The Hidden Jews Of New Mexico and Beyond

No time to elaborate today, but the Seattle Times just published this article about DNA testing and how it has revealed an Albquerque reverend to be a descendandant of the Cohanim. The reverend then tested 78 relatives, 30 of whom had the same genetic marker of ancient Jewish priests. Full story.

A reader sent this link, the site of Nan Rubin, who broadcasted a series of radio shows about the secret Jewish history of New Mexico.

davey crockettAnd then there’s Donald N. Panther-Yates of Georgia Southern University and, who published this piece on crypto-Jews in Tennesee, Kentucky and North Carolina, including information on Jewish Native American chiefs (and there were many of them!) It’s a crazy long and at times convoluted read (plus some funky html issues), but there’s some amazing stuff there.

All this should keep all you crypto-philes busy for awhile!

*Photo of American pioneer and Jewish Melungian Davey Crockett c/o

DNA Reveals We’re All Kissing Cousins

four matriarchsCNN reports that 3.5 million Ashkenazic Jews have descended from the same four women.

No, their names probably weren’t Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, but hey — four biblical matriarchs, four distinct DNA prints — it’s a lovely “kabbalistic” coincidence.

According to Dr. Doron Behar of the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, the four Jewish mothers lived somewhere in Europe within the last 2000 years, but not necessarily in the same place at the same time.

Each woman left a genetic signature that shows up in their descendants today, he and colleagues say in a report published online by the American Journal of Human Genetics. Together, their four signatures appear in about 40 percent of Ashkenazi Jews, while being virtually absent in non-Jews and found only rarely in Jews of non-Ashkenazi origin, the researchers said.

Interesting stuff. But if these women are responsible for the preponderance of our bad teeth and bad eyesight, it’s just about inbreeding, isn’t it?

*”Four Matriarchs” pin available at

Skipped the Diaspora?

Ha’aretz reports that archaeologists have found the remains of a Jewish community that was active after the fall of the Second Temple.

The findings – said to be the first indication of an active Jewish settlement in the area of Jerusalem after the city fell in 70 C.E. – contradict the common wisdom that no Jewish settlement survived the Roman destruction of the city. However, some Israeli archaeologists have argued that Jewish settlement revived and continued to exist even after the destruction.

The site being excavated is along the planned route of new light-rail system to Jerusalem. Full story.

Sarkozy: Not Good for the Jews…or the French

sarkozySo maybe you’ve heard by now that roaming bands of Muslim teenagers have set France and other parts of Europe on fire. If not, you probably shouldn’t be wasting your time here.

It sounds like a European Semite’s worst nightmare, but so far the rioting isn’t considered a “Jewish” problem.

Call it equal opportunity violence and vandalism. Isn’t that a relief?

But I did say “so far.” The reason this whole mess has gone on so long — two weeks adds up to a whole lotta fried cars — is because of political pettiness between lame-duck Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, the “hyper-ambitious, megalomaniacal” Interior Minister with designs on the French Presidency. Chirac chose to sit back the first four days of unrest and while Sarkozy fanned the flames by saying he was going to “clean up the scum,” referring to the torch-wielding teens of North African, sub-Saharan African and Arab descent.

According to Doug Ireland, that translation is way too kind:

“Karcher” is the well-known brand name of a system of cleaning surfaces by super-high-pressure sand-blasting or water-blasting that very violently peals away the outer skin of encrusted dirt — like pigeon-shit — even at the risk of damaging what’s underneath. To apply this term to young human beings and proffer it as a strategy is a verbally fascist insult and, as a policy proposed by an Interior Minister, is about as close as one can get to hollering “ethnic cleansing” without actually saying so.

Ouch, Sarko. So while only a couple of synagogues have been slightly damaged during France’s “national problem”, the winds could turn quickly if someone within the disorganization decides to hone in on the fact that Sarkozy is Jewish.

Do I sound paranoid? More and more everyday…

Thieving Guv’nor Hires Jewish Representation

alameiyeseighaWhile I’m on the subject of Africa today, reports that Governor Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Nigeria, on trial for money laundering and various forms of corruption unfortunately so common in African politics, dumped his Nigerian counsel in favor of “Jewish lawyer”.

