Was Lincoln Jewish?

Was Lincoln Jewish?
Swann Auction Galleries via AP

In my Jerusalem neighborhood, there are three quiet streets named for historic Hebrew newspapers. Ha-Melitz (The Advocate), founded in 1860 in Odessa, fostered vigorous debate about social and political issues. Ha-Tzfira (The Clarion) began life in Warsaw in 1862 as an ideologically pareve marketplace of ideas, with an emphasis on science. Ha-Magid (The Storyteller), published in Lyck, East Prussia, specialized in news of Jews around the world, such as the following story of February 19, 1863. Permit me a florid translation:

The ruler Abraham Lincoln, head of government of the Lands of the North (president [transliterated]) in America, during a recent visit of the learned rabbis, Messrs. Wise and Lilienthal from Cincinnati, and attorney (advocat) Martin Ligur [sic: the man's name was Bijur] from Louisville, who had come to vent their spleen upon General Grant (see Ha-Magid No. 7), and ask him to reverse the evil decree issued by the general upon all the Jews in the territory of Tennessee, told them in the course of conversation, after promising to reverse the decree, that he (the president) sprang from the belly [lit. “bowels”] of Judah, and his forefathers were Jews; and these emissaries indeed report that the facial features of the president are evidence of his descent from the loins of the Hebrews.

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