Elliott Levitas, first Jewish congressman from Georgia, dies at 91

Elliott Levitas was a visionary leader and trailblazer for the Jewish community who worked to build a more just society.
Elliott Levitas, first Jewish congressman from Georgia, dies at 91
Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 6:05 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Former Georgia and U.S. Congressman Elliott Levitas passed away at the age of 91. He has been described as.a visionary leader, and trailblazer for the Jewish community, who worked to build a more just society.

“Congressman Levitas was a dedicated public servant committed to the state of Georgia and a trailblazer for Georgia’s Jewish community. Alisha and I send our condolences to Barbara and his entire family,”

said U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff

Levitas was the first Jewish congressman from Georgia. He had two decades of political service. He is remembered for his work towards public transportation and the environment, gaining the nickname “Champion of the Chattahoochee” after working toward earning the Georgia trail its national park status.

“Georgia has lost a dedicated public servant with the passing of former Congressman Elliott Levitas. He was a visionary leader who challenged the status quo and worked to build a more just society. As both a legislator and lawyer, his example sets a high bar for those who follow in his footsteps. May God comfort his family, particularly his wife Barbara, in this time of grief.”

- Speaker Jan Jones (R-Milton) and Majority Caucus Speaker-Nominee Jon Burns (R-Newington)

Each year, more than three million Georgians get to enjoy the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Levitas has a plaque to honor him here at the park.

Eytan Davidson with the Anti-Discrimination League said Levitas broke boundaries for the Jewish community.

“Justice was a lifelong mission for Elliott Levitas. His first vote as a legislator in the Georgia State House was against the recusal to seat Julian Bond, a representative who was a legendary civil right activist, and Elliot Levitas stood with him for a very difficult moment in history,” said Davidson.

In the White House, Levitas headed the subcommittee investigating the Reagan administration’s efforts to undermine the mission of the Environmental Protection Agency, never giving up until dozens of people responsible were fired.

After leaving Congress, Levitas worked with Davidson on the board of the Anti-Discrimination League and practiced law for the last three decades.

“He continued to fight for justice long after his career in public service, representing Native Americans who sued the united states government for land and trust,” said Davidson.

The $3.4 billion award to plaintiffs was the largest class-action award against the government in US history.