Everyone has their favorite scene in the Mel Brooks classic, Blazing Saddles. For some, it’s the naughty salacious saloon entertainer played by Madeline Kahn, titillating a room of horny cowboys with the torch-song, “I’m Tired.” The again, mention Blazing Saddles to many people and the first thing that comes to mind is a bunch of bean-eating cowboys farting away around the campfire.
May favorite scene is when an African-American family suddenly finds themselves confronted by a band of Indians. The chief, played by Mel Brooks himself, takes one looks at his potential victims and in perfect vernacular Yiddish exclaims: “Shvartzas! (Blacks!) As one of his warriors raises his tomahawk to kill them the chief stops him, “Zeit mis mishuga?” (Are you crazy?) This Yiddish speaking Indian knows that these people have more tzuris, more problems, because of their skin color than Native Americans do. “They’re darker than us. Woof!”
What makes that scene so hysterical is the idea of American Indians speaking the language of central and east European Jewry. Mishugna? (Crazy?) Maybe not.
For years now, geneticists have been trying to understand the unusually high rate of breast and ovarian cancer among Jewish women. Researchers have identified a genetic mutation marker called BRCA1 that appears in many Jewish women who have been diagnosed with such cancers. Now, Israeli geneticists are reporting that they have found the BRCA1 mutation among Native Americans living in Colorado.
Huh? How could that be? Israeli geneticist have actually known for some time now that the BRCA1 genetic mutation could be found among the descendants of the Jews victimized by the Spanish Inquisition of 1492. The rather significant Jewish population of Spain was at the time given 3 choices: leave the country; convert to Roman Catholicism or be executed. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of Spanish Jews opted for exile. Some ended up exploring the new world discovered by Christopher Columbus who, some historians are now quite sure was likely a Jew himself.
Finding the BRCA1 genetic mutation among American Indians in Colorado confirms three things: 1. Jews were definitely among the early Spanish settlers of Mexico; 2. The European settlers in Mexico inter-married with the indigenous population; 3. Mexican Indians inter-married with native Americans.
Voilà, there are native American’s with kosher genes. But then again, wasn’t it the objective of that famous German Jewish immigrant, Levi Strauss to get everyone in America into Jewish made jeans? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
My favorite scene from Blazing Saddles. Enjoy, abi gezunt