Douglas Emhoff, Hallie Olivere, Ariana Greenblat

Update: Biden and Harris Jewish Ties and a Mall Gorilla

Just about a year ago, I wrote (over two columns) about the Jewish ties of the Democrats vying for the 2020 presidential nomination. As I write this, former V-P Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris are about to be nominated as the Democrats' 2020 standard bearers. Presidential elections don’t happen every year, so I thought it was worth repeating what I wrote about Biden and Harris last year, with some updates and new details. As you will read, Harris and Biden have an objectively astonishing number of familial Jewish ties. 

Senator Harris’s husband is DOUGLAS EMHOFF, 54, a very successful entertainment attorney. Harris’s parents were both immigrants to America. Her mother was an Asian Indian cancer researcher and a Hindu. Her (black) father, an economics professor, was from Jamaica and a Baptist. The Senator was exposed to both faiths. Harris and Emhoff wed in a civil ceremony in 2014.  In her recent memoir, Harris notes that at the close of her wedding ceremony, “…in keeping with our respective Indian and Jewish heritage, I put a flower garland around Doug’s neck and he stomped on a glass.” It was the first marriage for Harris and the second for Emhoff.

Emhoff has two young adult children (COLE and ELLA) by his previous marriage. I am virtually certain his first wife, Kerstin Emhoff, born Kerstin Mackin, is not Jewish by birth and bio tidbits indicate that she is not a Jew-by-Choice. Kerstin is a successful entertainment producer and is on very good terms with Doug and Kamala. In May, 2019, Harris wrote an article for "Elle" magazine about meeting Doug, his kids, how she came to be called “Momala” by his children, etc. It’s the best source on these type of details.  Click Here for "Elle" article: Elle Article

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, a practicing Catholic, has three Jewish ties by marriage. (1) His late son, Beau Biden, married HALLIE OLIVERE, now 45, in 2002 and they remained married until his death in 2015. The couple had two children, now teenagers. Olivere’s mother is Jewish, her father isn’t. There is no reporting on whether Hallie was raised Jewish, or the religious nature (if any) of her wedding to Beau, or what faith, if any, Hallie and Beau’s children are being raised in; (2) Biden’s daughter, Ashley, is married to Dr. HOWARD KREIN, 54, a Jewish ear-nose-and-throat doctor. They wed in 2012. A Catholic priest presided, with a rabbi “assisting.” They don’t have children; and (3) Hunter Biden, the son of the former V-P, wed MELISSA COHEN, now 33, in May, 2019. The couple only knew each other a month before the wedding. Born and raised in South Africa, Cohen reportedly comes from an observant Jewish family. She was formerly married to a Los Angeles Jewish businessman. Her social media posts are very much against the Trump administration. She’s also posted a video of a desecrated Parisian Jewish cemetery with comments showing her anguish. No word if the wedding was secular or religious. The groom, however, got a “shalom” tattoo, which matches one his wife has long had. In April 2020, the couple had their first child, a son.

The new film “The One and Only Ivan” begins streaming on Disney Plus on Aug. 21. It is based on a best-selling children’s novel of the same name. Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a very run-down mall. Also living in the mall is Stella, an aging elephant. Ruby, an abused baby elephant, shows up one day. Ivan, Stella, and Julia, the mall janitor’s daughter, take care of Ruby and try to find away to turn the mall around.

Most of the characters are animated and are voiced by top notch actors (including Angelina Jolie and Helen Mirren). The “live” actors include Bryan Cranston as the kindly owner of the mall and ARIANA GREENBLAT, as Julia. Greenblatt, 12, has been acting since she was 6. From 2016 to 2018 she played the youngest daughter on the Disney series “Stuck in the Middle.”

Greenblatt, who has 1 million social media followers, will appear in several upcoming big films (including “In the Heights,” the film production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway musical). The young actress is the daughter of a Jewish father and a Puerto Rican mother. As is common with child actors, it is hard to find out, now, how she identifies in a religious sense.


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