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Spotlight: Chanan Weissman

Margie Pensak

Five things to know about Chanan Weissman, the White House’s new Jewish liaison and the first Orthodox Jew to hold this position for a Democratic administration

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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Chanan Weissman is the White House’s new Jewish liaison, first Orthodox Jew to hold this position for a Democratic administration, and the third one — after Tevi Troy and Marshall Breger — to do so since the position was formally created. He’s replacing Matt Nosanchuk, who is now a senior advisor in the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs. Things to Know about Chanan Weissman, the White House’s New Jewish Liaison

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1.

Weissman, 32, is the former spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. A graduate of Beth Tfiloh Dahan High School in Baltimore County, the University of Maryland College of Journalism, and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, he has also worked at the State Department and the Pentagon on Middle East issues.

2.

“Several people congratulated me about my son’s new position and I didn’t know what to say, at first, in response,” admits Weissman’s mother, Pam Weissman, LCSW-C. (His father, Dr. Neil Weissman, is a clinical psychologist.) “Finally, I came up with a good line: ‘Thank you, he’s a good kid — he clears the table.’ All kidding aside, he shares responsibility. He feels that he has to do what needs to be done and nothing is ever above or below him. He’s definitely a leader and a team player.”

3.

Weissman’s new responsibilities include facilitating the interaction between leaders of Jewish organizations and White House policymakers, representing the Obama administration’s voice to the American Jewish community and, in turn, gathering the community’s consensus viewpoint for the benefit of White House policy makers. Issues will span from school vouchers and aid to parochial schools to Mideast peace methods. Among his assignments will be coordinating Obama’s final White House Chanukah party. His mother notes, “A lot of us choose professions that express who we are and I think that is what’s happening here. He chose it because he’s an ideas person. He has a sense of commitment to this country, and he knows he’s living during a spectacular time in a spectacular country.”

4.

As a baby, his parents’ friends nicknamed him “Chanan Hachacham” because even then he w as quietly curious, always thinking, considerate, perceptive, and observant. He won numerous awards in high school for his academic and athletic abilities, and has always been interested in journalism and humanity. Besides being well spoken, he is well read and enjoys nonfiction. He is very approachable, community minded, humble, and takes great pleasure in asking you about you.

5.

Weissman’s daily Baltimore to DC commute doesn’t get in his way of being family oriented. He is a devoted husband and father who is very much involved with his three daughters — a five-year-old and two-year-old twins. A seasoned baal tefillah and baal korei who davens for the amud on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, he’s as regular as you and me. He enjoys spending time with family and friends — whether it’s around the Shabbos table, barbecuing, or on an outing. His wife Elana is a guidance counselor at the Lower School at Beth Tfiloh Dahan and an EdD candidate in educational psychology.

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