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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 24, 1998




America's first Jewish immigrants arrived on our shores from Europe more than 100 years before the American Revolution. In subsequent decades, millions more Jewish men and women would follow, fleeing persecution, pogroms, and the horrors of the Holocaust, seeking a new life of freedom and opportunity for themselves and their children. While many came here in poverty, they brought with them the riches of their ancient Jewish heritage: faith in God; a strong commitment to family and community; a tradition of service to others; and a deep love of learning and the arts.

Drawing on these many strengths, Jewish citizens have made extraordinary contributions to every aspect of American life. Acutely conscious of the dangers of racism, prejudice, and political oppression, American Jews have been strong and effective advocates in the cause of social justice. They have dedicated their energies, talents, and resources to ensure that our Nation lives up to its promise of equality, making a lasting impact in the struggle for civil rights, labor reform, and women's equality. The Jewish philanthropic tradition, dating back to ancient times, has flourished in America, bringing hope and help to those in need through numerous Jewish charitable organizations and activities. In public service and education, in science and medicine, in entertainment, law, the arts, and many other fields of endeavor, Jewish men and women strengthen our national community and uphold the fundamental American ideals of faith, community, compassion, and responsibility.

Every spring, we set aside this special time to celebrate the many gifts that American Jews bring to our national life. This year, we also join with Jews around the world in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the modern state of Israel. This milestone is a tribute to the strength and resilience of the Jewish spirit in the face of great adversity. Israel's achievements in the past 5 decades of challenge and conflict continue to inspire all Americans and teach us anew the power of the human spirit to build reality out of our dreams.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 26 through May 3, 1998, as Jewish Heritage Week. I urge all Americans to observe this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-second.


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