Birth Name: Marianne Deborah Williamson
Place of Birth: Harris, Texas, U.S.
Date of Birth: July 8, 1952
Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish
Marianne Williamson is an American spiritual teacher, author, lecturer, entrepreneur, and activist.
She is a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States in 2020.
Marianne is the daughter of Sophie Ann (Kaplan) and Samuel Williamson, an immigration lawyer. She has a daughter. Marianne was raised attending a Conservative Jewish synagogue. Her father was a Russian Jewish immigrant. Her mother was of Belarusian Jewish and Ukrainian Jewish descent.
Marianne’s paternal grandfather was named Solomon Williamson. Solomon was born in Russia. The family’s original surname is reported as Vishnevetsky.
Marianne’s paternal grandmother was Mildred Nichamin (the daughter of Izel/Isaac Nechamen and Bryna). Izel was the son of Schaime/Solomon Nechamen, who was born in Kiev.
Marianne’s maternal grandfather was Henry Kaplan (the son of Yankel/Matusov Kaplan and Rachel Alpert). Henry was born in Kapyl, Kapyl District, Minsk Region, Belarus. Rachel was born in Russia, the daughter of Jack Alpert.
Marianne’s maternal grandmother was Rose Taitz/Deutser (the daughter of Isaac Taitz/Deutser and Mary Dora Trisik). Rose was born in Nikopol’, Dnipro, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine. Mary was the daughter of Khaim Trishek/Trisik, who was born in Telsiai, Lithuania, and of Sora Riva Matusov, who was born in Kražiai, Šiauliai County, Lithuania.
Two people of Jewish heritage have been nominated for President of the United States by a major party. Barry Goldwater, nominated by the Republican Party in 1964, was the first (Goldwater was born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, and was raised an Episcopalian). John Kerry, nominated by the Democratic Party in 2004, was the second (Kerry’s paternal grandparents were born Jewish, though Kerry’s father and Kerry himself were raised Catholic).
Joe Lieberman, who is Jewish, was nominated for Vice President of the United States by the Democratic Party in 2000.
Four people of Jewish heritage have won a major party’s Presidential caucus and/or primary:
*Barry Goldwater (1964, the year he was nominated; Republican; won 7 states; Goldwater also sought the 1960 Republican nomination)
*John Kerry (2004, the year he was nominated; Democratic; won 51 contests)
*Wesley Clark (who sought the 2004 Democratic nomination; won 1 state, Oklahoma; Clark was born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, and is a practicing Catholic)
*Bernie Sanders (who sought the 2016 Democratic nomination, and is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination; in 2016, he won 23 contests)
Of the four, only Bernie Sanders is Jewish by religion, and he is the first person of Jewish religion to win a caucus and/or primary for a major American political party’s Presidential nomination (the 2016 New Hampshire primary).
Other people of significant Jewish heritage who have mounted plausible or semi-plausible campaigns for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States are:
*Milton Shapp (who sought the 1976 Democratic nomination)
*Larry Agran (who sought the 1992 Democratic nomination)
*Arlen Specter (who sought the 1996 Republican nomination)
*Joe Lieberman (who sought the 2004 Democratic nomination)
*John H. Cox (who sought the 2008 Republican nomination)
*Fred Karger (who sought the 2012 Republican nomination)
*Michael Bennet (who is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination)
*Tom Steyer (who is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination)
Shapp, Agran, Specter, Lieberman, and Karger were/are all Jewish by religion. Bennet and Steyer were raised in mixed-faith households, Bennet with a Jewish mother and Steyer with a Jewish father. Shapp was the first person of Jewish religion to mount a prominent campaign for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States.
Kirsten Gillibrand, a Catholic with a Jewish great-grandfather, also sought the 2020 Democratic nomination.
Sources: Interview with Marianne Williamson about being Jewish – https://www.jta.org
Genealogy of Marianne Williamson – https://www.geni.com