Alanis Morissette learns her great-uncles died in the Holocaust in new TV special

Alanis Morissette has discovered that her great-uncles died in the Holocaust while appearing as a guest on Finding Your Roots. 

A synopsis for the PBS show, hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr., reads: “In each episode, celebrities are presented with a “book of life” that is compiled with information researched by professional genealogists that allows them to view their ancestral histories, learn about familial connections and discover secrets about their lineage.”

Morissette was one of the guests on the first episode of the show’s 10th season which aired on Tuesday (January 2). The singer discovered that her great-uncles, Gyorgy and Sandor Feuerstein, died in the Holocaust.


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The ‘Ironic’ singer was aware that her grandfather, Imre Feuerstein of Hungarian and Jewish decent, was a Holocaust survivor and relocated his family — including Morissette’s then-six-year-old mother — from the Soviet Union to Ontario, Canada in 1953.

Morrisette uncovered more about her mother’s family in Hungary and what is now Ukraine. She also learned what happened to her two great uncles, Gyorgy and Sandor Feuerstein.

After conducting research at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, Finding Your Roots discovered that Gyorgy and Sandor, who were thought to have been sent to “work camps” to serve in the Russian military in World War II, died in slave labor camps in Russia.

“It’s unfathomable for me,” Morissette said, imagining the conditions her great-uncles were labouring in. The host also asked if she could imagine what it must have been like for her grandfather to carry the burden of losing his brothers, to which she replied: “Not knowing where your sibling is, if they’re alive or dead … No, God.”

The singer also learned that her grandfather never stopped looking for his brothers. Archives from the Red Cross revealed that he had used the organisation to put out a search for them.


“He was looking for them. In 1949, four years after WWII ended, your grandfather asked the Red Cross to look for his brother. Did you know this?,” Gates Jr. said to which Morrisette replied: “I did not know this.”

Their Jewish heritage was kept a secret for years. Morissette did not know she was Jewish until the age of 28. “I think there was a terror that is in their bones, and they were being protective of us and not wanting anti-Semitism,” Morissette said of the Feuersteins. “They were protecting us, keeping us in the dark around it.”

Speaking about what her ancestors had gone through, the ‘You Outta Know’ singer said: “There’s just so much intense stuff happening. You think about their resilience and their ability to keep going in the face of tragedy, it’s pretty poignant.”

She also spoke about how proud she is to be Jewish. “I had no idea how super Jewish I am. I feel welcomed into a community that I always had a crush on. I’ve always had a crush on Judaism, and I would just show up at Passover and at seder. Now I know why. It was like, come home.”

In other news, Morrisette recently performed a cover of Wham!‘s ‘Last Christmas’ while appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.