My Grandmother has a failsafe method for determining a man’s Jewishness. She stares at him. She claims every Jewish man is adorned with an invisible yarmulke on his head and an equally invisible Tallit hanging from his shoulders. She claims these adornments are clearly visible; one only has to look carefully.
With one long crooked finger she will knight thee, “Jewish,” loudly and confidently. There will be no need to confirm this on Google, Grandma is always correct.
Imagine my surprise, when Senator John Kerry, the controversial Vietnam veteran turned President Obama’s Secretary of State, came into Grandma’s line of fire. As her finger pointed to John Kerry’s image on the TV screen. “Jewish,” she said.
“The Irish Catholic Massachusetts Senator?” I said in disbelief.
“Jewish,” she insisted. “Jewish blood. It will be good for Israel,” she added.
I wasn’t so sure about either of those predictions.
Here’s what Grandma saw – after I did Google it:
Benedikt Kohn (John Kerry’s Great-Grandfather)
According to the records I was able to find, John Kerry’s Great-Grandfather was a man named Benedikt Kohn, who lived in southern Moravia. He married Mathilde Frankel. They lived in a town called Bennisch, which boasted a population of 4200, 27 of whom were Jewish.
Benedikt Kohn died in 1870; Mathilde moved to Vienna with her three children, one of whom was Fritz, who would become John Kerry’s grandfather.
Fritz Kohn/Fred Kerry (John Kerry’s Grandfather)
John Kerry’s Grandfather Fritz suffered through a growing anti-Semitism that prevaied in Europe at the time. Fritz and his brother Otto decided to abandon their Jewish heritage and converted to Catholicism. Otto dropped a pencil on a map and it landed on the Ireland County of Kerry and so, both brothers took the name of Kerry, dropping the name Kohn.
Ida Loewe (John Kerry’s Grandmother- descendant of Rabbi Judah Loew)
Fritz became known as Fred. Fred married Ida Loewe, a Jewish musician from Budapest. Ida was a descendant of Sinai Loew, a brother of Rabbi Judah Loew, the famous Kabbalist, known as the “Maharal of Prague,” believed to have invented the Golem. Two of Ida’s siblings were killed in Nazi concentration camps.
Fred (Fritz) immigrated to America through Ellis Island in 1905. They had three sons who were all baptized as Catholics. They kept their Jewish roots a secret.
Fritz Kohn/Fred Kerry (John Kerry’s Grandfather commits suicide)
In 1921, Fritz Kohn (John Kerry’s Grandfather), shot himself in the head in a Boston hotel; he was 48 years old. There were whispers that the transition from Czechoslovakian Jew to American Catholic was too great a burden for him to bear any longer.
Richard Kerry (father of John Kerry-baptized as a Catholic)
Cameron Kerry (brother of John Kerry-marries a Jewish woman and converts to Judaism)
John Kerry’s father Richard was six years old when his father committed suicide. He went on to marry Rosemary Forbes, the beneficiary of the Forbes family trusts. John is one of four children. His younger brother Cameron married a Jewish woman and personally converted to Judaism in 1983.
It’s a lot to swallow; but not unlike the family histories of many Americans. And so now John Kerry (Kohn) finds himself at a powerful crossroads.
Which John Kerry Kohn will Israel meet?
Every 4 years or so, Israel must suffer the consequences of the American Presidential election. The question is raised each time: What should America do about Israel?
If you’re on the Palestinian/anti-Israel side, you’ve established a precedent called prisoner release. In exchange for only a promise of coming to the table to talk, hundreds of vicious murderers will be freed from prison; if you’re waiting for the punch line I must disappoint you as this is not dark comedy, only dark reality.
This is one way to break prisoners out of jail without much effort, if you only have to agree to talk just divide the amount of meetings according to the number of prisoners and they will all be home for dinner eventually.
When a new US Secretary of State is appointed, Middle East Peace Talks are all the buzz. The newly appointed secretary is certain that this time he or she will be the difference maker. We’ve heard it many times before. It always results in Israel relinquishing land, releasing criminals, or both, without any benefit in return; the returns are dire.
Israel does this for what, a pat on the head from the US? Israel does not need a pat on the head from the US.
This time however, it is truly special, Israel has the chance to get so much more than just a pat on the head from the US; Israel has the chance to be betrayed by a Kohn.
Trooper Amy Barath
The writer is a retired NYS Trooper; presently working with therapy dogs