Obama names JCPA chief to faith advisory council

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Barack Obama named the outgoing president of the national Jewish public policy umbrella to an advisory council on faith and government.

Obama on Sept. 24 included Rabbi Steve Gutow, a Reconstructionist rabbi who by the end of this year will step down after 10 years leading the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, among 18 members of his third Advisory Council on Faith Based and Community Partnerships.

The White House announcement noted Gutow’s involvement in his JCPA capacity in leading the Save Darfur coalition and in organizing anti-hunger Passover seders at the U.S. Capitol.

The faith advisory councils issue reports on public policy; one such report helped shape White House policy that allowed some exemptions for religious-affiliated groups from extending contraceptive coverage to staff.

The JCPA, in a statement congratulating Gutow, said the third council will address poverty.

“Steve’s work is Tikkun Olam (‘repairing the world’), and we are grateful that President Obama recognizes his passion, talent, and selflessness,” said the JCPA statement, released Sept. 25. “On every great issue of our time, Steve has been a Jewish leader with reach well beyond the Jewish community.”

Also named to the third advisory council are Aziza Hasan, a Muslim community activist who directs New Ground: Muslim Jewish Partnership for Change, and Deborah Weinstein, who directs the Coalition on Human Needs, a group that combats poverty.

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