December 2008

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Obama's nominations so far include Rahm Emanuel (Chief of Staff), pictured above to the left of Obama), David Axelrod (Senior Advisor), Ronald Klain (Biden's Chief of Staff), Larry Summers (National Economic Council Director), Paul Volcker(Economic Recovery Advisory Board), Tim Geithner (Secretary of the Treasury) and Peter Orszag (Director of OMB). Are Obama and Biden not so much assembling staff, as gathering a minyan?
News and Opinion

Reflections on Barack Obama and the election of 2008

-- David Broida

I have been blessed in so many ways this election year. In addition to the opportunity to work on behalf of Barack Obama, raise funds for his campaign, create an advertising campaign in the Jewish press, organize a local high school team of volunteers, help set up and organize local campaign offices, hang out with surrogates Jessica Lange, Ashley Judd and Blythe Danner, I also had the chance to attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

I attended almost every AIPAC reception for delegates - at the Governor's mansion with Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Governors Corzine, Strickland, Granholm, Napolitano and many others; at receptions for Senators Carl Levin, Ron Wyden, Ben Cardin, Bob Casey, DNC Chairman Howard Dean and others; for African-American leaders such as Newark's Mayor Corey Booker; and for US House members, including Henry Waxman, Gary Ackerman, Allyson Schwartz, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and others, along with Israel's Ambassador to the US Sallai Meridor.

Two most poignant moments: Each Jewish member of Congress told their own personal story, such as Rep. Ackerman's, of his grandfather having been killed by Cossacks. Other, like Allyson Schwartz, told of her mother barely escaping the Holocaust in 1940, having safely made it to our shores. All spoke of their families, and how America was and is the Goldeneh Medina.

But the most interesting, to me, was listening to Rep. Shelley Berkley of Nevada. After telling how proud her parents and grandparents would be to see her now - a United States Representative, one of 435 elected members of the House, at the pinnacle of political power in this country - after saying all this, she added, "How fortunate we are to live in the United States". I immediately noted the difference between her wording, as opposed to this, that she did not say: "How fortunate we are to be Americans", which would have fit her context better.

I knew what she was doing - she was removing us - Jews - just one small semantical step away from fully belonging, from fully being secure, from fully being accepted in America. No matter how much we achieve, she seemed to be saying, we still have to worry.

After her address, when the program concluded, I asked her why "....live in the United States" instead of "How fortunate we are to be Americans", and she quickly affirmed my guess. With her semantic style, her subtle choice of words, at the Democratic National Convention, where as a delegate she'll be voting for perhaps the next President, United States Representative Shelley Berkley reminded us that she never forgets that she is Jewish.

David Broida is a former board member of American Jewish World Service and current Lower Merion Democratic Committeeman.

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