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The Whole Spiel

Political Pins and Jewish Voters

November 2, 2020

In this current election cycle (Nov 2020), I miss seeing people display their candidate pins on their clothing or backpacks and shoulder bags. We are all staying home more, and wearing a pin is not our first choice to share thoughts about candidates and issues. I am seeing many more graphics, memes and slogans these days on social, digital, streaming and print media on various platformsat marches, vigils and gatherings on and near the National Mall, as well as some lawn art interspersed with Halloween decorations on my neighborhood walks.  

You might think that from not seeing pins that they are not to be found, but in fact there is a whole world of political pin colleting going on, even during a pandemic. Through our exhibition development and object collecting for the new museum, I am learning much about candidate and issue pins.   

This is the first known presidential pin made to attract Jewish voters in a national election, in Yiddish, 1900, supporting William Jennings Bryan and Adlai Stevenson (Democrats) against William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt (Republicans). McKinley/ Roosevelt won in 1900American Jews are thought to have strongly supported McKinley, somewhat due to some heavily Christian rhetoric coming from Bryan (Sarna 2012). There are very few of these pins known to collectors today. No pins Yiddish from the McKinley/Roosevelt ticket have been documented. 

Translation by Rabbi Mark Hurvitz: from a “Germanized” Yiddish with spelling errors: “I’m voting for Bryan also Stevenson”

There are many folks around the country that actively collect and trade election pins (among other ephemera) whether informally through their networks, at in person and online conventions, purchases via Ebay and private auctions. I have met some wonderful people that focus their collecting on Jewish candidates, voters and issues. We are working hard to collect pins for local and national Jewish candidates or using Hebrew and Yiddish (both in words and fonts) to attract Jewish voters, as part of the new museum exhibitions. We are also collecting pins arguing for various issues important to our local communities that use Hebrew, Yiddish and “Jewish” terms and fonts.  

These Elizabeth Warren pins are from 2019. You can see her name spelled different ways with Yiddish and Hebrew influences. Gift of Steve Rabinowitz


This variety of pins shows some national and local Ohio candidates, mostly in English, some using Yiddish terms. Gift of Ira Forman


These pins in Hebrew and English are examples of support for Israel and Israeli candidates. Gift of Marlene Singer

Here are examples of some recent pins donated to us. Thank you to all our donors! Over the years we have collected and plan to display many Soviet Jewry era pins in the new museum, and we are looking for additional issues. Do you have Jewish candidate or issue pins you may have collected and would like to donate them to the Capital Jewish Museum?  Please send me photos of them: [email protected] 


Thank you in advance, and don’t forget to VOTE if you have not already! 


Sarna, Jonathan. “The Jewish Vote in Presidential Elections”, SHMA, vol. 42, #686. January, 2012, pg 3. 

Political buttons for Elizabeth Warren using Hebrew