Illustration by Art Seiden

Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America

World War II to the Present:


Barbara Boxer: United States Senator From California

by Seymour "Sy" Brody

Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were the first pair of women to be elected together to the United States Senate from the same state in 1992. Boxer's election was another successful step upward in her political career.

She was born on November 11, 1940, to Sophie and Ira Levy, in Brooklyn, New York. In her youth she never contemplated having a career in public office. Boxer went through the public school system and graduated from Brooklyn College in 1962. It was here when she was a senior that she married Stewart Boxer. She went to work so that he could attend Fordham Law School.

Barbara Boxer experienced sex discrimination and sexual harassment as a woman. When in colleae, her professor gave her a very low mark on an exam and when she saw him in his office about the grade, he made sexual advances towards her. When she wanted to become a stockbroker on Wall Street, she discovered that they only hired men. When she ran for supervisor on the county board in California, she was attacked for not staying home to take care of the home and children which cost her the election.

They had moved to San Francisco, California, when her husband obtained a legal position after graduating law school and passing the bar exam. It was here that she had two children, Doug, a son, and Nicole, a daughter. Her interests became involved in the high school dropout rate and to provide job training for those who left. The program called the Education Corps of Marin worked so well that the county adopted it.

After losing her first election, she went to work for two years as a reporter at the Pacific Sun. She then became an aide for Congressman John Burton and after two years, she ran again for supervisor in Marin County which she won. This was the beginning of her successful political career.

She served as a supervisor for six years and she became the first woman to be president of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. In 1983, she was elected to the United States House of Representatives from California's Sixth District. Here too she was faced with sexual discrimination. When House Speaker Thomas (Tip) O'Neill referred to "the men in Congress", she sent him a letter politely asking him to say "men and women." He answered by telling her that he would not make the mistake again. Also, the house gym for women was totally inferior to the men's facility.

Boxer served for ten years as a congresswoman. In that time she exposed overcharges by Pentagon contractors, one charged $7,600 for a coffee pot. She introduced legislation for more competitive bidding from contractors, fought for military reforms and to protect whistle blowers in government. She exposed mismanagement in the waste program, fought for airline cabin safety and was an advocate for domestic priorities in the areas of health, biomedical research and education.

She was recognized for her achievements with awards from the Anti- Defamation League, National Council of Jewish Women, Planned Parenthood, League of Conservatism, American Police Hall of Fame, etc.

Barbara Boxer's success in the political arena is a model to emulate by every young woman.

This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.

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