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Obama Taps Second Jew as Chief of Staff


Less than a month after Jacob Lew lit the lights of the National Menorah in front of the White House, President Barack Obama announced the appointment of the current director of the Office ofManagement and Budget to the position of White House of Chief of Staff.

The decision had nothing to do with the Chanukah festivities of three weeks ago, of course, but the choice of Lew to be the second Jewish occupant of the administration’s highest advisory post drew positive reactions from the Jewish community.

“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,” commented Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Washington director of American Friends of Lubavitch, and organizer of the annual Chanukah celebration at the Ellipse. “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.”

Shemtov enjoys a close relationship with Lew going back to the days when he served as a senior Congressional Leadership staffer. He previously held the position of budget director under the Clinton administration.

Obama announced the appointment after thanking outgoing Chief of Staff William Daley, who tendered his resignation last week. Prior to Daley, current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel held the position.

Lew, who keeps kosher and observes the Sabbath, belongs to a synagogue in Maryland.

“Jack has always been proud of his Jewish identity,” added Shemtov, “and willing to share that pride in a way which resonates widely across the Jewish community and beyond.”

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