He fought a desperate battle against communism, crafted award-winning plays and books and functioned as an intellectual and spiritual compass for Prague's Jewish community for more than a decade.
But in late June, something extraordinary happened: Karol Sidon was forced out as the community's chief rabbi.
Seven years ago, then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright discovered that more than a dozen of her relatives had perished in the Nazi concentration camps because they, like Albright, were born Jewish.
Albright's discovery raised an even larger question: How many other American leaders have actually been of Jewish descent, but because of records and memories eroded by time, they never knew it?
In the case of Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry -- thought by many to be a Boston Brahmin -- the answer to the question is a convoluted one. It follows a path from a small Czech village near the Polish border to a long-forgotten suicide in a posh Boston hotel. It is the story of a young man who abandoned his Jewish faith, his nation and his name to pursue the American dream.