Jack Lew, Obama’s new White House Chief of Staff, is a humble and observant Jew who loves Israel, according to Chabad Rabbi Levi Shem Tov, Washington director of American Friends of Lubavitch.
Lew was the president’s budget director until this week, when President Obama chose him to take over from William Daley, who resigned after a little more than a year.
President Obama has had a problem holding on to a White House Chief of Staff. His first pick after being elected was Rahm Emmanuel, a Jew whose father fought in the underground against the British Mandate but whose loud and often foul mouth won him lots of publicity but added to an image of a bully.
He also was rumored to have argued often with the First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Lew is a totally different personality, Rabbi Shem Tov says. “He has a strong relation with Israel. He is without doubt a man who loves the People of Israel and the Jewish State, which he supports. The most important thing for him is that Jews can live freely like everyone else.”
Lew also is observant, Rabbi Shem Tov notes, despite his senior position as budget director that he had to carry out without desecrating the Sabbath.
“The most important thing about him is that he never made himself the main subject,” the rabbi relates. “He always put himself aside and paid attention to the matter at hand. He is very modest, talented, smart and gentle, and he can work with everyone.
Following the instability of Emmanuel, the quality of getting along with everyone is his major quality in taking over the post, Rabbi Shem Tov thinks. ”Jack serves Obama with all his heart” and also understands how to cooperate with the media.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU)– the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization -- applauded the appointment, noting: Mr. Lew is the first individual affiliated with the Orthodox Jewish community to hold this position of great responsibility. Mr. Lew has been affiliated and active with two OU member congregations over the past decade – Congregation Beth Shalom in Potomac, Maryland and the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in Bronx, New York.
OU Managing Director Rabbi Steven Burg and Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament issued the following statement: “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. We wish Mr. Lew a hearty ‘Mazal Tov’ on his historic appointment and best wishes in his new role in serving the president and people of the United States.”