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Is Sarah Palin Jewish? UPDATED

The short answer is, probably not.

You might have seen the genealogies circulating on the net – here’s one – claiming she’s a descendant of one Schmuel Sheigam, a Lithuanian Jew.

I’ve run the info past folks at the National Archives. A search of immigration records shows no Sheigam – or Sheeran, as the Ellis Island transformation would have it, according to these accounts – arriving in 1915. (And yes, all possible spellings were run.) Sheigam doesn’t turn up, period.

There is a grain of truth in this, as there often is with urban myths: Records (ship manifests, censuses, property records etc.) show that Sheeran is indeed a common Irish American name, and one that some immigrants, evidently Jewish, adopted upon their arrival.

I asked the McCain-Palin campaign about this, they never got back to me (not that I blame them, I’d also prioritize screwy queries about ancestors low on my to-do list); but it’s worth noting that they had earlier confirmed that she had been baptized a Roman Catholic. (She is no longer a Catholic.) That would comport with Irish ancestry, the more common association for “Sheeran.”

What’s odd about this phenomenon is that I’m getting asked this by Jews, when the myth is being perpetuated by anti-Semites. (“Why do some people dislike Jews” as a hedder is what we call an obvious giveaway; more subtle is the use of the word “Jewess.”)

One version of this I saw suggested that John McCain wanted his old pal and fellow U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) as his running mate, and relinquished at the last minute. Again, a grain of truth here – my own reporting confirms this. Where it gets loony is in the why: Joe, apparently, was not simply too moderate for McCain’s advisers – he was too clearly part of the Zionist conspiracy. McCain, according to this fiction, was told to go with the stealth Jew. That explanation is echoed in the above website (see under “This would explain a lot.”)

None of this means the Alaska governor doesn’t have a Jewish ancestor somewhere on the tree – it’s not exactly uncommon in immigrant nations; especially in America, which has a wonderful history of welcoming all stripes of newcomer, unlike the sad sacks who run the conspiracy websites.

UPDATE: A number of readers (starting with both commenters below) have pointed out that there’s a comprehensive Sarah Palin genealogy here and that it contains nary a Chosen One. Case closed.

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