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House Speaker Paul Ryan uncovers Jewish roots on PBS show
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – House Speaker Paul Ryan was surprised and proud to find out he has Jewish roots.
The Wisconsin Republican discovered his family history while filming a segment for the upcoming season of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.”
Gates said Tuesday at a TV critics meeting that he traced Ryan’s heritage back to his 10th great-grandfather born in 1531 in Germany. The research showed Ryan is 3 percent Ashkenazi Jewish.
“You could have knocked him over with a feather and then he was very proud of it,” Gates said of Ryan’s reaction. “We don’t know who that Jewish person was, but we know it was on his mother’s German line, which makes sense. So somebody who was a Christian German slept with a Jewish German person and that’s where that came from.”
Also featured on the show’s fifth season debuting in January is Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.
Gates said he chose Ryan because he was fascinated by him and not his politics. He picked Rubio because he wanted to include a Cuban and Gabbard because of her Pacific ancestry.
“Her genome looks like the rainbow coalition because it’s Asian and European and African and it’s beautiful,” he said.
“There was a lot going on politically and in terms of immigration for him,” Gates said.
Gates’ wife, Sharon Adams, is a Cuban historian and she had her graduate students research Rubio’s history in addition to hiring people in Cuba to find his family tree in parish churches.
“It was like a challenge, an intellectual challenge for me,” Gates said.
Gates said his purpose in doing the show is to deconstruct race and show how racism manifests itself in the current anti-immigrant feeling in the United States.
“We’re all immigrants. We’re all mixed up,” he said. “When the lights came down, everybody was sleeping with everyone else.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan Discovers Ashkenazi Jewish Heritage On ‘Finding Your Roots’ – TCA
House Speaker Paul Ryan participated in the upcoming 5th season of PBS’s Finding Your Roots and discovered he is 3% Ashkenazi Jewish “which about knocked his head off, to tell you the truth,” Henry Louis Gates Jr. gleefully told TV critics at TCA.
Participants in the new season, launching January 8, also include Seth Meyers, Sarah Silverman, Christiane Amanpour, Michael Moore, and Sen. Mark Rubio.
S. Epatha Merkerson
learned her third-great grandfather had been held in slavery by Jesuit priests at Georgetown University who, in 1838, sold 273 of those slaves to get out of a financial difficulty.
Talk-show host/activist Joe Madison’s ancestors include a victim of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, who was nearly removed from the deadly study because the government determined him to be “almost white.”
Tig Notaro discovered a relative was killed in a bar fire in New Orleans French Quarter, and that she’s related to Gloria Steinem.
“I started the series so black people could find out from what ethnic group they were from in Africa,” Gates said. “So what do you do when you find out that someone’s father is not their father?…This is not Maury Povich.”
Gates also reported telling Notaro one of her ancestors was murdered in a bar in the French Quarter. Notaro reminded him he had used the word “assassinate” because the ancestor was a political figure.
Her great grandfather was the mayor of New Orleans, which she knew because her family talks about it every day. “You can always wedge it into some conversation,” she snarked.
Asked how these stories could inform the discussion in the country right now about the value of immigrants, Gates responded, “We are a nation of immigrants. We are all a nation of the other.
And, through, DNA, we’re all related at the level of the genome. There is no such thing as the white supremacist fantasy of racial purity. It does not exist.”
Paul Ryan Is Part-Jewish — But Some Jews Wish He Wasn’t
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a practicing Catholic, recently learned he’s 3% Jewish — to the chagrin of much of the tribe.
His family history — which includes the revelation that he’s 3% Ashkenazi Jewish, with eastern European roots — was revealed during the filming of an upcoming season of PBS’s “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr,” the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Gates, the show’s host and a professor at Harvard University, said his research took him all the way back to Ryan’s 10th great-grandfather, who was born in Germany in 1531. He told reporters that Ryan was surprised, but proud of his previously unknown heritage.
Twitter was buzzing with hot takes.
The world and Paul Ryan himself were moved by the revelation that the U.S. House speaker is 3 percent Ashkenazi-Jewish with Eastern European roots.
Many of the reactions among the Jewish community were not so enthusiastic, including “I’ll go with, what’s Bad for the Jews, for $200,” and the more practical suggestion “Yo, Jews, let’s take up a collection to refund him his 3%” from writer Ayelet Waldman.
Ryan reportedly learned
Ryan reportedly learned of his minority rootlets while filming an episode of PBS’ “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.” The Harvard University professor claimed to have traced Ryan’s heritage back to his 10th great-grandfather, born in 1531 in Germany. It should be noted that this does not necessarily mean Ryan’s 10th great-grandfather was Jewish.
As Gates told the Associated Press: “We don’t know who that Jewish person was, but we know it was on his mother’s German line.”
Of course, according to Jewish religious law (halakha), any child who is born to a Jewish mother is considered Jewish. That stands whether the mother was born Jewish or converted at a later stage before having children. So although Ryan’s “Jewishness” is from his mother’s side of the family, he wouldn’t qualify as Jewish halakhically because the Jewish source was a man nearly six centuries ago.
Paul Davis Ryan (born January 29, 1970) is an American retired politician who served as the 54th speaker of the United States House of Representatives from October 2015 to January 2019. He was the 2012 Republican Party vice presidential nominee running alongside Mitt Romney, losing to incumbent president Barack Obama and vice president Joe Biden.
Early life and education
Paul Davis Ryan was born on January 29, 1970 in Janesville, Wisconsin, the youngest of four children of Elizabeth “Betty” Ann (née Hutter),