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All The Jews Joe Biden Has Tapped For Top Roles

All The Jews Joe Biden Has Tapped For Top Roles 1
Joe Biden spoke during a memorial service for American victims of the COVID-19 pandemic on Jan. 19, 2021, the eve of his inauguration as president. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGOTN (JTA) – President-elect Joe Biden filled the months before Inauguration Day lining up a slate of Cabinet secretaries, assistants and advisors, many of them Jewish.

Biden’s choices reflect a diverse cross-section of American Jewry and possess expertise gleaned from decades of experience in government, science and medicine and law.

Here’s a rundown of the Jewish names you should know as the Biden administration begins.

Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State

All The Jews Joe Biden Has Tapped For Top Roles 2

Secretary of state nominee Tony Blinken speaks at a Cabinet announcement event in Wilmington, Del., as President-elect Joe Biden looks on, Nov. 24, 2020. (Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

Blinken, a longtime Biden advisor with an extensive diplomacy resume, is the stepson of a Holocaust survivor whose stories shaped his worldview and subsequently his policy decisions, including in the Middle East. He holds mainstream Democratic views about Israel and said during his confirmation hearing Tuesday that he wants the U.S. to reenter the Iran nuclear deal — and that he would consult with Israel on Iran policy.

David Cohen, CIA Deputy Director

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David Cohen, seen here at a Capitol Hill hearing on Iran sanctions in 2011, was named to the No. 2 position at the Central Intelligence Agency. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Cohen, who has long been involved in Jewish causes and issues, will occupy the job he held under President Barack Obama. He does not require confirmation, meaning that Biden’s CIA has a top expert in Iran issues from Day One.

Merrick Garland, Attorney General

Merrick Garland, shown here in 2016, has been nominated to be the next attorney general. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Merrick Garland shown in 2016, has been nominated to be the next attorney general. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Garland was blocked from joining the Supreme Court in the last year of the Obama administration. Now, he’ll require Senate confirmation to become the country’s top lawyer. In his speech after being nominated, he credited his grandparents, who fled anti-Semitism in Europe before coming to the U.S.

Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence

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Nominee for Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testifies at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Jan. 19, 2021. (Melina Mara-Pool/Getty Images)

Haines was deputy director of the CIA under Obama and Biden reportedly considered her to run that agency. Her mother was the Jewish painter Adrian Rappin (originally Rappaport), and her non-Jewish father once wrote in an account about a trip with Haines to Israel that the nominee identifies as Jewish.

Ronald Klain, Chief of Staff

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Ron Klain, then President Obama’s “ebola czar,” in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2015. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Klain, a longtime Biden who was the president-elect’s first major appointment in November, was previously chief of staff to Biden in his vice president days and to Vice President Al Gore. He has maintained ties with his childhood synagogue in Indianapolis, where he famously learned multiple Torah portions for his bar mitzvah, and has spoken about his commitment to raising Jewish children.

Eric Lander, Office of Science and Technology Policy Director

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Eric Lander, a renowned geneticist, will lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Lander, a leading geneticist, will require Senate confirmation after Biden elevated his position to the Cabinet level. After he was criticized for toasting James Watson, the scientist who is credited with discovering the shape of DNA and who also expressed racist and sexist views, Lander said he, too, had been the subject of anti-Semitic comments by Watson.

Rachel Levine, Deputy Health Secretary

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Rachel Levine in Harrisburg, Penn., May 16, 2016. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Levine, raised in a Conservative Jewish home in Massachusetts, is Pennsylvania’s health secretary. She is the first known transgender person to be nominated for a position that requires Senate confirmation.

Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas

Alejandro Mayorkas, then deputy secretary of Homeland Security, addresses the Orthodox Union at a conference in Washington, Sept. 21, 2016. (Orthodox Union)

Mayorkas, 60, the deputy secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama, was born in Cuba to a Cuban Jewish father and Romanian Jewish mother who survived the Holocaust. He has worked closely with Jewish groups and spoken often about the specific threats facing American Jews. An array of Jewish groups sought a swift confirmation given the threat of extremist violence surrounding the presidential transition, but a Republican senator who supported overturning the election results blocked that possibility on Tuesday.

Anne Neuberger, National Security Agency Cybersecurity Director

Anne Neuberger

Anne Neuberger attended an Orthodox Jewish day school for girls in Brooklyn. (National Security Agency)

An Orthodox Jew originally from Brooklyn and educated through college in Orthodox schools, Neuberger has worked at the NSA for more than a decade. She helped establish the U.S. Cyber Command and worked as chief risk officer, where she led the agency’s election security efforts for the 2018 midterms.

Wendy Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State

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Wendy Sherman was the top U.S. negotiator in the world powers’ nuclear talks with Iran. (Eric Bridiers/U.S. Mission Geneva)

Sherman was the lead negotiator for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and took the lead in advocating for the agreement with the Jewish and pro-Israel communities, later describing tensions with Israel and some American Jewish groups over the deal as “very, very painful.” She has also played a role in hewing the Democratic Party platform to traditional pro-Israel lines.

Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary

Janet Yellen

Janet Yellen speaks during a briefing at the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C., Dec. 13, 2017. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Yellen already made history as the first woman chair of the Federal Reserve, but now she has been appointed to be the first female Treasury secretary. The respected centrist was one of three Jews featured in a 2016 Trump attack ad that reflected longstanding anti-Semitic tropes.

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