(JTA) — On Sunday night, George Santos joined the Republican Jewish Coalition on Long Island, where he was just elected to Congress, for a menorah-lighting to mark the first night of Hanukkah. He’d been invited as one of just two freshmen Republican Jews elected to Congress in November.
On Monday morning, The New York Times published a blockbuster expose alleging that much of what Santos, 34, had said about his education, his wealth, his business experience, and even where he lives is false or at least questionable.
Not addressed in the article: Was he lying about his Jewish background? As with so much else in his personal narrative, there’s little to suggest truth beyond his own past comments.
The Times noted that Santos, 34, has identified to Jewish Insider as Jewish through his mother and Catholic through his father. Both parents were born in Brazil. Santos has said on Twitter that he is a practicing Catholic — and it is not unusual for some Americans to identify as ethnically Jewish and religiously Christian.
“Whether my mother’s Jewish background beliefs, which are mine or my father’s Roman Catholic beliefs, which are also mine, are represented or not,” he told Jewish Insider after his election, “I want to represent everyone else that practices every other religion to make sure everybody feels like they have a partner in me.”
His campaign biography begins, “George’s grandparents fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution during WWII. They were able to settle in Brazil, where his mother was born.”
That story could well be true. Many European Jews fled to South America during the leadup to the Holocaust. But Santos’ mother, Fatima Devolder (Santos sometimes goes by the name George Devolder), died in 2016 in New York. Nothing in her online obituary, which often is posted by family, indicates any Jewish background. Fatima is one of a number of Roman Catholic appellations for the Virgin Mary, derived from what the church claims are apparitions of Jesus’s mother in 1917 in the Portuguese city of the same name. Devolder is a Flemish/Dutch name, which at least validates Santos’s claim that his mother has Belgian ancestry, but the Flemish people are overwhelmingly Catholic.
Matt Brooks, the RJC CEO, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a text, “I asked him about this. He identifies as Jewish.”
Santos was a featured speaker last month at the RJC’s annual Las Vegas event, billed as one of two freshmen Jewish Republicans in Congress. (The other is Ohio’s Max Miller.) He campaigned heavily among Orthodox Jews living in New York’s 3rd District, encompassing parts of northern Long Island and a part of Queens. “It was an honor to address fellow members of the Jewish community in #NY03,” he tweeted Nov. 3 after attending a Chabad event also attended by Israeli Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau.
At Sunday’s Hanukkah event, Santos joined Lee Zeldin, the outgoing New York Jewish congressman who gained traction among New York’s politically conservative Orthodox Jewish voters.
Santos did not return emails sent by JTA to multiple addresses or messages sent through a number of social media platforms. His sister, Tiffany, also did not reply to an email, nor did his lawyer, Joe Murray.
Santos’ claims about his religious and ethnic origins are minor compared to the revelations in the Times expose, which offered new details as well as ones published previously elsewhere and uncovered by Democratic Party opposition research. There are no records of Santos attending the institutes of higher learning he claims to have attended, or of working at some of the financial brokerages he claims have employed him. A charitable institution he started has no evidence of being charitable. He has repeatedly identified with the far right, and then attempted to scrub such expressions from his social media.
Santos faces outstanding charges in Brazil for allegedly stealing a checkbook from a man in the care of his mother, a nurse, and then cashing checks, according to the New York Times’ report. He has twice been evicted. His financial reporting as a candidate is missing required information, omissions that could bring legal jeopardy. The Times sought Santos out at the address where he is registered to vote; the person there said she did not know him.
It’s not the first time a politician has campaigned as identifying as having a Jewish background that evaporates under scrutiny. In 2018, Julia Salazar, a progressive Democrat who won a seat in the New York state legislature, said she identified as Jewish in part because of her father’s Jewish roots; her brother said their father was not Jewish.
Salazar and her defenders said that she identified as Jewish and it was untoward to demand proof. The RJC’s Brooks sounded a similar note regarding Santos. “He considers himself a Jew. That’s good enough for me,” he texted.
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Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN
Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.
Bill Maher tells it like it is when it comes to what “the river to the sea” really means
Bill Maher cuts to the chase like no one else. Here’s a link to a segment from the most recent episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” where he exposes the total hypocrisy of the “useful idiots” everywhere chanting “from the river to the sea”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP-CRXROorw
Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25
The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg held a rally in support of Israel on Saturday evening, November 25.
A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.
Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crfREGNRKfg
Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks: https://studio.youtube.com/video/zHzC-iaqivg/ed
Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3M_cCYuLgs