Ha’aretz is reporting that NBA star and newest Knick Amar’e Stoudemire is in Israel, exploring his Jewish roots:
Yesterday Army Radio reported that the Florida native plans to spend time in Israel learning Hebrew, having recently learned his mother is Jewish.
There is a lot of giddy coverage of this, but no one is explaining how his mother, the famously troubled Carrie Stoudemire, is Jewish. I spent way too long on this this morning, and figured out this much:
Carrie’s maiden name is Palmorn, and her mother is Bessie Palmorn ( 07/17/1923 - 01/07/1998). She’s buried next to her husband Jack at a V.A. cemetery in Bushnell, Fl. If it is true that Amar’e is “Hebrew through my mother,” Bessie’s first name might be a clue. And if in fact she is a Jewish grandmom, that makes Carrie (and thus Amar’e) Jewish by matrilineal descent. I found a Polk County, Fl. record indicating her name as “Bessie Thomas Palmorn,” but can’t find an obit for Bessie, which would tell me more.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten.
[UPDATE: I should have mentioned that Jack Palmorn was a member of First Institutional Missionary Baptist Church in Lake Wales. Fl.]
[UPDATE TWO: Stoudemire's agent tells TMZ, "I know there are some reports that he is Jewish, but he is not. He thinks there may be some Jewish blood on his mother's side and he is researching it."
[UPDATE THREE: Jack and Bessie were married in 1940, when inter-racial marriages were still illegal in Florida. I suppose they could have married in another state, or if white, she "passed." But now, combined with her apparent maiden name, and the agent's quote, I doubt she was Jewish.]