A letter to Congressman Deutch

 REP. TED Deutch (D-Florida) speaks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, 2019.  (photo credit: Andrew Harrer/Reuters)
REP. TED Deutch (D-Florida) speaks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, 2019.
(photo credit: Andrew Harrer/Reuters)

Dear Congressman Deutch,

Today is a day I’ve long dreaded and had hoped would never arrive. I’ve known many politicians, but I’ve never known anyone quite like you. I first met you when a friend of your daughters suggested they’d be interested in my Pro-Israel class. After talking to Serena and Gabby about my class, he excitedly called me from your kitchen and said not only were they interested, but their dad even offered to speak to the club.

Not knowing their names or who their dad was, I politely declined, explaining that I prefer experts and elected officials to speak, not just dads with opinions they want to share. After hearing who you were and that you offered to speak to teenagers without being asked, I was impressed. I normally must hound members of Congress and their staff to have a member of Congress speak to my students. My admiration for you since that day twelve years ago has only grown.

You’ve made the decision to retire from politics and give up your seat in Congress. We, your constituents, will suffer your absence the most, but many people will miss you and the great work you’ve done. I’m disappointed we couldn’t convince you to continue, but we know you’re not leaving our concerns behind. Your constituents know who you are and what you care about. We know you’ll work to be even more effectively in your next role.

You’ve achieved a great deal while in the Florida State Senate and as a member of Congress. You made your mark leading legislation while in the Florida Senate to pass the first law in America to mandate that public pension funds not be invested in Iran. While in the House you passed countless legislation and resolutions against Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons and support of terrorism. You courageously stood against president Obama and your party in opposition against the 2015 nuclear deal. Not many people knew how hard opposing the Iran deal was for you politically, but you stood for what you knew was right in the face of political expediency.

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., votes to approve the second article of impeachment against President Donald Trump during a House Judiciary Committee meeting on Capitol Hill, in Washington. (credit: PATRICK SEMANSKY/POOL VIA REUTERS)Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., votes to approve the second article of impeachment against President Donald Trump during a House Judiciary Committee meeting on Capitol Hill, in Washington. (credit: PATRICK SEMANSKY/POOL VIA REUTERS)

I'd like to list the hundreds of resolutions, pieces of legislation and statements you’ve sponsored and issued in favor of a strong US-Israel relationship, but there are just too many. A congressperson should be judged on their effectiveness rather than their volume, but you’ve excelled at passing effective legislation and speaking up loudly for the US-Israel relationship.

As a strong advocate of the US-Israel relationship, you led by example. You supported America’s relationship with its top ally, Israel in a non-prescriptive manner. As a member of Congress, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the chairman of the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism Subcommittee, you could’ve laid a heavy hand and pressured Israel to take steps it felt were against its best interests. You never did this; instead, you offered support that the elected leaders of the Israeli people requested. You supported Israel and you didn’t prescribe the steps Israel should take in its policies.

Your leadership on the US-Israel relationship wasn’t just in the laws and resolutions you passed, but in the advocacy, you practiced in the halls of Congress itself among your elected colleagues. You explained to countless members of Congress about the importance of the US-Israel relationship and of particular pieces of legislation that they would vote on shortly. You worked in a bipartisan fashion, ensuring that the US-Israel relationship was supported on both sides of the aisle. It is your leadership in this area that makes you deserving of recognition in Jerusalem’s newspaper, The Jerusalem Post.

Although this letter and the many words I’ve written about you over the past decade could give the impression that your time in Congress was solely taken up by the US-Israel relationship, this would be a mistake. While in the Florida State Senate and the House of Representatives, you worked on countless issues that made a difference in so many people’s lives.

You worked on freeing hostages, properly honoring American veterans, human rights across the world and equal rights in America. You held people’s hands and wiped their tears through tragedies like the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. You railed against rising antisemitism and worked on legislation to stop it. You truly represented the interests of your constituents and they felt it.

On a personal level, I am grateful that you listened to me, considered my opinions – especially when we disagreed and responded to my concerns. Aliza and I are so appreciative of the Shabbat meals we shared together with you and Jill, the time getting to know your children, and the time you took for us on your visits to Israel. Our children felt so special that a member of Congress would come to our home and take their father’s phone calls. They were even more impressed when they got to know you and your family and saw how down-to-earth you were. We know your schedule prevented you from visiting us in Mitzpe Yericho, but we look forward to hosting you soon.

As an educator, I am in your debt for always speaking to my students. You patiently spent hours with them, listening to their questions, responding to their worries and promising them your full effort in addressing their issues.

I admire you as a person, a member of our community and our elected representative. Above all, I admire your character. You ran for office because you care about your neighbors and your people. Your care and concern for us shown through everything you did.

I remember shedding tears with you over the Parkland tragedy; this wasn’t just a political issue for you. When Gilad, Naftali and Eyal were found, you trekked miles on foot to their funeral – because you cared.

When you talked about your frustration with partisanship, it wasn’t political for you – your frustration stemmed from not being able to help people. I’ll never forget how much you cared as a member of Congress. I only hope other elected leaders read this note and commit to being more like you.

Congressman Deutch, thank you. Thank you for all your hard work, for the hours of sacrifice, for the months away from home, and all you have done for us. You were the greatest representative we could have asked for, and we were undeserving of you. I know we’ll always remain as close as we are today, and I know you will continue to improve the areas of our concern. I wish you nothing but the greatest success in your new role. Please tell Jill, Gabby, Serena and Cole how thankful we are to them for giving you up – we are forever in their debt.

Thank you,

Uri

The writer is a senior educator at numerous educational institutions. He is the author of three books and teaches Torah, Zionism and Israel studies around the world.