(October 17, 2019 / JNS) The pro-Israel and Jewish communities expressed condolences over the passing of longtime Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Oct. 17 after a long bout with illness.
Cummings, who had been in Congress since 1996, was 68 years old and chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, one of three committees conducting an impeachment inquiry on U.S. President Donald Trump.
“The Baltimore Jewish community is in shock this morning to learn of the passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings. He was an extraordinary person—committed to social justice, to the people of Baltimore and to building a better country and world for all,” the organization’s president, Marc Terrill, told JNS. “Elijah was a dear friend throughout his decades of service in the state and national legislature; a man who could be counted on during good times and bad.”
“He supported countless initiatives on behalf of The Associated’s network of agencies and was a powerful advocate for our work. His largest imprint on Jewish Baltimore is the creation of the Elijah Cummings Youth Project in Israel, a program of our agency, the Baltimore Jewish Council,” he continued. “While he will be tremendously missed, his presence will be felt for decades, and I am truly honored to have known him and called him a friend.”
“AIPAC mourns the passing of Representative Elijah Cummings. @RepCummings was a strong advocate of the U.S.-Israel relationship. His innovative Youth Program, ECYP, helped forged ties between young people in his beloved Baltimore and youth in Israel,” tweeted the pro-Israel lobby. “The pro-Israel community extends our condolences to his family, his constituents and his many admirers throughout the country.”
In an interview about the 20th anniversary of the Elijah Cummings Youth Leadership Program in Israel, the congressman said, “I want to send a message that we cannot as African-Americans progress without coalitions, and our greatest coalition partner has been the Jewish people in America.”
“On behalf of the Baltimore Jewish Community, the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel and The Associated, the Baltimore Jewish Council grieves the death of Congressman Cummings. Our community, our city, and our nation lost a friend, a man of faith, and a remarkable leader,” tweeted the Baltimore Jewish Council.
“The Congressman would regularly remind us that ‘our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see.’ His work consistently reflected that belief. We are honored to be home to the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel, and vow to ensure it continues,” posted the council in a subsequent tweet.
“Cummings was uncompromising in his commitment to the values that truly define what makes America great, including equality and justice for all,” said the Jewish Democratic Council of America in a statement. “Rep. Cummings’ remarkable legacy serves as an inspiration to all who aspire to lead with their values, and the Jewish community is incredibly grateful to him for his persistent leadership, partnership and support.”
“An exemplary leader, Cummings fought tirelessly for the people of Baltimore, for our democracy, for our children and for social justice. We are grateful that Congressman Cummings was also a champion of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” said Democratic Majority for Israel president and CEO Mark Mellman in a statement.
“All Americans are indebted to him and for his unstinting service to our country,” he added.
Republican Jewish Coalition spokesperson Neil Strauss simply told JNS, “We send our condolences to Congressman Cummings’s family.”
“The Conference of Presidents mourns the passing of Representative Elijah Cummings. He was a devoted and beloved leader in his home district and served the American people in his distinguished career in Congress,” said the organization’s chairman, Arthur Stark, and executive vice chairman and CEO, Malcolm Hoenlein. “The Conference had many opportunities to interact with him and to host him at various events. He was a true friend of Israel and the Jewish community.”
Jewish members of the Maryland congressional delegation also expressed their condolences.
“@RepCummings and I shared a city, an alma mater, a love of the law and a life of public service. I am deeply saddened by his passing, and my prayers today are with his family and loved ones—and the people of Baltimore,” tweeted Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).
“I have lost a friend and a colleague. The death of Chairman Cummings leaves an irreplaceable void in our hearts, in our Maryland and in our Congress. Quite possibly no elected official mattered so much to his constituents,” he continued. “@RepCummings guaranteed a voice to so many who would otherwise not have one, and stood as a symbol for the heights one could reach if they paid no mind to obstacles, naysayers and hate. His commitment to his city and country was unwavering, as will be my lasting respect for him.”
“It is hard to measure the enormity of the loss we have just suffered. Elijah was the beloved favorite son of Maryland, and the prophetic voice of moral integrity and social rebuilding that America needs so desperately,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). “It is hard to imagine going on in these hard days without his passion, his decency and his brilliance, but he would be the first to tell us that we must not waver and we must not falter. For Elijah, it was always about the children—the messengers we send to a future we won’t see. So we must redouble and expand our work in his honor. I will miss him every day.”
Cummings is survived by his wife, Maya, and three children.