Ruth Mandel might be the one voice of women’s empowerment that you may not already know. She served as the director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University and held the position of Professor of Politics at the institution.

She often spoke and wrote on the topic of women in leadership roles, especially from a political emphasis. Her book In the Running: The New Woman Candidate is inspirational reading for anyone seeking to find internal empowerment.

Mandel also served as a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council since 1991. She was named the vice-chair of the Board by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

She passed away after fighting cancer on April 12, 2020, at the age of 81.

Mandel’s Life Story Is One of Inspiration

When Germany began to target Jewish families in 1939, many of them fled to the other side of the world for safety. Hundreds of people, including Mandel at only nine months old, were refused permission to disembark in Cuba. Then they tried Miami and Canada before finally going back to Europe – where many of them would be murdered during the World War II years.

Mandel survived. Her parents found a place in England, which allowed her to reach American soil in 1947. She went on to attend Brooklyn College, earned a doctorate at the University of Connecticut, and found a home at Rutgers.

Politics was Mandel’s passion. She kept hundreds of buttons on her wall that had the faces and names of women running for political office across the United States. There were gubernatorial, senate, and state office candidates – and a few presidential ones.

She would often speak fondly of Shirly Chisholm, who made history in 1972 by becoming the first African-American woman in the U.S. to seek a major party’s nomination for president. Mandel and everyone at the time knew she wouldn’t win, but no one could deny the statement being made. 

During the 2018 mid-term elections, 117 women went to Congress. It made Mandel smile.

One Moment Spoke More Than Any Other

Mandel told of a moment that she experienced later in life when reviewing materials for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She found a note signed by all of the passengers from the refugee boat that had attempted to find refuge with her on it.

She saw her mother’s unmistakable handwriting on the paper that expressed gratitude to a diplomat who had helped everyone. Mandel said it felt as familiar as her mother’s voice and smile. 

Up until her last moments when she could stay active, Mandel was working to help today’s refugees find their new home. Her interest in politics meant that families in desperation could establish roots and become crucial members of society. 

She never avoided interviews or expressing opinions over her career. Mandel had a devotion to democracy that shined brighter than any might imagine. Although there is sadness now because she has transitioned to the next life, her story still serves as an inspiration for anyone who wants to be a force for positive change in the world.

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