Giffords highlighted her Jewish identity as part of her first Congress campaign.
“If you want something done, your best bet is to ask a Jewish woman to do it,” she said at the time.
Giffords is the granddaughter of Akiba Hornstein, the son of a Lithuanian rabbi who in the 1940s moved from New York to Tucson. He later changed his name to Giff Giffords in an effort to avoid anti-Semitism.
Gabrielle Giffords first visited Israel in 2001 as an Arizona senator, later saying that she felt very committed to Judaism and that the visit provided her with a basis to better understand who she is and where she came from.
Upon returning to Arizona, she introduced legislation that helped Holocaust survivors.
Giffords was in Israel again last month and also visited a synagogue. She was planning to return to Israel in the summer.
In a recent visit at the Temple Emanuel synagogue she told the congregation that the US must remain committed to Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy. Last week, she wrote in Arizona’s Jewish newspaper that there would be no peace in the region before the Palestinian leadership and other organizations accept Israel’s right to exist.