U.S. President Joe Biden has appointed a strong, knowledgeable team of new administration. Among them are half a dozen Jews. Indeed, I wonder if there have ever been American Jewish rulers – again, a full-fledged minyan of free Catholics, including Biden himself. Here are 15 Jews comprising Biden’s Jewish A-Team. I strongly believe that a strong American presence in world affairs, led by the Jewish A-Team, is a long-standing interest in Israel, in addition to holding “America first” that makes the US say nothing in world affairs.
• Antony Blinken, Secretary of State. Blinken is a veteran of the profession. His stepfather, Samuel Pisar, was the only survivor of the Holocaust of about 900 children at his school in Poland; he was rescued after fleeing a Nazi death march and finding refuge in a tank of American armed forces – an episode Blinken recounts in a dramatic way when Biden introduces him.
• David Cohen, Deputy Director of the CIA. Cohen returns to this role after completing it from 2015 to 2017. Cohen is the son of a prominent Boston Jewish physician.
• Janet Yellen, secretary of the Ministry of Finance. She is the first woman to perform this role; previously, he was head of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Trump’s 2016 advertising campaign included three Jews, including Yellen, and featured anti-Semitic tropes. He is a well-known labor economist.
• Merrick Garland, Attorney-General. Garland was barred from being a Supreme Court Judge by then-Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, in the last year of the Obama administration. After his appointment, Garland spoke of his grandparents, who fled from the Jewish religion in Europe and moved to the US.
• Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence. She was the deputy director of the CIA under Obama, the first woman to hold the post. His mother was a well-known Jewish artist, Adrian Rappin (Rappaport) and Haines is associated with Israel; visited Israel with his non-Jewish father.
• Ron Klain, Head of Labor. He was a Biden chief of staff in his days as vice president. Klain talks about his childhood synagogue in Indianapolis, where he learned many parts of the Torah about his bar mitzvah, and his commitment to raising Jewish children.
• Eric Lander, Director, Office Science and Technology Policy. Lander is a leading geneticist. His position has been upgraded to a Cabinet level. Lander talked about being the subject of antisemitic criticism by James Watson, who discovered the DNA double helix.
• Rachel Levine, Deputy Secretary, Health and Human Services. Levine was raised in a Conservative Jewish community in Massachusetts. He is the first open transgender person to be elected to a position that requires Senate confirmation.
• Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security. Maorkas, 60, has been the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security under Obama. He was born in Cuba to a Cuban Jewish father and a Romanian Jewish mother who survived the Shoah. He has worked closely with Jewish groups in the past.
• Anne Neuberger, Director of Cybersecurity, National Security Agency. He is an Orthodox Jew, from Brooklyn, and has been a college educator in Orthodox schools. He helped establish the US Cyber Command and led security efforts in the 2018 mid-term elections. His grandparents survived the Holocaust and his parents were among the passengers on an Air France flight in 1976, the hostages went to Uganda and were rescued from Israeli operations in Entebbe. She founded Sister to Sister, an NGO working for single mothers in the US.
• Wendy Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State. He was born in Maryland to a Jewish family. His father worked for the Marines. She will be the first woman to be appointed Deputy Secretary of State. A career expert, he was the leading negotiator of the controversial Iran nuclear deal.
• Jeff Zients, Coordinator for COVID-19. He was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Kensington, Maryland. His family is Jewish. From 2014 to 2017 he was the director of the National Economic Council. It will play a key role in directing and coordinating efforts to overcome the COVID-19 epidemic.
• Rochelle Walensky, Director, Centers for Disease Control. She and her husband are members of Emanuel Temple, Newton, Massachusetts, a prestigious Conservative synagogue. He is an AIDS and HIV specialist and has served as Head of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a professor at Harvard Medical School.
• Jared Bernstein, member, Economic Advisory Council. Under Obama, Bernstein was a major economist and economic adviser to Biden.
• Douglas Emhoff, second gentleman, husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris. He is the first husband of a U.S. Vice President. Born in Brooklyn, the son of Jewish parents Barbara and Michael Emhoff. She grew up in New Jersey. She is an entertainment lawyer and teaches at Georgetown University Law Center.
This eliminates 15 Jews from senior positions in the Biden administration. And, just by descent, here are ten Catholics among Biden’s nominees, and possibly the highest of all time.
Most importantly, Biden himself, a liberal Catholic church; Gen. Lloyd Austin, has already been confirmed as secretary of defense; Deb Haaland, Interior; Tom Vilsack, Agriculture; Gina Raimondo, Commerce; Marty Walsh, Work; Denis McDonough, Veterans News; Jennifer Granholm, Power; Xavier Becerra, Health and Human Services; and John Kerry, vice president of climate change.
In fact, the Trump administration, too, had many Jews in high positions. Among them: Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior counselor; Special Representative of Elliot Abrams of Venezuela, then Iran; David Friedman, Ambassador to Israel; Jason Greenblatt, Representative for International Negotiations, Israel-Palestinian Conflict; Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of Finance; Stephen Miller, Senior Advisor, Policy; Gary Cohn, Director, White House National Economic Council; Reed Cordish, Assistant to