Shalom Life | July 24, 2014

Obama Advisor Reveals Jewish Roots

Valerie Jarrett tells Jewish Council for Public Affairs conference her great-grandfather was Jewish.

By: Yitzhak Benhorin

Published: March 9th, 2011 in News » World

Obama Advisor Reveals Jewish Roots

White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett revealed Monday that she is of Jewish descent. Her announcement followed the departure of two advisors to US President Barack Obama, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and senior political consultant David Axelrod.

Speaking on behalf of the administration at the annual plenum of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in Washington, Jarrett, a close friend of the Obamas, surprised the Jewish community leaders by revealing her own Jewish roots.

According to Jarrett: “Many, many years ago, my parents hosted a Seder for a group of our Jewish friends, and it was here that my father first told me that my great-grandfather was Jewish. What a wonderful surprise for our friends, and for me! So Passover has always been a special holiday for me.”

Jarrett, who is African-American, was born in Shiraz, Iran to American parents who worked in the foreign country at the time. Her parents are both doctors – her father specializes in pathology and her mother in genetics. Together the two ran a Shiraz hospital for children as part of a US program to help developing countries.

However Jarrett did not follow in her parents' footsteps, opting to study law instead. Throughout her career she served as Deputy Chief of Staff for former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, during which time she hired Michelle Robinson, who was then already engaged to Barack Obama.

During the conference Obama's senior advisor said the story of the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt touched her heart. "In every generation, every Jew must see himself as if he had been liberated that day from Egypt," she said and added that as an African-American this moral holds a special meaning in her eyes.

Jarrett did not go into detail about her Jewish ancestry, but the Jews in the auditorium did not wait long to add the senior advisor to the family. JCAP President and CEO Rabbi Steve Gutow remarked that Jarrett has long been a friend of Jewish groups, but that he was surprised to hear that she was “part of the extended family.”

This article first appeared on Ynet and is reprinted with permission.

Jon Stewart Parodies His Critics for Calling Him “Pro-Hamas” [VIDEO] Jon Stewart Parodies His Critics for Calling Him “Pro-Hamas” [VIDEO] TrendingBelgian Café Posts "No Jews Allowed" Sign Belgian Café Posts "No Jews Allowed" Sign TrendingHoward Stern Goes On Pro-Israel Rant [VIDEO] Howard Stern Goes On Pro-Israel Rant [VIDEO] Trending
 

Op-Ed: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – With Friends Like This Who Needs Enemies?

July 24, 2014 | By Simon Aaron
Op-Ed: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – With Friends Like This Who Needs Enemies?

A look at the once prosperous relationship between Turkey and Israel, and where it all went wrong

Read More

Israeli Women Bare All to Support the IDF

July 24, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Israeli Women Bare All to Support the IDF

New Facebook page "Standing With the IDF - Maintaining a Protective Edge" is a way to boost morale

Read More

Reuven Rivlin Sworn in as President of Israel

July 24, 2014 | By Moran Azulay, Itamar Eichner
Reuven Rivlin Sworn in as President of Israel

Former Likud MK and Knesset Speaker vows his door will be open to all Israelis

Read More

Michael Bloomberg Receives Warm Welcome After El Al Flight of Solidarity

July 24, 2014 | By Shaleni McBain
Michael Bloomberg Receives Warm Welcome After El Al Flight of Solidarity

The former New York mayor has applauded the FAA's decision to resume flights to Israel

Read More

Trending: #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies

July 24, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Trending: #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies

The latest Twitter trend promotes peace and love between Jews, Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians

Read More

Anti-Israel Protesters Attack Maccabi Haifa Players in Austria

July 24, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Anti-Israel Protesters Attack Maccabi Haifa Players in Austria

During the Israeli squad's training match against Lille, pro-Palestinian demonstrators invaded the field

Read More

Senior Hamas Officials Are Living the Good Life

July 24, 2014 | By Roi Kais
Senior Hamas Officials Are Living the Good Life

Hamas leaders enjoy private jets, restaurants and luxury hotels as Gazans suffer

Read More

Shaw Festival Review: THE SEA

July 23, 2014 | By Hermine Steinberg
Shaw Festival Review: THE SEA

The Sea is a well acted, interesting play that at times tries too hard to make a point we know all too well.

Read More

More Headlines