How Jewish is Jack Straw?

August 1, 2008

In an article discussing possible successors to Gordon Brown, Dubai-based Gulf News posed the question, "Jack Straw - a Jewish Prime Minister?" So just how kosher is he?

For: Straw does indeed have Jewish ancestry on his mother's side - his maternal great grandmother was a German-Jewish immigrant. Straw was brought up in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, where there is a synagogue. He went to Leeds University, one of our more haimishe institutes of higher education where he read law (noch). Having qualified, he branched out into media (as a researcher for World in Action) and then went into politics. If there was a classic Jewish career path, this would be it. He was also named by Labour MP Tam Dalyell as part of "a cabal of Jewish advisers" surrounding Tony Blair. Where there's smoke...

Against: Although Straw's great grandmother was Jewish, it was the wrong one - on his mother's father's side. So Straw is not halachically Jewish. Indeed, in a speech given in 1995, he said: "I come from Jewish stock although I'm Christian now." So even if he looks like a shul warden, he doesn't want to be one of us. Straw's father is from Barnsley - not a Jewish place.

Verdict: The motion is defeated

So we say he is 12% Jewish

The series in which we investigate the Semitic qualities (or otherwise) of someone in the news.

Last updated: 4:28pm, September 23 2009