|Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords|
According to JTA, Giffords, who grew up in a mixed religious environment, took interest in her Jewish roots and identity after a 2001 trip to Israel. During her campaign she openly recounted her Jewish upbringing and Jewish tradition among her strengths for the job:
“If you want something done, your best bet is to ask a Jewish woman to do it...Jewish women — by our tradition and by the way we were raised — have an ability to cut through all the reasons why something should, shouldn’t or can’t be done and pull people together to be successful.”JTA also points out that in one of her last photos, Giffords posed with the new U.S. House of Representatives speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) at her swearing in, with her hand on the Five Books of Moses.
In October 2006, Giffords published an op-ed in the Arizona Jewish Post which celebrated her Jewish upbringing and identity:
My grandfather, Akiba Hornstein, was the son of a Lithuanian rabbi. My grandfather changed his name to Giff Giffords for reasons of anti-Semitism and moved to Southern Arizona from
more than a half century ago. In the 1940s, he founded my family’s tire and automotive business, El Campo Tire, which grew into a successful and thriving business for 50 years, which I ran for several years before serving in the Arizona Legislature. New York
Growing up, my family’s Jewish roots and tradition played an important role in shaping my values. The women in my family served as strong role models for me as a girl. In my family, if you want to get something done, you take it to the women relatives! Like my grandmother, I am a lifetime member of Hadassah and now a member of Congregation Chaverim.When I served in the State Senate in
Arizona, I had the opportunity to visit . It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I had the opportunity to meet with the then-mayor of Jerusalem , Ehud Olmert, and I got to see firsthand the sacrifices that Israelis make in the name of security because of the dangerous state of affairs there. Jerusalem
Combine Giffords' public expressions of her Jewish identity, with the shooter's suspected ties to anti-Semitic hate groups, and it's hard not to cry wolf.I will always be a strong supporter of
. As the only functioning democracy in the Middle East, Israel Israelis a vital strategic ally of the . I believe the United States United Statesmust do everything possible to secure ’s long-term security and achieve a lasting peace in the region. The failure of the current administration to continue the peace process has been a loss to Israel Americaand . That is why we need a new direction in Israel ... Washington
We cannot forget our past. I have worked to protect the rights of Holocaust survivors in our state. In 2002, I sponsored legislation that was signed into law by Governor Jane Hull, and unanimously approved by the Senate, to allow victims of the Holocaust, or their heirs, to collect insurance claims (HB 2541). It re-opened the statute of limitations for these claims. My opponent, Randy Graf, was one of only 13 legislators to oppose this bill.
As a woman and as a Jew, I will always work to insure that the
United Statesstands with to jointly ensure our mutual safety, security, and prosperity. Israel