Attorney General Merrick B. Garland was sworn in as the 86th Attorney General of the United States on March 11, 2021. As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Garland leads the Justice Department’s 115,000 employees, who work across the United States and in more than 50 countries worldwide. Under his leadership, the Department of Justice is dedicated to upholding the rule of law, keeping our country safe, and protecting the civil rights of all Americans.
US President Joe Biden filled the months before Inauguration Day lining up a slate of Cabinet secretaries, assistants and advisers, many of them Jewish.
Biden’s choices reflect a diverse cross-section of American Jewry and possess expertise gleaned from decades of experience in government, science and medicine and law.
Here’s a rundown of the Jewish names you should know as the Biden administration begins.
Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State
Blinken, a longtime Biden adviser with an extensive diplomacy resume, is the stepson of a Holocaust survivor whose stories shaped his worldview and subsequently his policy decisions, including in the Middle East. He holds mainstream Democratic views about Israel and said during his confirmation hearing Tuesday that he wants the US to reenter the Iran nuclear deal — and that he would consult with Israel on Iran policy.
Anthony Blinken speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware, November 24, 2020. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
David Cohen, CIA Deputy Director
Cohen, who has long been involved in Jewish causes and issues, will occupy the job he held under President Barack Obama. He does not require confirmation, meaning that Biden’s CIA has a top expert in Iran issues from Day One.
David Cohen, seen here at a Capitol Hill hearing on Iran sanctions in 2011, was named to the No. 2 position at the Central Intelligence Agency. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images via JTA)
Merrick Garland, Attorney General
Garland was blocked from joining the Supreme Court in the last year of the Obama administration. Now, he’ll require Senate confirmation to become the country’s top lawyer. In his speech after being nominated, he credited his grandparents, who fled anti-Semitism in Europe before coming to the US.
Merrick Garland shown in 2016, has been nominated to be the next attorney general. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence
Haines was deputy director of the CIA under Obama and Biden reportedly considered her to run that agency. Her mother was the Jewish painter Adrian Rappin (originally Rappaport), and her non-Jewish father once wrote in an account about a trip with Haines to Israel that the nominee identifies as Jewish.
Avril Haines, US President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for director of national intelligence, speaks during her confirmation hearing on January 19, 2021, in Washington. (Joe Raedle/Pool/AFP)
Ronald Klain, Chief of Staff
Klain, a longtime Biden aide who was the president-elect’s first major appointment in November, was previously chief of staff to Biden in his vice president days and to Vice President Al Gore. He has maintained ties with his childhood synagogue in Indianapolis, where he famously learned multiple Torah portions for his bar mitzvah, and has spoken about his commitment to raising Jewish children.
Ron Klain, then President Obama’s ‘ebola czar,’ in Washington, DC, January 13, 2015. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
Eric Lander, Office of Science and Technology Policy director
Lander, a leading geneticist, will require Senate confirmation after Biden elevated his position to the Cabinet level. After he was criticized for toasting James Watson, the scientist who is credited with discovering the shape of DNA and who also expressed racist and sexist views, Lander said he, too, had been the subject of anti-Semitic comments by Watson.
US President-elect Joe Biden, right, listens as his nominee for the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and adviser on science Eric Lander speaks during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, January 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Rachel Levine, deputy health secretary
Levine, raised in a Conservative Jewish home in Massachusetts, is Pennsylvania’s health secretary. She is the first known transgender person to be nominated for a position that requires Senate confirmation.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine meets with the media at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) headquarters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, May 29, 2020. (Joe Hermitt/The Patriot-News via AP, File)
Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security
Mayorkas, 60, the deputy secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama, was born in Cuba to a Cuban Jewish father and Romanian Jewish mother who survived the Holocaust. He has worked closely with Jewish groups and spoken often about the specific threats facing American Jews. An array of Jewish groups sought a swift confirmation given the threat of extremist violence surrounding the presidential transition, but a Republican senator who supported overturning the election results blocked that possibility on Tuesday.
Alejandro Mayorkas, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 25, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Anne Neuberger, National Security Agency cybersecurity director
An Orthodox Jew originally from Brooklyn and educated through college in Orthodox schools, Neuberger has worked at the NSA for more than a decade. She helped establish the US Cyber Command and worked as chief risk officer, where she led the agency’s election security efforts for the 2018 midterms.
Anne Neuberger, an Orthodox Jew, was recently tapped to head the US National Security Agency’s new Cybersecurity Directorate. (National Security Agency via JTA)
Wendy Sherman, deputy secretary of state
Sherman was the lead negotiator for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and took the lead in advocating for the agreement with the Jewish and pro-Israel communities, later describing tensions with Israel and some American Jewish groups over the deal as “very, very painful.” She has also played a role in hewing the Democratic Party platform to traditional pro-Israel lines.
US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 3, 2013, before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
Janet Yellen, Treasury secretary
Yellen already made history as the first woman chair of the Federal Reserve, but now she has been appointed to be the first female Treasury secretary. The respected centrist was one of three Jews featured in a 2016 Trump attack ad that reflected longstanding anti-Semitic tropes.
Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen speaks during a briefing at the US Federal Reserve December 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)