Latest update: November 27th, 2013
Most Americans know that Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, and most of those people know that Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald before Oswald could be tried for the murder.
But did you know that Jack Ruby was Jewish?
Ruby, born Jacob Leon Rubenstein, was born in Chicago to Joseph and Fannie Rubenstein. Ruby’s parents led troubled lives. The father was abusive, the mother suffered from mental illness. The couple had eight children together although they split up by the time Jack was ten. Three of the children, including Ruby, became wards of Chicago’s Jewish Home Finding Society.
When the family was intact, the family kept kosher and attended synagogue, and the children were sent to Hebrew school, according to CBS news journalist Steve North who wrote the over the top, article, “My History With Lee Harvey Oswald’s Jewish Killer.”
Like so many children of Jewish immigrants of his generation, it appears Ruby drifted away from his religion as he journeyed through life, although he did belong to a synagogue, and went to services daily during the prescribed 11 months following the death of his father.
Anecdotes abound of Ruby being quick to use his fists against anti-Semitic taunts, including when he was in the military.
There are unconfirmed reports that the day after the shooting Ruby was asked by his rabbi why he had done it. Ruby allegedly answered, “to show that Jews had guts.”
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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