When Kerry learned his grandfather was Jewish


Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Obama’s nominee for Secretary of State, learned during his 2004 presidential run that his paternal grandfather was Jewish, born Fritz Kohn, in what is now the Czech Republic, Dina Kraft recounts at Haaretz Friday:

His paternal grandfather Frederick A. Kerry, was born Fritz Kohn in a town in what today is the Czech Republic before changing his name ahead of his immigration to the United States a century ago. […]

Kerry’s brother Cameron converted to Judaism after marrying Kathy Weinman, a Jewish woman and fellow lawyer he met on the job at a Washington law firm.

In [2004] as his brother campaigned for president, Cameron Kerry, known as Cam, traveled to Israel for the first time […] During the visit he recalled finding out about his family’s Jewish roots and calling up his in-laws to tell them the news.

“I called up Kathy’s parents and said ‘I’m Jewish,’ and they said, ‘Yeah we know’ and I said, ‘No, I’m really Jewish,'” he said in an interview with JTA at the time.

Reform Judaism magazine, writing in the fall of 2003, said Kerry in fact learned in the 1980s from a relative that his paternal grandmother, Ida, a practicing Catholic, was born Jewish. But it wasn’t until more than a decade later that he learned more about his grandfather’s story:

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