Rahm Emanuel was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1959. His father was born in Jerusalem and worked as a pediatrician. His mother worked in the Civil Rights Movement and owned a local rock ‘n’ roll club. Both of his parents were Jewish. Growing up, Emanuel attended summer camp with his brothers in Israel. While working at an Arby’s restaurant during his high school years, Emanul cut his right middle finger, which became infected and had to be partially amputated. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1981 with a B.A. in Liberal Arts and then an M.A. in Speech and Communication from Northwestern University in 1985.
Emanuel began his political career with Illinois Public Action upon graduation. In 1984, he worked for Paul Simon’s 1984 election to the United States Senate. In 1988, Emanuel was the national campaign director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. When then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign began, Emanuel was director of the campaign’s finance committee. Emanuel cleverly scheduled a fundraising tour, which later proved crucial to Clinton’s success. After the campaign, Emanuel became a senior advisor to Clinton at the White House from 1993 to 1998. Emanuel won the 5th District of Illinois U.S. House seat in 2002. In 2008, Emanuel declared support for his home-state senator Barack Obama. After Obama’s successful campaign, Emanuel accepted the position of White House chief of staff, serving until his resignation in 2010 to run for mayor of Chicago. After a short controversy over his residency in Illinois, Emanuel was cleared for candidacy and was elected mayor of Chicago on Feb. 22, 2011. He is Chicago’s first Jewish mayor.
Emanuel is known for his “take-no-prisoners style.” He is alleged to have sent a dead fish to a pollster who was late delivering polling results. He often participates in triathlons, is married, and has one son and two daughters.