Monday, April 06, 2009

Orthodox Jewish Policy Director Appointed To President's Faith-Based Council-- [UPDATE]: 9 New Members Appointed

According to a press release today by OU, Nathan J. Diament, director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, has been named by President Barack Obama to serve on the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Diament was a Harvard Law School classmate of Obama, and they regularly played basketball together as law students. (See prior posting.) The Advisory Council is comprised of 25 religious and secular leaders and scholars. At least 15 others have already been appointed. (See prior posting.) Diament, who is also an adjunct professor at American University, said that he is deeply honored to be appointed to the Council and looks forward to an "opportunity to bring the Torah's timeless values into conversations seeking solutions to modern challenges."

UPDATE: The Washington Post reported Monday afternoon that a number of new members were appointed to the Advisory Council and that its first substantive meeting was held today:
Several new members come from groups representing minorities, including: Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies; Anju Bhargava, founder of Asian Indian Women of America and Harry Knox, head of the religion program at the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for gays and lesbians.

Other new members include Anthony Picarello, formerly of the religious liberties law firm Becket Fund and now general counsel to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president-elect of the National Council of Churches, a sprawling ecumenical umbrella group of mostly mainline Protestants
A White House press release Monday afternoon lists all the members, including the 9 new appointees. Additional new members are Bishop Charles Blake, Nancy Ratzan and Dr. Sharon Watkins. Absent from the list of appointees was former NFL coach Tony Dungy. A previous announcement that he had been invited to join the Council stirred criticism. (See prior posting.) [Thanks to Blog From the Capital for the lead.]