[Obama's] wife's cousin, Rabbi Capers C. Funnye Jr., leads a mostly black Jewish congregation on Chicago's Southwest Side. He is Michelle Obama's first cousin once removed: Her paternal grandfather is the brother of Funnye's mother.
The Obamas have not publicized the connection to Funnye out of respect for the privacy of their large extended family, said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama.
Funnye said he sees the Obamas occasionally at family gatherings. The Obamas have never attended services at the stately tan brick synagogue of the Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in the city's Marquette Park neighborhood.
Funnye's relationship to the presidential candidate has been relatively unknown outside the Chicago Jewish community. The Forward, a Jewish newspaper, first reported the relationship.
"It was a total surprise to me," said Ira Forman, the executive director of the National Democratic Jewish Council. "Despite coming under attack unfairly in the Jewish community, Obama didn't even mention this. I think it's a piece of the puzzle that validates him."
Oy, I'm all verklempt!