Orthodox Jewish woman named cybersecurity chief for US spy agency!


From TimesOfIsrael.com (cited below)

An Orthodox Jewish woman whose parents were among the hostages rescued by Israeli commandos from Entebbe Airport has been tapped to head the United States National Security Agency's new Cybersecurity Directorate.

Anne/Chani Neuberger, currently of Baltimore, has worked at the NSA for the past decade. She helped establish the US Cyber Command and worked as chief risk officer, where she led the agency's election security efforts for the 2018 midterms.

Neuberger said her family's harrowing escapes, first from the Holocaust and then from the hostage situation in Uganda after the Air France flight her parents were on was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists in 1976, had helped shape her worldview. Though her parents are not Israeli, they were held by the hijackers for a week along with Israeli passengers because they were Jewish.

"My parents had American passports, but because my father wore a kippah they knew he was Jewish and decided to keep him, too," she told the Forward in an interview. In Yiddish he told my mom to go, but she refused. The famous Israeli military operation brought my parents home.

"Sometimes the military is the only option," Neuberger continued. "Threats from those that want to cause us harm are real and not going away. We have a commitment to defending our nation in lawful ways. Our nation needs to remain vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity. The NSA makes critical contributions to protect the USA," she said.

Neuberger, currently an assistant deputy director at the agency, will be one of the highest-ranking women at the NSA since Ann Caracristi was named deputy director in 1980, according to the Wall Street Journal. Neuberger will report to the agency's head, Gen. Paul Nakasone.

She previously was the deputy chief management officer at the US Navy and worked for the secretary of defense.

Neuberger, 43, also known as Chani, is from the heavily Jewish Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood of Borough Park. She spoke Yiddish at home and attended the Bais Yaakov Jewish day school for girls, according to the Yeshiva World News, where half the day was devoted to religious instruction.

Subsequently, she graduated from Touro College in New York and Columbia Business School, and has worked in the White House Fellows program. One the side, she runs a charitable organization, called "Sister to Sister," which helps divorced single mothers in the Orthodox communities.

She married an Orthodox man, a lawyer, whom she met on a parent-arranged date, she told NPR in a 2015 interview. They eat only kosher food. Neuberger leaves the NSA every Friday in time to observe the Jewish Sabbath, before sunset. She remains close to her religious communities.

From the Forward (cited below):

The 9/11 terrorist attacks were a turning point for Neuberger, informing her long-term ambition to move into government and away from the family business. She understood the potential roadblocks she faced as a married woman who at that time was pregnant with her first child.

Neuberger is well versed in the business world, having worked for many years in her family's companies in an array of financial and online capacities. In fact, she was told this was a main factor in the Department of Defense choosing her over many other applicants.

She admits she's constantly straddling the line between concerns over national security on the one hand and civil liberty violations on the other. It's an issue that has resonance for Neuberger. Given her family history, she sees both sides of this complex netherworld all too vividly. To this day her father fears authority figures, even cops who pull him over for minor traffic infractions. She says it's a consequence of his experiences growing up in communist Hungary; in the 1950s, he arrived in the States as a refugee.

All of Neuberger's grandparents are Auschwitz survivors. Seven of her eight great-grandparents did not make it out. The one who survived (a great-grandfather) jumped off a train carrying him to the death camp, she said, adding that her whole family was part of the mass deportation of Hungarian Jews in 1944.

Neuberger's family is wealthy and philanthropic. When her uncle Michael Karfunkel died in 2017, the Forward described him and his brother, George Karfunkel (Neuberger's father), as billionaires. They are among the 100 wealthiest families in America yet virtually unknown outside the Orthodox community. Members of Neuberger's family have doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in grants through their foundations (one is named in honor of her and her husband, Yehuda Neuberger) to, most pointedly, their favored religious and educational institutions within their community.

Neuberger said that she had encountered few problems related to her religion at the NSA and that she was extremely happy to be seen as a role model for Orthodox women. She admits that early on, the holidays she celebrated and the kosher food she ate were alien to her colleagues, but she came to understand that if you are professional in your job and comfortable in adhering to your traditions, everyone will be fine with it.

"All my coworkers understand that I don't go out with them for drinks on Friday night and that I observe the Sabbath. In fact, I have assistants who keep their eye on the clock for me Friday afternoons, letting me know that I had better get moving."

From an NPR interview (cited below):

Neuberger insists that religious practices like hers can actually be helpful in dealing with workplace challenges. "The discipline and rigor, the restrictions on what one can eat, the restrictions on how one behaves, I hope I bring that in values, living true to one's values, trying to bring that integrity into the way you approach your job each day and how you interact with people, every single day," she says.

Neuberger's point: Her professional achievements have come not in spite of her faith. They've come because of it.


SOURCES: Compiled and adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles (managing editor of AscentOfSafed.com) from:


An article on her new appointment on Times of Israel.

A detailed interview from 2018 in the Jewish Forward;

A detailed interview from 2015 on NPR (National Public Radio);

A first person article she wrote in 2012 for Jewish Action;


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