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The ‘Who is a Jewish Olympian’ Question: The Case of Charlie White

February 20, 2014 By:
Daniel Treiman, JTA
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Charlie White and Meryl Davis’ free dance on Feb. 17 won the United States its first-ever ice dancing gold medal. Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images Sport via JTA.

Earlier this week, several Jewish news outlets ran reports on American ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis winning Olympic gold. All of these outlets reported — based on previously published articles — that White was Jewish.

It appears we were all misinformed.

The Detroit Jewish News — which initially report White’s supposed Jewishness a couple years ago — is issuing the following correction (based on the follow-up work of its staff and the dogged research of syndicated Jewish celebrity-beat columnist Nate Bloom):

Olympic Champ Has Jewish Family, But Is Not Jewish

After a phone call four years ago from what was thought to be a reliable source, the Detroit Jewish News erroneously reported that Olympic Gold Medal ice dancer Charlie White is Jewish. The Jewish News later received a phone call from Charlie’s mother, Jacqui White, saying that neither she nor Charlie is Jewish.

The Jewish News can now clarify after a conversation with a reliable source close to the family that the new Olympic champion had a Jewish step-grandfather, a Michigan-based physician, to whom Jacqui White’s mother was remarried for 37 years until his death in July 2013. Their blended family included his Jewish sons from a previous marriage.

Charlie White’s mother, Jacqui, and her birth siblings were raised Catholic. While Jacqui and Charlie, who also was raised as a Christian, were exposed to Jewish traditions and holidays, they are not Jewish by religion, birth or identification.

The Detroit Jewish News regrets the error and congratulates Charlie White and Meryl Davis on their Olympic championship.

Kudos to the Detroit Jewish News for correcting the record.

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