Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jewish and Ginger

Growing up Jewish was hard enough in the southern hemisphere of the US, but being ginger redhead on top of it was extremely hard for me growing up. Father was military and we moved from one place to another so the teasing never changed it was the same no matter what language, culture, or country we lived in. It was the same every where. Cultural reactions have varied from ridicule to admiration; many common stereotypes exist regarding redheads and they are often portrayed as fiery-tempered. Which is quite true for me. Well in all honesty I can say we do have fiery tempers. but probly no more than anyone else does with blonde or brown hair.

 As I grew up I developed a love- hate relationship with my ginger roots (in America all ginger roots are called "red hair" or a "redhead" or even "carrot top"). Funny now that I'm more frum, I do wear a ginger haired sheital (wig) because I have come to embrace my natural hair color more. While I have tried other colors in a sheital (wig), red just looks the best and more natural on me.

In the last year or so I have noticed this my ginger roots are turning pure white and a bit more blonde. I guess it is fading since I'm older. However a  fun fact is red hair never really grey out. It either turns white or fades to a pale strawberry blonde. Somehow I must cope with getting older, and  yes I do wish I had enjoyed my hair more when I was single and appreciate the beauty and rarity of it. Did you know we are 4% of the world's population? Yup we are a rarity indeed. When I was a child my hair was so dark that from a distance that it looked brown but when you walked closer it was obvious I was a redhead gingersnap. 
                                (Me at age 3 -Picture is  Copyright by Rivka Sari 2013)

I remember a few ginger head boys in Hebrew school in Nashville and the teasing oy  gevauld it was murder for them and scary to watch Jewish kids doing it too.The teasing was worse than a ginger girl would endure. Together both redheaded boys and girls however got teased in secular schools for being red haired and for being Jewish which was horrible especially when going through the teen years. That was painful!
I hate to even admit it to myself, but being the mother of two sons, I was ever so glad neither of them were redheads. I just didn't want to think of my own children experiencing the painful growth through their teen years as I had seen other young boys in school and community go through. What scares me the most is very often I notice that when young boys commit suicide due to bullying, a high rate of them are redheads. With this hair color being the rarest on earth, what does that say? Appalling!

A positive note on being a ginger and Jewish that is the rarest of all we are less then 1% of the Jewish population. I like to think we are a rare gem among the rare treasures of the smallest people in the world. That is something to be proud about.  Red hair is also fairly common amongst the Ashkenazi Jewish populations, possibly because of the influx of European DNA over a period of centuries. In Italy, red hair was associated with Italian Jews. Not sure as to why really that is, but also writers from Shakespeare to Dickens would identify Jewish characters by giving them red hair. A book called "The 7 Daughters of Eve" which traces the redheads from the Middle East to Italy, Spain, France, and then northward. So this maybe why the writers did this knowing we may have originated from the middle east. King David was said to have had red hair and a ruddy complexion or pale skin. I have even seen commentaries that state the prophets were redheads also. What is odd is when you see a redhead with brown eyes. That is also rarest to site a redhead with brown eyes and my sister was the lucky one and got the brown eyes. I so wanted brown eyes growing up.

(My brown eyed baby sister Matey Rachel-Picture copyright by Rivka Sari 2013)

Red hair is the rarest natural hair color in humans. The non-tanning skin associated with red hair may have been advantageous in
far-northern climates where sunlight is scarce. Studies by Bodmer and Cavalli-Sforza (1976) hypothesized that lighter skin pigmentation prevents rickets in colder climates by encouraging higher levels of Vitamin D production and also allows the individual to retain heat better than someone with darker skin. speaking of Vitamin D as a redhead ginger top I was told by my doctor we are the lowest in Vitamin D simply because we burn and avoid the sun. So "I do not tan I stroke" as the saying goes according to Woody Allen. However when I started taking 5000IU of vitamin D3 a day in the summer and 10,000IU a day in the winter. I have not had the sniffles of a cold or flu since May 2009. So ginger tops take your Vitamin D3 you will be glad you did it will make you feel good. Yes I do get out in the sun need to tank up for the winter months. It is ok as long as it is no longer that 15-25 mins a day.

Check out all about redheads and how the gene works

This has been considered characteristic of the Jews by some anthropologists. It appears to be not of recent origin, and was not unknown among the ancient Hebrews (Esau was "red, all over like a hairy garment"; Bresheit (Genesis) 25). Andree ("Zur Volkskunde der Juden," pp. 34-40) points out that the fact that red and blond Jews are found in North Africa, Syria, Arabia, Persia, etc., is proof that intermarriage has had little to do with the production of the blond type in eastern Europe. He is of the opinion that there were blonds among the ancient Hebrews, and that the modern red and blond Jews are their descendants. Many Jewish commentaries agrees in this view. The popular Jewish legends do not mention a Khazar kingdom but a kingdom of the red Jews, red being the color of their hair and maybe due to the mongoloid pigmentation of many Khazars."

Well that being said being a Jewish red head ginger top is so rare even when red hair gene occurs in all human ethnic groups. More frequently in some and less so in others. In the case of European Jews it might have something to do with the widespread Indo-European genes ( specifically, Celtic, Germanic and Slavic) in the gene pools of east and central European Ashkenazi and Spanish Shephardic Jews also. Being that we are less than 1% of a population that is 1.3% of the world's population, All I can say is Wow!! We are a miracle and being a redheaded Jewess in this world is a honor I'm not taking it lightly. That love- hate relationship of my hair has changed late in my life to love and I have a whole new level of respect for me.