Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) took part in a Zoom discussion titled “From the Pogroms to the Polls,” which covered resilience and determination and the contributions Jewish-American Women have made to the United States.
Joining her in the discussion were Sheila Katz, the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women; Ellen Freidin, an attorney, activist and the Chair of Fair Districts Florida; and Susan Gladstone, the Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida – FIU.
Honoring the 15th annual Jewish American History Month, Rep. Wasserman Schultz highlighted the contributions of Florida Rep. Elaine Bloom (D) and Florida Rep. Elaine Gordon (D) for contributing greatly to her own political bid at 25-years -old. Speaking of the trailblazing women before her, the Wasserman Schultz assured that she stands “on the shoulders of these women.”
Much was said about the political activism that Jewish American women have been a part of with Sheila Katz noting that “Jewish women get things done,” adding that they “have advanced the fight to expand access to reproductive care, to ensure a fair and independent judiciary, to increase voter participation and protection as well as empowering women throughout the United States and in Israel.”
However, she did note that there is much work left to be done, but “Jewish women were made for this moment.”
Likening Wasserman Schultz’s leadership and tenacity to that of Esther from the Bible, the Florida lawmaker added that Jewish Americans like herself still face anti-Semitism to this day.
She explained that she experiences “some form of anti-Semitism now almost daily, certainly weekly as a relatively prominent Jewish person. The rise of hatred and bigotry, anti-Semitism has really been precipitous.”
Wasserman Schultz noted that it’s been “important for me to promote tolerance and understanding about Judaism that we are both a religion and rich a culture and heritage,” adding that “we have had such a rich history of contributing to the American way of life and so many don’t know it.”
So, in order to combat anti-Semitism and bigotry in the country, the lawmaker explained that “the more understanding and tolerance, the more understanding and education… about Jewish contribution to America, the less hatred we’ll see.”
“Unfortunately,” she concluded, “right now, there have been countless instances in which so many of us experience anti-Semitism.”
“It’s not just anti-Semitism” that the country is currently facing. She admitted that “the bigotry and racism and Islamophobia that has taken place, and now the anti-Chinese sentiment” is because of President Trump.
“Quite frankly, and this is the only partisan statement I’ll make,” she informed the viewers, “It’s not partisan, it’s factual.”
The flames of bigotry and anti-Semitism are being fanned by “the person who lives in 1600 Pennsylvania avenue.”