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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 17, 2011 / 12 Shevat, 5771

Jared Loughner's Jewish lineage

By Nate Bloom






How to Fight a False Story


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Early on Jan. 11, 2011, Mother Jones' magazine posted, on-line, an interview with Bryce Tierney, a friend of Jared Loughner, the man accused of the Tucson massacre that left six dead and injured 14 others. Among those wounded was (Jewish) congress member Gabrielle Giffords.

The Mother Jones' reporter, Nick Baumann, quoted Tierney as saying that Jared Loughner's mom is "Jewish."

That same day this Mother Jones story was referenced by Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) Washington correspondent Ron Kampeas on his JTA web blog.

I write about Jews in popular culture for the newspapers and other media outlets listed below. I know how to research a person's ancestry and I have a young friend in Canada, Michael, who is a "family history buff." Together, we determined to get to the bottom of story, i.e, is Bryce Tierney correct—is Jared Loughner's mother, Jewish?

Our conclusion, based on real research in census and other reliable records—was that it is exceedingly unlikely that Amy Totman Loughner, Jared's mother, has any Jewish ancestry. We did real research and did not speculate like so many journalists on the internet and elsewhere. We rolled up our sleeves and did the work as fast as possible and, to some extent— we stopped this false story in its tracks.

I think you will find this article very interesting.

I contacted Ron Kampeas on January 11 after reading his report about the Mother Jones' story. By the end of the day (Jan.11) — Michael and this writer had pretty much run down Jared's mother's ancestry and submitted our findings to Kampeas. He posted them unedited on his JTA blog on January 12.

Late on Jan. 12, Michael and this writer finished our research and tied-up a few loose ends in the family history story of Amy Loughner. Those findings are posted below. As you will see, also on Jan. 12, Mother Jones' posted a footnote to its interview—citing this writer's findings.

(The obituary notice I discuss below is found in the sidebar so it reads more smoothly. I have also omitted a comment Kampeas made after he re-posted my letter.)

Here is what Ron Kampeas posted on his website on Jan.12:

Loughner's Jewish mother? Not so much

By Ron Kampeas
January 12, 2011

I noted the other day that an acquaintance of Jared Lee Loughner, the accused gunman in Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Tucson, believed his mother was Jewish.

Bryce Tierney told Mother Jones that Loughner listed Mein Kampf as a favorite book in part to provoke his Jewish mother.

Nate Bloom, the noted Jewish roots columnist and researcher, has done the legwork — and pretty much buries this notion.

I'll hand it over to him:

AMY LOUGHNER'S ANCESTRY

NATE BLOOM

It is appalling how one comment—a friend of Jared Loughner telling a Mother Jones' reporter that Jared Loughner's mother is "Jewish"—goes viral in an instant.

In hours, "this fact" was all over on anti-Semitic sites. And, of course, there are the "commentators" who love to 'blame the victim' via some pop psychology theory that Jared acted out of "Jewish self-hatred."

I figured that this was the moment to try and get "truth" dressed, and into the public arena a lot faster than usual. In other words, to use the tools of the internet to determine the veracity of what this friend told Mother Jones.

I cover Jews in popular culture for Jewish newspapers and I know how often famous people are mis-identified as Jewish or mis-identified as not Jewish. I also know that a lot of people are not outright lying about claiming someone is Jewish—they just get it wrong.


AMY LOUGHNER'S MOTHER'S SISTER'S OBITUARY

Date: June 24, 1999
Section: Business
Edition: Cook
Page: 10
Column: Obituaries

Helen Medernach of Virgil

A funeral Mass for Helen Medernach, 77, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, at S.S. Peter & Paul Church. Fr. Aloysius Neumann will officiate.

Born Sept. 21, 1921, in Sycamore, the daughter of Anton and Jessie (nee Anderson) Bleifuss, she passed away peacefully Sunday, June 20, 1999, at Bethany Care Center in Sycamore, where she had made her home since May. Interment will be in S.S. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Virgil.

Helen grew up in Sycamore and graduated from Sycamore High School, class of 1939. She went on to take business courses which shortly landed her a job at Anaconda Wire Company in Sycamore. She went to California with her sister, Lois, and was employed in a business office for a few years before returning to work in Chicago. The last 20 years of her working career were spent in the business office at the Duplex Company in Sycamore.

She was united in marriage to William H. `Willie' Medernach on May 16, 1959.

They made their home in Sycamore for a short time before moving to Virgil where they lived across the street from the church for many years.

Survivors include her sisters, Virginia Stran of DeKalb, Irene Luty of Covina, Calif., Lois (Lawrence) Totman of Tucson, Ariz. and Dorothy (`Trig') Troeger of Sycamore; several nieces and nephews; and a family of dear friends. In addition, she leaves the quiet, simple legacy of one who cared. Her many thoughtful words of thanks, encouragement and friendship were patiently penned into countless cards that found their way into the hearts of many friends and neighbors through the years.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband in 1997; and brothers, Albert, Lyle, Leslie and Donald Bleifuss.

Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. today, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn, and from 9:30 a.m. until the time of the Mass Friday, at the church.

Memorials in her name may be made to Masses in her memory.y 12:


So, with my friend Michael, we ran down everything we could from public records on Jared Loughner's mother's family background. It took a lot of "search terms" and databases to find what we did.

Here's what we found:

Jared Lee Loughner's mother is Amy Totman Loughner;

Amy Loughner—Known Parentage from Public Records:

Her [Amy's] parents were Lois May Totman and Laurence Edward Totman.

— Lois M. Totman died in 1999 and Laurence E. Totman died in 2005. Both were registered nurses. Laurence worked at a VA facility in Tucson. We both found this info via google news archives, social security death index.

From 1930 census records
Laurence E. Totman was born in Illinois in 1925.

His (Laurence's) parents were Laurence A. Totman and his wife, Mary.

Laurence Totman pere (the elder) was born in Kansas to a Pennsylvania father and an Illinois mother. Mary was from Illinois, as were both of her parents.

A sister-in-law named Myrtle M. Brennan is listed as living with them also.

1920/1910 census records—Totman Family:
In 1920, Lawrence Totman, (Jared's) great-grandfather, is living with his aunt, Rosa Clarke, who was born in illinois to two Irish-born parents.

Rosa is his mother's sister. On the 1910 census, his (Laurence, the elder) maternal grandparents are listed as Irish-born.

Father, Orvie Totman was born in Ohio to Ohio-born parents.

Amy Loughner's Mother's Line:
See obit, at right, from Arlington (Illinois) Daily Record, June 24, 1999—Obituary of Helen Medernach of Virgil, Illinois. Helen was the sister of Lois M. Totman (the mother of Amy Totman Loughner). Helen was the great aunt of Jared Loughner.

As you can see, Helen's funeral (mass) was held at a Catholic church. Helen (and Lois) were the children of Anton Bleifuss and Jessie Bleifuss (nee Anderson). Lois M. Totman died just days after her sister, Helen.

According to the census records, Anton Bleifuss was born in Bremen, Germany, to German parents. Jessie Anderson Bleifuss was born in Illinois to a father born in Denmark and a mother born in Illinois.

Conclusion—It is exceedingly unlikely that Amy Loughner has any Jewish ancestry. The only "line" not traced his Amy's father's mother's family. The other three lines (Amy's father's father, Amy's mother's father, and Amy's mother;s mother)—show, to all but the most obtuse, that these were/are not Jewish families. Moreover, it is quite clear that Amy's mother, Lois Bleifuss Totman, came from a Catholic family.

RON KAMPEAS ADDS:

At OpEd News , Rob Kall interviews Rabbi Stephanie Aaron of Giffords' shul, Congregation Chaverim, she dispenses with any notion that the Loughner's were in any way associated with the community:

"We had a meeting of the Tucson Board of Rabbis. We all looked at our rosters from many years back. No one has ever heard of the family — him, his parents, any of them. I can say with absolute certainty that we do not know him in pretty much the entire affiliated community."

[Rob Kall interviewed Rabbi Aaron after a notorious anti-Semite invented a story that Amy Loughner was a member of the same synagogue as Representative Giffords. This total lie was picked-up by other Jew-haters and posted around the Internet].

END OF JANUARY 12, 2011 COLUMN

Coda on Amy Totman Loughner's Ancestry
Nate Bloom
January 13, 2010

In my letter, posted on the Jewish Telegraph Agency site on Jan. 12, 2010, I said:

Conclusion—It is exceedingly unlikely that Amy Loughner has any Jewish ancestry. The only "line" not traced is Amy's father's mother's family. The other three lines (Amy's father's father, Amy's mother's father, and Amy's mother's mother)—show, to all but the most obtuse, that these were not Jewish families. Moreover, it is quite clear that Amy's mother, Lois Bleifuss Totman, came from a Catholic family.

Well, I asked my friend Michael if we could find more on the one unknown line—Amy's father's mother's family.

Once again, Amy's father was Laurence E. Totman. Laurence's parents were Laurence A. Totman and his wife, Mary.

I previously traced Laurence A. Totman's ancestry. His (Laurence A.) mother was the daughter of two Irish born parents. His father, Orvie Totman, was almost certainly an American of Irish or English ancestry.

The ancestry of Laurence E. Totman's wife, Mary, the paternal great-grandmother of Jared Loughner, was not explored in my last letter. I asked my friend, Michael, if Myrtle Brennan, the woman described as a "sister-in-law" and described as living with Laurence E. Totman and Mary in the 1930 census was the sister of Mary, Laurence Totman's wife.

Michael replied in the affirmative. He told me something I did not know—the description of someone as a "sister-in-law" is always used by the census in relation to the "head of the household." Laurence E. Totman was the head of the household. So, Myrtle Brennan had to be his wife's sister, or his brother's wife.

