Saperstein set to join Obama’s faith-based council

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A leading Reform rabbi reportedly will be named part of a new advisory council to the White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The Associated Press reported that Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, would be part of the council, which will meet at least twice a year and include leaders from the religious and secular worlds who have experience in social services.

Others reportedly tapped for the council include evangelical Christian Rev. Joel Hunter; Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America president and CEO Judith Vredenburgh; and Bishop Vashti McKenzie, the first female bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Obama is expected to announce the council and unveil the office on Thursday morning, and has tapped a former Senate and campaign aide, Joshua DuBois, to head it.

Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, was the first to open a White House office dedicated to funding religious groups performing social service work.

Obama said during the campaign that he wanted to keep such an office, but would revamp it and elevate its prominence in policymaking. He also said that he would not allow recipients of federal funding to take religion into account when making hiring decisions.

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