In a speech at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs' annual conference on Monday, White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett told the story about celebrating with close friends what was perhaps her most memorable Passover Seder—the one where learned her own great-grandfather was Jewish.
“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,” said Jarrett, who is African-American. “What a wonderful surprise for our friends, and for me! So Passover has always been a special holiday for me.”
Jarrett, who was born in Shiraz, Iran, while her American father was working there, later confirmed to National Journal that Monday's speech was the first time she has publicly told the story about learning of her Jewish ancestory.
After Jarrett’s speech, which mostly centered on Obama’s domestic policy agenda, 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.”