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April 28: Muhammad Ali’s Grandson

April 27, 2015

Muhammad-Ali-And-Jewish-GrandsonJacob Wertheimer, grandson of American boxing champion Muhammad Ali, became a bar mitsve on this date in 2012 at Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia. The young man is the son of Khaliah Ali, the champ’s daughter, and her husband Spencer Wertheimer. “I was born and raised as a Muslim,” the mother said. “But I’m not into organized religion.... My husband is Jewish. No one put any pressure on Jacob to believe one way or another. He chose this on his own because he felt a kinship with Judaism and Jewish culture.” Grandpa, she added, “was supportive in every way. He followed everything and looked at the Torah very closely. It meant a lot to Jacob that he was there.” Ali, raised as a Baptist, joined the Nation of Islam in 1964 and later converted to Sunni Islam and then Sufism.

“The theme of Jacob’s presentation was inclusiveness and a celebration of diversity.” —Khaliah Ali-Wertheimer