month (JAHM), established by law in 2006, is an annual recognition and celebration of Jewish American achievements and contributions to American history and culture observed during the month of May.

In 2012, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential proclamation about the month. "Generations of Jewish Americans have brought to bear some of our country's greatest achievements and forever enriched our national life. As a product of heritage and faith, they have helped open our eyes to injustice, to people in need, and to the simple idea that we might recognize ourselves in the struggles of our fellow men and women."

The DC Public Library is hosting a series of events at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library intended to highlight the accomplishments and contributions of Jewish Americans to American culture. These events will take place at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library located at 901 G St. NW.  All events are free and open to the public.

EXHIBIT:  Jewish Life In Mr. Lincoln's City
This exhibit is on loan to the DC Public Library from the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington

May 20 through June 7
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Second Floor West Lobby
One of the most important events in our nation's history, the Civil War forever altered American life. Washington, D.C. and Alexandria were sites of intense activity. This original exhibition was mounted as part of national celebrations of Lincoln's bicentennial in 2009, and tells stories of Jewish life in Civil-War Washington. The fifteen-panel exhibit also highlights the contributions of Jewish Americans to military service, government, politics, and medicine.

Jewish Life In Mr. Lincoln's City

Wednesday, May 22, Noon
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Second Floor West Lobby
Mr. David McKenzie, Interpretive Programs Manager of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington will discuss the award-winning exhibit "Jewish Life In Mr. Lincoln's City." Mr. McKenzie will discuss the experiences and contributions of Jewish Americans to Civil War and the growing Jewish-American community in Washington, D.C. Come and learn more about the lives and experiences of Jewish Americans in Civil War Washington, D.C.

Monday, May 20 at 6:30 p.m.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, Second Floor, Room 220
Award-winning local poet Jean Nordhaus will read from selections of poetry.  Her newest book of poems, Innocence, won the Charles B. Wheeler prize from Ohio State University Press. Her previous book, The Porcelain Apes of Moses Mendelssohn, was published by Milkweed Editions; a selection of her these poems won the 1997 Edward Stanley Award from Prairie Schooner. Ms. Nordhaus' other books include My Life in Hiding, which won a Colladay award from Quarterly Review of Literature. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Hudson Review, The New Republic, Poetry, Best American Poetry 2000, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology.  In addition, Nordhaus has published articles, essays, and reviews on dance and poetry in The Washington Post and many other publications.  Jean Nordhaus is a founding member of the Capitol Hill Poetry Group, a group of poets who meet weekly in Washington, DC.


May 23,  1-3:30 p.m.
Drama: The Chosen  Auditorium A-5
The drama, The Chosen is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Chaim Potok published in 1967. It stars Maximilian Schell, Rod Steiger, Robby Benson and Barry Miller. The film won three awards at the 1981 Montréal World Film Festival. This film tells the story of a Jewish American community in Brooklyn near the conclusion of the Second World War. Reuven Malter is a middle class modern orthodox Jewish teenager, and the son of a dedicated Zionist. At a pickup baseball game, Reuven meets Danny Saunders, another Jewish teenage boy, who is from a strict Hassidic family. Their initial meeting is one of enmity, but the boys go on to form an unlikely friendship. Their complicated friendship is strained by historical events such as the Holocaust, the creation of the State of Israel and their decisions about their futures add to their personal drama.

May 30, 1-3:30 p.m.
Drama: Angel Levine - Auditorium A-5
This 1970 drama was directed by Jan Kadar and based on a short story by Bernard Malamud about an impoverished New York City tailor (Zero Mostel) who is unable to work due to health problems, which creates a financial strain since his wife (Ida Kaminska) is seriously ill. The tailor's faith is challenged when a man calling himself Alexander Levine (Harry Belafonte) comes into his life, claiming to be his guardian angel. The angel is concerned that he must make the tailor believe in his mission, or else he will be unable to earn his angelic wings.

June 6, 1-3:30 p.m.
Documentary Film: They Came for Good  - Auditorium A-5
They Came for Good - A History of the Jews in the United States - Present at the Creation, 1654-1820. The story of early immigration of Jews to the United States is told in the first installment of a series originally shown on PBS.  The second installment, Taking Root, 1820-1880, examines the role of Jews in American history.

If you wish to learn more about Jewish American culture, history and heritage please search the DC Public Library Catalog.

For more information about these programs, please contact the Information Services Department at 202-727-1161.