The Jewish women who will serve in Congress


Tues­day night’s midterm elec­tions were hailed as a vic­tory for gen­der par­ity, as an un­prece­dented num­ber of women won bids to serve in Congress. More than 100 women were elected to serve in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Se­nate, ac­cord­ing to fi­nal vote tal­lies and pro­jec­tions.

It’s a group that in­cludes 11 Jewish women – nine in the House and two in the Se­nate races. The win­ners are all Democrats – sev­eral fe­male Jewish Repub­li­cans were un­suc­cess­ful in their bids for of­fice.

Here’s a run­down of the win­ners.

The new­com­ers:

Jacky Rosen (Se­nate)

Rosen, 61, a one-term con­gress­woman from Ne­vada, will move to the Se­nate af­ter de­feat­ing Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Dean Heller in a toss-up race. She launched her po­lit­i­cal ca­reer in 2016 with a vic­tory in her state’s 3rd Con­gres­sional Dis­trict. Her prior po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence was min­i­mal – if you don’t count be­ing pres­i­dent of a sy­n­a­gogue, Con­gre­ga­tion Ner Tamid in sub­ur­ban Hen­der­son.

Rosen pre­vi­ously worked as a con­sul­tant and soft­ware de­signer. Her Se­nate cam­paign cen­tered on ed­u­ca­tion and the en­vi­ron­ment, as well as op­pos­ing Pres­i­dent US Don­ald Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion crack­down. Democrats tried hard to flip the state — both for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama and vice pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den cam­paigned on Rosen’s be­half.

Elissa Slotkin (House)

Slotkin’s back­ground is in de­fense and in­tel­li­gence. Slotkin, who beat Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Mike Bishop in Michi­gan’s 8th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, is a for­mer CIA an­a­lyst and served in var­i­ous de­fense ca­pac­i­ties in the Bush and Obama ad­min­is­tra­tions, in­clud­ing as act­ing as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of de­fense for in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity af­fairs. Slotkin, 42, lives on her fam­ily farm in ru­ral Michi­gan. She is pas­sion­ate about health care and says she was mo­ti­vated to run for of­fice by see­ing the high costs her mother faced as she bat­tled and ul­ti­mately suc­cumbed to ovar­ian cancer. Su­san Wild (House)

Wild, 60, left a ca­reer in law to en­ter pol­i­tics. She de­feated Repub­li­can Marty Noth­stein in Penn­syl­va­nia’s 7th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict to re­place an­other Repub­li­can, Pat Mee­han, who re­signed amid a sex­ual ha­rass­ment scan­dal. This was her first po­lit­i­cal cam­paign, and she ran on a plat­form that in­cludes im­prov­ing health care and pro­tect­ing or­ga­nized la­bor. Wild’s in­volve­ment with Jewish life in­cludes serv­ing on the board of di­rec­tors for her lo­cal Jewish fed­er­a­tion.

Elaine Luria (House)

Luria over­came chal­leng­ing odds to edge Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Scott Tay­lor in Vir­ginia’s 2nd Con­gres­sional Dis­trict. Luria, 43, is a for­mer US Navy com­man­der who finds ways to con­nect to the ocean in quite a dif­fer­ent way – by own­ing and run­ning a mer­maid-theme shop. Her cam­paign plat­form in­cluded pro­tect­ing Medi­care and So­cial Se­cu­rity, in­creas­ing fund­ing to the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs and com­bat­ing sea level rise and flood­ing.

Kim Schrier (House)

Schrier is a physi­cian who made her cam­paign in Wash­ing­ton state’s 8th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict pri­mar­ily about health care re­form. She has said that as a Jew she was mo­ti­vated to en­ter pol­i­tics fol­low­ing last year’s neo-Nazi and white su­prem­a­cist rally in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia. Schrier was one of sev­eral Jewish can­di­dates tar­geted with Repub­li­can ads that showed her clutch­ing cash – many saw the ads as play­ing on an­tisemitic tropes. In the end, she beat Repub­li­can Dino Rossi to re­place re­tir­ing in­cum­bent Dave Re­ichert.

The vet­er­ans:

Dianne Fe­in­stein (Se­nate)

At 85, Fe­in­stein is the oldest sit­ting US sen­a­tor and the longest-serv­ing woman. The Cal­i­for­nia law­maker is also the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate’s Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee and is a lead­ing pro­gres­sive on many is­sues. She led the Demo­cratic ef­fort to dig into the record of Brett Ka­vanaugh af­ter he was nom­i­nated to serve on the Supreme Court. Fe­in­stein started her po­lit­i­cal ca­reer in San Fran­cisco, be­com­ing pres­i­dent of the city’s Board of Su­per­vi­sors in 1969. In 1978, she be­came the city’s mayor fol­low­ing the as­sas­si­na­tion of Ge­orge Moscone (Jewish gay rights ac­tivist Har­vey Milk, San Fran­cisco’s city su­per­vi­sor, was killed by the same gun­man). Her par­ents are both of Jewish ancestry, but her mother was raised Chris­tian; Fe­in­stein chose Ju­daism as her faith at age 20. On Tues­day, she beat fel­low Demo­crat Kevin de Leon (Cal­i­for­nia’s elec­tion sys­tem al­lows the top two can­di­dates to run against each other, re­gard­less of party), with 54.3% of the vote.