We’ll see if the choice works for him: The Nigerian Tribune reports that Mr. Corker Binning, Alamieyeseigha’s new representation, would like to have the trial moved from London to Nigeria, presumably to give his client a more sympathetic shake (strangely, many Nigerians still support their governor in spite of his flashy wealth and their underfunded infrastructure and schools.)

Nice try, buddy: The trial, now postponed to Dec. 8, should open in London as planned.

Abayudaya Photo Album

abayudayaThe BBC recently posted this photo essay about the Jews of Uganda, known as the Abayudaya. (Hat tip to my mom.)

You might assume they’re a “lost tribe” like the Ethiopians, but this small sect arose in the early 1900’s after Ugandan leader Semei Kakungulu broke away from the British Christians and began following the ways of the Old Testament. Even though he’d never met another Jew, Kakungulu circumcised himself and his sons and adhered to his strict interpretation of Torah. (Read more about their complex and fascinating history here.)

I’ve had their CD on my Shabbat rotation for a year now, and this is one inspiring, grooving group of Jews.

Magnolias, Mint Juleps and Midrash

jewish magnoliaWhenever I mention the fascinating history and dynamic modern communities of Jews in Georgia, Tennesee, Mississippi, people look at me like I’ve just brought the ancient civilizations of Mars into the conversation. For heaven’s sake: The city of Atlanta boasts one of the biggest Jewish populations as well as one of best Jewish magazines around!

Friends, there are Jews in them thar’ red states, and they’ve been there longer than most. (Mikve Israel in Savannah, Georgia, where I married a Jewish Southern son, is the third-oldest congregation in the country.)

But really, you don’t need to take my Californian word for it — you only need to read Deep South Jewish Voice‘s informed blog on “jewish news with a southern accent.” Obviously, these days Jewish news coming from the South is mostly about the outpouring of tzedakah and the rebuilding of communities that have been damaged by the hurricane bee-otches; but what better proof that tikkun olam is alive and well below the Mason-Dixon?

The Jews of Appalachia

Do any of you remember the Lost Colony of Roanoke from elementary school? American history— as it was taught in public school in a red state— was never my bag, but the tale of an early settlement whose population vanished without a trace save one creepy word carved into a pole has stuck with me since third grade. The accompanying illustration to the lesson was particularly spooky: a group of frightened Puritan settlers dressed like Thanksgiving pilgrims before they were presumably kidnapped by the savages of the New World and forced to breed non-white, wild children.

melungeonBut what if those lost souls weren’t Mayflower WASPy-types bent on settling the New World in the name of Her Majesty, but a band of “religious castaways” who figured facing a wilderness and attacks by the natives was way better than pogroms and “ethnic cleansing” going on across the Atlantic?

Yep. The first American settlers were Jews. Continue reading

Who You Callin’ Whitey?

Carlton WatsonFrom PRNewswire: “Of the nation’s 6 million Jews, roughly 1.2 million, or 20 percent,
consist of African-American, Asian-American, Latino, Sephardic (of Spanish and
Portuguese descent), Middle Eastern, and mixed-race Jews.”

These statistics should help dissolve the Ashkenazic-centric notion that all American Jews have Yiddish-speaking grandparents from Minsk.

The findings are excerpted from The Institute for Jewish & Community Research’s new book, In Every Tongue, and include the following “forgotten” groups:

* Latinos now reclaiming their Jewish roots after their ancestors were forced into hiding during the Spanish Inquisition. Once known as “conversos,” they have recently coined the term “reversos.”
* Long-established communities of African-American Jews in many cities,
such as Chicago and New York, with their own synagogues and adjunct communities.
* Nearly 1 million spouses, children, parents, siblings of “official Jews”, many of whom, according to the research, “practice some Jewish customs and identify with Jewish issues.

This, of course, supports our conspiracy theory that everyone will eventually be Jewish, even by association, even if they don’t know it.

Photo c/o Black and Jewish Online Store