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September 2nd, 2014
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News National Obama Appoints Orthodox Jew Jacob Lew as New Chief of Staff

Obama Appoints Orthodox Jew Jacob Lew as New Chief of Staff

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President Barack Obama talks with Chief of Staff Bill Daley and Jack Lew, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, before making a statement to the press in the State Dining Room of the White House, Jan. 9, 2012. The President announced Daley’s resignation and that Lew will serve as his next chief of staff. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)It has been less than a month since Jacob (Jack) Lew kindled the National Menorah in front of the White House. When he did so, Lew was director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (a position he had also held under the Clinton administration).  Now, President Barack Obama is appointing Lew as White House’s new Chief of Staff.
Obama announced the appointment after thanking outgoing Chief of Staff Bill Daley, who resigned last week. The president said that he would “deeply miss” the outgoing chief of staff, but described Daley’s endorsement of Lew as the “one clear choice” for the role.
“I have every confidence that Jack will make sure we don’t miss a beat and continue to do everything he can to secure our economy and help the middle class and keep America safe,” said the president.
Not surprisingly, the decision to appoint an observant Jew to such a vital position in the presidential administration has received some very positive reactions from the Jewish community.
Speaking on behalf of the Orthodox Union, one of the oldest and best-known organizations in the United States representing the Torah-observant Jewish community, OU Managing Director Rabbi Steven Burg and Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament issued a statement saying “We commend President Obama for appointing Mr. Jack Lew as White House Chief of Staff. Our community takes great pride in the appointment of the first member of our community to this position of great responsibility.” Some see in the statement by Burg and Diament an indirect insult aimed at Rahm Emanuel, who served as White House Chief of Staff before Daley, and who identifies as Modern Orthodox.
“We wish Mr. Lew a hearty ‘Mazal Tov,’ the statement continued, “on his historic appointment and best wishes in his new role in serving the president and people of the United States.”
Chabad Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Washington director of American Friends of Lubavitch also lauded the president’s decision. “In choosing Jack Lew to be his new White House Chief of Staff, the president will have a great yet humble public servant, who has keen insight into some of the most complex policy issues,” he said.
“In addition, the fact that he is well regarded across the spectrum of the Jewish community is a bonus, even if not his core qualification.”
Lew will relocate to the White House once he finishes work on the budget that President Obama is required to submit to Congress next month.
Originally from New York City, Jacob Lew is the son of a Polish-Jewish refugee.  He attended public schools before earning his degrees from Harvard University and Georgetown Law School. Though he maintained a private law practice, he rose to prominence in several government positions, including deputy secretary of State, where, according to a report in National Journal, he “was essentially the manager of the entire department while [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton concentrated on diplomacy.”
Lew keeps kosher, is shomer Shabbat, and belongs to a synagogue in Maryland.

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