Biden pick for CDC, Rochelle Walensky, has told her synagogue how much she needs it by the Forward

Biden pick for CDC, Rochelle Walensky, has told her synagogue how much she needs it

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President-elect Joe Biden has found himself a nice Jewish doctor to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which President Donald Trump tried to control by installing two political operatives amid its leadership ranks.

Now Biden has tapped Dr. Rochelle Walensky, an expert in HIV and AIDS research, to lead the agency. She is currently the chief of Massachusetts General Hospital’s infectious diseases division, a professor at Harvard Medical School and an active congregant at her Conservative synagogue in Newton, Massachusetts

She finds comfort in her synagogue

A member of Newton’s Temple Emanuel, Walensky has given safety webinars at the Conservative synagogue amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But she told the Jewish Journal that it’s an important place of comfort for her, “I’m thinking I need you more than you need me,” she said she had last said to the synagogue. Nonetheless, she advised the synagogue to continue to hold services online according to the Jewish Advocate.

A world-renowned expert on HIV and AIDS

She’s promoted the practice of “Treatment as prevention” in international health policy as an important way to battle AIDS and HIV around the world. Dr. Walensky is also the Chair of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council (NIH) and as a member of the US Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents.

She’s a Jewish summer camp doctor

For the last six years, Walensky has been the medical liaison to the board of directors at Camp Yavneh, a Jewish summer camp in New England that her children attend. She also spends a week as a doctor at the camp every summer according to the camp’s website.

Correction, Dec. 8, 12:08 p.m.: A previous version of this article described Dr. Rochelle Walensky’s synagogue as Reform; in fact, it is Conservative.


David Ian Klein

David Ian Klein

David Ian Klein covers breaking news and international Jewish communities for the Forward. You can reach him at and on Twitter @davidianklein .

Biden pick for CDC is a Jewish summer camp doctor

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