On March 8, Hadassah National President Rhoda Smolow and CEO Naomi Adler co-hosted a reception on Capitol Hill, along with the National Council for Jewish Women (NCJW) and Jewish Women International (JWI), to honor the Jewish women of the 118th Congress.
The reception, which took place on International Women’s Day, featured key leaders in Congress and the Biden Administration, including Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, her deputy Aaron Keyak, and Shelley Greenspan, White House Jewish Liaison. Among the legislators who spoke were Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-7), Rep. Kathy Manning (NC-6) and Rep. Sara Jacobs (CA-51).
The speakers offered insights into the work they do to support the US-Israel relationship, combat antisemitism and champion women’s healthcare and reproductive freedom.
To kick off the event, Rep. Wasserman Schultz spoke about Congress’s commitment to Israel’s security and democracy. “It is not just the United States that is going through very difficult times,” said Wasserman Schultz. “[T]hose of us in Congress … really want to be helpful,” she said.
Rep. Kathy Manning, co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, spoke about how the government is addressing the alarming rise in anti-Jewish hate. “It is the obligation of the government to not only combat antisemitism, but to foster Jewish life,” she said, offering words of encouragement to Hadassah, NCJW and JWI for their work on the front lines of the fight not only against antisemitism, but in favor of reproductive freedom. “Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s so important – not just to the Jewish people, but to the American people,” she concluded.
Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, a Hadassah member, addressed what Jewish people can do to fight antisemitism in their communities. “I get to do something every day in the name of the United States government, but there’s something you can do, too. You can educate yourself about what antisemitism is so you can recognize it and speak out. It’s time to fight back against the normalization of antisemitism and make it unacceptable.”
Rep. Slotkin said we must remain steadfast in our fight against hate and intolerance. “There is a massive problem among Jewish people in underreporting acts of antisemitism,” she told the group. “We desperately need people who will report, and we need Jewish organizations to teach constituents how to report."
Rep. Sara Jacobs spoke about her experience as a Jewish woman in Congress and her efforts to advance reproductive justice. “Walking in the halls of Congress as a young Jewish woman is not easy… [I can see that] one of the biggest issues we need to address is reproductive justice,” she said.
Jan Schakowsky reaffirmed her commitment to the Jewish community and thanked Hadassah, NCJW and JWI for their continued efforts to support women’s health and combat antisemitism.
The next day, March 9, Hadassah CEO Naomi Adler met individually with members of Congress, including Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Rep. Grace Meng (NY-6), Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-22) and Rep. Jake Auchincloss (MA-4) to discuss Hadassah priorities in the 118th Congress connected to supporting the US-Israel relationship, championing women’s and public health and combating antisemitism.
Later that afternoon, Adler attended the White House’s first-ever Jewish Women’s Forum, where she heard Administration officials speak about their efforts to combat antisemitism and advance women’s health. The officials also discussed critical issues faced by Jewish women and the Jewish community. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff opened the session by updating the group on the White House’s work on a national plan with a society-wide approach to combatting antisemitism.