The Forward 50

Gabrielle Giffords

Gabrielle Giffords

Politics

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords returned to Washington in early October for only the second time since suffering a severe brain injury in an assassination attempt in January. The Democratic lawmaker didn’t head to Capitol Hill, but instead went to the Executive Office Building for a ceremony marking the retirement of her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly. Giffords presented Kelly with the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for commanding the space shuttle Endeavour, and then it was Giffords’s turn to win praise — from her husband. “Gabby, you remind me every day to deny the acceptance of failure, “ Kelly said. “I look forward to the next phase of our lives together and watching all of your future achievements.”

On January 8, Giffords was cut down in a hail of bullets fired at close range as she met with a crowd of constituents outside a Tucson supermarket. Jared Lee Loughner, 22, was charged in the shooting spree, which killed six and wounded 14. Giffords was critically injured and doctors put her in a medically induced coma to control brain swelling. The day after the shooting, her synagogue, Congregation Chaverim in Tucson, held a healing service led by Rabbi Stephanie Aaron, whom Giffords has called her spiritual mentor.

Giffords was born of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. In 2001, then a state senator, she traveled to Israel on a trip sponsored by the American Jewish Committee. It was on that trip that Giffords solidified her connection to her Jewish roots and to living as a Jew. Her rabbi says that Giffords was drawn especially by Judaism’s commitment to social justice.

Since the shooting, Giffords, 41, has been in a constant battle to recover, surprising her doctors time and again with her resilience and strength. Although she struggles to speak clearly and to walk, Giffords made a dramatic return to Capitol Hill this summer. To cheers and ringing applause, she made her way slowly into the House chamber to cast her vote in the rancorous debt-ceiling battle.

Synagogues around the country still pray for healing on her behalf.

Plus One

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, the Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • For 22 years, Seeds of Peace has fostered dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian teens in an idyllic camp. But with Israel at war in Gaza, this summer was different. http://jd.fo/p57AB
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.