Jewish Khazars

Are Ashkenazi Jews descended from the Khazars? It’s a hot question. Many people, both Jews and non-Jews, have thought so, but nowadays it has become anti-Semitic to say it. I’m not exactly sure when it became taboo to question scientific research. At one time, many years ago, I thought Arthur Koestler made a slam-dunk case … Read more

Asser Levy in New Amsterdam

Leading up to Thanksgiving, a post on Twitter reminded me of Steve Brodner’s 2013 piece on Asser Levy (?-1680).  Asser Levy is the first documented Jew in North America, and his been called the Founding Father of American Jewry. He might have been one of the Jewish refugees from the Dutch colony of Recife in … Read more

Jews in the New World

An article in The Atlantic caught my attention. We’re going ’round again with conversos and crypto-Jews, and once again the fantasy is just as stronger or stronger than the proved reality. In 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella ordered all Jews in Spain to convert to Catholicism or leave the kingdom. Those who converted became known as … Read more

Ancient Israelites

If you live long enough everything you learned as a child will change. Or at least that’s the way it feels. When I was growing up in the 1960s in Utah and Nevada, I thought we were all pretty clear about the Jews and Palestinians. They were both descended from the Israelites in the Bible. … Read more