Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton speaks at Beth El Synagogue


Parker Breza

The crowd ended the night by singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to former first lady, in honor of her birthday the day before.

Walking in to an energized crowd of rowdy supporters, standing on their feet in admiration, former First Lady, Senator of New York, and Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Beth El Synagogue to speak to St. Louis Park and surrounding communities as a participant in the Beth El Synagogue National Speaker Series.

Since stepping down as Secretary of State in 2012, Clinton has been travelling throughout the country, speaking to a variety of groups about her time as Secretary of State, current policies, and her future ambitions. Almost all of these topics were presented at last night’s event, but one was hinted at but never confirmed: Clinton’s presidential prospects.

Clinton began by acknowledging the two Minnesota Senators present, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, as well as members of the Minnesota National Guard and the judicial branch. She then commenced her main remarks which lasted for approximately forty-five minutes.

As the crowd began to come to terms with the woman who was standing in front of them, few could do anything but stare in admiration. “I was in awe of being in the same room as someone who’s on first name terms with nearly every head of state, and yet also conscious about everyone in the room,” English teacher in attendance Mrs. Brew said.

Beginning by speaking on the breakdown of our social fabric, meaning that communities have been fraying the complex web of organizations and aid to those most in need of our help, Clinton then connected this to the increasing interconnectivity of our world due to technology, and stressed the importance in the role that communities play in re-aligning this important mission. “I don’t see these two developments as independent, but rather something that can grow together,” Clinton said during the presentation.

You could imagine the shock the Israeli director of the organization had when I invited her to Little Rock for a visit.

— Hillary Clinton

She then moved on to speak about the importance of educating kids when they’re young, using programs like early childhood education; or, even before schooling begins, through helping parents to be the educators of their own children. Employing an example from her time as First Lady of Arkansas, she explained how she brought a program from Israel known as “Hippy,” which helps mothers to start education even before schooling begins, to help mothers in her own state. “You could imagine the shock the Israeli director of the organization had when I invited her to Little Rock for a visit. I later found out she pulled out an atlas following our conversation,” Clinton said.

After these remarks were completed, the evening moved to the question and answer period, which had been prepared by the host of the event. Speaking on a variety of topics, Clinton became much more relaxed and offered witty remarks, engaging the crowd, and making it a memorable section. “She was remarkably human, matter of fact, and unaffected. Everything seemed remarkably relaxed, not like she was putting on a show,” Brew said.

Describing the takedown of Osama Bin Laden, one could hear a pin drop throughout the synagogue as the entire audience sat on the edge of their seats in anticipation for the already known end to a riveting story. Clinton described her long time push for the attack which was eventually chosen, and the immense stress that came when she and other top officials were packed into the communications room of the situation room to watch the tail-end of one of the helicopters clip on a wall. “We had about a 40-60% chance that Osama Bin Laden was in the compound. As a former Senator from New York during the 9/11 events, this was enough for me to proceed,” Clinton said.

She was remarkably human, matter of fact, and unaffected. Everything seemed remarkably relaxed, not like she was putting on a show.

— Mrs. Maura Brew

Clinton also spoke on more Middle-Eastern topics such as Iran, and the Middle-East Peace Process, where she described an exhausting 36 straight hour negotiation with then Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. “I was in Asia for a summit during the time, but knew I needed to fly out there to get this done. It was an exhausting day or so, but with great rewards,” Clinton said.

On domestic issues, Clinton commented on the government shutdown, and Obamacare, praising both senators present for the job they do in reducing the partisan divide. “Thank you for sending such reasonable representatives to Washington,” Clinton said.

Ending the night by singing the song “Happy Birthday,” in honor of the former Secretary’s birthday the day before, the crowd gave her a standing ovation which lasted for approximately two minutes.

Following this, as everyone else was exiting the room English teacher Anna Overbo was fortunate enough to shake Clinton’s hand. “As everyone else was exiting I wanted to wait a moment to soak everything in. I was surprised at how gentle, yet authoritative her handshake was––it was presidential,” English teacher Ms. Overbo said.

Clinton’s remarks will likely be remembered as some of the most unique, thought provoking, and cherished memories of the Beth El Speaker Series, and had everyone in the crowd wondering about her possible presidential candidacy in 2016.