Approximately 7.5 million Jews live in the United States, more than in any other country in the world, including Israel. In May, the city of Beverly Hills will celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month for the first time, hosting activities that explore Jewish identity and celebrate Jewish culture.
Details are still being finalized, but during a discussion at the March 7 City Council study session, Vice Mayor Julian Gold said that while the activities should acknowledge antisemitism, it is important the city focus on celebrating Jewish life, not threats against it.
“I think this should be a positive expression of the impact Jews have made on America,” Gold said.
Gold recommended the city host cooking competitions for Jewish foods like rugelach, a pastry resembling a miniature croissant that originated in Poland and has spread across the Jewish diaspora.
He also suggested the city plan events in conjunction with local synagogues and Jewish schools while making efforts to involve residents outside of the Jewish community, reaching out to different religious groups as well as the Beverly Hills Unified School District.
Councilman John Mirisch said the city should host screenings of Jewish films and spark dialogue about what it means to be Jewish in modern America. He recounted a magazine article documenting how “Jewish voices” are disappearing from universities and other public institutions, and suggested the city contact the article’s author to lead a roundtable discussion about Jewish identity.
According to a staff report, the city is also considering creating a special collection at the Beverly Hills Public Library, compiling a bibliography of resources on the city’s website, hosting a musical performance at the farmers’ market and a discussion with the Human Relations Commission.
The council first began discussing Jewish American Heritage Month after Mayor Lili Bosse returned from the Combating Antisemitism Summit in Greece late last year. According to Bosse, the city has already implemented many of the initiatives she discussed with leaders at the summit, including promoting interfaith activities and passing a resolution defining antisemitism.
Still, recognizing Jewish American Heritage Month presents a new opportunity for the city to celebrate Jewish history and culture, she said.
“You have enthusiastic support, and I am looking forward to it,” Bosse said, following a report by interim director of community services Stephanie Harris.
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