Engel, Eliot L

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ENGEL, ELIOT L. (1947– ), U.S. congressman. Engel was born and raised in New York. His family lived in a third floor Bronx tenement and around the time of his bar mitzvah moved to middle-class public housing. During the summers of his teenage years, he worked as an actor. In 1969, he graduated from Hunter-Lehman College with a B.A. in history and received a master's degree in guidance and counseling in 1973 from Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York. In 1987, he received a law degree from New York Law School. After graduation from college he was a teacher and guidance counselor in the New York school system before entering politics.

He began his political career as a member of the New York Assembly (1977–88) where he chaired the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse as well as the Subcommittee on Mitchell-Lama Housing. After six terms in the Assembly, he challenged ten-term incumbent Mario Biaggi, who had been convicted of bribery and extortion. He beat him in a Democratic primary, which was paramount to election in the district. He served in Congress from 1989. In Congress he was a member of the Energy Committee and a member of the International Relations Committee. In typical New York fashion he pursued the three I's strategy: Israel, Ireland, and Italy. He was outspoken in his defense of Israel, and a prime mover of the bill to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He also pressed the issue of American participation in Bosnia during the crisis of the mid-1990s. Engel was a member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the Democratic Study Group on Health, and the Long Island Sound Caucus. He co-chaired the Albanian Issues Caucus and was an Executive Board Member of the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs.


L.S. Maisel and I. Forman, Jews in American Politics (2001); K.F. Stone, The Congressional Minyan: The Jews of Capitol Hill (2002).

[Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]