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New Women Who Do:

Kamala Harris, Janet Yellen and Debbie Wasserman Schultz Are Women with Purpose

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America has finally found its women and they’re leading the way.  Three such wonders are Kamala Harris, our new and groundbreaking Vice President, Janet Yellen, our new and trailblazing Chair of the Federal Reserve, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Hilary Clinton’s National Campaign Co-chair and DNC Chair before she returned as US Representative to the 23rd District of Florida. These women came prepared to find their strength, their intelligence and their timing to lead the country and represent women as they successfully do so. Two of the three, Janet Yellen and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, are lifetime members of Hadassah.  And although Kamala is not Jewish, nor a member of this prestigious international voice, I have decided to call her one of my own because she carries our values within her choices of humanity and political policy-not to mention that her family, by marriage, is Jewish as well as multi-racial.  Let’s take these women of valor one at a time in chronological order to their recent rise. Ms. Wasserman Schultz was a rising star during Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign. 

Early on and therefore before she fell from grace for not backing Bernie Sander’s in his bid for President, Nancy Pelosi had such faith in her that she was rewarded a spot on the powerful Appropriations Committee. It seems that every time Debbie had a celebration or headed a convention or a meeting, the Jewish community was called upon to show up and vote in large, committed numbers.  She spoke the language of humanitarianism, social welfare programs without too much wallet- eating bite, justice and equality issues before the Black Lives Matter movement.  Between kosher pastrami bites quality and equanimity were the issues on the table and she led the way. During much of this she bravely managed to hide her battle with breast cancer and summon her strength and time to champion the health care package.  This helped President Obama win the key state of Florida. Her voice gave voice to the Jewish population who showed up to win. That’s a Woman Who can Do.

Janet Yellen is a marvel who never thinks of herself as a feminist or crasher of glass ceilings.  She’s often called ‘the small lady with a large IQ.’ She’s a thinker.  She has an economic philosophy that follows the Keynesian school of thought that economic markets are fundamentally flawed and need governmental regulation to better function and serve the people it represents. Simply, this philosophy allows the markets to revert to form more easily after the upheavals that are so numerous these days.  Yellen is a low-profile personality of a brave strong woman in a man’s world-the finance world.  Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, her mother was a teacher and her father a doctor.  She graduated Valedictorian from Fort Hamilton High School. Ms. Yellen became the first Democrat to chair the Fed in 30 years. In 2017 she received the Paul H. Douglas Award for ethics, a trait we have been hard-pressed to recognize in many of our leaders. She is the first female Chair of the Federal Reserve and a lifetime member of Hadassah.  We are proud of this Woman Who continues to Do. 

Next is the amazing and strong Kamala Harris.  What a model for women, girls of all types.  All religions and colors and concepts of females are somehow melded into the new political icon, Kamala Harris.  A strong, tough prosecuting Attorney for the State of California in 2010, Ms. Harris became the first female and first multi-racial person to hold that post. Her position on same sex marriage deals with the problem of criminal recidivism.  While in state office she made her reputation prosecuting cases of gang violence, drug trafficking and sexual abuse while maintaining an image as a person of ethics and integrity, of equality and humanity-of what I call the Jewish Heart of Justice (not to denigrate any others). She stands tall as the ONE- The lightning bolt that will help make Joe Biden current and relevant. She is a graduate of Hastings Law and Howard University and a proud member of her black sorority Kappa Alpha Kappa. (One of my college roommates at Ohio State was Pam Johnson-an AKA sister -so I have personal knowledge of how bright and socially aware they were even back in the 60’s-when Kamala was born.)  Ms. Harris often demonstrated political independence and that will help her gain influence and friends in Congress. She replaced Barbara Boxer in the California Senate-and that Jewish woman is also a high-profile trailblazer.  Quite a job, —and so much more ahead of you.  Welcome to my roster of Women Who Do, Ms. Vice President. 

Hadassah’s membership slogan is “The Power of Women Who Do.” These three women – Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Federal Reserve Chairperson Janet Yellen and Vice-President Kamala Harris are sterling examples of “Women Who Do” today!  Watch them and kvell! 

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