(This is the first in a multi-part series of columns.)
I believe my support for and devotion to Democratic candidate Robert F. Kennedy for president of the United States in 1964 comprise the most important experiences of my political career.
Before I say why I supported Robert Kennedy, I want to comment on what was happening in the world and in our country, and even in New York and in the Bronx and in Westchester where I lived with my wife, Gloria, and our two little girls, Jeri Ann and Sharon. (Our third daughter, Nisa, was born in 1965.)
I was an ardent Democrat, as I am now, and, of course, I voted for and supported President John F. Kennedy. After his assassination, I enthusiastically supported his brother Robert and volunteered to work for him. Later, I voted for and supported their brother, Teddy Kennedy.
When we first heard about the Kennedy family in the early 1960s, many Jewish people like me in New York City were not enthusiastic supporters. The problem was the patriarch, Joseph Kennedy, who became the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain. Some people thought he was anti-Jewish, which was not true. But Joe Kennedy, who was involved with the Hollywood movie studios, did have the reputation of being a conniving businessman and a lover of some movie stars, even though he remained married to Rose.
The Kennedys were devout Catholics and many Jewish people thought this might make them anti-Semitic. Many Jews in the Bronx in the early 1940s had good reasons to believe that the Catholic Church itself was anti-Jewish. Some students at Catholic parochial schools like All Hallows at 166th Street in the Bronx made anti-Jewish remarks and threw snowballs at Jewish neighbors. The Catholic Church did not approve of marriages between Jews and Catholics unless the Jewish partner converted.
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