NATO General
Raised in Arkansas

Discovers Jewish Roots
from Minsk
By Tim Boxer

Gen. Wesley Clark
and wife

T’S getting to be the thing to do as we enter the 21st Century. Everybody’s looking at their roots to see where they really come from. Secretary of State Madeline Albright found Jewish relatives. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton also laid claim to Jewish relations. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke proudly told about his wife, author Kati Marton, a refugee from communism who, late in life, found out she’s not only Hungarian but also a Jew.

It’s like a fashion statement to be Jewish, even if you’re not. If you’re not, you can always take a Jewish name, like Whoopi Goldberg. Or put a mezuzah on your door, like pop star Michael Jackson reportedly did. (He also recently attended a Friday night Shabbat service at the Carlebach Shul on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.)

Milton Gralla

Now comes Wesley K. Clark, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, who was the American general who led NATO’s first and only war, in the Kosovo air campaign against Serbia. Some say it was the first air campaign ever won without ground power, which pleased the air force general immensely.

Clark revealed his roots at a combined dinner at the Pierre Hotel for Be’er Hagolah (under president Marc Ratzersdorfer and vice president Richard Hirsch), a school in Brooklyn for Jewish immigrant children from the former Soviet Union, and Re’uth (under chairman Ursula Merkin and president Rosa Strygler), which maintains medical centers and senior homes in Israel.


Ingeborg Rennert

The general said he was born in Chicago where his father was a lawyer. Four years later his father died, and his mother, not Jewish, moved back to Arkansas where she remarried. His stepfather adopted Wesley.

“I asked several times about my father’s family,” Clark said, “but was never really told for various reasons.


Malcolm Hoenlein, Sy Syms,
and Malcolm Thomson

Thomas Schick (from left), Malcolm
Hoenlein, Richard Holbrooke, Gen.
Wesley Clark, Ronald Lauder

In recent years Clark began to hear from his Chicago relatives. He found that his grandparents came here in the 1890s from Minsk. They were Neveroski, but changed to Kannie before they arrived at Ellis Island.

“What a marvelous discovery it has been,” Clark said. “How proud I am of this great Kannie family and all of my cousins throughout the United States, really round the world. I am very proud of my father’s family, and what they stood for.”

Alan "Ace" Greenberg (from left),
Richard Holbrooke, Gen. Wesley Clark,

Sen. Charles Schumer

Tom Schick, dinner chairman and executive vice president for corporate affairs & communications at American Express, was duly impressed: “There aren’t too many four-star generals with his Jewish lineage.”


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