Who Are Cole and Ella Emhoff? Meet Kamala Harris’s Jewish Children

18 things to know about the kids who call our next Vice President "Momala."

A few months after this article ran, we learned Ella Emhoff does not identify as Jewish. We’re sorry for this error, and you can read more here.

When Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff got married, Harris gained two children: Cole Emhoff and Ella Emhoff. “I was already hooked on Doug, but I believe it was Cole and Ella who reeled me in,” Harris wrote in 2019.

Cole, 25, and Ella, 21, are from Doug’s first marriage with producer Kerstin Emhoff. Of course, like their father, Cole and Ella are Jewish. And now that Kamala will be the next Vice President of the United States, it’s time we got to know them a little better. Both Cole and Ella have public Instagram accounts and have given a few interviews over the years, so we’ve combed through the internet to share a brief introduction to the Emhoff kids.

1. They grew up in California; Cole was born in 1995 and Ella in 1999.

cole and ella emhoff
Cole, Doug, and Ella Emhoff

2. Their parents are Doug and Kerstin Emhoff. Doug and Kerstin divorced in 2008 after 16 years of marriage. (Kamala and Doug got married in 2014.) Kerstin volunteered on Kamala’s senate campaign and remains a big cheerleader of Kamala, Doug, and obviously Cole and Ella. Here’s her post from the night Kamala and Joe Biden were declared winners:

And here’s her FaceTiming with them that morning:

3. They were both named after jazz musicians; Cole is named for saxophonist John Coltrane and Ella for the iconic singer Ella Fitzgerald.

4. They call Kamala “Momala.” It’s a combination of the word “Mom” and “Kamala,” but it’s also reminiscent of the Yiddish word mamaleh. As Harris wrote, “A few years later when Doug and I got married, Cole, Ella, and I agreed that we didn’t like the term ‘stepmom.’ Instead they came up with the name ‘Momala.'”

5. Cole graduated from Colorado College in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

6. Ella is currently studying apparel and textiles at Parsons School of Design. She is set to graduate in 2021.

7. On meeting Kamala, here’s what they remember:

Cole: First I was a little blindsided, to be honest. Doug was like, “I met this woman. She’s cool. I’m excited about her.” And Doug hadn’t talked about his dating life for a long time. He said, “I think you just have to know, though, that she is the attorney general of California.” I was like, “Okay, cool, whatever.”

Ella: I think when we met her, I was about to go into high school, so I was in an equally intense time, but for different, more angsty reasons. It felt serious when he was just talking about her, because I could hear it in his voice. When we did meet, it all felt so natural that it wasn’t even a big deal. It felt like we had known each other forever. And I think what was important was getting to know her as a person first — a person before a politician.

(And yes, we’re nearly positive they call their dad “Doug,” lol.)

8. Kamala would grill their friends whenever they came over for dinner at the Harris-Emhoff house. As Cole recalls, “I had to give the biggest warning ever when I wanted to have friends over for dinner.” Ella says, “It became infamous! She would grill our friends on their life goals, their 10-year plan. If you don’t know, you’re out.”

9. Ella, an artist, makes knitwear and ceramics. Here is her website: https://www.ellaemhoff.com/

Here she is showing off her work:

10. Another Ella fun fact: She was in Bo Burnham’s 2014 music video for “Repeat Stuff”:

11. Cole currently works as an executive assistant at Plan B Entertainment in Los Angeles.

12. Cole and Ella seem to be good pals and have a fun sibling dynamic:

13. Cole is less Instagram-active than his sister (as of this writing, he only has 20 Instagram posts) but his post on the day of Trump’s inauguration is *chef’s kiss*:

14. Can’t believe we haven’t gotten to this yet, but yes they are Jewish! Here’s Doug’s Rosh Hashanah message:

15. Sticking to Doug’s Instagram, he loves posting selfies with his kids. I know this is an article about Cole and Ella Emhoff, but surprise! It’s really another article about how Doug Emhoff is the best. Look at these corny dad captions!

16. Speaking of Doug’s corny Instagram presence, his comments on Cole and Ella’s posts are real gems — plus he signs them “K&D.”

Here’s Cole Instagramming with his girlfriend about moving. See Doug’s comment:

doug emhoff

17. During the campaign (and probably before, we just don’t have the receipts), the Emhoff kids became close with the rest of Harris family — especially Meena Harris, Kamala’s niece. Here’s a TikTok Meena posted of Ella that went semi-viral, which she captioned, “Ella Emhoff is the main character”:


Ella Emhoff is the main character (who just tried Filet-O-Fish for the first time EVER) #biden2020

♬ positions – Ariana Grande

18. Ella spoke in the video that played right before Kamala was announced as the official vice presidential candidate at the DNC, saying, “To my brother and me, you’ll always be Momala — the world’s greatest stepmom.”

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