Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) is observed during the month of May, and recognizes the contributions and influence of American Jews on the history, culture and achievements of the United States.

Please join us as we celebrate important figures within the Jewish American community and their impacts, area events to spread awareness, and amplify Jewish voices near and far.

Ways to Celebrate:

Important Figures in the JAHM Community: 

  • Barbara Walters– Born in Boston, Barbara Walters broke barriers for women as the first female co-host of the “Today” show and first female anchor for an evening news program. Walters spent more than 50 years in front of the camera, appearing on “The View” and conducting one-on-one high-profile interviews.
  • Florence Prag Kahn – Following the death of her husband, Julius Kahn, a US Representative from San Francisco, Florence Prag Kahn (D-California) ran in a special Congressional election held on February 17, 1925. With her victory, Prag became the first Jewish woman and only the fifth woman to serve in Congress. She was reelected five times, serving until 1937.
  • Gertrude Elion– Gertrude “Trudy” Elion was a Biochemist whose research and work helped revolutionize the the field of medicine and pharma. In 1988, she became the 5th female Nobel laureate in Medicine. Among the many drugs she developed were the first chemotherapy for childhood leukemia, the immunosuppressant that made organ transplantation possible, the first effective anti-viral medication, and treatments for lupus, hepatitis, arthritis, gout, and other diseases.
  • Gilda Radner– Gilda Radner was an award-winning actress and comedian known for her work on Saturday Night Live. Radner remained on the show for 5 years, winning an Emmy for her work and paving the way for many future female comedians to follow on SNL.was an award-winning actress and comedian known for her work on Saturday Night Live. Radner remained on the show for 5 years, winning an Emmy for her work and paving the way for many future female comedians to follow on SNL.
  • Gloria Steinem– Gloria Steinem is a journalist, lecturer, political activist, and nationally recognized leader of the second-wave of feminism in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus which provides training and support for women who seek elected and appointed offices in government.
  • Lillian Copeland– Lillian Copeland was an American track and field Olympic champion athlete, who excelled in discus, javelin throwing, and shot put, setting multiple world records. She has been called “the most successful female discus thrower in U.S. history.”
  • Paula Abdul– Paula Abdul is an American singer, choreographer, dancer, actress, and television personality. Her debut studio album Forever Your Girl (1988) became one of the most successful debut albums at that time, selling seven million copies in the United States and setting a record for the most number-one singles from a debut album on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
  • Raffi Freedman-Gurspan– Raffi Freedman-Gurspan was born in an indigenous region of Honduras but adopted and raised by a Jewish American family in Brookline. Appointed by President Biden, Freedman-Gurspan currently serves as a Senior Associate Director for Public Engagement and the White House’s primary liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. She is the first openly transgender person to work at the White House.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg– Affectionately called “R.B.G.” by her supporters, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has inspired generations of women to break gender barriers. Even after facing gender discrimination as she pursued her academic goals, Ginsburg forged ahead and became the second woman and first Jewish woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Watch, Listen and Read:

Educational Resources: