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Review :: Environment
Stuff we didnt know about our Senator Kerry
22 Apr 2004
nowhere on Kerry's Web site does he mention his summers in France or the family estate, known as Les Essarts, a sprawling property on a bluff over the sea.
John Kerry has Jewish roots -- who knew?
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
NEW YORK -- First it was then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Next it was Gen. Wesley Clark, the supreme allied commander of NATO during the war in Kosovo.
Now it's Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry whose Jewish roots are being reported.
Two of Kerry's grandparents were Jewish, it turns out.
Kerry, who is a practicing Catholic, said he has known for 15 years that his paternal grandmother was Jewish, but had unsuccessfully searched for news of his paternal grandfather's roots.
However, a genealogist hired by the Boston Globe found that Kerry's grandfather was born to a Jewish family in a small town in the Czech Republic.
"This is incredible stuff," Kerry told the Globe. "I think it is more than interesting. It is a revelation."
The records show that his grandfather, Frederick Kerry, was born as Fritz Kohn. He changed his name to Kerry in 1902, immigrated to the United States in 1905 -- and committed suicide in a Boston hotel in 1921.
Frederick Kerry's story highlights the Jewish experience of earlier generations, Brandeis University professor Jonathan Sarna said.
"What we are realizing is how significant was the trend toward conversion and abandonment of Judaism, for the sake of upward mobility, in an earlier era of America," said Sarna, the Braun professor of American Jewish history at the school in Waltham, Mass. "Given the quite significant anti-Semitism of the early 20th century and the evident obstacles that stood in the path to success, people simply changed their names and sloughed off their Judaism."
But that path wasn't always successful, Sarna said.
Kerry's grandfather's suicide apparently stemmed from financial troubles. But one could wonder if, by changing his name and identity, the man had cut himself off from any sense of community, Sarna said.
The Kerry story also might hold lessons for the present and future makeup of American Jewry, Sarna said. According to current statistics, millions of Americans like Kerry may have Jewish roots but don't consider themselves Jewish.
Of course, several people contact the American Jewish Historical Society every year asking for help in their search for Jewish roots.
The e-mails usually run along the lines of, "My name is Kelly Smith, but my grandmother's name was Sara Goldstein," said Michael Feldberg, the executive director of the historical society, which is based in New York.
Kerry said he had asked cousins and searched on the Internet, but had found only bits of information on his family history.
The news does not appear to have major political ramifications.
There's no question there's a lot of pride in a Jewish candidate and pride in family Jewish connections, but the American Jewish community is fairly mature in its political behavior," said Ira Forman, the executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council.
As far as non-Jews go, "had it come out in 1953 instead of 2003, it would have been fatal to his presidential ambitions," Feldberg said, but not in today's world.
March 30, 2004
BY JOCELYN GECKER
SAINT-BRIAC-SUR-MER, France -- John Kerry's relatives in France bristle at jabs from across the Atlantic that the presidential contender has a French connection.
They say Kerry has no link to France other than the home his grandparents bought here.
''John Kerry is incredibly American,'' says Brice Lalonde, Kerry's cousin and mayor of this seaside Brittany village. ''He has absolutely nothing French about him.''
For another cousin, Christopher Curtis: ''John is an all-American guy with the benefit of having spent some time overseas.''
With the race for the White House turning nasty -- and France-U.S. ties not quite mended from the Iraq war -- Kerry's Gallic clan, when questioned, talks up his American-ness. Some are keeping a low profile, saying too much talk about France could be political arsenic.
As Lalonde, 58, puts it: ''I'm afraid to hurt him.''
But that hasn't stopped the Frenchman from pasting Kerry bumper stickers on his car.
Saint Briac is a place of rugged seascapes and cobbled lanes that inspired Renoir and other Impressionists. It was here the Massachusetts senator spent boyhood summers.
But nowhere on Kerry's Web site does he mention his summers in France or the family estate, known as Les Essarts, a sprawling property on a bluff over the sea.
''Monsieur Bush is angry with France,'' says Ian Forbes, an 85-year-old Kerry uncle who lives at Les Essarts. ''We don't want to accentuate the connection between Johnny and France.''
Kerry's maternal grandparents, James Grant Forbes and Margaret Winthrop, bought the estate in the 1920s. They had 11 children, including the mothers of Kerry, Lalonde and Curtis, a British American who lives in Paris. The home served as a summer hub for their cosmopolitan clan.
In his youth, Kerry joined the family gatherings while his father, a U.S. diplomat, was posted in Europe. Young Kerry also attended a Swiss boarding school and brought a touch of America to this corner of northwestern France.
''He introduced us to games like capture the flag. We still play something called kick the can,'' said Lalonde. AP
This work is in the public domain
How bout Her Bush?
by Inquiry Minds
(No verified email address)
22 Apr 2004
Bush's grandpappy was a direct link to Hitler's bunch.
George W.'s direct link to bin Laden's. (Actual loans from bin Laden's!)
I can't stomach another four years of Dubya!
Kerry may not be perfect. He ISN'T George W. Bush...Liar, Swindler, Criminal and Professional Con Artist!