Michelle Obamas cousin is a rabbi

Rabbi Capers Funnye Jr. — who led S.F.-based Be’chol Lashon’s Purim festival this year — is Michelle Obama’s first cousin once removed.

Funnye leads Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congrega-tion, a mostly black Jewish congregation on Chicago’s southwest side.

Obama’s paternal grandfather is the brother of Funnye’s mother.

Funnye says he hasn’t been involved in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, except to donate money. He adds that he sees the Obamas occasionally at family gatherings but that they have never attended services at his synagogue.

Funnye attended the African Methodist Episcopal Church growing up, then explored a number of other religions before converting to Judaism.

“What characterizes [Funnye] is his ability to build bridges among many different groups,” said Gary Tobin, president of the S.F.-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research. — ap