It’s no secret that much of the internet (Alma included) has been swooning for Jon Ossoff for weeks. Yesterday, that obsession heated up a notch, especially in the Jewish community: Ossoff was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on a Hebrew bible that once belonged to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of Martin Luther King Jr. and leader of Atlanta’s Hebrew Benevolent Congregation Temple, which was bombed by white supremacists in the 1950s. In his pocket, he carried a copy of the ship’s manifest from the arrival of his great-grandmother Annie and his great-grandfather Israel to the U.S.
Today, as I was sworn in, I held in my jacket pocket copies of the ships’ manifests recorded at Ellis Island when my Great Grandfather Israel arrived in 1911 and my Great Grandmother Annie arrived in 1913.
A century later, their great grandson was elected to the U.S. Senate. pic.twitter.com/cjTNMMfYwP
— Jon Ossoff (@ossoff) January 21, 2021
It doesn’t hurt that the new Senator is young and conventionally attractive. But one of the hottest things about Ossoff — and a rare thing, historically, for a Southern American politician — is how openly and enthusiastically he’s leaning into his Jewishness. From his swearing-in accessories to the victory thread in which he referenced the historical Black-Jewish Civil Rights alliance, he wants people to know he’s a mensch. Already, this would have been enough (dayenu).
But none of that is why we’re here. We’re here because of the wink.
mr. senator 🥵
After watching this video from Ossoff’s swearing-in an undisclosed number of times — and once we stopped blushing — we needed answers. Who was Jon Ossoff winking at?
The obvious first question: who else was there? Of course, the MVPs were fellow Georgian Sen. Raphael Warnock, Sen. Alex Padilla who now fills Madam VP’s California seat, and VP Harris herself, who swore in the three new senators. I genuinely believe that Ossoff could have winked with that level of tenderness at either Warnock or Harris. But the angle wasn’t right — they were all either ahead of, or behind, him.
Democrats gain control of US Senate as VP Harris swears in Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla as the chamber's newest members. pic.twitter.com/ZF7kGIXKPs
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 20, 2021
MSNBC’s video provides important additional context: Some other senators, including Mitch McConnell, are visible as Ossoff walks up to the desk. (McConnell is definitely not the object of the wink.) But on closer inspection, the Georgia peach is clearly looking up at the gallery. So anyone on the same physical level — which includes all other senators — is out of contention.
So who was he winking at? A camera? Hashem? The American people??
There is an obvious, though, for many, heartbreaking, answer: his wife, Dr. Alisha Kramer.
A message from Dr. Alisha Kramer, OBGYN. I'm her husband pic.twitter.com/wEEfIZ8G1f
— Jon Ossoff (@ossoff) October 8, 2020
Dr. Alisha Kramer is, well, a doctor in a pandemic, and if anyone deserves to have Ossoff all to herself, she’s it. They’ve dated since they were teenagers and were married in 2017. She’s made her voice heard in politics as well, testifying against the “heartbeat bill” in the Georgia state senate in 2019, which made abortions illegal once a heartbeat could be detected. By all accounts a brilliant, principled person (and, according to a friend who went to high school with her and Ossoff, “actually glorious”) she was also definitely with the senator at the inauguration:
Dr. Kramer missed watching election results for the Georgia runoff with her hubby because she was working an overnight shift at the hospital:
I'm told @ossoff is watching returns w/ his campaign team, but not his wife, Dr. Alisha Kramer. She is an OB-GYN and working an overnight shift, so she'll have to get the news b/w patients. #gasen #gapol
— Patricia Murphy (@1PatriciaMurphy) January 6, 2021
So it’s great that she was able to be there for this big moment. And it stands to reason that she would have been in the gallery, proudly beaming down at him. (And maybe winking back.)
But since there is no hard evidence of this, we can choose to believe that the wink was just for us.