Jewish Leaders Back New White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough

Obama's Jewish Liaison Leaving Post

getty images

By JTA

Published January 27, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

President Obama named as his new chief of staff a security official, Denis McDonough, who has strong ties to the Jewish organizational community.

McDonough, until now the deputy to National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, handled much of the National Security Council’s Israel-related traffic and has strong ties with Jewish groups, speaking for instance to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy just weeks before the last presidential election.

“Over the last four years, in speaking privately with me, and more publicly with Jewish Federation leaders, McDonough has steadfastly and vigorously defended the Administration’s Middle East policies,” William Daroff, the director of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington office, said in an email Saturday night to JTA.

“He has been out-front and very available to discuss and debate the intricacies of policy matters - always in a fair and respectful manner - and in a way that makes clear that he has no doubt about the commitment of President Obama to a strong US-Israel relationship,” Daroff said. “When he speaks, it is obvious that he has the President’s ear, and that he has had a tremendous influence over policy matters.”

In a Twitter posting, Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s Washington director, called McDonough a “person of great savvy and candor.”

McDonough takes over from Jack Lew, an Orthodox Jew who has in his various capacities been the senior staff member taking calls from Jewish community leaders. Obama has nominated Lew to become Treasury Secretary.

Also announced on Friday was the departure of Jarrod Bernstein, the White House’s liaison to the Jewish community for the last two years.

In an email, Bernstein, who formerly ran specialty outreach for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said he was returning to that city.

Bernstein was Obama’s third Jewish liaison; previously, the job had been handled jointly by Susan Scher and Danielle Borrin.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.