January 19, 2020

Bipartisan Congressional Black-Jewish Caucus Established

Photo by Mannie Garcia, courtesy of the American Jewish Committee.

Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) announced at the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Global Forum in Washington, D.C. on Monday the formation of the Congressional Black-Jewish Caucus.

The AJC, which aided the creation of the caucus, tweeted that the caucus will focus on providing “resources to members of Congress to empower them to bring African-American and Jewish communities together, combating stereotypes and hate and showcasing commonalities.” The caucus will also advocate for hate crime bills that crack down on white supremacists.

Schultz tweeted, “African American and Jewish communities have a shared history of confronting discrimination & racism. White supremacy threatens both our communities, and the Caucus will build on our common fight for a better world.”

Lawrence similarly said in a statement, “The African-American and Jewish communities have a history of standing together for the promotion of social justice and civil rights. There are very few segments of America that have invested themselves in these struggles as much as these communities.” She added that the caucus will help in “advancing our issues in a collective manner.”

Zeldin also said in a statement, “For generations, the Jewish and African-American communities have stood together, helping each other overcome their greatest challenges and triumphing in the face of sweeping discrimination, all while securing a brighter future for all Americans, but our work is not yet finished. It is clear our communities are still the target of hate and discrimination, and we will not stand idly by.”

Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Will Hurd (R-Tex.) are the other co-founders of the caucus.

American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen has been among those calling for the formation of a Congressional Jewish Caucus. California and New York are currently the only state legislatures that have a Jewish caucus.

Aaron Keyak, former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, said in a statement to the Journal, “As hatred, racism and anti-Semitism are on a deadly rise, it was heartening to see a diverse group of leaders, across the religious and ethnic spectrum, gathered in Washington to stand up against domestic terrorism and those that tolerate it. The creation of the Congressional Black-Jewish Caucus, founded on our shared values in the fight for social justice and civil rights, is a shining moment during an otherwise bleak moment in our history. It is a sign of what can come when we come together and work toward change.”

American Jewish Committee (AJC) Los Angeles Regional Office Assistant Director Siamak Kordestani similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “We commend these members of Congress for writing a new chapter in this historically important relationship. For decades, African-American and Jewish communities have stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the struggle for civil rights, social justice, and combating racism. As we face a surge in hate and domestic terrorism across the nation, there is much work for us to do together.”