Jon Ossoff with his wife, Dr. Alisha Kramer, at the presidential inauguration ceremony, Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo/JTA-Tom Williams-CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Jon Ossoff with his wife, Dr. Alisha Kramer, at the presidential inauguration ceremony, Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo/JTA-Tom Williams-CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Jon Ossoff had a totem of his American Jewish heritage in his pocket when he joined the Senate

New Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff already had one artifact from American Jewish history on display when he was sworn into the Senate: the book of scripture on which he took his oath of office.

But the 33-year-old said on Twitter Wednesday night that he had been carrying another item that reflected his American Jewish heritage — copies of the manifests from the ships that brought his great-grandparents to the United States from Eastern Europe.

Ossoff wrote that his great-grandfather Israel arrived in 1911 and his great-grandmother Annie came in 1913. On one side of the pages he posted to Twitter can be seen a name that looks like Israel Osshowsky, reflecting the fact that many immigrants who came to the country changed their names to easier-to-pronounce versions over time. (Not, genealogists have persuasively shown, by officials at Ellis Island, as family lore often holds.)

Ossoff leaned into his American Jewish story — one of being descended of immigrants who fled persecution as Jews in Eastern Europe — during his campaign. His arrival to the Senate, along with his fellow newly elected Georgia Democratic senator, Raphael Warnock, gives Democrats a majority there at a time when new President Joe Biden is seeking to transform the United States’ immigration policies to be more welcoming.

Philissa Cramer
Philissa Cramer

Philissa Cramer is editor in chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

JTA

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