Su­san Davis (House)

Davis, 74, won re­elec­tion with her vic­tory over Repub­li­can Mor­tan Mur­taugh. She has been serv­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s 53rd Con­gres­sional Dis­trict since 2001 and is the top Demo­crat on the higher ed­u­ca­tion sub­com­mit­tee. She is pas­sion­ate about the topic of ed­u­ca­tion, hav­ing served as pres­i­dent of the San Diego school board early in her po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. An­other of her core is­sues is health care ac­cess, and she has in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion to al­low women to visit their OB/ GYNs with­out a pri­mary doc­tor re­fer­ral. Her grand­par­ents were Jewish im­mi­grants from Rus­sia. Af­ter col­lege, Davis lived on an Is­raeli kib­butz and worked with at-risk youth.

Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz (House)

Wasser­man Schultz, 52, will con­tinue to rep­re­sent South Florida’s 23rd Con­gres­sional Dis­trict. Wasser­man Schultz, a mem­ber of the House since 2005, has ex­pe­ri­enced a rough two years. Once a ris­ing Demo­cratic star, she served as chair­woman of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, but re­signed af­ter a hack found that she and oth­ers had fa­vored 2016 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton over ri­val Bernie San­ders, a Ver­mont In­de­pen­dent who cau­cuses with Democrats. But she’s still do­ing fine in her dis­trict, re­ceiv­ing 58.4% of the vote and beat­ing her Repub­li­can op­po­nent Joe Kauf­man by 22%. Wasser­man Schultz be­came in­volved in pol­i­tics through the now-de­funct Na­tional Jewish Demo­cratic Coun­cil. She also was one of the driv­ing forces be­hind es­tab­lish­ing Jewish Amer­i­can Her­itage Month, in­tro­duc­ing the leg­is­la­tion in 2005 with the late Arlen Specter.

Jan Schakowsky (House)

Schakowsky eas­ily re­tained her seat in Illi­nois against Repub­li­can John El­li­son, re­ceiv­ing 73% of the vote in the state’s 9th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict. Schakowsky, 74, has been rep­re­sent­ing the dis­trict since 1999 and is among the most pro­gres­sive mem­bers of Congress. A ma­jor ad­vo­cate for women’s rights, she has fought for is­sues such as com­bat­ing sex traf­fick­ing, re­duc­ing ma­ter­nal death and fight­ing health care costs that put a higher bur­den on women. Schakowsky is close to the lib­eral Mid­dle East ad­vo­cacy group J Street and in 2015 wrote in the Huff­in­g­ton Post about her de­ci­sion to boy­cott a speech by Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu in front of Congress.

Nita Lowey (House)

Lowey, 81, will con­tinue to rep­re­sent New York’s 17th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict. A House mem­ber since 1989, she is the rank­ing Demo­crat on the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee and on its for­eign op­er­a­tions sub­com­mit­tee. Though Lowey was a top con­tender to take Hil­lary Clin­ton’s Se­nate seat af­ter the for­mer first lady was nom­i­nated to be sec­re­tary of state, Lowey said she did not want to give up her role on the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee. She is a strong sup­porter of Is­rael and was one of fewer than 20 House Democrats who voted against the Iran nu­clear deal in 2015. Suzanne Bon­am­ici (House)

Among the law­mak­ers on this list, Bon­am­ici’s en­try into pol­i­tics is rel­a­tively re­cent. First elected to Congress in 2012, she rep­re­sents Ore­gon’s 1st Con­gres­sional Dis­trict. She is pas­sion­ate about ed­u­ca­tion and the en­vi­ron­ment, and is the rank­ing mem­ber on the Com­mit­tee on Sci­ence, Space and Tech­nol­ogy’s en­vi­ron­ment sub­com­mit­tee. Bon­am­ici, 63, was raised Epis­co­palian and Uni­tar­ian, but now prac­tices Ju­daism with her Jewish hus­band, Michael Si­mon, a fed­eral judge.

(Eric Thayer/Reuters)

JACKY ROSEN, elected to the Se­nate, greets sup­port­ers on Tues­day in Las Ve­gas.

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