Hope Blecher
Member, Hadassah Lower New York State Chapter

Rep. Elaine Luria and Hadassah: The Jewish Female Connection

Rep. Elaine Luria at the January 6th hearings.  Photo courtesy of Hadassah.
Rep. Elaine Luria at the January 6th hearings. Photo courtesy of Hadassah.

There we sat. Four women, texting for over three hours. Some emojis between the letters and words. Add to that a few exclamation points and question marks at lightning speed.

What was happening? Why were we burning up the lines? The four women, woven in and out of each other’s lives over fifty years. Common bonds of shared experiences at synagogue bazaars, roller skating around a garden apartment complex, riding bicycles, getting ears pierced and moving on up through Bas Mitzvahs, graduations, marriages, divorces, birthday parties, funerals, and ZOOMs.

What connected us was prime time television. Not the marriage of Diana and Charles nor the wedding of Luke and Laura. Not the Superbowl half-time show nor opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. We each chose a different TV channel. We each charged our phone and a few of us had a glass of wine nearby. We were watching the January 6th Committee Hearings on prime time.

Our texts included: It’s historic. OMG! Astonishing. What the heck? So much security. I didn’t know that. This is new to me. I knew so-and-so. He was the target. If that was me, I’d be peeing in my pants. Will he run for president? Such composure.

There was more. The point is that four people is a microcosm of who tuned in. Others chose not to do so.

Why watch even if people say that no one will stand trial? Why watch even when people say it’s all hot air and nothing will change? Why watch?

I watched to see what had happened that day, from a different perspective. I watched to become informed. At first, my intention was to watch while I was also doing some writing. Then, I became too captivated to do so. The writing took a back seat.

Then the questions. Who is Rep. Elaine Luria? Who is Rep. Adam Kinzinger? Where were they, Liz Cheney, Matthew Pottinger, Cassidy Hutchinson, and Sarah Matthews on January 6, 2021?

We posed questions to each other. We asked Siri and Google. We listened to commentators during the break and the follow up. To my group, I posed a question about teachers.

We agreed that if schools were in session tomorrow, some administrators would be telling their teachers not to talk about these hearings. If classrooms were open on Friday, July 22, 2022, teachers would be making tough choices.

The lives of these people were impacted by January 6th. Some immediate decisions were job resignations. Others include extra personal security, fear, and a new sense of duty.

At this point you may be looking for how this connects to you, a member of Hadassah or another synagogue group. Here’s how. On that committee sits Elaine Luria, a woman who served for 20 years in the United States Navy. She’s the US representative of Virginia’s second congressional district. She’s a mother, a stepmother, a wife and a daughter.

Going to her other roots, she was born in Alabama. Her great grandparents, grandparents and parents connect to Jewish life. She held a Passover Seder on an aircraft carrier. She identifies as a Reform Jew. Females in her family held membership in Hadassah.

That same organization which holds advocacy so integral to its mission. That same organization that supports the rights of its members and of people world-wide. That same organization issuing statements about LGBTQ+, Roe V Wade and reproductive choice, medical services, and education is connected to Rep. Elaine Luria, who voted Yes for the H.R. 8296 Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022.

Representative Luria is up for re-election. She’s facing a tough challenge, because she’s a Democrat, because she’s taken a stance against former President Trump, and because of the political climate.

Based on seeing and listening to her, combined with reading about her background, her attendance during roll-call votes and her military career, Rep. Luria is one to face challenges and make informed decisions. She’s taken various oaths, from being a commander of a naval ship to the oath of office to serve the people of Virginia.

Along with other females, she joined the ranks of that large class of women in the Capitol, those 102 new representatives. Poise, logic, sense of urgency and of advocacy are traits I’d ascribe to Elaine Luria.

While never having met her, I’d say that her great-grandfather, a founder of a Reform synagogue in a town in Alabama is beaming this Shabbat. I’m proud of her, too. She has chosen to take a stance. She has chosen to use her voice. She’s also chosen to take a risk, one with unknown and potentially risky ramifications.

I won’t extend this to say she is one of the Chosen People, as that doesn’t fit, at least not for me. I will say that reading about her online during the broadcast and seeing the word Hadassah brought my eyes to widen.

What else widened my eyes? That happened on July 22nd, the day after the prime-time broadcast. Why? Well, there was an attack on a candidate in New York. No, it wasn’t Elaine Luria. It was Lee Zeldin. A quick use of my iPhone and I found what my gut suspected. Lee’s Jewish.

Is there a connection? Is it just happenstance? I don’t know and I won’t pretend to hazard a guess. I will share that I texted the rest of my group from last night. I will share that I am concerned about antisemitism. I will share, that as I sit on my porch, typing this post and being bitten by a few of Mother Nature’s creatures, that I am also hearing a sound. That is the sound of a shofar blast. That is a sound that is filling my ears with hope. I am choosing to conclude in the key of hope.

About the Author
Dr. Hope Blecher has been working in the field of education for 37 years. Currently, she serves as an English as a Second Language teacher for an adult education program in NJ. Recently, she became the founder of Previously, Hope served in capacities from being the first Middle School Curriculum Coordinator and Humanities teacher for a yeshiva in Teaneck, NJ, to serving in public schools as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and the Supervisor of English Literacy, Social Studies and Media Services. Dr. Hope Blecher holds multiple standard NJDOE issued certifications that she has used by serving as an adjunct professor, a teacher of high school students with special needs, English Language Learners K-adult, and those in the elementary age level classrooms. Along with friends and colleagues, Hope co-authored educational books and articles. She earned a BA in Sociology, an MA in Early Childhood Education, and an Ed.D. in Teacher Leadership. She has been a member of Hadassah for over a decade, first in the Southern NJ chapter and currently in the Lower New York State chapter.
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