These 9 Jewish Politicians Helped Shape U.S. History

In the history of American politics, only a fraction of powerful voices have come from Jewish politicians. But those few have — and continue to — make it count. That representation, along with the causes they’ve fought for, has been especially important for the Jewish community. And, this Jewish Heritage Month, it’s vital that we look at their accomplishments.

Although Bernie Sanders may be one of the most famous Jewish politicians in the country, he’s certainly not the only one. Jewish leaders like Bella Abzug, a leader of the Women’s Movement, and one of the first members of Congress to support gay rights, have made a difference in many different communities. This month, we celebrate and acknowledge all of the contributions that Jews have had in politics, as well as many other spaces. These politicians have proved that there are plenty of ways to make a difference no matter what your religion is — but also that you can use your religion to help the people you share your community with.

Bernie Sanders

Born in Brooklyn to a Jewish working-class family, Bernie Sanders has held his Jewish values close throughout his career. Sanders has proudly said, “Being Jewish is essential to who I am,” and has shown his commitment to that identity through his community-centered politics, echoing the Jewish practice of “tikkun olam,” otherwise known as dedication to repairing the world through social justice. 
Sanders’s career has been built on Jewish values like this, rooted in supporting the most marginalized and disadvantaged, including sick and disabled people, the elderly, and people who are incarcerated. After his 2020 presidential run, Sanders also came closer to being America’s first Jewish president than anyone has come in America’s history, helping to pave a path for other Jewish presidential hopefuls. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

First sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz also previously served in the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate. She's known for being ousted by the DNC after colluding against Bernie Sanders. However, she’s also the reason May is Jewish American Heritage Month — thanks to the resolution she wrote to reduce anti-Semitism, hate, and bigotry.
Wasserman Schultz also introduced the EARLY Act, which serves to increase breast cancer education and awareness, and became law as part of the Affordable Care Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2010. Continuing to advocate for young women, Wasserman Schultz introduced the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act to demand that states allow women to terminate the parental rights of a rapist, which was passed by President Obama in 2015.Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post/Getty Images.

Chuck Schumer

Chuck Schumer is the senior United States senator from New York, and has also been the Senate minority leader since 2017. Schumer was born in Brooklyn to a Jewish family, where his dad owned a small exterminating business and his mom was a housewife. After attending Harvard, he came back to Brooklyn and still resides there now with his wife and children. 
Schumer represented Brooklyn and Queens for eighteen years before being elected to the Senate. During his career, he’s sponsored the Violence Against Women Act, as well as the Brady Bill, which instituted mandatory background checks for handgun purchases. In much of his work, he’s championed marginalized New Yorkers, helping to pass important laws that protect them. Though he’s Jewish, he’s faced outcry from anti-Zionist Jewish community members for being pro-Israel and anti-Palestine in his politics. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.
Bella Abzug
Bella Abzug was nicknamed "Battling Bella,” which referenced her spirit and the many battles she fought. Her politics were considered radical at the time. She was an American lawyer born and raised in The Bronx, New York, a member of Congress, an activist and one of the early leaders of the Women's Movement. Early on in her life, after graduating law school, Abzug joined a labor law firm that represented union locals, and constantly fought for marginalized people’s rights in New York.
In 1971, Abzug joined other American feminist leaders including Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, and Betty Friedan to found the National Women's Political Caucus. In addition to being the first woman in Congress, when she ran for office, she ran on an antiwar and pro–feminist platform. During her time in Congress, she cast her first vote for the Equal Rights Amendment, and brought more than six billion dollars to New York State in economic development and mass transit, including ramps for people with disabilities and buses for the elderly. Her work is now being memorialized in Hulu's Mrs. America.Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images.

Barbara Boxer

Barbara Levy Boxer is now retired, but she served as a United States senator for California from 1993 to 2017. In addition, she served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 1993. She was born in Brooklyn in 1940 to her immigrant parents. Before the official start of her career in politics, Boxer helped form several grassroots organizations dedicated to day care, bettering education, peace and anti-war movements, and women’s empowerment.
During the decade that she graced the House of Representatives, Boxer focused on feminist issues, particularly abortion rights, as well as immigration. Her fame came from the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, when she led the march of seven congresswomen to the Senate to demand that they fully consider the charges of sexual harassment against Thomas. It was the Hill-Thomas hearings that helped Boxer get election to the United States Senate in 1992 as part of the “Year of the Woman.”Photo: Gregory Pace/FilmMagic.

Jacob Frey

Jacob Frey has been the mayor of Minneapolis since 2017, having defeated the incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges. Before then, he was an incredibly active member of the Minneapolis City Council in Minnesota, representing Ward 3. Before becoming mayor, Frey worked as an employment and civil rights attorney, and was heavily involved with community organizing, including being the organizer of the inaugural Big Gay Race
On top of being an avid organizer, he’s also Minneapolis's second Jewish mayor, and its second-youngest after Al Hofstede. Since his start as mayor, he’s worked on the Minneapolis Police Department’s body camera policy, requiring officers to wear body cameras to be held accountable. Frey has also focused heavily on allocating more money to affordable housing. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.

Jena Griswold

Jena Marie Griswold is an American attorney as well as a politician. Currently, she's the Colorado Secretary of State, serving since 2019. She has ultimately prioritized campaign finance reform and increasing voter registration, championing marginalized communities in her work and politics.

Griswold is also the youngest elected Secretary of State in the United States. Prior to becoming secretary, she served as the Director of the Governor of Colorado’s DC Office, and advocated on behalf of Colorado in D.C. Through her advocacy, Colorado was able to receive hundreds of millions of relief dollars to help recover from the flood they suffered in 2013. Before her election, Griswold ran her own small business, a legal practice in Louisville, Colorado. Photo: Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Getty Images.

Eric Garcetti

Eric Garcetti is the 42nd and current mayor of Los Angeles. He's known for being LA's youngest mayor in history as well as the first elected Jewish mayor and second consecutive Mexican-American mayor.
Garcetti has also served on the city council from 2001 to 2013. There, he championed environmental issues and urban development, working to help preserve Historic Filipinotown in LA. As mayor, he’s developed policies for helping business startup and entrepreneurs in Los Angeles grow, increasing the minimum wage, reducing houselessness, and more. Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.
Jared Kushner & Ivanka Trump
Once a real estate developer and publisher in New York media, Jared Kushner, the son of Jewish immigrants from the USSR, followed in his father-in-law’s footsteps and moved to Washington, D.C. with his wife Ivanka Trump. He’s now the acting senior advisor for President Donald Trump.

Kushner originally helped run digital media strategy for the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. Since beginning to work for Trump with his wife Ivanka, there’s been much controversy around conflicts of interest, nepotism, and profiting on policy proposals like tax breaks that he’s heavily advocated for within the administration. 
Kushner has been extremely influential in the administration’s coronavirus pandemic response, where he advised Trump in the first few months of the outbreak that the media was exaggerating the threat of the virus. He and Ivanka, who converted to Judaism to marry Kushner, recently chose to ignore federal recommendations during the lockdowns so they could travel for Passover celebrations instead. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.

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These 9 Jewish Politicians Helped Shape U.S. History These 9 Jewish Politicians Helped Shape U.S. History Reviewed by streakoggi on May 04, 2020 Rating: 5
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