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Politician Rahm Emanuel was White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama, and was elected as mayor of Chicago in 2011.
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Rahm Emanuel was born on November 29, 1959 in Chicago, Illinois. He worked on the Chicago congressional campaign for David Robinson, earning a reputation for tenacious fundraising, and went on to hold several more political positions, including U.S. representative and White House chief of staff (for President Barack Obama). In 2011, Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago, succeeding Richard Daley.
"You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
Rahm Israel Emanuel was born on November 29, 1959 in Chicago, Illinois, to an Israeli pediatrician, Benjamin Emanuel, and a Jewish-American x-ray technician, Martha Smulevitz. In his youth, Benjamin passed codes for Irgun, a militant Zionist group that sought Israeli independence. Martha was active in the Civil Rights Movement, and briefly owned a Chicago rock 'n' roll club. The family took the Emanuel surname in 1933 as a tribute to uncle Emanuel Auerbach, who was slain in a skirmish with Arabs in Jerusalem.
Rahm Emanuel was the second of four siblings. His older brother, Ezekiel, is now an oncologist and nationally renowned medical ethicist at Harvard. His younger brother, Ariel, is a Hollywood television agent and the basis for the character of Ari Gold on HBO's hit television series Entourage. Emanuel is said to be the inspiration for the character Josh Lyman on TV's The West Wing. His younger sister, Shoshana, was adopted after a doctor's visit to Emanuel's father revealed that she had suffered a brain hemorrhage at birth.
As a child, Emanuel and his siblings took regular field trips to art museums and civil rights rallies. According to his mother, the children were expected to not only help prepare dinner, but be well-versed in the daily news as well. They were often quizzed in current events over family meals. The boys also took ballet lessons at their mother's urging. Rahm particularly excelled at dance and, while attending New Trier West High School, earned a scholarship to Joffrey Ballet, Chicago's Premiere Ballet Company.
Emanuel turned down the opportunity to instead attend Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, a school with a solid dance program. In 1980, while still a student at Sarah Lawrence, he worked on the Chicago congressional campaign for David Robinson. "Someone would contribute $500. He'd call back and say, 'Thank you very much ... we need $1,000,'" former Democratic National Committee Chairman David Wilhelm once recalled of Emanuel. This reputation as a tenacious fundraiser would follow Emanuel throughout his career.
After Emanuel graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1981, he attended Northwestern University in Chicago. During his studies there, he also worked in local and national politics, including a stint working on Democrat Paul Simon's 1984 election campaign for U.S. Senate. In 1985, Emanuel received a master's degree in speech and communication from Northwestern. His first post-graduation job was with the consumer rights organization Illinois Public Action.
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