May, Jewish American heritage Month has come and gone. Although I worked in a more than a few public schools in Florida I never saw one lesson plan or poster disseminating that information. There weren’t any morning announcements informing students of the people and heritage being honored as is the norm during the month honoring a different culture. May, like February, which is African American History Month was designated and signed into law by Congress and signed by George W. Bush in 2006. A question every Jew should be asking is why black history is shoved down the throat of every school child and our Jewish heritage and contributions ignored.
During the month of February, bulletin boards are festooned with reports and drawings of Matthew Henson, Mary Mc Leod Bethune, and of course Martin Luther King. Students are never taught that the civil rights movement was supported and propelled by Jewish lawyers, rabbis, and students. Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwermer were murdered because they stood with Martin Luther King for integrating the South and registering blacks to vote. Their deaths are never mentioned. How many people know that the NAACP was started by Jews, for the benefit of blacks, who at the time found no insult in being called “colored.”
How many children will graduate from high school believing that blacks were the only people taken and owned as slaves and never learn that slavery is still perpetuated around the world? I’m disgusted that school children know the name of Crispus Attucks as the first man to be killed in the Revolutionary War, but don’t know the name Chaim Solomon, who financed the war and died broke. Why don’t children learn that the first Jews arrived here in 1654 and that Charleston, South Carolina had the largest and most prosperous Jewish population in the US in the 1800’s.
Why don’t our children learn how Jewish doctors vanquished the scourge of polio by discovering the polio vaccine and that Jewish scientists like Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Teller helped win World War II from Los Alamos. Why don’t they learn about the beginning of Hollywood and the immigrants who came from nothing and built an entertainment industry rivaled nowhere in the world?. Seventh Ave. was the home of the schmatta business and where Ralph Lauren, nee Lipschitz and Calvin Klein got their starts. Jews are intrinsically linked with the freedom and wealth of this country and instead of celebrating our achievements we not only diminish them, but disregard them.
Federations put a lot of money into “ Holocaust studies” Funny how that works. Although students are treated to the horrors of concentration camps, the terror European Jews faced on a daily basis, and the result of anti- Semitic hatred ,it not only continues but is perpetuated by lies against Israel. Federations and Jewish education groups like CAJE, grant money and resources to groups like the New Israel Fund that are Jewish in name only. It’s time that these organizations finance an education that teach young Jews to be proud of their heritage and gentiles to respect our contributions to this country. Otherwise, just like in Germany, Poland, and Russia, we will be crying and wondering how such hatred and horror could happen again; this time in the country where Irving Berlin, a Jew ,wrote the words to ” G-d Bless America.”