Alanis Morissette’s Journey to Uncover Her Jewish Family’s Holocaust History

It wasn’t until she was in her late 20s that Alanis Morissette discovered her Jewish heritage, and she’s now discovering even more about her family’s history.

The 49-year-old alt-rock celebrity made an appearance on PBS’s Finding Your Roots: Season 10 premiere. The singer-songwriter learned for the first time in the episode, which aired on Tuesday, that her maternal grandpa spent years looking for his two brothers, whose whereabouts were unknown to the family. Her grandfather managed to escape the Holocaust in Hungary. 

“I believe I discovered my Jewish heritage in my late 20s,” Morissette said to Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the host. “I was ignorant.” 

Because of her mother’s generational trauma, the Grammy winner said that her parents never communicated her Jewish background with her and her siblings. “I think there was a terror that was in their bones, and they were being protective of us in just not wanting antisemitism,” the Jagged Little Pill artist explained. “So they were doing it to protect us, sort of keeping us in the dark around it.” 

Finding Your Roots was able to inform the “You Oughta Know” singer that her great uncles Gyorgy and Sandor Feuerstein, who were believed to have been sent to “work camps” to serve in the Russian military during World War II, actually died in slave labor camps in Russia after conducting research at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. 

The revelation made Morissette think of her grandfather Imre Feurerstein, who lived in Hungary until their family came to Canada and gave birth to the singer’s mother, Georgia.

The singer said, “Not knowing where your sibling is, if they’re alive or dead,” in response to the host’s question on if she could comprehend what it was like for her grandfather to bear the weight of losing his brothers. Not at all

The “Ironic” artist also discovered that her grandfather never gave up searching for his brothers, since Red Cross archives showed he used the organization to conduct a search for them. 

“So he was trying to find them?” Morissette looked through the documents and inquired. 

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Gates, Jr. informed her, “He was searching for them.” “Your grandfather requested that the Red Cross search for his brother in 1949, four years after World War II came to a conclusion. Were you aware of this?

“I did not know this,” she said.

Morisette also paused during the event to consider the hardships her family had endured. She said, “There’s just so much intense stuff going on.” It’s rather moving to consider their resiliency and capacity to carry on in the face of sorrow.

The “Thank U” singer openly expressed her pride in being Jewish, even in light of the tragedy she learned about her family.  

She said, “I had no idea how super Jewish I am.” 

“I feel welcomed into a community that I always had a crush on,” the singer went on. I’ve always had a thing for Judaism, and I used to randomly turn up at seders and Passover. I understand why now. The message was, “Come home.”

The hitmaker will set off on the huge Triple Moon Tour later in 2024. Commencing in June, the 31-date tour will traverse North America and feature backing from fellow rock artists Joan Jett and the Blackhearts as well as Morgan Wade.