Growing Up Jewish in New York
Dr. Dov S. Zakheim is a vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton where he is a leader in the firm’s global defense business, working with U.S. Combatant Commanders and allied and coalition ministries of defense worldwide.
Former United States government official Dov Zakheim was the Undersecretary of Defense and Comptroller from 2001-2004 in the George W. Bush administration, and was a foreign policy advisor to that administration during the 2000 election campaign. From 1985-1987, during the Regan administration, Zakheim was Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Planning and Resources. An Orthodox Jew, he helped to end the IAI Lavi Israeli fighter program. Previous to his work with the Bush administration, from 1987-2001, Zakheim served as a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and sat on a number of Defense Department panels, including the Task Force on Defense Reform, in 1997, and the Board of Visitors of Overseas Regional Centers, from 1998-2001. During those years he was also CEO of SPC International, a subsidiary of System Planning Corporation. Zakheim is on the editorial board of The National Interest Journal and has published a multitude of articles and monographs on defense issues. Zakheim earned his BA in government from Columbia University in 1970 and his PhD in economics and politics from St. Antony's College, Oxford University. He was an Adjunct Scholar at the Heritage Foundation, and an adjunct professor at the National War College, Yeshiva University, Columbia University and Trinity College, where he was also Presidential Scholar. He has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the United States Naval Institute. Zakheim has received many awards for government and community service, including the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, its highest civilian award.
Dov Zakheim: Well I’m from Brooklyn, New York. And clearly I was shaped by the fact that I’m a first generation American. My parents were immigrants. My mom and her family . . . my mom came when she was very, very young in 1921, 1922 timeframe – something like that – from the Ukraine. There was a Russian Civil War, the communists against the whites. My parents’ family . . . my mom’s family was caught up in the middle of it. Some of them were killed by the whites. Some of them were killed by the communists and they escaped. My dad, his family, he came from Lithuania. He was a leader of the Jewish community there. He was actually legal counsel. And he was tipped off that when the Soviets moved in – this was before the Nazis attacked Russia in 1941 . . . this was 1940 – that he was on the KGB – or then it was called the NKVD – hit list because he was a leading anti-communist. So he escaped literally one step ahead of the NKVD across the Soviet Union, spent six years at a war in China, and then came in 1947. So . . . and he lost two sisters, and he lost his parents to the Nazis. And so I was fashioned by that . . . the fact that there was just so much blood that had been spilled in my immediate family that both of my parents were immigrants. They worshipped the United States. I was really brought up on God and country. I’m an orthodox Jew. I’m a sixteenth generation rabbi. My son is now the seventeenth generation, one of my sons. None of our family for the last umpty-ump hundred years has practiced as a rabbi. My father was a lawyer as I mention. But we believe in religious values. So on the one hand we have God, and on the other hand we have this wonderful country that had made a home for both of my parents who obviously would probably never have met if it hadn’t been for the United States. Because they met here, which probably meant I wouldn’t have been here.
Recorded on: 7/2/07
Zakheim talks about his parents' escape from the Ukraine and Lithuania.
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