A Cool Culture In Our Community


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A graphic design of Jewish American Heritage Month

Katie Arnoult, Staff Writer

The month of May is, along with Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, also Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM). From latkes to Yom Kippur and everything in between, the Jewish culture is certainly unique.

On April 20, 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month,” states the Jewish Heritage Month website. The month of May was chosen because it marked the Anniversary of American Jewish History. With many other heritage months, there is a theme for each year. The 2021 JAHM theme is based on Rabbi Hillel’s most famous quote: “If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now – when?” The theme is also based on the work of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Montgomery.

“JAHM will highlight historical moments in which American Jewish communities demonstrated remarkable resilience and care for communities outside of their own, and also how diverse communities stood up for Jews in the face of antisemitism,” proclaims The Jewish Ledger news site, and independent news company for the Jewish community. 

According to Spoon University, some traditional Jewish foods are shakshuka, latkes, bagels and lox, gefilte fish, matzah brei, babka, knish and kugel. McAuliffe eighth-grader and ASB president Calvin Chait-Walter states that, “hands-down,” his favorite Jewish food is bagels and lox. “I’m really glad we’ve celebrated [JAHM] this year,” he shares. “It’s a big deal to me and other people.” Chait-Walter was one of the students who helped arrange the heritage month at McAuliffe.

Another important part of Jewish culture is the many holidays and festivities that take place during the year. Chait-Walter explains that Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday two weeks after the new year holiday. People who celebrate it apologize for wrong-doings, and they fast, meaning that they cannot have any food or water during a period of time. “Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—is considered the most important holiday in the Jewish faith,” according to the History website. Besides Yom Kippur, however, there are many more. 

Chantee Nguyen, also an eighth-grade ASB member who helped coordinate the JAHM event at McAuliffe explains, “As leaders on our campus, we should show the importance of acceptance, equality, and diversity. We celebrate JAHM to recognize Jewish students that attend our school community and make them feel included.” 

Overall, the Jewish American culture has brought a new aspect to the community. Time and time again, the many cultures and unique backgrounds around us enchant, educate and enhance.