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Friday, January 12, 2007 | return to: news & features


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Local Jews, women bask in Pelosi’s glow at inauguration

by joe eskenazi & ron kampeas, special to j.

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Oh, you saw it.

If, in the last week, you bothered to flick on a TV or glance at a newspaper, you definitely saw it.

In fact, the photograph of Rep. Nancy Pelosi passing the gavel to her cherubic grandchildren is proliferating with the rapidity of Joe Rosenthal's shot of the Iwo Jima flag-raising.

But unless you were there, you didn't feel it.

"What you couldn't get on television was the enormous energy and excitement, especially for women. It was the most incredible high for all of us," said Natalie Berg, a board member of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Vocational Services and AIPAC, and one of many local Jews to attend the Democrats' big weekend in Washington, D.C.

"There were a lot of people from the Jewish community; we kept bumping into each other. We were very well represented, and the people who went, by and large, have been major supporters of Nancy's. It bodes well for the Jewish community of San Francisco."

Roselyne "Cissie" Swig of San Francisco also noted that many local Jews were in Washington but added that it wasn't a surprise as many, many locals were present, period.

"There were a huge number of people from the Bay Area ... It was wonderful, it was really like a family party. There was a real sense of euphoria."

Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is, of course, the first female Speaker of the House. What is lesser known is that she is the first speaker to have Jewish grandchildren (her daughter, Nancy Corinne, is married to Jeff Prowda of Scottsdale, Ariz., and a mother of two).

Those Jewish grandkids, Madeline and Alexander, were among the troop Pelosi ushered onto the dais during the Jan. 4 ceremony.

Pelosi also asked Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Reform movement's Religious Action Center, to headline her first celebratory event, a Tuesday-morning Mass at her alma mater, Washington's Trinity University.

Saperstein quoted Leviticus in speaking about Darfur, the Sudan region ravaged by government-backed militias: "Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor."

Pelosi had told staff she wanted a Jewish speaker on Darfur, since she sees the Jewish community as leading the fight to raise awareness about the genocide. Apparently she was pleased, since she grabbed Saperstein when the event ended and pulled him into a family photo, saying, "I want you in this."




Joe Eskenazi
is a j. staff writer; Ron Kampeas writes for JTA.


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