Michael further informed me that he found the whole Brennan family on the 1920 census. Mary Brennan (later Mary Brennan Totman) was born in Illinois. On the 1920 census, you find a household composed of Mary Brennan, her sister Myrtle Brennan, their brother Wallace, and parents Anna and John Brennan. John's parents were born in Ireland. Anna's mother was born in Ireland. Anna's father was born in New York.

As for Anton Bleifuss, the maternal grandfather of Amy Loughner—speculation (by Mr. Kampeas) that he might have been Jewish is, in my opinion, not very well founded. Bleifuss is a pretty rare last name. I haven't been able to find a single Jewish person with this last name and I tried using various "tricks" like checking the entire NY Times obituary and news archive—as well as google search terms like Jewish and Bleifuss.

The most famous person with the last name "Bleifuss," investigative journalist Joel Bleifuss, is NOT Jewish.

What is known about Anton Bleifuss is that he was born in Germany. He appears to have come over (by ship) by himself (1907). He listed his race as "German" on the ship's record. He became a naturalized citizen in 1916. He registered for the draft during WWII.

Final conclusion—-Amy Totman Loughner, based on the records, is of mostly Irish background on her father's side and mixed ethnic background on her mother's side— German, Danish, and possibly one or two other ethnic groups.

Very few persons born in Ireland were or are of Jewish background.

We know that Amy's mother came from a Catholic family.

There is almost nothing left to research here. Again, the conclusion is that it is exceedingly unlikely that Amy Loughner has any Jewish ancestry.

I should add that Mother Jones' reporter Nick Baumann, who started this hornet's nest—has now footnoted his article, citing my research into Amy Loughner's background. Baumann interviewed Bryce Tierney, a friend of Jared Loughner, on Jan. 10, 2011. Tierney mentioned that Loughner's mother is "Jewish."

On January 12, Baumann footnoted Tierney's comment thus: "**Tierney says Loughner's mom is Jewish. But a columnist who researched the subject doesn't think that holds up. Tierney also said that Loughner himself was definitely not religious."

The Mother Jones article footnote hyperlinks to this column.

Finally, I will say here— what I said to Mr. Baumann in an e-mail that he did not respond to. I thought it was irresponsible of him to quote Tierney about Amy Loughner's "Jewishness" without doing any independent research as to this statement's accuracy.

It was and is a charged situation—a Jewish congressperson was shot; there are allegations of ties by Jared Loughner to groups that, at the very least, flirt with anti-Semitism; anyone who knows anything about the sick world of anti-Semites knows that they would seize on this statement for their own twisted ends.

As I said to Mr. Baumann, "If a friend of Jared Loughner told you his mother was a Muslim would you have taken his word for it?" I think the answer is obvious. A liberal-left publication like Mother Jones wouldn't want to be responsible for a backlash against Muslims based on a possibly wholly erroneous report that a mass murderer's mother was Muslim. They would do some independent research and verification and not take one friend's word for it.

The fact of the matter is that government (State and Federal) statistics consistently show that hate crimes against American Jews vastly outnumber those against American Muslims. But this fact does not seem to really penetrate the minds of most members of the mainstream and liberal-left media. So, they don't take the steps they should take—prudent and reasonable steps—to verify before reporting that, again, a mass murderer's mother is Jewish.

I am also thinking about the Arizona rabbis who had to take time away from their pastoral and other duties to check records to see if the Loughner family was ever connected to the Jewish community. They wouldn't have had to do this if Mother Jones had refrained from quoting Tierney until they were sure of their facts.

One bright note—in trolling one notoriously anti-Semitic site, I was pleased to see that my findings had thrown them off their game of "blaming the Jews." A few, remarkably, were even calling a liar the person who invented the story that Amy Loughner belongs to a Tucson synagogue.

By getting the facts out there very quickly—we have staunched the spread of a false story. However, no doubt, many of those who invent and believe anti-Semitic stories will not be swayed by any amount of evidence.



INTERESTED IN YOUR ANCESTORS?

Well before the tragic events in Tuscon, Nate Bloom was planning to launch a limited geneological research service for interested readers. And, by coincidence, we are now ready to "launch."

For a modest fee ($25.00) Bloom, and a couple of talented assistants, will PERSONALLY find info ONE family line of your choice -- going back to when a person in that family line came to America or 1890, which came earlier. In other words:

You pick the family line--father, father's father (paternal grandfather's line); or father, father's mother (paternal grandmother's line); or mother, mother's father (maternal grandfather's line); or mother, mother's mother (maternal grandmother's line).

We trace this line back to the first person in this line to come to America or 1890, whichever came sooner.

(There will be an extra, agreed upon charge to go back in America before 1890.)

If you are interested, please e-mail us by clicking here. and we will explain all -- and get your particulars.




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JWR contributor Nate Bloom is an Oakland, CA-based columnist for American Israelite of Cinncinnati, Cleveland Jewish News, Detroit Jewish News, New Jersey Jewish Standard, Tampa Jewish Federation News, Interfaithfamily.com and JWeekly of San Francisco.


© 2011, Nate Bloom