Library Resources for Jewish American Heritage Month

jewish heritage month

By Congressional resolution and Presidential proclamation in 2006, Jewish American Heritage Month is commemorated in May and is a national month of recognition of the more than 350 years of  Jewish contributions to American culture, acknowledging the diverse achievement of the Jewish community in the U.S. in fields ranging from sports, arts and entertainment to medicine, business, science, government and military service. Inau­gu­rat­ed in 1950, the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards awarded by the Jewish Book Council is the longest-run­ning North Amer­i­can awards pro­gram of its kind and is rec­og­nized as the most pres­ti­gious. The Awards are intend­ed to rec­og­nize authors, and encour­age read­ing, of out­stand­ing Eng­lish-lan­guage books of Jew­ish interest.  You are sure to find books of interest from among the current and past award winners and finalists in 18 categories. Below are listed some of the 2023 award winners and  some other recently published fiction and nonfiction titles (including biographies) available with your library card that highlight and speak to the Jew­ish expe­ri­ence through­out history.  Also listed are DVDs and online resources. Nonfiction Between Two Worlds : Jewish War Brides After the Holocaust by Robin Judd Historian Judd, whose grandmother survived the Holocaust and married an American soldier after liberation, introduces us to the Jewish women who lived through genocide and went on to wed American, Canadian, and British military personnel after the war. She offers an intimate portrait of how these unions emerged and developed-from meeting and courtship to marriage and immigration to life in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom-and shows how they helped shape the postwar world by touching thousands of lives, including those of the chaplains who officiated their weddings, the Allied authorities whose policy decisions structured the couples’ fates, and the bureaucrats involved in immigration and acculturation.  Bruno Schulz : An Artist, a Murder, and the Hijacking of History by Benjamin Balint (2023 Biography Winner) A biography of the Polish-Jewish writer and artist includes an account of the discovery of his last artworks–murals painted on the walls of a villa occupied by a Nazi officer–sixty years after his death and the complicated political dispute over the ownership of the murals. Cold Crematorium : Reporting From the Land of Auschwitz by Jozsef Debreczeni The first English language edition of a lost memoir by an Auschwitz survivor, offering a shocking and deeply moving perspective on life within the camps. When József Debreczeni, a prolific Hungarian-language journalist and poet, arrived in Auschwitz in 1944, his life expectancy was forty-five minutes. This was how long it took for the half-dead prisoners to be sorted into groups, stripped, and sent to the gas chambers. He beat the odds and survived the “selection,” which led to twelve horrifying months of incarceration and slave labor in a series of camps, ending in the “Cold Crematorium”-the so-called hospital of the forced labor camp Dörnhau, where prisoners too weak to work awaited execution. But as Soviet and Allied troops closed in on the camps, local Nazi commanders-anxious about the possible consequences of outright murder-decided to leave the remaining prisoners to die. Debreczeni survived the liberation of Auschwitz and immediately recorded his experiences in Cold Crematorium, one of the harshest, most merciless indictments of Nazism ever written. This haunting memoir, rendered in the precise and unsentimental prose of an accomplished journalist, is an eyewitness account of incomparable literary quality. The Counterfeit Countess: The Jewish Woman Who Rescued Thousands of Poles During the Holocaust by Elizabeth B. White White tells the remarkable, unknown story of “Countess Janina Suchodolska,” a Jewish woman who rescued more than 10,000 Poles imprisoned by Poland’s Nazi occupiers. Mehlberg operated in Lublin, Poland, headquarters of Aktion Reinhard, the SS operation that murdered 1.7 million Jews in occupied Poland. Using the identity papers of a Polish aristocrat, she worked as a welfare official while also serving in the Polish resistance. With guile, cajolery, and steely persistence, the “Countess” persuaded SS officials to release thousands of Poles from the Majdanek concentration camp. She won permission to deliver food and medicine–even decorated Christmas trees–for thousands more of the camp’s prisoners. At the same time, she personally smuggled supplies and messages to resistance fighters imprisoned at Majdanek, where 63,000 Jews were murdered in gas chambers and shooting pits. Incredibly, she eluded detection, and ultimately survived the war and emigrated to the US. Exploring American Jewish History Through 50 Historic Treasures by Avi Y. Decter This full-color book offers students and general readers new perspectives on the rich complexity of Jewish experiences in America. Each of the treasures is described in historical, material, and visual contexts, offering readers new, unexpected insights into the meanings of Jewish life, history, and culture. Happily : A Personal History, With Fairy Tales by Sabrina Orah Mark (2023 Autobiography & Memoir Winner) Through twen­ty-six essays, Mark breath­less­ly leaps between her fam­i­ly his­to­ry and the metaphors hid­den in fairy tales. Her life’s jour­ney has moved her from a Brook­lyn yeshi­va upbring­ing in a divorced home in the sev­en­ties and eight­ies to a more rur­al Geor­gia, where she is a writer and the moth­er of two Black Jew­ish sons.  The fairy tales offer her a way to probe her own appre­hen­sions about being a moth­er, a step­moth­er, a third wife, and the daugh­ter of an unsen­ti­men­tal moth­er.  The Jewish Holiday Table : A World of Recipes, Traditions, and Stories to Celebrate All Year Long by Naama Shefi From Rosh Hashanah and Passover to Hanukkah and weekly shabbat dinners, this joyous celebration of all the Jewish holidays offers a treasury of 130 recipes gathered from 30 influential chefs and food professionals around the globe, whose shared stories illuminate the diversity of the Jewish diaspora and its cuisine.  Judaism is About Love : Recovering the Heart of Jewish Life by Shai Held A profound, startling new understanding of Jewish life, illuminating the forgotten heart of Jewish theology and practice: love. The Land of Hope and Fear : Israel’s Battle For Its Inner Soul by Isabel Kershner An urgent, wide-ranging portrait of the