“At Least I’m Not a Khazar”

I had an interesting encounter today.

I arrived at the park where I usually work out, and a couple of black Americans were there. After exchanging pleasantries, and chit chatting about the park equipment and where we’re from in the US, one of them asked me:

“So what are you? Mexican?”

“No,” I replied, “just a White guy.”

I don’t normally like going into my ethnicity with strangers, or even acquaintances… but he persisted.

“There are a lot of Mexicans on the West coast, where you’re from. You’re too dark to be just a White guy. What’s in your ancestry that gives you that color?”

He was being friendly about it, so I revealed that I’m Jewish.

“Oh! That explains it. I’m Jewish too! I’m a HEBREW! You and me are both Hebrew!!”

I had to bite my tongue, because clearly, he considered himself “Hebrew” as in “Black Hebrew Israelites.” No good could come of arguing over that. I did explain that the tropical sun makes me darker, as one would expect, but he continued.

“No, there’s more to it than that, and you see, the REAL Jews were people of color, not like those KHAZARS.”

He pronounced the word “Khazar” in a funny way, something like “Khayzer.” Again, I had to bite my tongue; he didn’t need to know that I’m Ashkenazi, and that my entire family is “Khazar.”

Nice to know that I’m a REAL JEW. My Ancestry.com results of “100% European Jew” can only go so far, and we do need the stamp of approval from a Black Hebrew Israelite.

There is a bit of truth to what he says; ancient Jews were neither black nor white, but in between, like a cedar tree. In other words, “olive-skinned.” From a purely racial/ethnic point of view, those few Ashkenazim who maintain a natural olive complexion are most likely the “real Jews” – barring the possibility that we got it from southern Italy or some other non-Jewish source.

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3 Responses to “At Least I’m Not a Khazar”

  1. Peter Whittaker says:

    You might like to think about skin colour in terms of distance from the equator. It is my understanding that in both India and China skin colour pales as you move north, so in China for example he people of the ice city, Heliongjang are at or close to white, where those in south china are much darker. So too if you look skin colour in Africa up through Europe grades from black to pink blonde in Scandinavia. A few years ago I read that Africans were showing symptoms of vitamin D defiency in Sweden, so perhaps a lighter colour skin was a survival characteristic back in the days when twenty miles was a fair days travel.

  2. Jhurcanus says:

    Likely there was lots of Euro admixture at least as early as second temple Israel, possibly earlier (not to go back to the Natufians and ME hunter gather inputs). Also the converted “god fearers” in Anatolia, Alexandria and the Italian Peninsula could have had plenty of Canaanite inputs as well, which will take a whole lot of sampling to tease out from Israelites if ever- we know a number of populations that were converted during the reign of the Hasmoneans- Edomim being the largest population.

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