Famous Half-Jewish People

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1. Famous Half-Jewish Heroes – Here are some inspiring sayings by famous half-Jewish heroes. If you have additional inspiring quotations by other half-Jewish heroes or famous people, please let us know.

a. St. Teresa of Avila was a 16th century  Roman Catholic saint. She was the patrilineal grandchild of a Jewish-Christian intermarriage. Her intermarried paternal Jewish grandfather was persecuted by the Inquisition and eventually had to move to another city in Spain to escape the persecution.

St.Teresa and her family kept quiet about their partly-Jewish ancestry during her lifetime, as the information could have endangered the entire extended family, but modern historians learned about it through finding records of a contemporary lawsuit.

St. Teresa was an innovative church leader who was constantly in trouble with church authorities for her creative thinking. She was threatened with imprisonment several times, and responded to one threat by saying that prison had some attraction as it meant that she would be able to get some rest.

St. Teresa said: “Once, when I was in prayer, I saw, for a very brief time and without any distinctness of form, but with perfect clarity, how all things are seen in God and how within Himself He contains them all.” (From “The Life of Teresa of Jesus,” translated by E. Allison Peers.)

b. Raoul Wallenberg was a 20th century Lutheran Swedish diplomat who was the patrilineal great-great-grandchild of an intermarriage. He saved hundreds of the Jews of Hungary from the Nazis during WWII by giving them Swedish passports. He was eventually murdered by the Soviet Union’s secret police after they kidnapped him, mistakenly assuming that he was some type of spy.

Wallenberg’s great-great-grandfather was a German Jew who immigrated to Sweden, converted to the Lutheran faith, and married a Christian woman.

Wallenberg liked to say: “someone who is half a Jew and half a Wallenberg can never be defeated.”

c. Juliano Mer-Khamis, a 21st century Israeli movie star and play director, was the matrilineal child of a Jewish Israeli mother and a Palestinian Christian father. His parents met through their mutual interest in the Israeli Communist party.

As a young man, Mer-Khamis served in the Israel Defense Forces and appeared Jewish-identified. He lived in Haifa, Israel, and became a movie star, playing both Jewish and Arab roles. As he grew older, he became more Palestinian-identified, and began traveling back and forth between Haifa and Jenin on the Palestinian West Bank. He ran a theater for Palestinian young people, the “Freedom Theater” in Jenin.

He spoke out in favor of peace and opposed Palestinian suicide bombings, personally trying to talk Palestinian young people out of becoming suicide bombers. He also opposed Israel’s seizures of Palestinian lands.

He was assassinated in 2011, apparently because Palestinian traditionalists disapproved of a 19th century German play he intended to put on at his theater which dealt bluntly with teenagers’ sex problems.

Mer-Khamis left behind an Israeli Jewish ex-spouse and daughter and a widow of Finnish Christian heritage with three younger children, plus his grieving theater coworkers.

Mer-Khamis told the Israeli army radio during an interview in 2009, ““I am 100 percent Palestinian and 100 percent Jewish.”

If you have additional inspiring quotations by other half-Jewish people, please let us know.

2. Famous Children and Grandchildren of Intermarriage raised as Catholics:


3. A list of famous half-Jewish people submitted by Jessie and sporadically added to by Robin:

Ottilie Assing (19th century German-American writer and activist, long-term lover of biracial abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass – German Jewish father who converted to Christianity and German Lutheran mother)

David Duchovny (American actor known- Russian Jewish father, Scottish Lutheran mother)

Reya El-Salahi, (Jewish mother, Muslim father), a BBC radio broadcaster and television writer

Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser (Jewish father, Christian mother), former Canon Chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, gave up his lucrative, perk-filled job to protest the Cathedral’s decision to evict the Occupy protesters

Jennie Goldstein (Jewish father, Christian mother), community organizer, the only Jewish employee of the Arab-American Association of New York

William Hensley (Jewish father, Native American mother) is a famous activist on behalf of the Inuit of Alaska.

Garry Kasparov (Russian chess champion – Armenian Christian mother, Jewish father)

David Malouf (Australian author – Lebanese Christian father, Portuguese-British Jewish mother)

Juliano Mer-Khamis (Israeli actor – Palestinian Christian father, Israeli Jewish mother)

Dorothy Parker (American author and poet – German Jewish father, Protestant Scots mother)

Sarah Jessica Parker (American actress – Jewish father, not sure about mother except that she wasn’t Jewish)

Sean Paul (Jamaican reggae musician – Portuguese Jewish father, biracial Afro-Caribbean/Chinese mother)

Alison Pick (Canadian novelist  – Czech Jewish father who was raised Christian, Christian mother)

Saint Teresa of Avila – (Grandchild of intermarriage; half-Jewish father and Spanish Catholic mother; both parents identified as Roman Catholics; St. Teresa was the 16th century founder of the Discalced Carmelite order of nuns; famous Catholic mystic)

Peter Sellers (British actor – Protestant father, Portuguese Jewish mother)

Carly Simon (American singer-songwriter – biracial black/white Jewish mother, white non-Jewish father)

Gloria Steinem (American feminist icon and journalist – Jewish father, Christian mother)

Matt Stone (American animator and creator of TV show South Park – Irish-American father, Sephardic Jewish mother)