From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Kohn to Kerry: Re-rooted and transplanted

John Kerry  (Public Domain)
Okay, so according to Lisa Katz of, John Kerry has some European Jewish ancestry.

His paternal grandfather, Friedrich "Fritz" Kohn, had chosen to change his own name and religion.  He then became Frederick Kerry, a convert to
Roman Catholicism.   Katz contends that Kohn picked this new identity rather randomly, "by dropping a pencil on a map" and watching it land on Ireland's County Kerry.  The motive?  Allegedly, the anti-Semitism that was rampant in Europe at the time…

Frederick went on to marry Ida Loewe, a Jewish musician whose siblings were killed in Nazi concentration camps.  Ida also became a baptized Roman Catholic.

Fred and Ida had three children:  Erich, Mildred and Richard.  Richard, born in America in 1915, became John Kerry's father.  John's mother was originally Rosemary Forbes, "the beneficiary of the Forbes family trusts."

Richard and Rosemary had four children:  Margery, John, Diana and Cameron.  Cameron, John's younger
brother, wound up marrying a Jewish woman and converting to Judaism.  John, however, has been a lifelong practicing Roman Catholic.

Does having these Jewish roots make John Kerry Jewish?  Some might say so; others are saying so.  It's all in how you define Judaism, a task that has been debated for centuries.

Wikipedia explains that John himself has said, "I'm a Catholic and I practice, but at the same time I have an open-mindedness to many other expressions of spirituality that come through different religions…"


Copyright February 15, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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