(JTA) — House Speaker Paul Ryan made an unexpected discovery while learning about his ancestry: He is 3 percent Jewish.
The Republican lawmaker, who is Catholic, found out about his Ashkenazi Jewish roots as part of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.,” in which famous people learn about their family histories with the Harvard University historian.
Gates said that Ryan was surprised and happy to learn about the fact that someone on his mother’s side was Jewish, The Associated Press reported.
“You could have knocked him over with a feather, and then he was very proud of it,” Gates said at a TV critics meeting on Tuesday. “We don’t know who that Jewish person was, but we know it was on his mother’s German line, which makes sense. So somebody who was a Christian German slept with a Jewish German person and that’s where that came from.”
Ryan seemed excited about the news. On Wednesday, he shared a photo of himself raising a glass of beer on Twitter captioned, “Guess I need to start saying ‘L’Chaim’ now, too!”
Guess I need to start saying “L’Chaim” now, too! pic.twitter.com/JV8tVPeBto
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 1, 2018
The announcement about his Jewish ancestry elicited plenty of reactions.
Politico writer Jake Sherman joked in a tweet that Ryan “is the first Jewish speaker of the House.”
Paul Ryan is the first Jewish speaker of the House. https://t.co/KCfecg5bUd
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) July 31, 2018
But not everyone took the news so lightly. Jewish Currents, a left-wing magazine, seemed less thrilled about the news, tweeting simply “No.”
— Jewish Currents (@JewishCurrents) August 1, 2018
Israeli-American writer Ayelet Waldman shared a similar sentiment.
“I’m sorry but no, we don’t want him,” she wrote.
— Ayelet Waldman (@ayeletw) August 1, 2018
Ryan, who has long been a staunch supporter of Israel, will appear on the show’s fifth season, which premieres in January.
The Republican congressman isn’t the first famous person with Jewish ancestry to be featured on “Finding Your Roots.” In previous episodes, prominent Jews including Amy Schumer, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Dustin Hoffman, Carole King, Larry David and Bernie Sanders have all been enlightened about their family histories. David and Sanders, in fact, found out they were distant relatives.