Reps. Hastings, Waxman, Lewis, Engel, Green, Wasserman Schultz, fudge, Deutch, Sewell, and Wilson host Black and Jewish members of Congress breakfast
The 2014 Black and Jewish Members of Congress Breakfast; Congressman Hastings with His Excellency Ron Dermer, Ambassador of Israel
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) was joined by Representatives Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Al Green (D-TX), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Terri Sewell (D-AL), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL) in hosting a breakfast for Black and Jewish Members of Congress. The purpose of the breakfast was to continue the dialogue on the history of Black and Jewish relations and develop plans for a better future.
“The Black and Jewish American communities have been brought together by common histories of prejudice and discrimination. Both work every day to eliminate hatred and bigotry from our country in search of a brighter future,” said Congressman Alcee L. Hastings. “Today, we still see the signs of racial conflict within our lands. We see racial conflict in nations half a world away. Anti-Semitism is once again on the rise in countries throughout Europe, and racism remains a pervasive force both here at home and across the globe. We must carry in our hearts the resolve to strive for a world without hatred, where all people, regardless of race, religion, or creed may live together free from the burdens of persecution and violence.”
Also attending the breakfast was His Excellency Ron Dermer, Ambassador of Israel, as well as Rabbi Ari Sunshine of B’nai Shalom Congregation, Reverend Robyn E. Franklyn-Vaughn of Howard University, and student leaders from Operation Understanding D.C. Following Congressman Hastings’ opening remarks, blessings were offered by Rabbi Sunshine and Reverend Franklyn-Vaughn, who also shared brief words about their work in engaging and uniting the Black and Jewish communities.
“Jews and African Americans have both known the pain of struggle, slavery and oppression in our histories because societies, even supposedly ‘civilized’ ones, deemed us to be different by virtue of our religion or our skin color. Our sacred and divine work is to find the courage and the faith to continue striving to eradicate the plagues of ignorance, intolerance and hatred from our midst. If we continue working together on this divine task, we have the ability to transform people’s pain and despair into something much more Godly: joy and hope,” said Rabbi Ari Sunshine.
Reverend Robyn E. Franklyn-Vaughn added, “We have come to a place where many in our community think that the work is done. We know that is not true. Our young generations are still vulnerable and the conversation must continue.”
“Jewish Americans and African Americans have a long history of partnership and in my experience it has been no different in Congress,” said Congressman Henry A. Waxman.
“Jewish Americans and African Americans have stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the frontlines of the struggle for human dignity. They have suffered together, gone to jail together, and even died to help make this country and the world community a better place. This breakfast honors the legacy of that partnership to help build a more perfect union,” said Congressman John Lewis.
Congressman Eliot Engel said, “African-Americans and Jews have a special bond. Our stories may be different but our history is the same, because hatred knows no bounds. Any steps we can take to foster greater cooperation and understanding between our two communities will benefit us all. We have overcome many of the horrible injustices those who came before us faced thanks to our shared commitment to equality and social justice. Let’s continue that work.”
“The African-American and Jewish-American communities have a proud history of working together to advance human rights. It is my hope that events such as these will highlight our special relationship and continued struggle for justice worldwide,” said Congressman Al Green.
“The bonds between the African-American and American Jewish communities are unbreakable and span many generations,” said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “From fighting for human and civil rights, to promoting tolerance and understanding, our storied history tells us we will remain united in the ongoing fight to stamp out oppression and achieve equality here at home and worldwide.”
“The bonds of friendship between the African American and Jewish communities are strong, forged in a shared pursuit of social justice, understanding and a determination to root out intolerance and discrimination wherever it is found. We continue to build on that legacy as partners working for equal opportunity and respect for all,” added Congresswoman Marcia Fudge.
“The African-American and Jewish communities are united by our shared commitment to civil rights, equality and economic justice. From fighting voter suppression laws to restoring economic opportunity, we will continue to carry forward this historic partnership,” said Congressman Ted Deutch.
“Throughout history, the strong partnership and shared values between the Black and Jewish communities have proven to be a precious asset to each group in their struggle for justice and equality,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell. “Strengthening this partnership must remain a priority for Black and Jewish Members of Congress as well as leaders in both communities.”
“The African-American and Jewish communities share histories of unconscionable atrocities, struggle and discrimination,” said Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. “Our communities also share a long history of unified efforts in the fight for equal rights. Let us continue to build upon this long-standing alliance to further the cause of social justice.”
Student leaders from Operation Understanding D.C. gave remarks regarding their experiences during the six-month program, and read a poem in honor of the victims of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Operation Understanding DC’s mission is to build a generation of African-American and Jewish community leaders who promote respect, understanding, and cooperation while working to eradicate racism, anti-Semitism, and all forms of discrimination.
Members In Attendance (28): Suzanne Bonamici (OR), Joyce Beatty (OH), Corrine Brown (FL), Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA), James E. Clyburn (SC), Danny Davis (IL), Theodore Deutch (FL), Marcia L. Fudge (OH), Robin Kelly (NY), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), Barbara Lee (CA), Gregory W. Meeks (NY), Bobby L. Rush (IL), Terri A. Sewell (AL), Donna Christensen (VI), Emanuel Cleaver (MO), Susan Davis (CA), Al Green (TX), Steny Hoyer (MD), Hakeem Jeffries (NY), Jerold Nadler (NY), Jared Polis (CO), Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ), Charles Rangel (NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), Brad Sherman (CA), Henry Waxman (CA), 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.