Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

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

(JTA) — 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.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.