The American Jewish Congress has been a legacy organization of the Jewish community for over 100 years, working to defend Jewish interests at home and abroad through public policy, advocacy, legislation, and the courts. Founded by great American Jewish leaders, such as Albert Einstein, former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and U.S. Supreme Court Justices Louis Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter. The American Jewish Congress first convened in Philadelphia’s historic Independence Hall in 1918 to lay the groundwork for a national democratic organization of Jewish leaders, to rally for equal rights for all Americans. Today, the American Jewish Congress helps shape the Jewish voice of tomorrow.
The American Jewish Congress was the first of the big three Jewish organizations to be outspoken supporters for the founding of the State of Israel, and was fearless in its efforts to warn of the danger of Nazism in the 1930s. It helped German Jews immigrate to America and lobbied the American government to boycott German goods and save endangered Jews during World War II. It was the first Jewish organization to use law and legislation, the tools of democracy, to protect the rights of American Jews and was instrumental to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
During the 1960’s, the Congress was an outspoken voice in the Civil Rights Movement, and stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in solidarity with Martin Luther King Jr. as he delivered his historic “I have a dream” speech. Since then, the Congress has focused on advocating for freedom of speech, church-state separation, education, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and, of course, the rights of Jews across the world.