Australian rocker Barnes reveals Jewish ancestry

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — An Australian rock legend revealed his Jewish ancestry during a concert at a Sydney synagogue.

Jimmy Barnes, the Scottish-born singer-songwriter who was inducted into the Australian record industry’s hall of fame in 2005, told more than 1,500 people during a special appearance at a cantorial concert at Central Synagogue in Bondi on Thursday night that he had called his mother hours earlier to ask her why she gave him a Star of David when he was 18.

Barnes said his mother told him: “My mother gave it to me and her mother had given to her so I thought I would give it to you.”

He asked his mom if her grandmother was Jewish, to which she replied that her name was Esther and she was, in fact, a Jew.

“If I get this right,” Barnes told the crowd, “my great grandmother was Jewish, my grandmother was Jewish, my mother is Jewish, so I must be Jewish.”

His renditions of "My Yiddishe Momma" and "Am Israel Chai" received rapturous applause.

Barnes, who was raised as a Protestant, told the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday: “I like people of faith, and I believe the more people who have spirituality, the better the world will be. It’s about peace and tolerance.”

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