Apr 6, 2021

Message from the CEO: The passing of U.S. Congressman Alcee L. Hastings

Tuesday morning, I lost a friend, and the Jewish community lost a champion.

U.S. Congressman Alcee L. Hastings was a friend to my family for decades. I remember when he and my godfather, an attorney who would later serve as judge, worked together to improve the lives of minority communities in the 1960s. As a teenager, I had a first-row seat to his passion, compassion and fiery determination when it came to matters of justice, equality and access. Alcee’s influence followed me to Washington, D.C. and then to Florida, during my tenure with AIPAC, where I would continue to work with him to affect international and national foreign policy.

Beyond our shared professional agendas – the betterment of relations between Israel and the United States – Alcee was a mentor to me. He demonstrated, in word and deed, the necessity for an unwavering commitment to what is just, even when it is unpopular – even when you may be unpopular. He was a bridge between cultures, an advocate for cultural freedoms and a staunch ally in the toughest battles.

I’m proud to have called him my friend.

As the CEO of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, I repeat, unequivocally, that we, as a community, have lost a champion.

When Alcee arrived in Broward County, his mission was not just to serve the African-American community, but all communities that suffered from discrimination, alienation and isolation. These communities included not only the Jewish populace, but also the elderly, differently abled, and youth. His fight was consistently for the unheard and ignored, and he fought that fight until the end.

He traveled to Israel many times as a member of a U.S. Congressional delegation and as part of the national pro-Israel community’s effort to educate members of Congress about the mutual benefits of the U.S. – Israel relationship. Alcee’s legislative highlights are too many to list here, but they will stand as a testimony to his belief in the strength of Israel and its people.

Alcee was never afraid to have necessary, difficult conversations. And that is the type of leader we need to have, moving forward, as a true representative of the many faces that make up South Florida, and of course, the world.

To have worked with him as a colleague and to have laughed with him as a friend was a blessing. He will be missed.