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Evan Kaufmann and I have a lot in common. He’s a grandson of Holocaust survivors, just like me. He has a Jew-fro, just like me. And he’s a professional athlete. Ok, maybe we don’t have that much in common aside from our heritage and hair.
So what makes Kaufmann so special? Well, their aren’t too many professional Jewish athletes out there (playing sports for a living is manual labor, isn’t it?). But Kaufmann goes beyond that. He is a professional hockey player…in Germany. Yes, that’s right. He lives and plays in the country that killed his great-grandparents, standing there awkwardly before each game while the German national anthem plays. Sure, it sounds like the beginning of some joke, “So, an American Jew goes to Germany to play professional hockey,” but Kaufmann is the real deal. You can read this New York Times article for more about his fascinating story.
Anyway, Kaufmann has remarked that his teammates are curious about his religion and ask him questions about it. But I’m sure this isn’t totally due to the fact that he plays on a German team; the same would happen on any team. Jews are rare in the world of sports to begin with. One who is so proud of his heritage and isn’t ashamed to show off his Jewish-ness and his Jew-fro is even more unusual.
Time for another fun-filled edition of Guess the Jew-Fro!
This person has one of the most famous Jew-fros in the world. Whether you love this guy or hate him, everyone in the world at least knows who he is. And his legendary Jew-fro is part of the reason he is so well known…well, there’s that and his distinctive voice. Okay, enough chit-chat, this one should be pretty easy…
Last week, the world lost one of the most iconic Jew-fros in TV history when Robert Hegyes passed away. Though he wasn’t Jewish in real life, he played one on TV on Welcome Back, Kotter. But his character, Juan Epstein, wasn’t your typical Jew. No, he was a Puerto Rican Jew, with an attitude that us Eastern European Jews could only wish to have.
While his Jew-fro wasn’t as impressive as that of his on-screen teacher, Gabe Kaplan, it is still a good afro in its own right. It seems as though Hegyes stayed in his Juan Epstein role long after the show ended, maintaining a faux Jew-fro until his death: