Monday, February 02, 2009

Meet Colorado's newest Senator

Some background of newly appointed Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado):
Bennet, 44, has begun to publicly speak about his own family's story of struggle - about how his grandparents fled Warsaw after World War II and how his mother, not yet a teenager, was the only one who spoke English when they finally found their way to New York in 1950.

"It's not the same, but we share an immigrant experience," he told an audience in Alamosa, when asked his views on immigration.

He could, but does not, go into the more dramatic details: How his Jewish grandparents, imprisoned in the notorious Warsaw Ghetto, smuggled his mother - then a baby - out to the country through an underground network.

How his grandmother was able to escape with nuns and found refuge in their convent.

How his grandfather hid in different parts of the ghetto until German SS troops showed up to liquidate it and force inhabitants into labor camps.

"They lost most of their family," said Bennet's younger brother, James Bennet. "My grandfather came from a very large family, and it was almost entirely wiped out. My mother had experiences that are hard to imagine when she was very, very small."[...]

Under Jewish doctrine, Judaism is passed down through the mother. Bennet is Jewish because his mother is. But even in Poland, the Klejmans were not observant, and he did not grow up practicing that religious tradition.

His father, Douglas J. Bennet, is Christian but also did not actively worship.

"I was raised with two different heritages, one was Jewish and one was Christian," Michael Bennet said. "I am proud that both heritages are part of me, and I believe in God."[...]

It's uncertain how involved the U.S. Senate might become in the chronic dispute in the Middle East. James Bennet, a former Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times and now editor of The Atlantic, said his brother's votes, not his past, are more likely to determine whether he draws funds or fire from national groups involved in that issue.

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