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Humanist
06-10-2014, 07:17 PM
Some very interesting news regarding the late Cardinal's maternal origins.

Genealogy Shows Cardinal O’Connor’s Mother Was Jewish (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/11/nyregion/cardinal-john-joseph-oconnor-jewish-mother-genealogy.html?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fn yregion%2Findex.jsonp)

NY Times
By ALISON LEIGH COWAN
JUNE 10, 2014


In his 16 years as the Catholic Church’s top official in New York, Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor was a staunch friend and defender of the Jewish people.

He spoke often about what he had seen at Dachau as a Navy chaplain. He used his platform as head of the Archdiocese of New York to support Soviet Jewry, and played a role in the Vatican’s recognition of the state of Israel. Mayor Edward I. Koch, a Bronx-born Jew who worked closely with the cardinal, proclaimed that he loved him “like a brother.”

Yet there was something Cardinal O’Connor apparently never knew: His mother was born a Jew, the daughter of a rabbi and butcher.

“The basic fact is, my mother was Jewish,” said Mary O’Connor Ward-Donegan, the cardinal’s 87-year-old sister. Observing the Jewish matrilineal tradition, she added, “That means my two brothers were Jewish, my sister was Jewish and I am Jewish. Of that I am very proud.”

lgmayka
06-10-2014, 08:23 PM
An interesting story!

But I do take exception to Mrs. Ward-Donnegan's "logic." Neither she nor her brothers are or ever were Jewish. That notion--that religion is inherited as if by genetics--insults both one's one religion and that of one's ancestors. Such "logic" has led to terrible injustices in the past and continues to do so in the present.

The article's own statement is correct: Cardinal O'Connor's mother was Jewish throughout her childhood. Upon reaching adulthood she made another choice.

AJL
06-11-2014, 02:07 AM
The late Cardinal Lustiger was an interesting case in this regard:

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/he-d-say-kaddish-for-his-mother-1.227018

Agamemnon
06-12-2014, 02:33 PM
An interesting story!

But I do take exception to Mrs. Ward-Donnegan's "logic." Neither she nor her brothers are or ever were Jewish. That notion--that religion is inherited as if by genetics--insults both one's one religion and that of one's ancestors. Such "logic" has led to terrible injustices in the past and continues to do so in the present.

The article's own statement is correct: Cardinal O'Connor's mother was Jewish throughout her childhood. Upon reaching adulthood she made another choice.

Doesn't matter, according to Halakhah she's still Jewish no matter what she chooses to believe in...

AJL
06-12-2014, 08:23 PM
I understand that but I also don't think most people would consider someone who actively and uncoerced chooses another religion, or their descendants, still to belong to a different religion by descent. (This would be a little like saying I should have German nationality because my mtDNA line is German.) I think that is lgmayka's point. The cardinal's sister's idea of her being Jewish is probably not precisely the same as that idea as described by Jewish law -- essentially, that she herself is subject to that law -- so there is a bit of equivocation.

Agamemnon
06-12-2014, 08:54 PM
I understand that but I also don't think most people would consider someone who actively and uncoerced chooses another religion, or their descendants, still to belong to a different religion by descent. (This would be a little like saying I should have German nationality because my mtDNA line is German.) I think that is lgmayka's point. The cardinal's sister's idea of her being Jewish is probably not precisely the same as that idea as described by Jewish law -- essentially, that she herself is subject to that law -- so there is a bit of equivocation.

Well, I don't actually agree with Halakhah (far from it), I'm just stating how it works.

For me, jewishness doesn't depend on religion, it depends on family first & foremost.