— by David Streeter
The National Jewish Democratic Council’s Women’s Leadership Network hosted a panel discussion for its first-ever event in Washington, DC. The panel was led by Representative Susan Davis (D-CA) and former White House Communications Director Ann F. Lewis, and featured nonpartisan political analysis from The Jerusalem Post’s Hilary Krieger. Representatives Lois Frankel (D-FL), Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) attended the luncheon and added their voices to discussion.
Washington Jewish Week reported on the event and featured coverage of the event in its weekly email to subscribers:
Full report after the jump.
Barbara Goldberg Goldman worked tirelessly to get President Barack Obama re-elected.
There wasn’t a moment unaccounted for last summer and fall. All her energies were focused towards November and election day. When this reporter tried at times to track her down, she was either knocking on yet another door in a Northern Virginia or Maryland neighborhood or making sure that recognized Jewish leaders were writing op-eds to release to the nation’s newspapers.
Last Friday, Goldberg Goldman along with other key national Democratic Jewish women, announced in Washington, D.C., the formation of the National Jewish Democratic Council’s (NJDC) Women’s Leadership Network.
‘The Women’s Leadership Network will ultimately build on NJDC’s previous success mobilizing Jewish Americans and augment NJDC’s mission of maximizing Jewish support for Democrats. I and other Women’s Leadership Network co-founders are very excited that NJDC has a new mechanism to mobilize female Democrats, and we look forward to starting a conversation in the Jewish community.’
Last Friday’s event featured a panel discussion on the issues facing women following the 2012 election. Rep. Susan Davis (D-Ca.) and Ann F. Lewis, NJDC Chairman’s Council member and former White House communications director, spoke as Democratic leaders in the Jewish community. The Jerusalem Post’s Washington bureau chief Hilary Krieger offered nonpartisan political analysis.
‘We heard a lot about the women’s vote making a difference in the 2012 election for Democratic candidates,’ said Lewis. ‘We have the same dynamic in the Jewish community, with a significant gender gap, reflective of important issues, but too often Jewish women’s voices were left out of the debate. NJDC’s voter contact program spoke to these issues and highlighted women’s voices. The NJDC Women’s Leadership Network will build on what we learned in 2012 and ensure that Jewish women’s voices are included in the next political campaign.’
Davis said that she was honored to have been a participant in this opening event.
‘It is critical that Jewish women mobilize across the country,’ she said. ‘In order to protect the progress made under President Barack Obama and to pave the way for more policies that advance women’s rights. NJDC’s Women’s Leadership Network is a significant step that will ensure that voices of female Jewish Democrats are heard.’
Prior to Friday’s event, both Goldberg Goldman and Lewis spoke to WJW.
‘There was a lot of attention in 2012 given to the women’s vote,’ Lewis told WJW. ‘The numbers showed us that women were more likely to vote for certain issues. So there was a similar dynamic within the Jewish community. The majority of Jewish voters are women. As part of NJDC, we watch the votes on issues concerning Israel and others such as equal pay for women and women’s health.
‘We’re learning from the 2012 election,’ she continued, ‘and we’re building on what we achieved. It’s important for women’s votes to be part of the national conversation. We want to raise the visibility and advocacy of women.’
Lewis added, ‘What we know is that women like to hear from other women. When we have a debate that doesn’t have women’s voices, we lose an opportunity to reach out to our community and to make our case. Once we start hearing from women, we get a much better response. We are encouraging women to be advocates and to understand the power we have as leaders in the community.’
Goldberg Goldman said that the group’s mission is to amplify the goals of Jewish Democrat women.
‘We’ve never been shy,’ she said. ‘We’re encouraging our colleagues and our sisters and our mothers and our nieces to speak out and to get involved and engaged in an organized fashion.’
Lewis also told WJW that the fiscal health of the nation is a matter of great importance to everyone, not just to men. Other issues important to Jewish women is the securing of a strong democratic Israel living side by side with a Palestinian state.
‘There isn’t one issue that doesn’t resonate among women,’ Lewis said.
Federally funded lunch programs, the special supplemental aid program for women, infants and children known as WIC is a Jewish women’s issue.
The area of women’s reproductive freedom is a Jewish women’s issue. Violence against women, again a Jewish women’s issue. Fiscal issues are also an issue for Jewish women as well. ‘It’s clear that we will have an active group of women for forums, fly-ins to Washington and access to members of Congress. Local and regional concerns are all important to Jewish women and women of all faiths.’
‘The last election illustrated the significance of the women’s vote not only in numbers but in helping to define the issues that were critically important, and those issues critically important for women, cannot be ignored. NJDC has the leadership to bring this together,’ said Lewis.