Senator Allen Confirms Mother's Jewish Roots

By Forward Staff

Published September 19, 2006, issue of September 22, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Senator George Allen has released a statement confirming his mother’s Jewish lineage, a day after refusing to answer a question on the topic during a debate.

“I was raised as a Christian and my mother was raised as a Christian. And I embrace and take great pride in every aspect of my diverse heritage, including my Lumbroso family line’s Jewish heritage, which I learned about from a recent magazine article and my mother confirmed,” Allen said in the statement.

The Forward published a story last month detailing Allen’s Jewish heritage. He did not return calls seeking comment for that article, and soon after insisted that his mother was “raised a Christian” and made no mention of any of her Jewish ancestors.

The issue gained national attention after a debate Monday, during which Allen fumed at a reporter who asked him about the subject.

After Allen mentioned that his father “was incarcerated by the Nazis in World War II,” one of the debate questioners, WUSA-TV’s Peggy Fox, asked whether it was true that his grandparents had been Jewish.

“To be getting into what religion my mother is, I don’t think is relevant,” Allen responded angrily. “Why is that relevant – my religion, Jim’s religion or the religious beliefs of anyone out there?” He then urged Fox to refrain from “making aspersions.”

In his statement today, Allen criticized Fox for what he described as her efforts to impugn “the attitudes of my mother.” He also said that “the notion peddled by the Webb campaign that I am somehow embarrassed by my heritage is equally offensive, and also absurd.”

Allen said that although for years he has publicly mentioned that his maternal grandfather was incarcerated by the Nazis, he never knew if his grandfather was persecuted beacaus of “his nationality, his religious faith, his role as a community leader, or his part in the anti-Nazi resistance.”

“Some may find it odd that I have not probed deeply into the details of my family history, but it’s a fact,” Allen said. “ We in the Allen household were simply taught that what matters is a person’s character, integrity, effort, and performance – not race, gender, ethnicity or religion. And so whenever we would ask my mother through the years about our family background on her side, the answer always was, ‘Who cares about that?’

He ended the note saying that his mother “deserves respect and she also deserves privacy, especially where painful memories are concerned. I sincerely hope that simple decency will be respected.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.