White House appoints liaison to Jewish community

Chanan Weissman also served as President Barack Obama's Jewish liaison during the last year of his presidency.

Chanan Weissman. Photo courtesy of White House Archives

(RNS) — The White House has tapped an Orthodox Jewish man who served as President Barack Obama’s Jewish liaison during his last year in office to fill that role again in the Biden administration.

Chanan Weissman, 37, currently director for technology and democracy for the National Security Council, will pick up his old job, the White House announced Friday (Aug. 6). Weissman has worked for the State Department for most of his career, more recently for the department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

“We are thrilled to announce that Chanan Weissman will serve as the Biden-Harris Administration’s liaison to the Jewish community,” the official statement said. “Chanan brings a wealth of experience, including his previous service in this role during the Obama-Biden Administration.”

Jewish groups had asked the White House to name a Jewish liaison in light of growing antisemitism. Last week, the Biden administration chose Deborah Lipstadt, a noted Holocaust historian and Emory University professor, as its special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. But that position, located at the State Department, is intended to advance U.S. foreign policy on antisemitism.

Weissman’s job as Jewish liaison is more U.S. and community-relations based. The position is intended to serve as a bridge between American Jews and the White House.

“It’s a two-way street,” said Steve Rabinowitz, a Washington, D.C.-based publicist. “This person helps the president communicate with the Jewish community about policy and, equally important, is a sounding board for concerns from the community and needs of the community.”

President Trump did not have a Jewish liaison, though his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who are Jewish, may have informally served as liaisons.

Part of the job is to foster relationships. The Jewish community might call on the liaison to help them get an administration speaker for a special event, or a birthday greeting from the president for a person turning 100.

“This is a job where nothing the community needs is too big or too small,” Rabinowitz said.

Weissman holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a B.A. in journalism and government and politics from the University of Maryland. He is married with three children and lives in Baltimore.

He will begin his job on Aug. 16, the White House said.

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