WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama emphasized Jewish military service in his proclamation naming May as Jewish American History Month.
"Jewish Americans have defended our country since the days of the American Revolution as devoted service members and chaplains, and they continue to serve with distinction in our Armed Forces," he said in the proclamation issued April 29.
The order recalled the World War II sinking of the USS Dorchester, in which a Jewish chaplain joined with two Protestant chaplains and a Catholic chaplain in giving up their life jackets to servicemen and going down with the ship in prayer.
"In a time of great need, these chaplains showed that their shared commitment to the lives of others was stronger than any division of faith or background," Obama said. "This same spirit is found in the countless Jewish Americans who, through their everyday actions, work to provide a better life for future generations by joining hands with all who seek equality and progress."
The president also recalled President Harry Truman’s recognition of Israel within minutes of its 1948 establishment.
"To this day, we continue to foster an unbreakable partnership with Israel, and we remain committed to pursuing peace in the region and ensuring Israel’s security," Obama said.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, also issued a statement marking the month, which became law in 2006 following an initiative by Rep. Debbie Wasseman Schultz (D-Fla.).
"Nearly every facet of American life bears the mark of Jewish values," Pelosi said. "To pursue justice and peace; to serve our neighbors and those in need; to seek the common good; and to perfect our union and our world."