Little Redhead Jews Crossing the Sambatyon River: A Shared Myth in Jewish and Christian Folklore

For the Public
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
7:00 PM

Congregation Beth Or
239 Welsh Road
Maple Glen, PA 19002

Etty Lassman

The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel are said to live in a distant land across the mysterious Sambatyon River. Speakers of Yiddish know them as “Red Jews” to this day. In the early modern period with its groundbreaking discoveries, paired with a flood of sensational news about unknown lands and exotic peoples, interest in this imaginary people of “little redheads” was intense. The lecture paints a vivid picture of the image of the Red Jews that was in fact shared by Jews and Christians, to both of whom the Red Jews were as real as any other early modern nation. Bringing Jewish and Christian voices into discussion with each other, we are allowed a glimpse into a shared myth in Jewish and Christian folklore that was as common to both communities as disputed between them.


Rebekka Voß

Goethe University

Rebekka Voß teaches Jewish history in Frankfurt. Her research focuses on Jewish cultural history in early modern Europe, with special attention to cultural transfer between Jews and Christians.

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