The Jewish community is no stranger to the antisemitism thrown their way throughout history. Jewish Americans continue to face antisemitic sentiments in popular media and everyday life. Even though a lot has changed throughout the years, there is still so much that needs to be done to ensure that Jewish Americans do not feel belittled or ostracized. Similar to other minority groups, America has decided to dedicate a month in which a group, in this case, the Jewish community, is celebrated for their contributions to America. However, it is also important to note that a person does not need to perform or produce something in order to be treated like a human being, having a month where the Jewish community is celebrated for what they have done is both needed and deserved. To celebrate Jewish Heritage Month, it is important to highlight some important figures throughout American history.
Bob Dylan (Robert Allen Zimmerman) is often regarded as one of the best singers/songwriters in history, and he also happens to be a Jewish-American. Born in Duluth, Minnesota to Abe and Betty Zimmerman and the family later moved to Hibbing, Minnesota. Their move to Hibbing proved to be influential to a young Bob Dylan because of the large and active Jewish community present, his parents also took roles within the community. Through Dylan’s music, he pointed out injustices in America, and through his music, he was able to bring these topics to a larger audience.
Another influential Jewish entertainer is Idina Menzel. Born in Queens, New York in 1971. Many may know her through her portrayal of Elsa in Frozen and Frozen 2, but she also has a rich history of Broadway work. Menzel has appeared in Rent (which happened to be her debut), Aida, and Wicked. She has also been nominated for three Tony Awards and in 2004 she won Lead Actress for her role as Elphaba in Wicked. She continues to be an influential figure within Broadway, while also advocating for women's empowerment.
Transitioning to important Jewish-American political figures, we turn our attention to Bernie Sanders. Sanders was born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a Bachelor’s in political science. Throughout his youth, Sanders was at the front lines of rallies fighting for equality, and that attitude is something that he has carried on with him and his political career. Some of these stances include eliminating private prisons, cancelation of student debt, making college free, and raising teacher’s wages. Sanders is currently a junior senator of Vermont.
Although I have only highlighted three influential members of the Jewish community, it is important to acknowledge those who have worked tirelessly to share their work or their ideals. Throughout the month of May, we should seek out and learn more about Jewish-Americans and the way that they have contributed to society. While doing so, we may just find a new favorite song, television show, or piece of literature.