Thursday, November 05, 2009

Barack Obama's Jewish half-brother

We've all heard about Michelle Obama's Jewish cousin, Rabbi Caspers Funnye.

Now it turns out the Jewish people have an even closer link to the First Couple. Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo is Barack Obama's halachically Jewish half-brother, son of Barack Obama Sr. and his third wife, a Jewish kindergarten teacher named Ruth Nidesand. (There was also another son, David, who was killed in a motorbike accident.) He has written a "loosely autobiographical" novel about his father's abuse of his mother:

Ndesandjo said his memories of his father were so bitter that he stopped using the name Obama and adopted the last name of his stepfather, a man Ruth Nidesand married after divorcing Barack Obama Sr. But then, Mark Ndesandjo said, he watched the televised scenes of joy in Chicago's Grant Park the night a man with that hated last name was elected president of the United States.

"There was this remarkable movement from fear towards hope," Ndesandjo said. "I was so proud of my brother Barack."

The election "peeled away some of that hardness," he said. "I became proud of being an Obama." He added Obama back to his name and found the drive to complete the book.

...which probably would not have sold quite as many copies had it not had the name "Obama" on its front cover. Call me cynical, but....

Either way, the Obamas are slowly inching towards a minyan. The first black president, with both Muslim and Jewish first-degree relatives - that really is something.

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