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Chuck Schumer is now Washington’s highest-ranking Jewish elected official ever

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22.01.2021

JTA — Chuck Schumer could not let the moment pass without mentioning its Jewish history.

Georgia’s new senators, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, were sworn in on Wednesday, making Schumer the new Senate majority leader — the first-ever Jew in that powerful role.

Never afraid to reference his Yiddishkeit, Schumer recalled his roots in an address in the Senate chamber. And he got biblical, too.

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“With the swearing-in of these three senators, the Senate will turn to Democratic control… under the first New York-born majority leader in American history,” he said, while also swearing-in Vice President Kamala Harris’s Senate replacement, Alex Padilla.

“A kid from Brooklyn, the son of an exterminator and a housewife, a descendant of victims of the Holocaust. That I should be the leader of this new Senate majority is an awesome responsibility. Awesome in the biblical sense, as the angels that trembled in awe before God. Today I feel the full weight of that responsibility,” Schumer said.

In terms of strides for diversity, the headline news of the day was Harris’s milestone moment becoming the first woman and person of color to serve as vice president.

But Inauguration Day was also more quietly full of Jewish history. Schumer became the highest-ranking elected Jewish politician in American history. Ossoff was sworn in as Georgia’s first Jewish senator — on a historical Hebrew Bible and carrying records from his forebears’ arrival at Ellis Island. Doug Emhoff, Harris’ Jewish husband, became the country’s first “second gentleman.”

In his short speech, Schumer borrowed a line that President Joe Biden had used a few hours earlier to hail Harris’s glass ceiling-shattering milestone and applied it to Jews.

“As President Biden said in his inaugural address: ‘Don’t tell me things can’t change,’” he said. President Joe Biden gives his inaugural address during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the US Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20,........

© The Times of Israel


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