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Rahm Emanuel inaugurated as Chicago’s first Jewish mayor

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Rahm Emanuel 2011 photo 

“None of what we must overcome will be easy, but in my heart I know this: The challenges for the city of Chicago are no match for the character of the people of Chicago.”

So said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s first Jewish mayor, during an inauguration ceremony at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago Monday, May 16.

Emanuel succeeds Richard M. Daley, who retired after 22 years in office. Daley’s father, Richard J. Daley, was mayor for 21 years until his death in 1976.

“We are a much greater city because of the lifetime of service that Mayor Daley and First Lady Maggie Daley have given us,” Emanuel said. “Nobody ever loved Chicago more or served it better than Richard Daley. Now, Mr. Mayor, and forevermore, Chicago loves you back.”

While reflecting on the education, public safety, and financial difficulties the city faces, Emanuel offered a strong message of hope, based on in part on the city’s diversity.

“I believe in our city. I believe in our city because I know who we are and what we’re made of — the pride of every ethnic, religious, and economic background, and nearly three million strong,” Emanuel said. “Look at the three of us being sworn in today. Treasurer Stephanie Neely and Clerk Susana Mendoza….An African-American whose family came from Grenada, Mississippi in the great migration north; a daughter of immigrants who came from Mexico; a son of an Israeli immigrant from Tel Aviv…

“The three of us have achieved something our parents never imagined in their lifetimes. And while our three families traveled different paths, they came to the same united city for a simple reason – because this is the city where dreams are made.”

Emanuel’s connection to the Jewish community is a source of great pride to that community, according to Steven B. Nasatir, President of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, who was among the invited guests at the inauguration.

“In my meetings with Mayor Emanuel and listening to his inauguration address today, it’s clear that he intends to be mayor of the entire city. Thank goodness it doesn’t matter in 2011 whether you’re Irish, Jewish, African American or Hispanic, leadership comes to the front depending on what the job is, and what skills and talent it requires,” Nasatir said.

“Notwithstanding that fact, the Jewish community is—and should be— proud that a person who is involved in our community—in terms of synagogue membership, Jewish education, connection to Israel, and as a donor to the Jewish United Fund—has been elected. In that connection we are very pleased and supportive.”

“I have big shoes to fill,” Emanuel said in his inaugural address. “And I could not have taken on this challenge without Amy, my first love and our new First Lady, and our children, Zacharia, Ilana, and Leah. And I want to thank my parents, who gave me the opportunity to get a good education and whose values have guided me through life.

“As your new mayor, it is an honor to fight for the change we need and a privilege to lead the city we love," Emanuel said. 

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