conversation with Vivian Levin may lead you to believe that she eats, sleeps,
dreams politics-republican politics to be specific. However,
if you visit her home it’s a different story. Vivian’s
family, religion and culture are the most important things in her life.
As you walk through the door a mezuzah announces you are entering a Jewish
home. The walls of the apartment
are full of bookshelves, stuffed with hundreds of books, the oldest one
in the collection- History of the Jewish
Republic-dates back to the 15th century. Where
books don’t cover the walls, pictures of family and friends are placed.
Vivian was born on October 18, 1923 in Philadelphia, PA .The oldest of five children, Vivian has three sisters and two brothers. She graduated from Temple University with an undergraduate degree in psychology, then continued on to Yale University where she obtained a Master’s in Political Science. At Yale, Vivian was one of few females in attendance and encounter sexual discrimination from the Yale Library to the local bars.
Vivian fell in love with Washington, D.C. 45 yrs ago when her now deceased husband, was stationed at Walter Reed Hospital while working with the Public Health Service (a uniformed corps). Twenty years after his death, her two children “able and out of the house”, Vivian moved to the District in 1974. When asked what other city she would like to live in her reply was “why would I want to live anywhere else?” The political center of the U.S. is in the Nation’s Capital.
According to Vivian, her passion for civic activism stems from her Jewish upbringing “My culture has taught me to care about the well being of people, that’s why I became interested in politics.”
After her husband’s death, over 40 years ago, the young widow moved her daughter and son toIsrael. The family lived in a socialist collective called a Kibbutz for one year.
Vivian has lived in three neighborhoods in the District over the last 25 years.Shepard Park, Logan Circle, and SW Waterfront. Each neighborhood harbors fond memories. Hilda Mason, a neighbor from Shepard Park taught the transplant about the fight for Statehood.
Vivian is concerned with the notion of service and unity. Political volunteerism and community service has been an integral part of her life.On Rhode Island Ave, Vivian concern for her community lead her to tutoring in neighboring project hotels such as “House for Mothers”.Currently, she is involved with R.S.V.P.- the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program.Years ago, she initiated an urban day camp for the Girl Scouts, for whom she both worked and volunteered. While volunteering with Martha’s table, Vivian was interviewed by Japanese TV, on a visit to the United States studying volunteerism.
One of Vivian’s concerns is the current negative image of the Republic Party. “Too many people think thatmean-spirited republican is one word”.She has fond memories of Ronald Reagan during his 1980 Presidential campaign .After working with Mr. Reagan, Vivian identified with why so many people supported the former president.
Vivian loves to see her tax dollars at work and uses public transportation each day. She enjoys taking Metro to visit all of the wonderful and “free” museums and memorials in the city. Each memorial reminds herof “the price we paid for freedom.” Vivian also frequents the Kennedy Center, where there is a free concert everyday at 6:00pm.
Vivian’s closing statement was the old adage about life and lemons, “Everyone is given a tremendous legacy when you’re born. Some get more gifts others get less," it’s what you do with them that counts.