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Bush picks Neusner as Jewish liaison

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President Bush reviews the text of a speech with Noam Neusner in the Oval Office on Jan. 6. (Eric Draper/White House)

President Bush reviews the text of a speech with Noam Neusner in the Oval Office on Jan. 6. (Eric Draper/White House)

WASHINGTON, May 18 (JTA) — The White House has enlisted a familiar family name to serve as the new liaison to the Jewish community. Noam Neusner, currently a domestic policy speechwriter in the White House, was given the additional portfolio this week. He replaces Tevi Troy, who held the post for less than a year and is moving to President Bush’s re-election campaign, where he will serve in the policy department. Neusner, a former journalist, is the son of Jacob Neusner, a prominent rabbi and author of hundreds of books on Judaism. Father and son collaborated on “The Book of Jewish Wisdom: The Talmud of the Well-Considered Life,” published in 1996, and “The Price of Excellence: Universities in Conflict During the Cold War Era,” which came out in 1995. Noam Neusner’s grandfather, Samuel Neusner, founded the Connecticut Jewish Ledger. Noam Neusner worked as senior editor at U.S. News & World Report before joining the Bush administration in November 2002. He has crafted much of the president’s language on economic policy, and sat in on meetings between key administration officials and Jewish communal leaders. Neusner will continue to serve as a speechwriter. Jewish leaders said Neusner’s family name will be an asset in the community. “He’s got a great understanding of the Jewish community and a long history of working with the community and within the community,” said Adam Goldman, who served as Bush’s liaison from 2001 to 2003. Neusner likely will share the job of reaching out to the Jewish community with staff from the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, which is working to galvanize Jewish votes for Bush in several key states. As word spread this week of Troy’s departure and Neusner’s ascension, Jewish officials had kind words for the new liaison. “He’s certainly familiar with the lay of the land,” said Nathan Diament, director of the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs. “He has a very good personality and a very good temperament for the demands of this position.” Neusner said he was excited about the new opportunity. “I’m familiar with the Jewish community from having grown up with it,” he said. “It’s certainly an asset to know some of the players in advance.” Neusner grew up in Providence, R.I. and studied in Jewish day school before attending public high school and Johns Hopkins University. He met his wife, Andrea, at Camp Ramah, and began his journalism career with stints at the Baltimore Jewish Times and the Detroit Jewish News. He covered education and business for the Tampa Tribune before moving to Bloomberg and then U.S. News. Troy, whose official position with the Bush campaign hasn’t been announced, was well-regarded for reaching out to a large, diverse group of Jewish organizations. “He served both the community and the president well,” Diament said, noting that Troy changed the nature of the position by filling significant responsibilities at the White House at the same time as he held the Jewish portfolio. That allowed the community to be in contact with the administration outside of the liaison office.

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