Meet the Jews in Trump's administration

Trump appoints 11 Jews to serve in new administration.

JTA,

Jared Kushner
Jared Kushner
Reuters

A total of 11 Jews have been appointed to President Trump's new administration. Most prominent among these are son-in-law Jared Kushner and Arutz Sheva contributor David Friedman. Trump won 24 percent of the Jewish vote, with especially strong support in the Orthodox community.

Here is a look at the president's Jewish advisers who will be helping to shape U.S. policy for the next four years:

Jared Kushner

Trump's Orthodox son-in law is serving as senior adviser to the president. Kushner, the 36-year-old scion of a prominent real estate family from New Jersey, will not receive a salary and will focus on the Middle East and Israel as well as partnerships with the private sector and free trade, according to The New York Times. A day before his appointment was announced, Kushner said he would step down from his role as CEO of his family firm, Kushner Properties.

Kushner, who married Trump's daughter Ivanka in 2009, played a crucial role in the president’s campaign, especially on Israel.

In 2006, at 25, he bought the New York Observer newspaper. Two years later he became CEO of Kushner Properties. In 2015, Fortune named Kushner to its 40 Under 40 list, an “annual ranking of the most influential young people in business.”

David Friedman

Friedman, a bankruptcy expert and attorney, was tapped as the U.S. ambassador to Israel. A statement by Trump's transition team in December said Friedman, who speaks Hebrew, would serve from Jerusalem, but White House press secretary Sean Spicer said last week that Trump had yet to decide on moving the embassy from Tel Aviv.

Friedman, who is in his late 50s, is the son of a Conservative rabbi with a family history of ties to Republican presidential candidates - his family hosted Ronald Reagan for a Shabbat lunch in 1984, the year he won re-election. He lives in Woodmere, New York, in the largely Jewish area known as the Five Towns, and owns a home in Jerusalem's Talbiya neighborhood.

Friedman has expressed support for and funded construction in Judea and Samaria, and has expressed doubt about the future of the two-state solution, traditionally a pillar of bipartisan U.S. policy in the region.

Jason Greenblatt

Greenblatt is working as special representative for international negotiations focusing on the Israeli-Arab conflict, U.S.-Cuba relations and American trade agreements with other countries. An Orthodox Jew and Yeshiva University graduate, Greenblatt studied at a yeshiva in Judea and Samaria in the mid-1980s and did armed guard duty there.

A father of six from Teaneck, New Jersey, Greenblatt said he speaks with people involved in the Israeli government but has not spoken to any Palestinian Arabs since his yeshiva studies. He has cited the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as one of his main sources for staying informed about the Jewish state, and helped draft Trump's speech at the lobbying group's annual conference in March.

Greenblatt, who has said he supports the two-state solution, has implied that Trump will take a laissez-faire approach to peace building.

"He is not going to impose any solution on Israel," Greenblatt told Israel's Army Radio in November. He also said that Trump "does not view Jewish settlements as an obstacle to peace."

Steven Mnuchin

Trump picked Mnuchin, 54, co-founded the entertainment company RatPac-Dune Entertainment, which has worked on such Hollywood hits as "Avatar" and "Black Swan." Along with his father - prominent art dealer Robert Mnuchin - Steven became wealthy working at Goldman Sachs.

Some saw Trump teaming up with Mnuchin as unusual, considering that the real-estate mogul had consistently bashed Goldman Sachs during his campaign - but it doesn't seem to have hindered a good working relationship.

Stephen Miller

Miller, 31, has described himself as "a practicing Jew," worked for seven years as an aide to Trump's choice for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions.

Though Miller grew up in a liberal Jewish home in Southern California, he was drawn to conservative causes early. As a high school student he wrote a letter to the editor of a local paper in which he slammed his school for providing free condoms to students and for making announcements both in English and Spanish, among other things.

Carl Icahn

Icahn, a businessman and investor, is serving as a special adviser on regulatory reform issues. He is working as a private citizen rather than a federal employee or special government employee.

Icahn, 80, is the founder of Icahn Enterprises, a diversified conglomerate based in New York City formerly known as American Real Estate Partners. He is also a major giver to Mount Sinai hospital in New York City, among other philanthropic endeavors. In 2012, he donated $200 million to the renamed Icahn School of Medicine there.

In addition, Icahn established seven Icahn Charter Schools in the Bronx borough of New York.

Gary Cohn

Cohn, the outgoing president and chief operating officer at Goldman Sachs, heads the White House National Economic Council. At Goldman Sachs, where he had worked since 1990, Cohn answered to CEO Lloyd Blankfein and was considered a strong candidate to lead the bank.

Cohn, a Cleveland native, in 2009 funded the Cohn Jewish Student Center at Kent State University named for his parents.

Success wasn't always obvious for Cohn, whose struggle with dyslexia made school difficult for him. But the Goldman Sachs banker, who was featured in a book on underdogs by writer Malcolm Gladwell, told the author that his learning disability also taught him how to deal with failure and that "I wouldn’t be where I am today without my dyslexia."

Boris Epshteyn

Epshteyn, a Republican political strategist who appeared as a Trump surrogate on TV, is working as a special assistant to the president. Epshteyn, who is in his mid-30s, also is serving as assistant communications director for surrogate operations.

A New York-based investment banker and finance attorney, Epshteyn was a communications aide for Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008, focusing his efforts on the Arizona senator’s running mate, then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

David Shulkin

Dr. David Shulkin, the undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, will lead the department as secretary under Trump if confirmed by the Senate. He would be the first holdover appointment from the Obama administration, in which he has served since 2015.

Shulkin, 57, is an internist who has had several chief executive roles, including as president of hospitals, notably Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. He also has held numerous physician leadership roles, including as chief medical officer for the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and academic positions, including as chairman of medicine and vice dean at the Drexel University School of Medicine.

As an entrepreneur, Shulkin founded and served as the chairman and CEO of DoctorQuality, one of the first consumer-oriented sources of information for quality and safety in health care.

Reed Cordish

Trump chose Cordish, who is friends with his son-in-law Jared Kushner, to serve as assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives. He will be responsible for initiatives requiring multi-agency collaboration and also focus on technological innovation and modernization.

Cordish is a partner at his family’s real estate and entertainment firm, the Baltimore-based Cordish Companies.

Avrahm Berkowitz

Berkowitz, 27, is serving as special assistant to Trump and assistant to Jared Kushner. Berkowitz and Kushner met on the basketball court of an Arizona hotel during a Passover program, Jewish Insider reported. The two stayed in touch and Berkowitz went on to work with Kushner in several capacities.

After graduating from Queens College, Berkowitz worked for Kushner Companies and later went on to write for Kushner's paper, the New York Observer. In 2016 Berkowitz, who was then finishing up his last semester at Harvard Law School, directed a Facebook Live talk show for the Trump campaign. Later he worked on the presidential campaign as assistant director of data analytics.

Berkowitz's first cousin is Howard Friedman, who served as AIPAC president in 2006-2010, according to the Jewish Insider.




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