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In Israel, talking tachlis with Obama’s (halachically Jewish!) half-brother

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Some Israelis have been kvetching for the past couple years that President Obama hasn’t seen fit to visit the Jewish state since taking office (which surely has nothing to do with this little incident at the Western Wall).

While Israelis wait for a presidential visit, they’ll have to settle for Obama’s half-brother. And not just any half-brother — the president’s brother with a Jewish mother!

Mark Ndesandjo — the son of Obama’s father and his American Jewish third wife, Ruth Nidesand — recently paid a visit to the Jewish state. If the fact that the president has a halachically Jewish brother is news to you, don’t feel too out of the loop. The president himself admitted a year and a half ago: “I don’t know him well. I met him for the first time a couple of years ago.”

Still, that didn’t stop Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, from asking Ndesandjo to press the president to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard:

"I said that as a Jew, you need to help another Jew become free after serving too many years in prison," Metzger told The Jerusalem Post. "I told him about people who committed similar crimes and served shorter sentences. He said his main connection to his brother was by phone and promised me that he would make an effort on the issue."

Ynet and The Jerusalem Post reported on Ndesandjo’s visit. Back in 2009, Time magazine had a nice profile of Ndesandjo, who lives in China.

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