June 25, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), in conjunction with Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), John Lewis (D-GA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Mia Love (R-UT), hosted a breakfast for Black and Jewish Members of Congress. The purpose of this breakfast was to reflect on the shared experiences of Black and Jewish Americans, and to make certain that these communities continue to work collaboratively to eliminate racism and anti-Semitism both abroad and here at home:
“I was delighted to be joined by so many of my colleagues in Congress and leaders in both the Black and Jewish community this morning for my Annual Black and Jewish Members of Congress Breakfast,” said Congressman Alcee L. Hastings. “The presentations and discussions that took place today confirmed what we know to be true – that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. We must continue to work across our communities to eliminate hatred and bigotry from our nation, and indeed the entire world.”
Also attending the breakfast was Rabbi Marc Schneier, Founder and President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, as well as Rabbi Ari Sunshine of B’nai Shalom Congregation, Reverend Robyn E. Franklin-Vaughn of the Howard University School of Divinity, and student leaders Henry Bowe, Jr. and Maya Bornsteinfrom Operation Understanding D.C. Following Congressman Hastings’ opening remarks, blessings were offered by Rabbi Sunshine and Reverend Franklin-Vaughn, who also shared brief words about their work in engaging and uniting the Black and Jewish communities.
Featured speaker Rabbi Schneier stated “The gathering this morning, celebrating the historic and ongoing Black-Jewish alliance, reminded us that a people who fight for their own right are only as honorable as when they fight for the rights of all people.”
“This breakfast is an opportunity to continue strengthening the bonds of the Black and Jewish communities who have, for so long, worked together to promote social justice and overcome the common threat of bigotry,” saidCongresswoman Lois Frankel.
Congressman Eliot Engel said, “There has always been a special bond between the Jewish and black communities, as both peoples have had to overcome a tremendous amount of discrimination and hatred. As the horrific events in Charleston last week have shown us, that discrimination and hatred is still alive and well in the hearts of an ignorant few, which is why this breakfast takes on an extra special significance today. We come here in the spirit of cooperation and understanding, standing together against the forces of oppression in the fight for equality and social justice. I cannot think of a better cause to stand for. I am delighted to be able to participate in this important breakfast, and I thank Congressman Hastings for hosting.”
I am thrilled to cohost the breakfast again to celebrate our communities’ shared values and commitment to action. Earlier this year, I was honored to participate in the commemoration of the historic march on Selma, which strengthened my resolve to work together to pursue the causes that we are still fighting for: equal access to justice, and voting rights for every single citizen of this nation. As we continue to reel from the horror and tragedy in South Carolina, it is crucial that we continue to work together to combat justice and intolerance,” said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson stated, “The parallels between racism and antisemitism are undeniable and have served to strengthen the bond between the African-American and Jewish communities,” said Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson. “This history also has helped us forge an enduring commitment to work together to combat social injustice and all efforts to deny any group, regardless of race, creed or ethnicity, of their equal rights.”
“I am humbled to honor the partnership of Jewish Americans and African Americans with this breakfast. Our Jewish brothers and sisters were there with African Americans as we marched for voting rights. They supported the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the NAACP, and the Urban League. Jewish Americans made up 50 percent of the civil rights attorneys in the South during the 1960s. Together we have fought for justice, and together we will continue to walk hand-in-hand as we create what Martin Luther King, Jr. calls the “Beloved Community,” assertedCongressman John Lewis.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey stated, “The act of violence and hate in Charleston last week is an affront to us all – just as the anti-Semitic attack in Paris earlier this year brought grief and heartache far beyond France and the Jewish community. That’s why our two communities must stand resolutely together and remember that just as our interests are intertwined, so too are our destinies. By working together, we can leave a better world for generations to come.”
Student leaders from Operation Understanding D.C. (OUDC) gave remarks regarding their experiences in the program, and spoke eloquently about the need to instill in our youth a commitment to ending racism and prejudice in all of its forms. OUDC Program Director Avi Edelman remarked “It is only through engagement with our history, the pleasant and the painful, that the young can become the shapers of its next course, and the Black and Jewish champions assembled today affirmed that the mantle being passed to the next generationhas an unshakable foundation.”
Members In Attendance (33): Reps. Karen Bass (CA), Joyce Beatty (OH), Xavier Becerra (CA), Corrine Brown (FL), Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA), David N. Cicilline (RI), Steve Cohen (TN), John Conyers, Jr. (MI), Joseph Crowley (NY), Susan Davis (CA), Theodore Deutch (FL), Keith Ellison (MI), Eliot Engel (NY), Chaka Fattah (PA), Lois Frankel (FL), Al Green (TX), Steny Hoyer (MD), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Hank Johnson (GA), Robin Kelly (IL), Brenda Lawrence (MI), Barbara Lee (CA), Sander Levin (MI), Alan Lowenthal (CA), Nita Lowey (NY), Gregory W. Meeks (NY), Jerold Nadler (NY), Nancy Pelosi (CA), Charles Rangel (NY), Terri A. Sewell (AL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), and Frederica Wilson (FL).
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.
Read release here: http://alceehastings.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=398441