When Senator George Allen (R-Va) recently learned that his mother was Jewish, he calmed his supporters by claiming "I still had a ham sandwich for lunch."
It remains to be seen whether Mr. Allen retains his seat but "The Ham Sandwich Gambit" is the latest method public figures have used when blind-sided by Jewish blood in their family.
-In the second century AD, the Roman Empire was in full swing under Marcus Aurelius when he appointed his cousin Kenny, Undersecretary of Nepotism. During a confirmation hearing, it was learned that the nominee's grandfather had unwitting resoled the sandals of a half-Jewish baker. According to Roman Law, this connection made Kenny legally Jewish, though not very observant. The scandal emboldened the Visigoths to sack Rome on a Friday night when Jews were strictly forbidden to ride chariots, throw lances or say, "Here come the Visigoths."
-During the Renaissance, Flemish Physician Andreas Vesalius published the first accurate description of human anatomy. However, during a book signing, an elderly Cantor said, "I'm your father. Can I get an autograph without buying the book?" Vesalius said, "Hi, Dad. And no."
Years later, this "embracing ones roots" was seen as a master stroke. However, for Vesalius it was a big mistake and his book sales were disappointing.
-In the 1700s, The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain, spread throughout Europe, across to North America and then back to Great Britain. Working in dehumanizing factories, people sought to confirm they were human by exploring their pasts which turned up several surprising revelations and some obvious revelations. Most notably, JamesWatt, the inventor of the steam engine was accused of having Jewish blood by his hematologist. Watt had long suspected this as his father had written the lyrics for the song "Dy-Dy-Ehnu," a Passover melody designed to be the Jewish version of "One Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall."
Watt smoothed things over by saying, "How about that steam engine?" However, when Watt later claimed to invent the spinning jenny, he was rebuffed in favor of James Hargreaves, an atheist so devout, he refused to say "God Bless You" when Queen Victoria sneezed.
- In the 1800's, the Cheyenne was known for being the first tribe to refer to their tepees as "tents." They thrived under Chief Sitting Shivah, who headed up the Bureau of White People Affairs. However, when the white people wiped out the Cherokee Nation, the chief falsely claimed to be Jewish hoping it would get him transferred .
Shockingly, an investigation bore out his claim. Some forty years earlier, his grandmother, needing a break from being an Indian, left the reservation for forty minutes during which time she married an itinerant commodities broker named Phil Buxbaum. This revelation touched off an emergency meeting of the tribal elders who decided to sell the reservation and move to Encino.
- In the 1930's, Alphonse Grebe ran for the Hackensack, New Jersey city council on a plank of abolishing thank-you notes. Like Senator Allen, a reporter asked Grebe to comment on rumors that his father was Jewish. Grebe confiscated the reporter's note pad, then added, "I'll look into it."
Grebe called his father who admitted that he was indeed Jewish. Feeling a unburdened, Grebe's father also confessed to kidnaping the Lindbergh baby.
Grebe publicly denied that his father was Jewish but ratted him out on Lindbergh baby. With his father imprisoned, Grebe won the council seat where he served with distinction for three weeks before asking himself, "What do I need with this aggravation?"
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