Leaders of the United States Congress gathered to pay tribute to Shuvu Return, an Israeli school network, on June 23rd in the United States Capitol.  The event featured the most powerful members of the current congress including both House Whips, Democrat Steny Hoyer and Republican Kevin McCarthy, Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, and Chairmen and Ranking Members of various committees.  The keynote address was delivered by the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, on the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

 

The event paid tribute to the memory of Congressman Charles Vanik, whose commitment to the cause of Soviet Jewry, allowed for millions of Russian Jews to make Israel their home. In 1974, Charles Vanik sponsored the Jackson-Vanik Act in the House of Representatives which helped refugees, particularly minorities and Jews, to immigrate from the Soviet Bloc to Israel. The Jackson-Vanik amendment was credited with pressuring the Soviet leadership with allowing immigration to Israel.  The late Congressman’s wife Betty Vanik, and daughter Phyllis Vanik, attended the luncheon.  Chairman of Shuvu, Abe Biderman, Chairman of Shuvu, said "Vanik’s leadership was instrumental in facilitating tens of thousands of Jews to immigrate to Israel where Shuvu is educating thousands of children in the spirit of our forefather”.

 

We would like to thank the following speakers for attending and paying tribute to Shuvu and the memory of Charles Vanik: Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, Senator Chuck Grassley, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, Chairman Darrell Issa, Chairman Peter King, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Ranking Member Sandy Levin, Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger, Rep. Eliot Engel, Rep. Ted Deutch, Rep. Marcia Fudge. Special thanks to Rep Nan Hayworth of New York State who graciously hosted the luncheon.
 
Photos courtesy of Shimon Gifter.