Main Events

Hillary Clinton and Kenneth Bialkin,
president of American Jewish
Historical Society

When NY Dems Get Together
You’re In For The Duration

Story and Photos by Tim Boxer

ET nine New York congressmen and the two senators together – every one a Democrat – and the mutual adulation is palpable. The Jewish Community Relations Council’s 24th annual congressional breakfast, co-hosted by UJA-Federation, turned into a virtual love-fest.

Abraham Biderman, chairman of JCRC commission on government relations, introduced each congressman so profusely, that Rep. Eliot Engel remarked, “I wish the two women in my life were here – my mother would believe every word and my wife would wonder who he’s talking about.”

It took the dean of New York Democratic congressmen, Rep. Charles Rangel, to break the mold. He paid tribute to Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, “but not because I fear indictment.”

Sen. Charles Schumer was brimming with praise for his junior colleague, Hillary Rodham Clinton. And vice versa.

“One way we can lessen our dependence on Middle East oil,” Clinton said, “is to harness Chuck Schumer’s energy.”

Clinton had extremely warm words for the only out of state legislator, Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland
flanked by New York Senators
Charles Schumer and
Hillary Rodham Clinton, with JCRC
president Ezra G. Levin in back

“When Barbara first came to the senate,” Clinton said, “there was a rule against wearing pantsuits. Day after day she spoke on why shouldn’t it be appropriate for women to wear pantsuits on the floor of the senate.

“I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t won that one, Barbara.”

Both women, as a matter of habit, wear pantsuits.

Rangel was right. “With the congressional delegation here,” he warned, “you’re going to hear more than you ever wanted.”

Two hours later, after all the congressmen had their say, keynote speaker Mikulski rose to address the SRO gathering at the UJA-Federation offices.

“I am glad to be here,” she said, “and I am glad to be finally able to speak.”

She mentioned her visit to Poland, two decades earlier, “to learn my own history.”

She went to Auschwitz where “I became undone. I understood why there must be a Jewish state. I vowed I’d do my best to ensure the survival of the state of Israel.”

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