Friday, November 30, 2012

Our Man in the White House

The purpose of this blog is to help you turn Friday night smalltalk into bigtalk. Please print & share.

Is President Obama good or bad for Israel?

That's not the question of the week. That's just to get you to read the rest of this post, since eleven out of ten Jews have a very strong opinion on this question.

(And they're all wrong, of course.)

It's such a charged question that I've been sitting on this topic for weeks, afraid of appearing partisan.

This is not an endorsement of any candidate, party or platform, OK?

But here is an interesting story, worthy of table talk.

First, as you probably know, the Jewish blogo-twitter-facebook-sphere was all abuzz before November 2 about whether or not President Obama is "good for Israel".

During all of these discussions, I never saw anyone mention Jack Lew.

Yaakov Who?

If you google "Jack Lew" you will find many articles about the White House Chief of Staff.

Most of them are highly flattering.

Jacob Lew
Most of them for some reason mention the fact that he doesn't work on Friday night or Saturday.

Such as the Huffington Post:

"He packed in long hours six days a week, taking off every Saturday to observe the Sabbath (he is an Orthodox Jew), honing the type of negotiating acumen that would prove useful for Obama."

The Atlantic Monthly at least finds a reason to mention Lew's private life:

"Faith is another guiding force in Lew's life. An Orthodox Jew, he tries to observe the Sabbath. This means forgoing work, cars, phone calls, and other technology from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday, hardly an easy commitment for a man who has answered to two presidents. The full day of respite from a bruising Washington schedule helps him maintain his characteristic calm, friends say."

The Forward profile revealed even more:

When Jack Lew was appointed chief of staff to President Obama in January, many in the Jewish community wondered how he could observe Shabbat in such a demanding position.
Luckily, Lew has the most powerful man in the world to keep track of time as the sun starts to dip low in the sky on Friday afternoons.

Yaakov Lew
“I saw the president on many occasions on Friday afternoons look at his watch, and ask: ‘Isn’t it time for you to get going?’” Lew said, “or, ‘Why are you still here?’ The president was not checking the clock “because he doesn’t think I can keep time,” Lew said. Rather, the extra care on this issue reflects the President’s wish “to remind me that it’s important to him, not just to me, that I be able to make that balance.”

Questions for your table: With Yaakov Lew as one of the smartest and most powerful players in Washington, does it matter to you that he's Jewish? That he keeps Shabbat? Is that good for Israel? Is it good for the Jews?

Shabbat Shalom

PS - don't forget our awesome suggestions for Channuka here.

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