The Jews of Capi­tol Hill: A Com­pendi­um of Jew­ish Con­gres­sion­al Members

Kurt F. Stone
  • Review
By – August 23, 2011
This cof­fee table book is heavy enough, and it will pro­vide hours of pass­ing inter­est to Jew­ish fol­low­ers of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. There are hun­dreds of pages of sur­pris­ing­ly in-depth biogra­phies of the 198 mem­bers of the Con­gres­sion­al Minyan.” Start­ing with Florid­i­an David Levy Yulee in 1841, right through to Eric Can­tor in the 111th Con­gress, there have been a lot of fas­ci­nat­ing Jews in the U.S. Sen­ate and House. Stone’s book gives the read­er chap­ter and verse.

The minyanaires” are noth­ing if not a var­ied lot, and many are known for far more than their Con­gres­sion­al pedi­grees. Jef­fer­son Mon­roe Levy (D‑NY 1852 – 1924) deserves the nation’s thanks for his sin­gle-mind­ed pur­chase and restora­tion of his namesake’s famed home, Mon­ti­cel­lo. California’s Julius Kahn (R‑CA 1861 – 1924) was the country’s first actor to take his place on Capi­tol Hill, regal­ing his col­leagues with many man­ner­isms he had acquired in his the­atri­cal career.” It seemed as if he felt Con­gress was a more secure pro­fes­sion than the stage.

Facts and sto­ries engage the atten­tion. Gabrielle Gif­fords (D‑AZ 1970 – ) is actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s first cousin. Antho­ny Wein­er (D‑NY 1965 – ) was one of the very first mem­bers of Con­gress to text and receive instant mes­sages; Mey­er Lon­don (S‑NY 1871 – 1926) was elect­ed as the Low­er East Side’s Social­ist Rep­re­sen­ta­tive no less than 3 times, and spoke to his poly­glot con­stituen­cy in flu­ent Ital­ian, Eng­lish, Ger­man and Yid­dish! South Car­olin­ian Lewis Charles Levin (A‑PA 1809 – 1860) made his name as a lead­ing light of the Know-Noth­ing” Anti-Immi­grant par­ty. Though the con­nec­tion between these biogra­phies relies on the slen­der tie of some form of Jew­ish­ness” it still makes for fas­ci­nat­ing reading.
Jeff Bogursky reads a lot, writes a lit­tle and talks quite a bit. He is a media exec­u­tive and expert in dig­i­tal media.

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