Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM), a national commemoration of the contributions that American Jews have made to the fabric of our nation’s history, culture, and society, announces the theme for the May 2017 celebration. This year, JAHM celebrates American Jews who have made a significant impact in the field of medical research. Now in its 12th year, JAHM encourages people of all backgrounds to learn about and draw inspiration from the more than 360-year history of Jewish life in this country.
“The stories of American Jews are woven into the rich history of this diverse nation,” says Ivy Barsky, CEO and Gwen Goodman Director of the National Museum of American Jewish History. “By celebrating JAHM, we honor the values of inclusion, acceptance, and religious liberty cherished by this country. This year’s focus on American Jews in Medical Research invites deeper exploration of one of the many facets of American life impacted by this community.”
According to Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and a member of JAHM’s Board of Directors, “The Jewish experience in America constitutes a soaring tribute to the noble ideals upon which this republic was founded. It is a timely story that will lift our national spirit by assuring us that liberty and opportunity ultimately triumph over bigotry and divisiveness.”
“The celebration of a nationwide Jewish American Heritage Month is now in its second decade and it has never been so important,” shares Greg Rosenbaum, President of Palisades Associates, Inc. and member of JAHM’s Board of Directors. “In nervous times where anti-Jewish sentiments and actions appear to be on the rise, telling the story of Jewish contributions to making all Americans’ lives better is a way to educate our fellow citizens and counter stereotypes.”
JAHM’s 2017 theme provides an opportunity to recognize the many American Jews who have made invaluable contributions to the field of medical research. American history is full of notable examples. Biochemist Gertrude Elion (1918-1999) developed life-saving drugs, including the first chemotherapy for childhood leukemia and treatments for lupus, hepatitis, arthritis, gout, and other diseases. Virologist Jonas Salk (1914-1995) created the first vaccines against polio, and geneticist Baruch Blumberg (1925-2011) both discovered the Hepatitis B virus and helped develop the first vaccine to prevent it. Mathilde Krim (b. 1926), the founding chair amfAR (the American Foundation for AIDS Research), received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000 for her commitment to AIDS patients and research; neuroscientist Eric Richard Kandel (b. 1929) received the 2000 Nobel Prize for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in neurons; and medical physicist Rosalyn S. Yalow (1921-2011) became the second woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine when she shared the 1977 prize for her work in the development of radioimmunoassay, a technique used to measure minute amounts of substances in the body. The groundbreaking medical research conducted by these dedicated individuals, among countless others, continues to improve and save lives.
JAHM’s interactive website, JAHM.us, provides educational resources to facilitate the nationwide engagement around this year’s celebration. All are encouraged to submit their JAHM-related events to the calendar, whether it is an exhibition, concert, gallery talk, film screening, lecture, or other program. Website visitors will also find stories about American Jews, a historical timeline, lesson plans, reading lists, programming ideas, and more.
Visit JAHM.us for more information and updates in the lead-up to JAHM.