WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff, quit to run for Chicago mayor.
Emanuel, who resigned last Friday, reportedly was to start campaigning for the top job in his hometown on Sunday.
Emanuel focused mostly on shepherding domestic initiatives through Congress since assuming the job in January of 2009. He was deeply involved in passing health care reform.
The son of an Israeli doctor who moved to the United States in the 1950s, Emanuel, who speaks Hebrew, also played a role in reaching out to Israeli leaders when tensions between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations flared earlier this year over settlement building.
Emanuel spoke emotionally of his parents at his departure ceremony.
"Both my parents raised me to give something back to the country and the community that has given us so much, and I want to thank you for the opportunity to repay in a small portion of the blessings this country has given my family," he said to Obama. "I give you my word that even as I leave the White House, I will never leave that spirit of service behind."
Peter Rouse, a senior aide, was named to replace Emanuel. Rouse, who was Obama’s chief of staff when he was a U.S. senator from Illinois, has close relations with Jewish groups.