By Georgia Slater
With over 6,500 Jewish students attending the University of Maryland, according to the Maryland Hillel website, it would make sense for many students to be familiar with Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) occurring in May. However, most students do not participate or recognize the month. Some feel that more could be done.
In April 2006, President George W. Bush declared that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month, according to the JAHM website. The month celebrates over 350 years of Jewish contributions to American culture and, since its forming, several programs have taken place across the country.
Just miles away from the university’s campus, some of D.C.’s most famous sites such as the Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institution have joined in raising consciousness about the Jewish Americans contributions. However, the month does not have as much recognition here on campus.
Sophomore criminology and criminal justice major Talia Stewart has never heard of JAHM, however she still believes that she can celebrate her heritage in many other ways on campus.
“Besides being involved in a Jewish sorority, I also am very involved with MEOR and Hillel,” said Stewart. “I am the VP of Programming for MEOR, so I help plan programs for the organization, as well as attend Shabbat dinners every Friday evening. I also celebrate many holidays through Hillel, and I am a part of the Hillel Greek Life Fellowship, which works to get Jewish students in Greek organizations more involved with the Maryland Jewish community.”
Senior family science major Miriam Pomerantz is also not familiar with JAHM, but finds other ways on campus to promote her Jewish culture. Pomerantz recently worked on the National Hillel Basketball Tournament as well as the Jewish Women’s Leadership Conference months prior.
“I think that more people should know about this month and the significance of what it is because it serves such an important purpose,” said Pomerantz.
MEOR Assistant Director Devora Jaye has not heard of JAHM in the past, but said that creating at least a Facebook event or hosting some kind of festival might be a good way to get students involved.
Hillel Program and Operations Associate Alyssa Silva had only heard of the event last year when she was invited by the White House to the Eisenhower Executive Office for a film screening and celebration of JAHM, and also believes that much more could be done on campus.
“I think more could be done on campus and all over the United Stated to help celebrate Jewish heritage month. Not many people know that this month exists, and would be so happy to know that our country celebrates and appreciates our history, culture, and the many ways we have helped build this country into the thriving, free nation we know today,” said Silva.