Jewish aspects of the background of Jack Ruby, convicted killer of Lee Harvey Oswald, were reviewed in an examination of Ruby’s personality and biography in the Warren Commission’s report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Commission concluded that Ruby acted spontaneously as an individual. It ruled out all rumors of alleged conspiracy, found conclusively that Ruby and Oswald were not acquainted, and that each acted entirely independent of the other.
Ruby contended that his Jewish beliefs motivated his thinking and actions. He was shown by the Commission’s findings to have had a life-long record of volatile responses to anti-Semites, many fights arising from anti-Semitism, and participation in street fights against the German-American Bund before World War II. According to Ruby, prior to the shooting of Oswald, he watched a rabbi deliver on television a moving eulogy of President Kennedy. Ruby said the rabi’s words “created a tremendous emotional feeling for me…I was carried away.”
The Commission reported that “reared in the Jewish faith, Jack Ruby was not especially devout. ” Rabbi Hillel Silverman, whose Conservative temple Ruby favored, reported that, when Ruby’s father died in 1958, Ruby came to services twice daily for the prescribed period of 11 months to recite the traditional memorial prayer. Ruby normally attended services only on the Jewish High Holy Days, and he was quite unfamiliar with the Hebrew language.”
Another Commission finding was that “Ruby was apparently somewhat sensitive to his identity as a Jew. He forbade his comedians to tell stories (in his night clubs) directed at Jews or Jewish practices and, on several occasions, he fought with persons making derogatory remarks about his ethnic origin. The evidence also indicates that he was deeply upset that an advertisement insulting President Kennedy appeared above a Jewish-sounding name.”
Examining Ruby’s political background, the Commission said “as a young man, Ruby participated in attacks upon meetings of the German-American Bund in Chicago, but the assaults were the efforts of pool hall associates from his predominantly Jewish neighborhood, rather than the work of any political group. His only other known activities which had any political flavor possessed stronger overtones of financial self-interest.”
Ruby changed his name, along with his brothers, from Rubenstein to Ruby, partly to avoid a “Jewish name” for business reasons. Ruby gave Temple Shearith Israel of Dallas $110 shortly before the assassination. The money was apparently for High Holy Day tickets.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.