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May 4, 2018  RSS feed
World News

Text: T T T

May recognizes Jewish contributions to American music

Fanny Brice and Barbra Streisand as Brice in Funny Girl Fanny Brice and Barbra Streisand as Brice in Funny Girl The month of May marks the United States’ commemoration of Jewish American Heritage Month, a time dedicated to educating our community about the contributions Jewish Americans have made and continue to make to American culture and society.

Music, the theme of this year’s Jewish American Heritage Month, provides an opportunity to recognize the many American Jews who have helped create the nation’s soundtrack, from patriotic anthems and classical compositions to Broadway scores and rock and roll.

There are numerous examples of composers, conductors, lyricists, musicians and singers who have been shaped by American life, society and culture and in turn enriched America’s musical repertoire:

• Songwriter Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was an Eastern European immigrant who produced timeless hits, including “God Bless America,” while fighting for the United States in World War I.

West Side Story composer Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), whose centennial birthday is currently being observed worldwide, used the power of music to respond to the political and social crises of his day.

• Singer Fanny Brice (1891- 1951), the child of Jewish immigrants, delighted audiences with her vaudeville acts, inspiring a stage and film portrayal by another widely successful singer and global stage and screen sensation

• Barbra Streisand (b. 1942 is one of only a handful of artists to have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony awards. With the 1983 release of the Jewish-themed Yentl, she became the first woman to write, produce, direct, and star in a major studio film.

• Chart-topping hits have been produced by Bob Dylan (b. 1941), Carole King (b. 1942), Paul Simon (b. 1941), Regina Spektor (b. 1980) and many more.

About Jewish American Heritage Month

On April 20, 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month. The announcement was the crowning achievement in an effort by the Jewish Museum of Florida, led by then executive director Marcia Zerivitz, that resulted in resolutions introduced by U.S. Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, urging the president to proclaim a month that would recognize the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture. The resolutions passed unanimously, first in the House of Representatives in December 2005 and later in the Senate in February 2006.

Each year since, the president has issued a proclamation recognizing the month-long event. In this year’s proclamation, President Donald Trump said, said that “Jewish Americans have helped guide the moral character of our nation.”

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