by Ron Kampeas
(JTA) — It’s been a day unlike any in modern American history: An armed mob broke through police into the U.S. Capitol building, vandalizing offices and taking over the dais on the Senate floor. Lawmakers have gone under lock and key. At least one person was shot and critically injured.
Capitol Police evacuated Congress members who were going through the ceremonial function of counting the electoral votes, which a group of Republicans, led by Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, had sought to derail. President Donald Trump, still refusing to accept his loss, had urged protesters to march to the Capitol.
The new Congress has at least 33 Jewish members, in the House and Senate, among those who would have been present today. There are hundreds of Jewish staffers, too, although the pandemic has many working remotely.
Here are some snapshots of their experiences gathered from social media postings by Jewish lawmakers and in interviews with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
This article will be updated throughout the day.
Rep. Elaine Luria
“Just had to evacuate my office because of a bomb reported outside, while the President’s anarchists are trying to force their way into the Capitol,” Luria, a Virginia Democrat recently reelected to her sophomore term, tweeted. “I heard what sounds like multiple gunshots.”
Luria, like virtually every other lawmaker — a handful of leaders are the exception — are housed in buildings adjacent to the Capitol.
She is a retired Navy commander.
“I don’t recognize our country today and the members of Congress who have supported this anarchy do not deserve to represent their fellow Americans,” she said.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin
Two other Jewish Democratic sophomores from Michigan were taking shelter together.
“I am remaining safely in my office, as are my staff who were directed to stay home,” said Slotkin, a one-time CIA analyst. “Rep. Andy Levin is with me since his office building was evacuated.”
Rep. Andy Levin
Levin, Michigan Jewish royalty whose father is retired longtime Rep. Sander Levin, posted video to social media to say he was safe, and smiled at first: He was still steeped in the good news for his party that Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff had won Senate races in Georgia, handing the Senate to Democratic control.
“The joy of that is washed to the side at the moment as we are going through an assault on our democracy right here in the Capitol complex,” he said. “The president of the United States has encouraged his supporters to overrun the U.S. Capitol.”
Levin recalled seeing affronts to popular protests as a longtime human rights campaigner, interviewing dissidents in hiding in Haiti and China.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this here as a member of Congress,” he said.
Reps. Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Kathy Manning and David Cicilline
Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who led impeachment hearings, and Manning, D-N.C., a past chairwoman of the Jewish Federations of North America, declined interviews for now. Both told JTA that they were safe.
Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee who was Schiff’s impeachment deputy, said on Twitter that he was safe and sheltering in place.
“Make no mistake: President Trump and his enablers are directly responsible for this violence,” he said.
Cicilline, D-R.I., had a similar message on Twitter, where he said he was safe.
“This is outrageous, and the president caused it,” he said. “We should impeach and convict him tomorrow.”