[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 145 (1999), Part 3]
[Senate]
[Pages 3144-3145]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]




              RABBI HERBERT E. DROOZ: ``THE RABBI SPEAKS''

  Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, it is with great honor, yet immense sadness 
that I stand today to pay tribute to a man--

[[Page 3145]]

Rabbi Herbert Drooz--whose spirit, vision, and voice will live on for 
generations to come in my State of Delaware.
  As a respected religious leader and social activist for 30 years, he 
was a builder--literally and figuratively--who dreamed big and made big 
things happen.
  When I got back to Delaware from law school--I went out of State, we 
didn't have a law school in the State at the time, in 1968--Rabbi Drooz 
was one of the first civic activists that I came in contact with. He 
oversaw the building of a new synagogue for the reform congregation of 
Beth Emeth, that he led, which is now the largest synagogue in 
Delaware, along with the construction of the school on Lea Boulevard, 
not far from where I had gone to school in Wilmington, Delaware. These 
two buildings stand as not only monuments to his vision and his 
dedication to religious service, but they also had the very practical 
impact of enhancing the region and the neighborhood, and causing people 
to invest not only physically and financially, but psychologically in 
our city.
  He built a community esprit de corps as well--founding the Delaware 
Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, which 
recently was renamed the National Conference for Community and Justice, 
which is one of the most significant civic organizations and moral 
barometers in my State. At the University of Delaware, my alma mater, 
he organized the popular student Hillel group. When I was a student at 
the University of Delaware in 1961 to 1965, it had a very small Jewish 
student body. It now has a vigorous, engaged and involved Jewish 
student body, and the Hillel group at the University is, again, a major 
force for justice, focusing on the moral dilemmas of our time.
  What most Delawareans remember about Rabbi Drooz was his voice. He 
was known as the Rabbi who speaks. Every Sunday morning, you could turn 
on WDEL radio station, one of the largest radio stations in my State, 
and hear his words of wisdom and compassion, on a program that was 
titled, ``The Rabbi Speaks.''
  He spoke to and reached out to more than Delaware's proud Jewish 
community. He was one of the first people who went the extra mile to 
reach out to the non-Jewish community.
  He spoke during times of social unrest in my State. He spoke about 
more than religious issues. In 1954, he used his leadership and 
oratorical skills to speak out forcefully against the racist hatred 
exhibited by a militant in the southern part of my State, in a city 
called Milford, who tried to defy the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in 
Brown v. the Board of Education, to end racial segregation in our 
public schools. It may come as a surprise to many, but to my great 
shame, my great State has the blot upon its history that we were 
segregated by law, and in 1954 it was not particularly popular to speak 
out on that issue.
  His words from the Beth Emeth pulpit still ring out.
  He questioned, quote:

       Why no leader has risen from among the citizens of Milford 
     to combat this merchant of hate from another. We have been 
     tardy. Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal 
     treacherously, brother against brother?

  The Rabbi speaks, indeed. He spoke, and he spoke at a time when few 
were willing to speak.
  In 1966, he joined with bishops from the local Catholic and Episcopal 
dioceses in leading the Methodists and Presbyterians in opposing 
American involvement in the war in Vietnam--not very popular at the 
time and not always popular among his congregation.
  Rabbi Drooz led the Rabbinical Association of Delaware for two terms 
as President. He spoke out as a board member on the board of the Fair 
Housing Council, Pacem In Terris, the American Red Cross, the Mental 
Health Association, and Delaware's Urban Coalition.
  Everything that mattered, every issue that required some moral 
bearing, every issue that people tended to shy away from because they 
were controversial, Rabbi Drooz spoke out.
  A point of personal privilege, Mr. President. You know as a former 
Governor and a former mayor and a Senator now, occasionally things get 
said about us that are totally untrue. We never fail to forget those 
voices in the community who have significant standing, who are willing 
to risk their reputations to speak out for us.
  Rabbi Drooz spoke out for Joe Biden, too. He spoke out for me at a 
time that could have stopped me in my tracks from winning the election 
in 1972.
  Please allow me this point of personal privilege to tell this brief 
story. Just days before that election, I was falsely accused of being 
anti-Semitic in an unfounded charge by a disgruntled, former campaign 
worker. I was 29 years old. Hardly anybody knew me. Those who knew me 
knew, and my record as a Senator has demonstrated, I am far from an 
anti-Semite. As a matter of fact, I am accused these days by my 
opponents of being the other way.
  At the time, as a 29-year-old guy from a family with no influence or 
money running for the U.S. Senate in a year when George McGovern was 
being trounced in my State. I was accused in this sort of Pearl Harbor 
sneak attack the weekend before the Tuesday of being an anti-Semite, 
and it was printed in our largest paper.
  Rabbi Drooz immediately went into action on the Sunday prior to the 
election. Rabbi Drooz organized a meeting of Delaware's Jewish 
community, enlisting the support of the very influential Governor of 
Pennsylvania who happened to be Jewish, Milton Shapp. Rabbi Drooz spoke 
out for Joe Biden and supported me against this untrue, unfair 
accusation. Needless to say, he was effective in setting the record 
straight, or I would not be standing here today. The mere fact that 
Rabbi Drooz said, ``I know Joe Biden,'' was good enough for the entire 
community in my State.
  I will forever hold Rabbi Drooz in the highest esteem for his 
courage, his leadership, his boldness and for getting me back on my 
feet at a time when I needed his courage, leadership and boldness the 
most.
  After I became a Senator, on a regular basis I would brief Rabbi 
Drooz on the situation in the Middle East. He would put together people 
for me to speak to. Seldom did we disagree, but when we did, there was 
no question about my independence, and he never questioned whether or 
not I should be.
  Rabbi Drooz was a fighter to the end. Alzheimer's stole his mind, but 
not his spirit. Just six months before he died, as an octogenarian, he 
agreed to participate in a study for Alzheimer's to test new 
medication.
  Mr. President, in conclusion, I point out that I truly believe his 
spirit lives on in his son Daniel and his daughter Johanna, his brother 
Arnold and his six grandchildren. They are respected in the community 
and continue to participate in the community.
  I say goodbye to Rabbi Drooz. Shalom and peace be with you, my 
friend, and may all that you did for the good of Delaware be 
remembered.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois is recognized under 
the previous order for 1 hour.
  Mr. DURBIN. Thank you, Mr. President.

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