An Exceptional Pick
op-ed by Ezra Friedlander
The appointment of Jack Lew as White House Chief of Staff is welcome news to the Orthodox Jewish community. It celebrates an important milesone to observant Jews here in the United States that a Shomer Shabbos individual will be the primary and most powerful White House official. The duties of the White House Chief of Staff vary greatly from one administration to another. However, the position of Chief of Staff is universally regarded as the key official that the President has designated to manage the White House staff, approve the president's schedule, hence deciding who is allowed to meet with the president. Because of these duties, the Chief of Staff has at various times been labeled "The Gatekeeper" or, "The Power Behind the Throne".
Indeed President Obama should be commeneded for selecting Mr. Lew not because he is an observant Shomer Shabbos yid but because the President choose him as the most qualified and appropriate appointee and did not overlook him for his strict adherence to his religious dictates. Needless to say, but important to emphasize, this is a milestone as it once again demonstrates the greatness of our nation for allowing observant Jews to contribute and to serve our country in all capacities without having to compromise the basic tennet of our faith: Shimiras Shabbos! It wasn't that long ago in this country that someone who was Shomer Shabbos was told that 'if you don't come in to work on Saturday then don't come in on Monday"!
The Lew appointment is equal if not greater to the selection of Senator Joe Lieberman as the vice presidential nominee as the position is defined by being available 24-7 in the literal sense as opposed to the position of Vice President that although higher ranking is more conducive to having a staff infrastructure that allows for a Vice President to control his schedule.
Without claiming to be privy to this particular appointment process, I cannot imagine that Mr. Lew's Shimiras Shabbos was not part of the equation, hence we need to recognize the President's commitment to allowing an individual to be recognized for their caliber not their creed or color.
Another positive derivative of this appointment is the unparalleled Kiddush Hashem that Mr. Lew displayed for always holding his head high and when I say HIGH it refers to looking up to the sky and never forgetting his rich heritage.
In summary: Let us wish Mr. Lew a most successful tenure as White House Chief of Staff during these trying and turbulent times. May he be a shaliach tzibur who advocates for the community in the great tradition of those that proceeded him in positions of great power.