Tag Archives: White House

Jew of the Week: Sir Martin Gilbert

Martin John Gilbert (1936-2015) was born in London to parents of Russian-Jewish background. Soon after World War II broke out, the family was moved to Canada by the British government. Returning to England after the war, Gilbert finished his schooling and served for two years in the British Intelligence Corps. He then went to Oxford to study history. While a postgraduate in 1962, Gilbert was asked by Winston Churchill’s son Rudolph to assist as a researcher for Churchill’s biography. Randolph died a few years later, having brought forth just two volumes on Churchill. Gilbert took over and became the official biographer for Churchill, working on the project for over twenty five years, publishing many volumes along the way. (Currently, there are 31 books encompassing over 25,000 pages, and Gilbert had plans for more.) It was said that “Whoever made the decision to make Martin Gilbert Churchill’s biographer deserves a vote of thanks from the nation. Nothing less would suffice.” Aside from Churchill, Gilbert’s primary interests were studying the World Wars and the Holocaust, as well as producing historical atlases (his were among the very first produced). He also wrote a great deal of books and histories of Jewish communities, of Russia, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as to assist the plight of Soviet Jewry. All in all, Gilbert published an astounding ninety books, many of which were highly acclaimed. His abilities as a scholar and writer were praised. His first volume on Churchill had an original rough draft with two million words (which Gilbert narrowed down to 300,000 for publication), while the short “precis” version of the biography was a mere 981 pages! Gilbert also wrote for The Sunday Times, and for a number of films and TV programs, did research for the BBC, lectured at the White House, and stood before the UN Human Rights Commission. Since 2009, he served as the Privy Counsellor of the British commission inquiring into the Iraq War. Gilbert won numerous awards and honourary degrees, and was knighted in 1995. Sadly, he passed away last week after a lengthy illness.

Words of the Week

Everything happens by Divine Providence. If a leaf is turned over by a breeze, it is only because this has been specifically ordained by God to serve a particular function within the purpose of creation.
– Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov

Jew of the Week: Jack Lew

Highest Ranking Orthodox Jew in the U.S.

Jacob Joseph Lew (b. 1955) grew up in Queens and graduated from Forest Hills High School. He is the son of a lawyer originally from Poland. Lew began his career in politics working as an aide to a democratic representative, while also studying at Harvard, and later rose through the ranks in Congress. Eventually he became director of several institutions, including the Center for Middle East Research. In 1993 he was appointed Special Assistant to President Clinton. His amazing work in the budgeting department led to him becoming the director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Clinton Administration, meanwhile serving on the National Security Council. After Clinton’s term ended, Lew was Vice President of New York University, where he also served as Clinical Professor. Lew returned to government with the Obama administration, first as Deputy Secretary of State, then Budget Director, and most recently White House Chief of Staff (the highest ranking White House employee – sometimes nicknamed the “Co-President”). He has since taken up the position of Treasury Secretary, making him the highest ranking Orthodox Jew in U.S. history. It also means his signature will appear on all newly printed currency in the U.S. This sparked a bit of controversy due to Lew’s funny signature, causing President Obama to joke that he wanted to rescind the nomination when he saw it. Lew is a practicing Orthodox Jew, devoted to his family and his community. In the past he assisted Natan Sharansky in freeing Jews from the former Soviet Union, together with his rabbi, who has described Lew as “one of the most unassuming, giving, and caring congregants I’ve ever been blessed to have… rare for a person in such a powerful position to be the quintessential mensch.”


Words of the Week

Man… sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present, the result being that he does not live in the the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.
– The Dalai Lama

Jack Lew’s Loopy Signature