web analytics
March 4, 2015 / 13 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Home » News & Views » US »

Sen. Lautenberg Remembered As ‘Lifesaver’ For Russian Jews

Frank Lautenberg

Frank Lautenberg

Washington – New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg whose signature law facilitated a flood of Soviet Jewish emigration just prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, died Monday morning of viral pneumonia after serving for more than thirty years in Washington.

Those who were closest to the 89-year-old Democrat said the law that had the most meaning for him was the one that bears his name.

The Lautenberg Amendment, passed in 1989 and enacted in 1990, facilitated the emigration of Soviet Jews by relaxing the stringent standards for refugee status, granting immigrant status to those who could show religious persecution in their native lands.

At a tribute in New York to Lautenberg last week hosted by Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, Lautenberg’s wife, Bonnie, called the amendment his “proudest achievement.” Bonnie Lautenberg accepted the award in his stead because the senator was too ill to attend.

Mark Hetfield, the president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the leading Jewish immigrant advocacy group, said Lautenberg’s final legacy may be making his amendment permanent.

The amendment now requires renewal every year, and at times has been threatened when Congress cannot agree on a budget, as was the case this year.

An amendment authored by Lautenberg to the immigration overhaul now under consideration in Congress would allow the president to fund the Lautenberg provisions without congressional approval. The amendment was part of a package approved last month by the Judiciary Committee, and the odds are that the full bill will pass.

“The law has been a lifesaver for hundreds of thousands of people who have fled religious persecution,” Hetfield said.

“When he became involved in electoral Jewish politics, he didn’t forget his Jewish involvement,” said Mark Levin, the director of NCSJ, formerly the National Council of Soviet Jewry. “He became one of the leading advocates for Jews in the Soviet Union.”

Another far-reaching law that bears the name of the New Jersey Democrat passed in 1996, banning the sales of guns to those convicted of domestic violence.

Lautenberg grew up in Paterson, N.J., the son of poor Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia. He liked to say his parents “could not pass on valuables, but left me a legacy of values,” according to a release from his office.

He served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War II and then earned a degree in economics at Columbia University through the G.I. Bill. The role of government in giving a poor kid from Paterson a shot at an Ivy League education undergirded Lautenberg’s subsequent commitment to social justice.

He started Automatic Data Processing and built it into the largest data processing firm in the world by 1974, when he became chairman of the United Jewish Appeal. Within a year Lautenberg had increased its charitable intake to the second-highest level in its history — an extraordinary accomplishment at a time when the United States was reeling from the energy crisis.

His business success meant he could pay for much of his Senate run in 1982, when the seat was open because the incumbent Democrat, Harrison Williams, resigned after being implicated in a bribe-taking scandal.

Lautenberg’s opponent, moderate Republican congresswoman Millicent Fenwick, had the backing of the state’s popular GOP governor, Thomas Kean, and was favored to win. But Lautenberg prevailed, 52 percent to 48 percent.

His Senate career was marked both by unflinching liberalism and his reputation for integrity. Lautenberg retired in 2001, but in a replay of his 1982 election, the state party called on him to run in 2002 after the scandal-plagued Robert Torricelli was forced to resign. This time, Lautenberg won handily.

His liberalism was rooted in his hardscrabble youth overshadowed by the death of his father from cancer when he was a boy, according to lifelong friend and fellow Paterson native Stephen Greenberg, now chairman of NCSJ.

“Paterson was the silk center of the world at the time,” Greenberg said. “You had this massive number of Jews from Russia and Poland in that whole area. His father worked in the silk mills, and Frank believed that was the predominant source of his cancer.”

Lautenberg became the Senate’s leading advocate of public safety, writing laws that improved standards for clean coastal waters and tripled liability for oil spills. In 1968 he founded the Lautenberg Center for Immunology and Cancer Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Sen. Lautenberg Remembered As ‘Lifesaver’ For Russian Jews”

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    Thank you, Senator, for everything. You will be missed.

  2. Alice Lemos says:

    Unfortunately, the late senator supported infanticide (partial birth abortion) and even defended this abhorrent practice on the floor o the Senate. He should not receive a pass on this.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Jordan's King Abdullah II, a licensed helicopter pilot, is rumored to have personally taken part in air strikes against ISIS.
Jordanian King Warns Global Battle With ISIS Has Launched World War III
Latest News Stories
Jordan's King Abdullah II, a licensed helicopter pilot, is rumored to have personally taken part in air strikes against ISIS.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II warns the battle against Daesh, known as ISIS, has launched World War III, although the U.S.-led coalition fighting the terror group may not yet know it.

The Oval Office.

Pres. Barack Obama says Israel’s prime minister offered “no viable alternative” to the current deal with Iran. Here’s how it lines up.

PM Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the US Congress on March 3, 2015.

Dozens of Democrats gathered to spew a stream of venom before the cameras Tuesday at Israel’s prime minister after his speech to Congress.

Eli Beer on Ambucycle

Eli Beer stunned the 16,500 AIPAC conference participants by arriving on stage with lights and sirens blaring on an ambucycle, a specially equipped motorcycle ambulance designed by United Hatzalah to speed up emergency response times.

Israel’s PM Netanyahu was interrupted 40 times with standing ovations in his 40 minute historic speech to the US Congress on Tuesday. Transcript here.

The transcript of PM Netanyahu’s speech is available here. The speech begins at 6pm Israel Time / 11AM NY Time.

Former US Secy of State Hillary Clinton is found to have exclusively used private email while at State Dept.

Bottles of wine accompany the Pesach storytelling – each glass of wine represents the four expressions used by G-d in describing the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt.

“Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate…” to wipe out Israel, PM Netanyahu told Congress.

The Prime Minister showed AIPAC a map of Iranian-backed Hezbollah attacks in five different continents.

If Iran is serious, Netanyahu can skip his speech and tell the Air Force to rev up its engines.

Names and contact information of House Democrats who have confirmed attendance at Bibi’s speech.

The anti-Netanyahu crowd, in the spirit of topsy-turvy Purim, drummed up support for his speech.

Iran, like the Palestinian Authority, has one mindset. A deal is not peace. It is an evil piece of paper.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas is making sure PA children will go without milk and the parents forced to ration what little milk they have.

US President Barack Obama contends Israel is “safer today than ever before,” says give Iran talks a chance.

More Articles from Ron Kampeas
Hillary Clinton

Clinton derided perceptions that U.S.-Israel tensions had become tense under Obama.

“We have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable. We have cleared up misunderstandings and held exhaustive discussions on every element of a possible text.”

It’s not yet clear if Nemmouche was acting on orders and, if so, whether the orders came from ISIS.

“The Jewish community is going to have to work harder,” said one veteran official who has worked both as a professional in the Jewish community and a staffer for a Jewish lawmaker.

The disagreements don’t seem to have gone away, despite a cease-fire that appears to be firmly in place.

“On the Hill and with some people with whom I have spoken who are robust Israel supporters, people are concerned if not angry,” one of the staffers, a Democrat, told JTA

President Obama in an April 25 press conference seemed ready to take a break. “There may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives,” he said.

Obama himself suggested that a break from the process may be necessary.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/sen-lautenberg-remembered-as-lifesaver-for-russian-jews/2013/06/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: