JTA — The US Senate confirmed Avril Haines to be the first woman to lead the intelligence community, making her President Joe Biden’s first Cabinet member.
Haines, the daughter of a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father, is the first Jewish director of national intelligence, a position that was established in 2005.
She was confirmed on Wednesday evening in an 84-10 vote after Democrats assumed control of the Senate in the afternoon.
Obstructionism by former president Donald Trump and the Republican-led Senate led to Biden having no confirmed Cabinet members when he was sworn in on Wednesday — rare if not unprecedented for a president.
Haines, a lawyer, has served as deputy director of the CIA and as a deputy national security adviser. Her mother, the noted artist Adrian Rappin, was born Adrienne Rappaport. She died when Avril Haines was 15, and Haines named her first business venture, a Baltimore bookstore and cafe, for her.
Nate Bloom, a columnist for Cincinnati’s American Israelite, uncovered a book by her father, Thomas Haines, who said that Haines because of her mother identifies as Jewish. She has visited Israel.
There have been Jewish directors of the CIA, which prior to 2005 was the top intelligence position.
A number of other Jewish Cabinet nominees are expected to be confirmed in the coming days, including Janet Yellen for the Treasury, Antony Blinken as secretary of state, and Alejandro Mayorkas as Homeland Security secretary.