Tuesday, 7 November 2006
Mazeltov, Boris

Boris Johnson, the plummy-voiced Old Etonian MP for Henley-on-Thames, appears to embody Britishness at its best. Effortless brilliance is his stock-in-trade, and the British do effortless brilliance better than anyone. He is very funny, eccentric, wobbles about on a bicycle in a silly way – imagine a Dutchman riding a bike like that - wears his considerable learning lightly, and to cap it all he says “Crikey”.


But Boris is not all he seems. Until he renounced his citizenship in a fit of pique, he was American – albeit only by virtue of being born in New York, and not in a non-U way. He also sports a Turkish great grandfather, Ali Kemal, the last interior minister of the Imperial Turkish Government. And now, according to the Jewish Chronicle, he is “Jew-hyphen-ish”.


The Henley MP and former Spectator editor numbers among his ancestors Rabbi Mordecai Eliasberg …who caused a stir in 19th-century Palestine by giving rabbinic permission to colonists to sow their fields during the shemittah (fallow year).




Mr Johnson’s great-great grandfather, Charles Loew, was a Jewish silk and embroidery merchant from Moscow who married Sarah Ragoler – a relative of Rabbi Elijah Ragoler. It is thought they may have been her grandfathers ...


The Jewish connection faltered, however, when his great grandfather, Elias Avery Lowe married an American named Helen Tracey Lowe Porter.


Mr Johnson, who had not known the full details of his family history, told the Jewish Chronicle he was “very very proud” of his roots. “Although I am not Jewish, I am Jew-hyphen-ish.”


In that case perhaps he doesn’t qualify for a full Maseltov. Is there some kind of half-Maseltov? Perhaps there is Maseltov that damns with faint praise, less “Good luck!” and more “Well, you know best.” I’m sure Paul can help me out here if he reads this.


Boris doesn’t look Jewish anymore than he looks Turkish. Then again, he waves his arms around and he certainly has chutzpah. Bless him. Britishness at its best.

Posted on 11/07/2006 5:29 AM by Mary Jackson
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