Obama picks Saperstein for State Dept. post

President Obama nominated Reform movement leader Rabbi David Saperstein as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department.

Saperstein, a veteran civil rights activist, is director and counsel of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, a position he has held since 1974.

The rabbi lobbies on Capitol Hill and speaks throughout the country on social issues. He delivered the invocation at the Democratic national convention in 2008 at which Obama was nominated for president, and was selected in 2009 by Newsweek magazine as the most influential rabbi in America.

“I am grateful that Rabbi Saperstein has chosen to dedicate his talent to serving the American people at this important time for our country,” said President Obama.

Saperstein is the fourth person and the first non-Christian to hold the post, first established in 1998. The ambassador travels the world making the case for minorities facing persecution or discrimination.

Saperstein, 66, is an adjunct law professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches First Amendment Church-State Law and Jewish Law. — jta