Ryan discovers Jewish heritage on PBS show
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was surprised and “proud” to learn that he has Jewish ancestry on an upcoming episode of the PBS show “Finding Your Roots,” according to the show’s host.
In the episode, which has filmed but has yet to air, host Henry Louis Gates Jr. reveals to the Republican House leader that about 3 percent of his DNA is Ashkenazi Jewish. Gates said he traced the Jewish ancestry back to 1531.
He said Ryan was shocked and “very proud” to learn of his previously unknown family member, according to The Associated Press.
“You could have knocked him over with a feather and then he was very proud of it,” Gates said of the Speaker’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.”
Gates said at a meeting of TV critics on Tuesday that Ryan’s ancestry, as well as the ancestry of two other lawmakers, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), would be explored in the upcoming season.
“We’re all immigrants. We’re all mixed up,” Gates told critics, according to the AP. “When the lights came down, everybody was sleeping with everyone else.”
The Speaker’s office would not share any other details from the upcoming episode, instead urging viewers to “tune in!” in an emailed response to the report.
On last year’s season of the hit PBS show, Gates revealed to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) that one of his relatives died fighting Nazis in occupied Europe during World War II.
“I’m proud of his courage, and willingly going to his own death in order to protect innocent people,” Sanders says tearfully in the video released last year. “So I’m very, very proud that I have a family member who showed that type of courage and decency.”
–Updated at 10:21 a.m.
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