The National Jewish Democratic Council has appointed a new executive director, according to a statement released on Monday. Conservative Rabbi Jack Moline, spiritual leader of the Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia, will assume the position in January 2014.
Moline has been prominent in interfaith dialogue, having served as chairman of the board of the Interfaith Alliance and on the faculty of the Virginia Theological Seminary. He is also close to former Obama administration chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Moline was Emanuel’s rabbi in northern Virginia, and the two traveled to Israel together for the bar mitzva of Emanuel’s son.
When the relationship between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu soured in 2010, Moline worked with Emanuel to initiate a series of meetings between prominent American rabbis and the senior White House officials.
The NJDC is a political lobbying organization that promotes the Democratic Party among American Jews, and pushes for issues important to the Jewish community within the party. It also maintains a focus on countering the influence of the religious right.
However, in 2007, Moline attended a Christian Zionist conference hosted by prominent evangelical pastor John Hagee, telling The Jewish Week website that, because of the Iranian threat and Israel’s growing isolation, “we’re no longer in a position of being too selective in choosing our friends.”
Moline noted that “American Jews overwhelmingly vote Democratic. They do so not out of habit, but because of their values. NJDC is the voice of those values. We are the voice of those values to our government and the candidates who wish to serve, and we are the voice that speaks of those values to experienced voters and each next generation.
“Of course, our support for the state of Israel is foundational,” added Moline. “However, there is more to Jewish activism than Israel. Education, health care, poverty reduction, all of those things that our Constitution points to with the mandate to promote the general welfare, have analogs in our long and rich history of the right and proper concerns of the society in which we live.”