Ben Shalom Bernanke (pronounced /bərˈnæŋki/ bər-NAN-kee; born December 13, 1953) is an American economist, and the current Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve. Previously, he served as Fed Governor and Chairman of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers.
Born in Augusta, Georgia, Bernanke was raised in a ranch-style house on East Jefferson Street in Dillon, South Carolina. His father Philip was a pharmacist and part-time theater manager, and his mother Edna was an elementary schoolteacher. He is the eldest of three children, having a brother and sister. His younger brother, Seth, is a lawyer in Charlotte, North Carolina, and his younger sister, Sharon, is a longtime administrator at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
The Bernankes were one of the few Jewish families in the area, attending a local synagogue called Ohav Shalom; as a child, Bernanke learned Hebrew from his maternal grandfather Harold Friedman, who was a professional hazzan, shochet, and Hebrew teacher. His father and uncle co-owned and managed a drugstore that they bought from his paternal grandfather, Jonas Bernanke. Jonas was born in Boryslav, Austria–Hungary (today part of Ukraine), on January 23, 1891, and emigrated to the United States from Przemyśl, Poland (part of Austria–Hungary until 1918). He arrived at Ellis Island, aged 30, Thursday, June 30, 1921, with his wife Pauline, aged 25. On the ship's manifest, Jonas's occupation is listed as "clerk" and Pauline's as "doctor med." They moved to Dillon, South Carolina, from New York in the 1940s. Bernanke's mother often worked in the family drugstore, having given up her job as a school teacher when her son was born, and Bernanke also assisted from time to time.