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By virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution of Virginia in the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is hereby officially recognized:

Jewish American Heritage Month

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth of Virginia has been a pioneer for religious freedom and tolerance since before the birth of our nation, and Jewish people have lived and thrived in Virginia dating back to 1585 when a tradesman settled in Sir Walter Raleigh’s Roanoke Colony; and

WHEREAS, many others of the Jewish faith followed, including those who established Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome in 1789, the first Jewish congregation in Virginia; and

WHEREAS, The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia was ratified in 1776 and provided at Article 1. Section 16, Free exercise of religion, no establishment of religion, that all “are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion;” and

WHEREAS, in 1777 in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Thomas Jefferson drafted a bill titled the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, enacted into law on January 16, 1786, which guaranteed that no one “shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion;” and

WHEREAS, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom has been described as the “bellwether for religious liberty,” and since its passage has been referenced by other states when debating constitutional and legislative content; and

WHEREAS, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom deeply influenced what would become the text of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” and

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth can be proud of the historic and profound mark Virginia has made in establishing and promoting religious freedom; and

WHEREAS, on inauguration day, the Commission to Combat Antisemitism was formed through Executive Order eight, to take a leadership role in combating and reducing acts of antisemitism and ensure religious liberty and tolerance for all citizens; and

WHEREAS, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism inclusive of its contemporary examples of antisemitism is recognized as a crucial tool in identifying the many manifestations of antisemitism; and

WHEREAS, in 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed the month of May as Jewish American Heritage Month to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of the Jewish people to the United States of America since its founding, and every United States president since that time has issued similar proclamations annually; and

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth of Virginia acknowledges and commends the significant contributions the Jewish people in Virginia have made, affirms a strong commitment to ensure that Virginia is a vibrant and safe state for Jews to live, thrive, freely observe their faith, and contribute actively to the cultural and religious fabric of Virginia;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Glenn Youngkin, do hereby recognize May 2023, as JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH in the COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of our citizens.