Every time I am in a majority-Jewish setting, such as in a synagogue, an Israel event, or TJ MaXX when they are having their 50% off sale, I get the feeling that other people don’t think that I’m Jewish.  I usually get this feeling because people tell me they don’t think I look Jewish.  In one particularly harrowing incident at Holy Land Restaurant in Northeast Philadelphia about two years ago, I spoke to the waitress in Hebrew.

פלאפל שלכם טוב מאוד.  מתגעגעת אותו מארץ.  קשה למצות אותו בחול” , I said, smiling at her.
(Translation: Your falafel is most excellent.  Oh, how I pine for falafel from Eretz Israel.  It is hard to find such sustenance in the New World.)

She started.  “You Jewiiish,”  Bracha (Or maybe it was  Vered) asked me.

“Ken,” I replied, a bit flustered.

“Bat you don look Jewiiish!  Nat even a little beet!”

I burrowed down into my thinah pool of shame.  Just because I looked like an Aryan poster child didn’t mean I had to go through this kind of discrimination.


This portrait of me is from when I was in the seventh grade. In 1942.Â

What is my point in telling this story, except to show off that I can spell mitgaga’at in Hebrew?  Now, blonde Russian Jews are becoming more accepted in Israeli society, going so far as to being hot in the Knesset!  Ok, so the blonde in this story, Anastasiya Michaeli Samuelson, is actually an ethnically Russian convert to Judaism.  But  it’s a start.


Hottie with a lobby.Â

The Forward writes about her,

A Russian-born convert to Judaism, former beauty queen and celebrated TV personality, Michaeli is, in many ways, the perfect bright and sunny face for Lieberman’s highly controversial political party, one often accused of advancing a racist agenda. Michaeli, a kind of younger Sigourney Weaver look-alike, adamantly rejects the charge. “I am not a racist,” she insisted.

The pixie-haired blonde immigrated to Israel from St. Petersburg in 1997 and converted to Judaism in 2000. She wed her husband, Yossi Samuelson, a Latvian-born Israeli Jew 10 years her senior, twice: once in a Russian civil ceremony after the birth of their first child, when Samuelson was employed in Moscow by Tadiran, an Israeli electrical supplier, and a second time after her conversion, when she and Samuelson already had three children and were living in Israel.

Influenced by her Soviet upbringing with its emphasis on “patriotism” and “loyalty,” and its view of Judaism as a nationality, Michaeli doesn’t distinguish between being a good Jew and an Israeli patriot. “Judaism is at the basis of why we have this country to begin with. It’s not just a religion,” she said.

So inspired was I by her story, that I decided to see if I could follow in her footsteps (minus the part where the Forward says that she’s a lot like Sarah Palin, because that’s just crazy.)

Photo 32

What’s that?  No?  Don’t quit your day job?  Ok, ok.I’ll just live vicariously through Anastasiya  for now.

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  • Well maybe an Israeli yoredet (possibly of North African descent) doesn’t think you look Jewish.

    But you look like tens of thousands of nice Ashkenazi “shaina meidalach”.

    Talmudic and medieval sources already mention blond haired Jews (in the context of the various “leprosy” skin conditions that made one impure back then, and in other contexts).

  • 1. I’ve been informed that it is now offensive to call people who once lived in Russian and are now living in Israel “Russian”, and have been “asked” to refer to them as “former Russian Israelis”.

    2. Don’t you know looking like a shiksa is supposed to be a compliment?

  • Mia,
    Who informed you of this? That’s crazy. Just call them Rooskies for added effect. It seems us Russian Jews are getting a little snooty up in Rishon LeZion. Also, thanks for the compliment, I guess? I’ll add it to my compliment shelf, where B-D’s currently sits. 😉

  • Thanks for your vote of confidence, Froylein. I will make sure to ask for your baking as the official food of the campaign.

  • Oh the horror of being a pretty blonde.It most be hard hard life you live.But look on the bright side you can always hang out with Ivanka and go shopping in Beverly Hills.

  • … my life really changed after I bought a copy of “Talmudic Dating Tips”. It’s available in paperback.

    Seriously – what other Halachic topic involves hair color?

    The point is that way back then they were already including the reality of blond Yidden in their halachic deliberations.

    So just ignore all that “Ashkenazim come from the Khazars” nonsense put forth by jealous brunettes.

  • vicki, your posts here always make me LOL, no joke.

    you know, i’ve always had a soft spot for yisrael beitenu, even though i know that’s not very PC.

  • Vicki, I’ve got my equipment ready + an electric samovar and a Lomonosov tea set. Let’s go for it.

  • Hi vivki, I’m in the same boat as you. Online people tend to dismiss me as a possible nazi trying to perpetrate a Jew. So I just tell them I’m a Khazar, a white person who’s family convert to Judaism about 1200 years ago. 😉