President Obama announced today that Jacob Lew, an Orthodox Jew who is currently director of the Office of Management and Budget, will succeed former Chicago mayor William Daley as White House chief of staff.
Lew, who is 56, is widely known as a straight-shooter and, during his time in the Clinton White House, has earned a reputation as an able go-between for the White House on Capitol Hill. Last summer, he played a key role in the fraught debt-ceiling negotiations—a critical point in his favor when it came time to selecting Daley’s replacement, administration officials told Politico. Obama, speaking from the Dining Room of the White House, said he expects Lew to continue working on economic issues: “I have every confidence that Jack will make sure we don’t miss a beat and continue to do everything he can to secure our economy and help the middle class and keep America safe.”
A Queens native, Lew got his start in Washington working for Bella Abzug. He will be the first Orthodox Jew to hold such a senior West Wing position, according to Nathan Diament, the director of the Orthodox Union’s Washington operation. “That is a wonderful testament to Jewish life in America, as well as to his record and his experience,” Diament said.
Allison Hoffman is a senior editor at Tablet Magazine. Her Twitter feed is @allisont_dc.