(April 28, 2018 / Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.) Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s maternal grandparents were Sephardim, having fled persecution in the Ottoman Empire to the safety, at the time, of Cuba, where she was born. At the age of 8, she and her family left Cuba, fleeing from the oppressive Communist regime of Fidel Castro. Raised Catholic and now a practicing Episcopalian, Ros-Lehtinen remains proud of her Jewish heritage.
Arriving to Congress in 1989, Ros-Lehtinen was the first Hispanic woman and first Cuban-American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Throughout her tenure as the longest-serving Republican woman in Congress, representing the state of Florida, she has been a tireless advocate for the Jewish people and the Jewish state.
For nearly three decades, she has authored legislation that has bolstered the bilateral relationship between the United States and Israel, and protected the national security and interests of both nations.
Taking on the enemies of Israel, and by extension the United States, she has been an unwavering force combating terror and incitement. In 2006, Ros-Lehtinen spearheaded the law to block U.S. aid to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority until the group denounced violence. Leading the effort to hold rogue regimes accountable, Ros-Lehtinen is a powerful voice in Congress condemning Iran’s aggression and destabilizing behavior and, through multiple bills, she has advocated for increasing sanctions.
Regarding the United Nations and its various anti-Israel affiliates, Ros-Lehtinen has been a staunch defender of Israel, pressing for reform of the international body.
A strong advocate on behalf of Holocaust survivors, she authored a resolution that passed the House in 2016, urging Germany to honor its obligations to fully fund survivors’ medical and mental-health needs.
When she retires from Congress this year, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, 65, will leave behind a 30-year legacy of defending freedom and defending Israel. This lioness in the House will be sorely missed.