There’s a new Barack Obama in town—Jerusalem, that is. African-American Jewish convert Mark Hardie, a Jerusalem resident, legally changed his name to Barack Obama after a special committee at the Interior Ministry approved his request, the Times of Israel reports. He’s hoping to legalize the change in the United States as well, though that seems a bit less likely to work.
“I felt like it could be good for Israel to have a Jewish Barack Obama,” said Obama.
There is, however, one difference between the two men’s names. Jerusalem’s Obama decided to leave out the president’s middle name, Hussein—according to the article, “it didn’t jibe with his Jewish character.”
Obama is fast realizing that with a great name comes great responsibility. “Everybody, when they see my ID card, at the bank or on the street, they go, wow! Barack Obama,” he said. Many have begun referring to him as Mr. President, including the employees in his local coffee shop in Katamon.
Obama hopes to use his newfound power for the good.
“I want to help build a strong Israel,” he said. He underwent a Reform conversion in 1995, followed by an Orthodox conversion in 1997. He served in the IDF from 2000 to 2002, and has expressed the desire to become the first African-American member of Knesset.
Obama claims that this new change, however, is no ploy for attention or publicity stunt. “I take myself very seriously,” he said.