JTA — Scientific American magazine satirized claims in a Turkish children’s book that Charles Darwin was Jewish.
The Jan. 8 article was written in response to reports in October about a series of books aimed at Turkish schoolchildren that describe Darwin as a hook-nosed Jew who kept the company of monkeys.
The books sparked outrage in Turkey and protests from Turkish teachers. The Istanbul-area school district that distributed the books later claimed it was not aware of their content.
In the online article, Steve Mirsky writes that the “Judaic background” of Darwin, who studied to be a priest at Cambridge’s Christ’s College, is “common knowledge in the Jewish community” but “seems to be a shock to many non-Jews.”
Mirsky added that this background influenced the writing of Darwin, who first described biological evolution through natural selection with scientific rigor in his book “On the Origin of Species.”
The manuscript, Mirsky wrote, was originally titled “L’Chaim: The Whole Megillah.”
The official website of Darwin Day, an international organization that celebrates Darwin’s heritage, says his parents are buried at Montford Parish Church. His mother belonged to the Christian Unitarian theological stream and took him as a young child with her to the Unitarian Church.
Darwin, who died in 1882 at the age of 73, was married to Emma Darwin, a devout Christian.