I was struck by the Jewish spirit (neshama) and the Jewish ethos that wound its way through the words of Obama’s acceptance speech last night. The emphasis on cooperation, on tenacity in the face of adversity, on individual responsibility and personal action, while underscoring the interconnectedness of the nation all rang clearly with Jewish ideals. Perhaps what I found most satisfying was Obama's return to hope. Hope.
Yesterday, President Obama chose Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the new chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), making her the second Jewish woman to hold this position after Debra DeLee in 1994. After doing a little research at jwa.org, however, I realized that even though Wasserman Schultz may be the only the second Jewish woman to chair the DNC, she is actually joining a long tradition of Jewish women who have been active in the organization.
Jewish women were definitely front and center at the first ever White House reception marking Jewish American Heritage month. Appropriately so, since it was a woman – Representative Deborah Wasserman Schultz – who spearheaded the Congressional campaign to establish Jewish American Heritage month. It was another woman – Marcia Zerivitz, who put the bug in Wasserman Schultz’ ear; and yet another woman, Abby Schwartz, who, as National Coordinator of the Jewish American Heritage Month Coalition, has worked tirelessly to turn a proclamation into a broad based local, regional and national celebration.
Yesterday, Oct. 28, 2009, heralded a historic moment for human rights as President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act into law. This act expands the already existing hate crime protection to include crimes based on one's sexual orientation, gender, disability, or gender identity, and also allows federal authorities to support local investigations, as well as step in when local authorities unable or unwilling to investigate. For the first time in our nation's history, GLBT people and people with disabilities have the legal right to safety from hate violence.
My earlier post on Sotomayor sparked some interesting conversation among my friends on Facebook that I thought worth bringing back to the blog. Most of it -- unsurprisingly, considering my demographic (thirtysomething mothers of young kids) -- was about motherhood.
Happy first day of the Obama Administration! It was quite special to watch the inaugural festivities yesterday (via web-streaming) with my co-workers at the Jewish Women's Archive. As cherishers and preservers of history, it was very gratifying to experience the making of history and hear an inaugural address which shared the power that history has -- indeed, "our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness."
I watched the coverage of the New Hampshire primary last night, and in the wake of the Obama hype, meshed with harsh criticism and suspicion (unwarranted, in my opinion) about Hillary's display of emotion (a.k.a. humanness!) at a coffee shop in Portsmouth, I was impressed by -- and excited for -- Hillary's win.