Jewish Democrat Liz Holtzman wants to return to Congress – at age 81

Driven by current events, the trailblazing Jewish politician who broke glass ceilings 50 years ago is aiming for a comeback.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Liz Holtzman wants to go back to Washington politics. At age 81.

Once the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at 31, she served her New York district from 1973 to 1981 after beating the Democrat who had had a lock on the seat since 1922. She then left to run for the Senate but narrowly lost to her Republican rival, subsequently leaving the national stage – until now.

The octogenarian Jewish lawyer is challenging numerous competitors for the open seat in the city’s 10th District because, she says, the country is going backwards in terms of women’s rights.

Referring to the recent Supreme Court decision overturning of Roe v. Wade, which safeguards a woman’s right to an abortion nationwide, she told The New York Times, “I was angry at the result, but the so-called reasoning was even scarier because it made women second-class citizens, bound by the thinking of people who were misogynist in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. So, I decided to run.”

A firm supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, Holtzman had fought for those abortion rights in the Seventies. As a newbie in 1973, she also took then-president Richard Nixon to court over his sanctioning a year-long bombing operation in Cambodia during the Vietnam war. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where she won.

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Later that year, she was one of the first members of the Judiciary Committee to support starting impeachment proceedings against Nixon. She even authored one of the charges against him, although it failed to pass.

Natural questions arise over her age, considering the electorate’s apprehension over the health of President Joe Biden, who will turn 80 in November and is the oldest sitting Commander-in-Chief.

When queried by the New York Jewish Week, Holtzman, who kayaks regularly in the East River, dismissed the concern.

“When they see me out campaigning in the sun, handing out leaflets, talking to the people, they know that I have the physical stamina, the mental stamina — and on top of it, I have a record of effectiveness that is needed at this time when our country is in such a danger,” she told the outlet.

“People say Nancy Pelosi is too old for her job, but she’s very effective,” Holtzman added. “You can’t tell people that just because they are of a certain age that they can’t do a job.”

Pelosi, 82, is the Speaker of the House of Representatives and has served in Congress since 1987.

Holtzman has a solid pedigree on issues the Jewish community cares about. Saying that she experienced antisemitism herself as a child, she demands that all office-holders condemn Jew-hatred unequivocally. She is a proponent of gun control and says she was “an environmentalist before they ever created that term.”

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She also has a proven record when it comes to the Holocaust, having led the government to set up the Office of Special Investigations in 1979, which eventually prosecuted more than 100 Nazi war criminals who had slipped illegally into the United States after World War II.