United States President-elect Joe Biden has assembled a team of Cabinet nominees with strong ties to the Jewish community.
Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, hails from a family of immigrants, refugees and a Holocaust survivor. During a November 24 press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden introduced his nominee by explaining that Blinken’s family taught him the unique promise of America.
In his nomination acceptance speech, Blinken emphasized how he was inspired by the example of his family, including his grandfather, Maurice Blinken, an “early backer of Israel,” according to the New York Times. His father, Donald Blinken, served as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary during the administration of President Bill Clinton, and his father’s second wife, Vera, fled communist Hungary as a young girl.
Blinken also shared his family connection to the Shoah: his late stepfather, Samuel Pisar, was the only one of 900 children in Bialystok, Poland to survive the Holocaust after four years in concentration camps. During a death march in the woods of Bavaria, Pisar came upon an African-American soldier, Blinken said. And to the soldier, Pisar uttered the only three words in English he knew, a phrase his mother had taught him: “God Bless America.”
Antony Blinken’s late stepfather was the only one of 900 children in Bialystok to survive the Holocaust after four years in concentration camps.
Another Jewish cabinet member is Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security. Mayorkas is a Latino Jew, the son of a Cuban Jewish father and Romanian Jewish mother, the Times of Israel reported. Other Jewish members of Biden’s inner circle will be Ron Klain, whom Biden named his Chief of Staff, and Janet Yellen, who is Biden’s pick for Treasury Secretary.
In a statement about Biden’s nominees, Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) noted the strong Jewish presence. “We are proud of the fact that this slate of nominees includes multiple Jewish Americans and others whose family history represents the rich tapestry of American society,” the JDCA said. “Their understanding of our past will help build a stronger future.”
According to the JDCA, Biden’s appointment of four Jewish individuals to his presidential cabinet exceeds the number of Jews who were appointed to Trump’s cabinet over the course of four years. According to JDCA, Trump had three Jewish people in his cabinet.
During his remarks on Tuesday, the president-elect expressed confidence that this team is the right group of people to lead the country at this time. “To the American people, this team will make us proud to be Americans,” he said.
Biden, a Democrat, also said he hoped the U.S. Senate, which may feature a Republican majority depending on the results of two upcoming runoff elections in Georgia, would give his nominees “a prompt hearing.”