Forward Thinking

Jack Lew's New and Improved John Hancock

By Nathan Guttman

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When President Obama nominated Jack Lew to be his next treasury secretary, he could not avoid teasing Lew for his only known fault – his illegible signature. “Jack assures me that he is going to work to make at least one letter legible in order not to debase our currency should he be confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury,” Obama joked back in January.

And Lew took notice.

After two and half months in office, Jack Lew unveiled his new signature, doing away with the loopy squiggly John Hancock that had become his trade mark, in favor of a way more conventional “Jacob Lew” signature, with a pronounced J and L and a winding W at the end.

Jack Lew’s new and improved signature

Lew is the most senior Jewish member on Obama’s team and the only Orthodox Jew to hold a top cabinet position. When first nominated, handwriting experts said his eccentric signature, made up of a series of loops, indicated a personality that can “adapt quickly” and Lew proved to be just that, with his complete signature makeover.

Old signature

Attention to Lew’s signature was not only an item of curiosity and a rare glance into the head of the otherwise perfectly molded civil servant. As Treasury Secretary, Lew’s signature will be on every new currency bill printed in the United States. And so the threat of having dollar bills carry an strange looking string of circular loops has been lifted, depriving Americans from an opportunity to see a more whimsical signature adorn bills in their wallets.

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5 Jewish Things at the Inauguration

By Nathan Guttman

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Barack Obama

President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 was full of Jewish side events. There was a fancy ball at a downtown hotel co-sponsored by major Jewish groups and attended by Jewish politicos, activists and even Dr. Ruth Westhehimer, plus a string of private events hosted by Jewish Democratic donors and supporters.

WATCH President Obama’s inauguration LIVE:

This time around, the entire inauguration has been downsized as the president looks to send a message that he is taking into account the tough economic climate. And after all it’s his second term.

The Jewish community is also taking a low key approach. But here’s a few things to watch out for. And if you find a way into the inaugural lunch, Sen. Chuck Schumer is making apple pie for dessert.

Giving Back

Two Jewish groups, Repair the World and the D.C. Jewish Community Center, participated in the Day of Service volunteer fair on the National Mall on Saturday. The event aims highlighted volunteering opportunities, all part of the inauguration’s theme of community service.

The two groups shared the stage with 90 other organizations offering ways to help those in need.

“We hope to reach a part of the population we don’t usually reach,” said Erica Steen, director of community engagement at the DCJCC, which organizes throughout the years volunteers food drives for the homeless, house repairs for low income families and work with local schools.

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Everyone's a Handwriting Expert — Even The Donald

By Susan Armitage

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Donald Trump

We know Jack Lew’s signature wouldn’t win any gold stars for penmanship. President Obama even joked that if he’d known Lew’s John Hancock was so loopy, he would have reconsidered his nomination for Treasury secretary.

But self-proclaimed handwriting analyst Donald Trump says Lew’s signature isn’t just bad. Rather, it tells the real estate mogul-turned-wannabe Republican political leader something about Lew’s innermost thoughts.

It’s “extremely secretive,” Trump told Fox News (via Politico).

“It shows he’s a very, very secretive person, unbelievably secretive, which of itself is interesting,” Trump asserted.

And what might “secretive” Lew have to hide? Trump thinks his 2011 testimony to Congress on Obama’s economic plan was “probably false and probably knowingly false.”

Hmmm. Wonder what some Democrats might say about The Donald’s combover hair-do. Maybe he didn’t get enough love as a child.

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You Too Can Sign It Like Jack Lew

By Dave Goldiner

You’ve seen it. President Obama has seen it. Now you get to try it out yourself.

We at the Forward are proud to present the Jack Lew signature widget, which allows you to recreate the wonderful, amazing, crazy curlicues of the first Orthodox Jew to be nominated as treasury secretary.

Go ahead, test it out (Hat tip to Yahoo News). You know you want to.

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Jack Lew's Really Bad John Hancock

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Does Jack Lew need to tighten up his penmanship if he’s going to be treasury secretary?

The Orthodox Jew whose signature is going to be on every single dollar bill in the land has a pretty weird — actually, an incredibly, startingly weird — signature.

And it seems to be the main thing the world is noticing about the man who’s President Obama’s choice to take over from Timothy Geithner.

See how YOUR own signature would look if you wrote just like Jack Lew

“A lesser-known but extremely pertinent fact about Lew is that he has the world’s worst signature,” writes Kevin Roose over at New York Magazine’s Daily Intelligencer blog. “And pretty soon, that signature could be on every single one of your dollar bills,” he writes with horror.

Roose notes that Geithner had to neaten up his already somewhat legible signature before it could be printed on dollar bills. If so, then Lew is going to have to do a complete overhaul of his John Hancock.

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Jack Lew's Shabbat Helper

By Nathan Guttman

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When Jack Lew was appointed chief of staff to President Obama in January, many in the Jewish community wondered how he could observe Shabbat in such a demanding position.

Luckily, Lew has the most powerful man in the world to keep track of time as the sun starts to dip low in the sky on Friday afternoons.

“I saw the president on many occasions on Friday afternoons look at his watch, and ask: ‘Isn’t it time for you to get going?’” Lew said, “or, ‘Why are you still here?’ The president was not checking the clock “because he doesn’t think I can keep time,” Lew said. Rather, the extra care on this issue reflects the President’s wish “to remind me that it’s important to him, not just to me, that I be able to make that balance.”

Lew, who is Orthodox, revealed the details about his keeping Shabbat in an extraordinary interview with the Forward that touched on his need to observe the Jewish holy day.

“And he’s respected that time and again,” the chief of staff said of Obama.

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