Obama’s Rabbi Relation

By Julie G. Fax

Capers Funnye has a lot in common with his cousin-in-law, Barack Obama: They have both shattered longstanding barriers and are both committed to reaching across traditional divides.

But there is a major difference, Funnye said.

“Barack is a much better fundraiser than I am!”

Michelle Obama and Funnye are first cousins once removed — Michelle’s grandfather and Funnye’s mother were brother and sister, though it was Michelle’s father who was closer in age to Funnye’s mother. All have passed away in the last 15 years.

Barack and Michelle have a standing invitation to visit Funnye’s Chicago congregation of multiethnic Jews — “and when I see them, I’m going to remind them,” Funnye said.

Funnye is also counting on an invitation to the White House, where his Aunt Marian, Michelle’s mother, will be living with the family. Funnye and his wife visited the White House last year, when they were invited to a Chanukah reception.

“If I can visit the White House when George W. Bush is president, I will surely visit when Barack Obama is president,” he said.

Funnye still finds it surreal — “magnified 100 times” — that the skinny kid with big ears who interned at his cousin’s law firm is [president] of the United States. He hasn’t talked with Michelle yet, but did leave a message with her chief of staff — again, surreal — and hopes to talk to her soon…


This article was reprinted with permission by The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.

About tolerantamerica

On her recent tour for her book, Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe, Lisa was inspired by the inauguration of Barack Obama, the first African-American elected president of the United States, to encourage cross-cultural dialogue about multiculturalism in America. To increase tolerance and understanding across communities, Lisa launched "A More Tolerant America" to feature guest bloggers, authors, activists, artists and other writers, who, like her, are multicultural. Klug's father is a German-Jewish Holocaust survivor from Poland and the descendant of a Spanish Jewish family that escaped the Spanish Inquisition. During her tour, Lisa encountered ignorance and bigotry toward Jewish Americans. As part of her campaign, this blog will giveaway books and other materials that promote cross-cultural dialogue.
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