Is Beate Gordon Jewish?

Beate Gordon was Jewish. Gordon was born Beate Sirota, the daughter of Russian Jewish parents who at 22 almost single-handedly wrote women’s rights into the Constitution of modern Japan, and then kept silent about it for decades. She was the only woman to become a feminist heroine in Japan in modern times.

Beate Sirota Gordon was born in Vienna on October 25, 1923, and educated in Tokyo. She was the only child of Augustine (Horenstein) and noted pianist Leo Sirota, a Ukrainian Jew who had fled war-torn Russia and settled in Austria. Her uncle was conductor Jascha Horenstein. Sirota's family emigrated to Japan in 1929, when her father was accepted to the faculty of the Imperial Academy of Music (Tokyo University of the Arts). She attended the German School in Tokyo for six years, until the age of twelve, when she transferred to the American School (also in Tokyo) as a result of her parents deeming the German School "too Nazi". Beate Sirota Gordon became a naturalized U.S. citizen in January 1945.

Gordon was a civilian attached to General Douglas MacArthur’s army of occupation after World War II and she was the last living member of the American team that wrote Japan’s postwar Constitution, which gave women the legal rights pertaining to marriage, divorce, property and inheritance.

Beate Sirota Gordon died on Sunday, December 30, 2012 at her home in Manhattan at the age of 89.

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