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Is Pete Seeger Jewish?

Pete Seeger was not Jewish. On January 27, 2014 Pete Seeger, died in New York City at 94.

Pete Seger, the American folk singer, was the author or co-author of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" (with Joe Hickerson), "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" (composed with Lee Hays of the Weavers), and "Turn, Turn, Turn!", which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement and are still sung throughout the world.

Seeger was born at the French Hospital, Midtown Manhattan. His Yankee-Protestant family, which Seeger called "enormously Christian, in the Puritan, Calvinist New England tradition", traced its genealogy back over 200 years. A paternal ancestor, Karl Ludwig Seeger, a physician from W├╝rttemberg, Germany, had emigrated to America during the American Revolution and married into an old New England family in the 1780s. Pete's father, the Harvard-trained composer and musicologist Charles Louis Seeger, Jr., established the first musicology curriculum in the U.S. at the University of California in 1913, helped found the American Musicological Society, and was a key founder of the academic discipline of ethnomusicology. Pete's mother, Constance de Clyver Edson, raised in Tunisia and trained at the Paris Conservatory of Music, was a concert violinist and later a teacher at the Juilliard School.

Seeger was one of the folksingers most responsible for popularizing the spiritual "We Shall Overcome" (also recorded by Joan Baez) that became the acknowledged anthem of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement.

Pete Seeger first visited Israel in 1964 and spent time on an Israeli kibbutz -- several in fact. Seeger performed Israeli folk tunes with the Weavers in the 1950s as part of the larger folk revival he was helping to champion. And just two years ago, he recorded a video for the Jewish retreat center Isabella Freedman that recalls the three questions posed by the Jewish sage Hillel.

In 2011, after a report that Seeger supported a boycott of Israel, he acknowledged to JTA.org that he “probably said” he supported such a measure, but that his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were evolving. 

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