Katie Couric reveals her mother was Jewish

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Katie Couric reveals in her new autobiography that her mother was Jewish, contrasting her mother’s upbringing with that of her father, who was apparently proud of his Confederate ancestors.

Couric looks at the revelation in “Going There,” published this week, which she also discussed Thursday in a lengthy interview with Rebecca Traister, a Jewish feminist journalist, in New York magazine. Even well into adulthood, the former NBC “Today Show” and “CBS Evening News” presenter did not discuss her mother’s Jewishness.

She remembers as an adult finding out about her late mother, Elinor, crying after friends made anti-Semitic remarks, but not explaining that she was hurt because she was Jewish.

Katie Couric first realized she was of Jewish descent when she was 10, and spotted a menorah in her mother’s brother’s house. The first thing that crossed his mind was the song by Jewish satirist Tom Lehrer: “Oh, Protestants hate Catholics, and Catholics hate Protestants … and everyone hates Jews.”

Her mother and grandparents seemed ambivalent about being Jewish; she discovers a letter from her mother’s father to her daughter urging her to mingle with non-Jews. His mother grimaces when Couric, as a TV personality, adopts the word “Oy”.

KATIE COURIC AND MARY LOST (Credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Couric theorizes in her interview with Traister that her mother sought to avoid the anti-Semitism she must have encountered growing up, and also to protect the reputation of her father, journalist and publicist. The family lived in the South, and Couric’s father, who was descended from Confederate soldiers, was obsessed with Confederation. Her late husband, Jay Monahan, was also a Confederate aficionado and was proud of Couric’s Confederate roots.

The book also gained publicity for its revelation that Couric in 2016 quashed parts of an interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late Jewish liberal Supreme Court judge. In the interview, Ginsburg spoke derisively about Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who protested racism in America by kneeling during the national anthem.

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