Jake Tapper: CNN anchor and nice Jewish boy

"I went to Jewish schools, camps and am more knowledgeable about Judaism -- if not more observant -- than most Jews I know."
Journalist Jake Tapper poses for a portrait in the Getty Images Portrait Studio Powered by Pizza Hut at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival on March 9, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Corey Nickols)

Jacob Paul Tapper, a.k.a. Jake Tapper, has earned himself the honorary title of ‘rabbi’ of TV news due to his willingness to weave Jewish thought and wisdom into his reporting.

Tapper was born in New York City on March 12, 1969, and was raised in Queen Village, Philadelphia. His mother is originally from Canada and was raised Presbyterian. She converted to Judaism after meeting his father.

He later wrote about his interesting upbringing:

My mother, who grew up in Chapel Hill, N.C., was raised Presbyterian. But she converted to marry my father, a Chicago Jew. I went to Jewish schools, camps and am more knowledgeable about Judaism — if not more observant — than most Jews I know. But, perhaps because of my mom’s Christian roots and my Christian grandparents, I’ve always had a slightly outsider view of my people.

Jake Tapper, “Too Jewish?”

Tapper married Linda M. Brown in 2006 with his sister in-law Rabbi Laurie Hahn Tapper officiating the ceremony. The couple have two kids, Alice and Jack.

Camp Ramah vibes

As a kid Tapper spent his summers attending the Jewish summer camp Camp Ramah in the Poconos.

Unapologetically Jewish

“First of all,” Tapper started a talk at the 92nd Street Y in New York City in 2019. “Happy new year. May you be inscribed in the book of life. For those of you who aren’t of the Jewish faith, may you also be inscribed in the book of life.”

Tapper weaves his Jewish faith into his anchoring at CNN as well.

“There’s a Jewish expression of condolence that I use every time I do an obituary on my show, which I had been doing, kind of doing every day, because of COVID,” Tapper said on air during the pandemic. “The expression is ‘may his or her memory be a blessing.’ What do we take from those words?”

Defender of Hebrew school

Paul Rudd and Jake Tapper play with a patient at Children’s Mercy Hospital during the Big Slick Celebrity Weekend benefitting Children’s Mercy Hospital of Kansas City on June 01, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Tapper attended Akiba Hebrew Academy (now the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy), an independent Jewish day school, and attended Dartmouth College, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude with a B.A. in History, modified by Visual Studies, in 1991. During his junior year in college he studied abroad at Tel Aviv University.

“Jewish education gave me a lot of ways, one of which was obviously a respect for faith — not just for Judaism, but for all faiths, Christianity, Islam, everything — and then I think also just the tradition of debate that I learned, both in the school itself but also by reading the Talmud,” he told the JTA in an interview. “What I appreciated at the time was how much we were encouraged to consider other points of view.”

During the 2022 midterms, Tapper took to the air to call out gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano’s antisemitic tropes on Jewish education.

Holding CNN accountable

Tapper is also not afraid to police his own network’s airwaves. He made news in 2016 after a graphic was displayed on air.