On Tuesday evening, May 31, 2016, Dr. Gary P. Zola was in conversation with Erin Mast, executive director of President Lincoln's Cottage, at the Annual Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) Lecture in Washington D.C. The event was presented by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington in partnership with the National Archives, The Foundation for Jewish Studies, and President Lincoln’s Cottage.
The evening program, which began at 7:00 p.m. at the National Archives' William G. McGowan Theater, focused on tracing President Lincoln’s fascinating connection with and legacy among Jewish Americans. Using newspaper clippings, letters, poems, and sermons — many never published before — Dr. Zola discussed why Lincoln was given the affectionate title “Rabbi” by America’s small, but growing Jewish population. Zola is the author of the recent volume on the nation’s 16th president: We Called Him Rabbi Abraham: Lincoln and American Jewry, a Documentary History. “Dr. Zola reminds us of the importance of archives in preserving and sharing the stories forgotten by history,” noted Laura Cohen Apelbaum, Executive Director of The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington.
“Jewish American Heritage Month provided us with a valuable opportunity to bring the contributions that Jews have made to the development of the American nation into bold relief,” explained Dr. Zola. “It was a privilege for me to contribute to this unique roundtable exchange on the American Jewish experience, which was sponsored by The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington.”
Dr. Zola is a scholar of the American Jewish experience. He is the Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and the Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of American Jewish Experience & Reform Jewish History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.
Zola has authored or edited numerous volumes and articles on American Jewry and has been a prominent spokesman for JAHM since it was proclaimed by President George W. Bush in 2006. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Zola to serve as a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, an independent agency of the Federal government. Established by Public Law in 1985, the Commission exists to foster the preservation and protection of the cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings associated with the foreign heritage of United States citizens.
ABOUT JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH: By Congressional resolution and Presidential proclamation, May is Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM). A national month of recognition of the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture, JAHM acknowledges the achievements of American Jews in fields ranging from sports and arts and entertainment to medicine, business, science, government, and military service.