May is Jewish American Heritage Month. As children we learned that in “1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” But did you know that it was a Jew who first spotted land? Rodrigo De Triana was one of seven Jewish men who sailed with the famous explorer. Ever since reaching the New World, Jews worked hard to make this their home. From the humblest beginnings as peddlers, they not only worked their way up but they made America better. From basketball to blue jeans, we have a lot to be proud of!
1. Levi Strauss, an immigrant from Germany, invented blue jeans in 1873.
2. The words “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” came from a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883.
3. Yip Harburg, born to Yiddish-speaking parents from Minsk, wrote the lyrics to “Over the Rainbow.”
4. Alfred Eisenstaedt was one of the most prolific photographers of the 20th century. He captured a spontaneous moment that summed up the euphoria that Americans felt as World War II was coming to a close - “V-J Day in Times Square” - also known as “The Kiss.”
5. Basketball star Ossie Schectman scored the first basket in the first US pro league match in 1946.
6. Scientist Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccine in 1955.
7. Baseball player Sandy Koufax refused to play in the first game of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur.
8. Jerry Seinfeld was ranked 12th out of 100 by Comedy Central as one of the greatest comedians of all time.
9. Bob Dylan, born Robert Allan Zimmerman, chronicled the 1960’s social unrest with his music. Throughout his 5-decade career, he’s won 11 Grammy’s, has been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2012.
10. If you’ve found this post through Facebook, you have Mark Zuckerberg to thank!