Aaron Keyak became a bar mitzvahed and started going to morning prayer services at the Adas Israel Synagogue in San Francisco before a Holocaust survivor quietly pulled up his shirt sleeve to reveal a number tattooed on his left arm. I used to watch them roll tefillin every morning.
The memories left an impression on me.
More than 20 years later, Kayak, now 37, devotes his days to Jewish protection as Deputy Envoy to Fight and Monitor Anti-Semitism for the US State Department. He is second in command after Deborah E. Lippstadt, one of the world’s most respected Holocaust historians.
The Office of Oversight of Global Anti-Semitism was established in 2006 following the bipartisan passage of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004. Acting as special envoy since November last year until it becomes a lip stadt Position confirmed in March —Have the title “Ambassador”.
In a recent interview in Israel, during Kayak’s month-long tour of the Middle East, he spoke of the U.S. government’s decision to deny entry to Jewish immigrants aboard the MS St. Louis on the eve of World War II. Told. Hundreds of refugees died as a result. “With this office, St. Louis could have been docked,” he said.
“If Ambassador Lipstadt had walked into the Secretary of State or the Presidential Palace and had a better idea of what was going on, he would have made sure that he would not have prevented the rescue of the Jews.”
Lipstadt’s prominent and proactive leadership brings a special power to the office and influence to her deputies. When she speaks, she speaks directly on behalf of the president, the secretary of state, and Congress,” Keyak said in an hour-long interview. Shakshuka at a coffee shop in Jerusalem last week. “So you can do things that you couldn’t do before.”
The Orthodox Keyak was in Israel with his wife, daughter and twin boys, the first destination of a diplomatic mission.It was also the first time that he packed his bags. Kittel — A white linen robe worn by religious Jews on Yom Kippur — in anticipation of spending the high holiday away from home.
The trip includes meetings with officials in Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Brussels. Kayak also considered visiting Kuwait, but that part of the itinerary was postponed because of last week’s parliamentary elections.
Deputy Envoy Kayak had positive conversations with several representatives of the Jewish community in the UAE. It is exhilarating to see these communities thriving on the Arabian Peninsula. We commend the Emirati Government for its continued efforts to promote coexistence and interreligious dialogue. pic.twitter.com/ODMtFEEIjV
— Special Envoy Deborah Lipstadt (@StateSEAS) October 3, 2022
Kayak said Visit to United Arab Emirates Earlier this week was a follow up Lippstadt Gulf Trip June saw her first trip abroad as ambassador, including a visit to Saudi Arabia. The itinerary represents the administration’s efforts to build on the Abrahamic Accords, a normalization agreement between Israel and Arab countries to promote religious tolerance and change attitudes towards Jews in the region.
He will join Lippstadt in Brussels later this month for an international conference dealing with Jewish genocide and circumcision, and will meet with a group of anti-Semitic envoys from Canada, Israel, the European Union and other countries. I plan to host it. Lipstadt hosted the group for the first time at the United Nations in New York earlier this year and hopes to resume meetings every few months.
history of public affairs
Kayak’s commitment to public service and passion for politics began at an early age. He said his parents, Vicky and Geoffrey Keyak, always welcomed political talk at Shabbat dinners. His grandfather was chairman of the state’s Democratic Party. His mother co-founded the Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club in the mid-1980s to ensure Jewish voices in politics.his late father was the president of their synagogue He was deeply involved in politics and Jewish communal life.
After serving as director of Jewish engagement in Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election, Keyak worked on the Biden-Harris transition team, prodigy of orthodox politics by the Jewish Telegraph Office.
After briefly serving as interim executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, he co-founded Blue Light Strategies, a Washington consulting and public relations firm, in 2014 with longtime Democratic strategist Steve Rabinowitz. did. In 2012 he took the lead The Hub, a Jewish outreach team that helped former President Barack Obama get re-elected. Prior to his involvement in presidential politics, Keyak served as his director of communications in the offices of Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York and former Rep. Steve Rothman of New Jersey.
He said his current job is where he believes he can make the most impact. The relationships he forged with some of Biden’s Jewish ambassadors more than a decade ago have helped him connect with leaders abroad and are often an alternative to Lippstadt, he said.
“When we meet with our international interlocutors, they understand that combating hatred of Jews is a priority of United States foreign policy,” he said.
He said that knowledge and the images of Holocaust survivors who once prayed by his side guide him every day. “As long as this office exists, there will never be a compromise behind Jewish life.”