Monday, October 6, 2014

Fact #40: Doug Ford claims that his evangelical Christian wife and kids are Jewish

Editor's note: Your belief system is your own business.
Just don't misrepresent it to beef up your street cred.

Update: The Toronto Star has published a good story on the topic.
Their article draws from information on this page, which was itself
cribbed from a certain online forum (you know who you are) 


Short answer: Yes, it's true.

Longer answer: Ok, Ford could have been referring to the Orthodox Jewish principle of irrevocable matrilineality as codified in the Shulchan Aruch of 1565. Or, perhaps he means that the Middlebrook family tree contains Jewish ancestry. But we're betting it was just a cynical ploy for votes.

On October 6th, Doug Ford scrummed with the press, where he clarified his (highly criticized) remarks from the previous evening's debate when he said that he understands the Jewish community because has a "Jewish doctor, a Jewish dentist, a Jewish lawyer". Ford announced:
"Matter of fact, my wife is Jewish. Her mother is Jewish. And they have to come after me? You got to be joking. My wife was furious last night at John Tory's statement. It's disgusting."
Meanwhile, the Fords are a well-known family of evangelical Christians. Karla, Ford's wife, is herself an evangelical Christian. As was her father, who was "known for his devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ".
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Ford was most likely implying that his wife's family descends from a line of ethnic Jews - which would also make Karla and their four children Jewish. This may well be true, but it's a bit disingenuous for Ford to appropriate this heritage only when it became politically convenient.

Why should I care?

We're not trying to wade into a debate over identity politics. If you are 1/64 Peruvian and choose to claim that part of your heritage, go ahead and rock your pan flute. What matters here is that Doug is willing to say just about anything to avoid taking responsibility for his actions.

Ford implies that because his wife's ancestry is partly Jewish, it was therefore an insult to criticize him for what he said in the debate. However, he has never before discussed this part of his family's history. His wife and children do not appear to recognize any part of their Jewish heritage. To the contrary, their social media posts frequently include references to Jesus and Christianity (as we said, whatever floats your boat).


The kicker of course is that if Jewish heritage was so important to his family - enough, in fact, to make Karla "furious" - you'd think that when he lists the Jews in his life, he would have mentioned his wife and mother-in-law before listing off his dentist, doctor and lawyer.

Are Doug Ford's wife and kids part of a Jewish bloodline? Perhaps. Does that give Doug Ford a magic cloak of ethnic invulnerability? Not a chance.

Are we on the mark or out of line?

Is it fair game to criticize Ford for his statements? If you are Jewish, is Ford's behaviour unacceptable? Let us know in the comments below!


Here is apparently Karla's maternal grandmother's entrance record (Halifax, 1913). Eleonora Marco #5343. Religion: Catholic.
(click for larger version)

And for good measure, here is the wedding register for her Greek Orthodox Catholic maternal grandparents:
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  1. I am Jewish and both Doug Ford's behaviour and Rob Ford's behaviour is offensive in a way that reminds me of Hitler in the decade leading up to WW2.

  2. And it looks like Karla's mother's family, the Renwicks, wasn't particularly Jewish either.

  3. 1565!!!! We've been around since friggin 1200 BC! This mother rule is a wee bit late. But not really the issue here. Ford's behavior was repulsive in a variety of ways. First off there's the sleaze factor. He made the comments that people with a certain mentality make. Look at all my lovely Jewish servants. Then he was criticized. So he said stuff to make the criticism go away. That was bizarre and made no sense. Par for the course. But he was implying something that if his wife had Jewish ancestry, and it seems pretty clear she doesn't, would be something sad. Lots of ethnic Jews try and hide their ethnicity. They don't convert to Christianity, they don't decide that Jewish stuff doesn't mean anything to them. They're just hiding. Being in the closet. That was a real thing. My father grew up that way. I hope it's over nowadays. And there's something called a secret Jew. This is mostly from the olden days when Jew's were being massacred all the time. The person made up a fake Christian identity and then lived out there life that way, concealing who they were. So if Doug Ford's wife did have Jewish ancestry she would be one of these self-effacing Jews. And that would just be so sad. Like, also mostly in the olden days, gay men who would marry women for cover. Your friend, @poniesandjudah

  4. Jewish maternal law is not since 1565, but from well before the time of Ezra (4th Century BCE), in addition to being recorded in the ancient Mishna and Talmud. There are also scriptures in the Torah implying matrilineality. Being born of a Jewish mother or converting is the only way to be Jewish.

    Someone coming forward and saying they have Jewish roots, means they have no problems identifying with jews, and just as Ari Goldkind- who explicitly states he is not religious- use his jewish roots, the Fords have the same right.

    Moreover, as a Jew from that part of the world herself who is familiar with jewish eastern european names, I can tell you that Arenowicz and Renwick are known Jewish lastnames and Eleanor or Eleanora is a common name given to females in jewish culture. It is true that there were many Jews who were scarred seeing their families slaughtered in Ukranian pogroms, and abandoned their faith throwing their Tefilin en masse into the sea on the boats into Canada and the U.S.

    As for the person who says they are worse than Hitler, it is evident you have not experienced real persecution and you haven't studied the persecution leading up to WW2.