Senator Macaca-->Member of the Tribe
When we last left the Virginia's junior Senator George Allen, he had pumped up a rally by calling S.R. Sidarth
The Forward article said that:
Allen’s mother, Henriette (Etty), whose maiden name was Lumbroso, is indeed Francophone and Tunisian born, a heritage that forms a romantic theme in “Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach’s Daughter” the memoir of Allen family life written by Allen’s sister Jennifer. What’s more, it is likely that she’s Jewish by birth, although no acknowledgment of that heritage appears in the memoir. Allen’s campaign spokesman, Bill Bozin, did not return several detailed messages, left over two days, that asked what the senator and his family know about his mother’s heritage...Though Etty Allen seems not to have dwelled on it during her years in the spotlight as a coach’s wife, she comes from the august Sephardic Jewish Lumbroso family. Her father, who was the main importer of wines and liquors in Tunis — including the Cinzano brand — was known in France, where he lived after World War II, as part of the family, according to French Jewish sources. If both of Etty’s parents were born Jewish — which, given her age and background, is likely — Senator Allen would be considered Jewish in the eyes of traditional rabbinic law, which traces Judaism through the mother.So what does this all mean? Is Allen a jew?
The answer of course depends on who one asks.
The normative orthodox standard for status as a jew is whether one's mother had that status at the time of that person's birth. If the mother was not halachically (according to jewish law) Jewish than a conversion is necessary to be considered jewish under the traditional system of jewish law.
According to the Reconstructionist movement to be Jewish a person must 1) have at least one Jewish (biological?) parent, and 2) be raised in a jewish manner with public recognition thereof (was there a bar/t mitzvah? a naming ceremony? etc).
I thought it would make sense to setup a matrix comparing Recon and Ortho standards. In some ways the Recon standard is more stringent and in some ways the Ortho standard is more stringent. George Allen, for instance, would not be considered a Jew by the Recon approach but would be considered Jewish by the Ortho standard. He considers himself an evangelical Christian for what it's worth. Here is the table:
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Jewish According to Ortho Standard
Not Jewish According to Ortho Standard
Jewish Accordining to Recon Standard
Several Rabbis in Reform and Recon Movement with Jewish fathers and non-jewish mothers
Not Jewish According to Recon Standard
Mel Gibson (crosses fingers)
I don't consider Allen a Jew, and I think the Recon standard (which i think is now also the reform standard) makes a lot more sense. But, hey, that's no surprise.