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November 04, 1994 - Image 107

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-11-04

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For years,
Jon Bradley
thought he was
Jewish. Then he
had a conversion
and made aliyah.
Finally, he met up
with his birth
mother and
father, an Arab.



Jon's Sto ry

osn. Brfiatdlse3eificsona
fident yet gentle, left-
wing intellectual
about to enter middle
age. He wears round,
John Lennon-type
spectacles and ties his
hair in a ponytail.
It is impossible to
imagine the traumas
he has had to suffer
throughout his life while
searching for his identity.
First, he had to struggle to make
sense of living in a Jewish envi-
ronment to which he instinctive-
ly felt he did not belong. Then,
after immigrating to Israel and,
to all extent and purpose, being
asked to leave the country, he
had to start searching for his
roots. Finally, he came face to face
with the realization that though
he had been adopted and brought

Gideon Keren is a writer in
Middlesex, England.

up as a Jew, he was, in fact, half-
Mr. Bradley's story first came
to the public's attention three
years ago, when he went to the
High Court and became the first
adult in the United Kingdom to
try and have his adoption order
annulled. In April 1994, the
judge, Sir Stephen Brown, while
sympathetic, ruled that adoption
orders could not be reversed in
later life as "the edifice of adop-
tion would be gravely shaken."
The story begins before Mr.
Bradley was even born. His birth
mother, an English Catholic stu-
dent, became pregnant by a
Kuwaiti Muslim studying for an
education degree at London Uni-
versity. The student returned to
Kuwait without anyone aware
that a baby was due, while Mr.
Bradley's mother felt she had no
choice but to give the baby up for
adoption. This was, after all,
1959. Abortion was illegal, there
was no child welfare for single
mothers and illegitimacy and

single motherhood were social
When her son was three weeks
old, Jon's mother took him on the
train to Manchester and placed
him in a nursing home, pointed
out by a priest she knew. A Jew-
ish couple adopted Jon. They had
been told, for reasons unknown,
that the baby's birth parents were
"It was so simple," Mr. Bradley
says today. "I went into the back
door of the nursing home an Arab
baby and came out the front door
a Jewish baby."
One year later, while stopping
over on his way to America, Mr.
Bradley's Kuwaiti father met up
with his natural mother and dis-
covered what had happened. By
then, Jon Bradley was being
raised as Ian Rosenthal in Tox-
teth, a working-class Protestant
district in Liverpool.
However, right from the start,
Mr. Bradley somehow felt he did
not quite fit in. Most of his school-
mates came from professional,

Jon Bradley

middle-class, Jewish back-
grounds; his father worked as an
unskilled laborer on the shop floor
of Lucas Aerospace.
Jon also found it difficult to get
on with his adoptive parents, both
of whom are no longer alive. He
remembers his father as a short-
tempered bigot. "He would liter-
ally cry about the Holocaust and
Jewish suffering, yet in the same
breath would attack the
`schvartzes.' "
Mr. Bradley has fonder mem-
ories of his adoptive mother, who,
he says, "was a real Jewish moth-
er who only wanted the best for
me but had had to go on her
hands and knees to get me. As a
result, she was twice as protec-
tive, twice-as smothering, twice
as emotional."
He remembers he was told not
to play with goyishe children. Yet
by the time he was 8, the family
were the only Jews left on the
The first real indication that
JON'S STORY page 104

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