Washington, D.C. – Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), dean of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, released the following statement today:
Jewish American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the contributions that Jewish-Americans have made to American life. We recognize Jewish-American leaders of the past, people like Albert Einstein, the father of modern physics who called for the abolition of nuclear weapons, which he said “threaten the continued existence of mankind”.
This month we honor Jewish-Americans Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, and African-American James Chaney, who together were murdered for their civil rights work in Mississippi in the Freedom Summer of 1964.
We thank Jewish-American leaders of today, people like Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan. Elena Kagan showed her sense of humor during her nomination hearings, when Senator Lindsay Graham asked her where she was on Christmas Day: “You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.”
Jewish-American Heritage Month is a time to see the bright futures of young Jewish-Americans in our communities, including the twenty high school students doing leadership training and community service as Diller Teen Fellows through the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston.
Like many people in America, Jewish-Americans came to America fleeing persecution. This month, we remember the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. We protest the genocide in Sudan.
Jewish-American Heritage Month, and in fact any month, is a great time to speak up when you hear someone put down because of their religion (or lack thereof), gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability. The Southern Poverty Law Center counted 10 active hate groups in Massachusetts in 2010, and 1,002 groups nationwide.
I close with the words of Hillel, one of the most important people in Jewish history. His words are more than 2000 years old, but they ring true today: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?" Each of us must stand up for ourselves, knowing as we do that we are all equal and connected to our fellows. And now is always a good time to do the right thing.

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