You are here

Pelosi Remarks at Portrait Unveiling of Florence Kahn

Washington, D.C. - In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and senior Members of Congress held an unveiling in the Capitol this afternoon for the portrait of former Congresswoman Florence Kahn, who represented San Francisco in the House from 1925 to 1937.  She was the first Jewish American woman to serve in the United States Congress. Below are the Speaker's remarks:

“Thank you very much Debbie [Wasserman Schultz] for your tremendous leadership in bringing us together to honor Florence Kahn.  And not only that, for being the driving force for Jewish American Heritage Month.

“Debbie wasn't here a matter of hours in the Congress of the United States before she was circulating petitions, lobbying the Senate, doing whatever it took in record time, to pass this legislation.  I can't believe that a number of years have gone by. What is it, three years now? Four. She was effective from the start; she had her heart and her mind set on this.

“And to be honoring Florence Kahn -- yes, she did represent the same district that I represent in Congress. And this is a really special treat for me because the name ‘Kahn' in San Francisco is a very big one.

“I always said that apart from my own home and probably this Capitol now, I spent more time at Julius Kahn playground with my five children.  And in fact, I always said that I wanted to be buried there because it was my home and I love the sound of all the children playing there. The park is named for Julius Kahn -- husband of Florence Kahn and also a Member of Congress before her.

“It's appropriate that her portrait is set in the Presidio -- I understand that Florence was the first woman to serve on the House Armed Services Committee, in addition to being the first woman appropriator.

“So, Debbie has indeed formed a mitzvah for us by having Jewish -- didn't I say it right? [Laughter.] -- American Heritage Month.  Earlier, you were listing all those achievements of Jewish Americans.  You neglected to mention, but I will, the magnificence of some of my grandchildren, who fall into that category.  And they love Julius Kahn playground.  When they come to San Francisco, they always ask about it.

“So you could just imagine what it is for me to come here to honor Debbie's contribution for bringing us together to honor the first Jewish American woman to serve in Congress. A woman who was instrumental in the building of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge -- international symbols of America. The Golden Gate Bridge, the place where our troops came home from battle, where immigrants from Asia first saw the shores of America coming into San Francisco.  It is so magnificent -- much of it because of Florence Kahn.

“So for personal, San Francisco-wide and national reasons, this is indeed a great cause for celebration to honor Florence Kahn and to unveil this -- what I'm sure is going to be a wonderful portrait.

“It's an honor always to be with you Mr. Chairman [David Obey] -- he was my Chairman when I served on the Appropriations Committee.  So, what we all have in common -- I have the Jewish grandchildren and you have the heritage -- we all honor Florence Kahn.  Again, I want to thank Debbie -- she's done a remarkable job and I couldn't be happier that this portrait is for a woman who represents the district in which I raised my children, which I now have the privilege to represent: Florence Kahn.”