One of the understories of President Obama’s gutting of the Senate (in his search for Cabinet members) was that he might inadvertently have upped Jewish representation in the august body by two, from 13 to 15. State governors in Colorado and Delaware had named senatrors whose biographies alluded to Jewish backgrounds.
Not so, we can now report. The two new senators we thought might be Jewish are in fact practicing Roman Catholics.
Ted Kaufman (D) of Delaware – formerly chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, whom he replaced – had a Jewish father, but was raised in his mother’s Roman Catholic faith, according to his office (although, interestingly, his official congressional biography does not list a faith.)
In his most recent congressional bio*, Michael Bennet (D) of Colorado also lists himself as RC. James Bennet, his brother and the editor of The Atlantic, spoke of a Jewish background in interviews, but it looks like the emphasis there is on "background."
The 13th Jew in the Senate, by the way, remains unnamed – but for sure Jewish. That’s because both candidates now duking out a razor thin election in the courts – Al Franken (D) and Norm Coleman (R) – are Jewish.
And now, researching this blogpost, I’ve just sowed a little more confusion: We’ve never counted Bennet’s state-mate in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) as among that house’s 31 Jews because sources told us that, while he was born Jewish – and had family in Israel – he had converted to evangelical Christianity in adulthood.
Now we’ll have to doublecheck – Perlmutter’s official congressional bio lists him as Jewish. Colorado’s 7- person delegation to the House already includes another MOT, Jared Polis.
*When I refer to "congressional bio" here and with Perlmutter, I should make clear that my source is the Congressional Yellow Book published by Leadership Directories; they solicit entries from lawmakers for "religion," among other data.