Gosh Darn It, People Voted for Him

Al Franken and Franni Bryson
Al Franken and his wife of 32 years, Franni Bryson.

Eight months after the election, Al Franken (D, Jewish) was declared the winner of Minnesota’s 2008 Senate election over incumbent Norm Coleman (R, Jewish). That makes Franken the 13th sitting Jewish U.S. senator. Like Coleman, Franken is intermarried.

In 2003, Franken talked about his family with the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles:

JJ: I read that your wife is Catholic, and save for a seder once a year your life is low on Jewish practices. Yet, Jewish references and Jewish experiences appear repeatedly in your book [Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them, A Fair and Balanced Look at The Right, Dutton, 2003]. Can you tell me a little bit about your Jewish life today? How much does Judaism figure into your daily experience?

AF: My wife is a fallen Roman Catholic…. We don’t belong to a shul, and my kids have really been raised with no formal religious education, but they definitely consider themselves culturally Jewish. Partly it is growing up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was quite the opposite of my experience.

My wife—every year we have a Chanukah dinner and she makes the best latkes and … the best brisket on the Upper West Side.
But my kids definitely consider themselves Jewish, have very Jewish senses of humor and went to a high school that was two-thirds Jewish.

And the most important aspect of this—we did go to a Reform temple when I was a kid, and my parents were not particularly devout, but we were taught that there was a certain ethical base to our religion that was the essence of our Judaism, and I think my kids have grown up with that.

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