At its annual Social Award dinner that took place Monday in Washington DC, The National Council of Jewish Women honored Edie Windsor and Roberta Kaplan, calling them ‘two giants in the field of marriage equality.’ The event was broadcast live on Periscope by A Wider Bridge Chicago.
The National Council for Jewish Women presented Edie Widsor and Roberta Kaplan with its Social Action Award during a dinner at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Windsor and Kaplan are among those who were taking part in the National Council of Jewish Women’s triennial Washington Institute that focuses on public policy.
“Two giants in the field of marriage equality,” Rabbi Deborah Waxman, who opened the evening, described the honorees, “champions of successful fights to extend the blessings and the protections of marriage to same sex couples.”
“Thank you all from the bottom of the Jewish heart and soul,” said Edie Windsor in her speech.
Edie Windsor with Laurie Grauer, A Wider Bridge’s Midwest Manager of Programs and Operations.
The opening remarks were given by Matt Nosanchuk, The White House Jewish liaison. “I’m sending greetings to everyone attending The National Council of Jewish Women Washington Institute 2016, and I’m pleased to join in recognizing Edie Windsor and Roberta Kaplan who for more than a decade helped drive our nation’s progress and expand opportunity by engaging people in the critical work of advancing social justice and forging a brighter tomorrow for Americans and Israelis, who carried an idea in the heart of Judaism and of our country’s promise, that we’re all each other’s keepers.”
“In paying tribute to two women, whose bold efforts to hold this ideal and extend the quality of freedom to more people, we’re honoring you for standing up and speaking out on issues that matter to us all, ” Nosanchuk said.
In her acceptance speech, attorney Roberta Kaplan spoke about her connection to the Jewish community. “I spent half of my life kind of running away from the Jewish community and from Jewish women’s groups, and I spent the second half of my life running back.” she joked.
“Being Jewish, I grew up in Cleveland, it was not that different than growing up in the upper west side, it was childhood and a life that I cherished. And the truth is, for me, being Jewish, and my ties to the Jewish community were so powerful and meaningful to me, were in a lot of ways the hardest thing about being gay. Because I wanted to have the kind of life that I grew up with. I wanted a family that I grew up with, community ties like I’d grown up with, and living and growing up in Ohio in the 70s and 80s that did not seem possible.
“It would be fair to call me a late bloomer when it came to coming out of the closet,” Roberta continued, “and a large part of that was contributed to my Judaism. To my Jewish background, and to the struggle I had inside me. Obviously I could not give up being a lesbian, that was part of me, but I didn’t want to give up being Jewish either. So if you had told me back in Hawken School, that one day I will be standing up here, addressing the National Council of Jewish Women, that I’d be an open lesbian, that I’d be married to another woman, that I’d have a son, that I’d be a partner in a place like Paul Weiss, and that I would have argued a Supreme Court case like United States v. Windsor, I am quite positive I would have told you that you were going to far too many Grateful Dead concerts.”