Following the election of a Democratic-majority House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi has just been elected as Speaker of the House. Pelosi, a strong supporter of Israel and the Jewish community, is the only woman to have ever held that post, and the first person in sixty years to regain that position after her party had lost their majority status. What did Pelosi do once when speaking to a Jewish audience which impressed those who were listening to her?
A. Shortly after the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville in 2017, Pelosi was addressing an audience at Temple Emanu-El, the large Reform synagogue on Fifth Avenue in New York, when a protestor in the back of the room stood and shouted, “Jews will not replace us.” As the audience reacted with trepidation while security guards removed the protestor, Pelosi began singing the Star Spangled Banner. The entire audience stood and joined in, after which Pelosi received a huge round of applause.
B. In October of 2018, Pelosi was addressing an audience at the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly convention, which met in Tel Aviv for the first time. An alarm went off in the room, and attendees were advised to shelter in place while officials determined whether there was a serious threat. One security official approached Pelosi on the speaker’s platform to lead her through a secure back exit, but Pelosi insisted on remaining in the room with attendees, saying that she deserved no better treatment than any of the convention delegates.
C. Pelosi was addressing an AIPAC meeting in San Franciso a few weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks, when an alarm went off in the building, causing much consternation in the room. As people reacted, in some cases, heading for the exits, Pelosi began reciting the words of the Israeli national anthem, Hatikva, which brought much calm and comfort to those assembled.
D. Pelosi spoke this past Sunday at a meeting of the National Jewish Democratic Council, a lobbying organization that promotes Jewish values within the Democratic Party. In response to a question about freshman congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who used a vulgarity about Donald Trump when calling for his impeachment, Pelosi said, “I probably have a generational reaction to it, but in any event I’m not in the censorship business. As the Israeli writer Amos Oz, may his memory be for a blessing, wrote recently, ‘Listen, you don’t necessarily have to agree to what you listen to, but listen very carefully. Listen even to voices which you regard as dangerous, abhorrent, terrible, monstrous.’ Oz is right. We all need to listen to every voice, even when they speak with words that do not reflect our personal values.”
E. Pelosi was the guest speaker at a meeting of Magen Tzedek, an organization within the Conservative Jewish movement which seeks to bring social justice and ethics into the kosher food production industry, ensuring fair treatment of workers and humane treatment of animals. Addressing a room full of shochets, ritual slaughterers, Pelosi said, “Let me show you how to do this right. Put me in a room filled with cattle, and I will cut their heads off and they won’t even know they’re bleeding.”
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