How Three Jewish Boys From Wilmette Became the 'Brothers Emanuel'

Oldest Brother Offers a Manual to Being Emanuel

Brother Z: Zeke Emanuel is an oncologist, a bioethicist, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a former medical advisor in the Obama White House
Candace diCarlo
Brother Z: Zeke Emanuel is an oncologist, a bioethicist, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a former medical advisor in the Obama White House

By Ben Joravsky

Published April 15, 2013, issue of April 19, 2013.
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Sixteen years after Bumiller broke the news, Ezekiel has published his version of the brothers’ story — “Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family.” Let’s hope he sets aside some of the royalties for Bumiller — or at least her favorite charity.

Before I move on, I must make a confession. As a political columnist for the Reader newspaper, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a fan of the way Mayor Emanuel runs Chicago. Don’t get me started about how he’s closed schools, shuttered mental health clinics, fired city workers, farmed out contracts to his cronies and so forth.

That said — I love this book!

Okay, maybe not love. How about… really enjoyed. Or couldn’t put down. Or talked about obsessively, as in calling friends day and night to say, “You wouldn’t believe what these knuckleheaded Emanuel boys did next.”

How can you not have fun with the Emanuel boys? Ezekiel makes it sound like one endless party. Ski trips, cross-country car vacations, summers in Israel. There was the time Rahm locked Ari in the closet. And the time they were on this bus in Israel and Rahm had his head “nestled in the bosom of a buxom woman.” When they get together, all hell breaks loose — with F-bombs flying and everyone loudly arguing and cracking wise all at once.

“We spent the first ten years of our lives sleeping in the same room, eating at the same table, and strategizing over how to appease our mother’s tempestuous moods,” Emanuel writes. “The bond we formed growing up together is unbreakable.”

Okay, let’s be honest. I wanna be an Emanuel brother! I’d be Schmeckle, the dim-witted one. During the Seder, Ari would slug me. Ezekiel would tell me to just grow up. And Rahm would tell me to go f–k myself.You know, like he did to the president of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.


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