FORWARD STAFF Senator George Allen’s mother, Henrietta “Etty” Allen, told the Washington Post Wednesday that until late August she concealed her Jewish upbringing from her children to prevent them from growing up in fear.
Her father, Felix Lumbroso, was incarcerated by the Nazis during the German occupation of Tunisia during World War II.
“What they put my father through. I always was fearful,” she reportedly said in a telephone interview. “I didn’t want my children to have to go through that fear all the time. When I told Georgie, I said, ‘Now you don’t love me anymore.’ He said, ‘Mom, I respect you more than ever.’”
On Tuesday, Allen issued a statement acknowledging that his mother’s ancestors were Jewish, but said she was raised a Christian.
“I was raised as a Christian and my mother was raised as a Christian,” he said in the statement. “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’s mother told the Washington Post that the recent media frenzy over the issue validated her decision to keep her upbringing a secret.
“I said, well, I just didn’t want anyone to know,” she reportedly said. “I had said, ‘Please don’t tell your brothers and sister and your wife.’ The fact this is such an issue justifies my actions, and my behavior.”