David Copperfield

David Copperfield

Copperfield in 2014, photo by Prphotos

Birth Name: David Seth Kotkin

Place of Birth: Metuchen, New Jersey, U.S.

Date of Birth: September 16, 1956

Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish, Yemenite Jewish

David Copperfield is an American illusionist, magician, and actor. He co-starred in the film Terror Train. His father, Hyman Kotkin, who was American-born, was of Ukrainian Jewish and Russian Jewish descent. His mother, who was born in Israel and was also Jewish, was of at least part Yemenite Jewish ancestry.

David has a daughter with his partner, French model Chloe Gosselin.

David’s paternal grandfather was named Sam Kotkin. Sam was born in Ukraine.

David’s paternal grandmother was named Bessie/Esther. Bessie was born in Russia.

David’s maternal grandfather was named Judah Josef Gispan. Judah was born in Sana’a, Yemen.

David’s maternal grandmother was named Esther Cohen. Esther was born in Jerusalem, Israel.

Sources: Genealogy of David Copperfield – https://www.geni.com

Obituaries of David’s parents – https://www.findagrave.com

ethnic

Curious about ethnicity

25 Responses

  1. Yeravam says:

    Because he’s not Russian. He’s Russian-*Jewish*.

  2. Yeravam says:

    “i was so right with my opinion ! i knew that he has more than ASHKANAZI JEWISH descent”

    Why? Because he’s dark? You do know that many Ashkenazi Jews (full ones) are darker than he is, right? We come from the Middle East too.

    • passingtime85 says:

      Ashkenazi specifically and explicitly do not come from the middle east. Half my family is Ashkenazi and they’re all lighter skinned, light hair, lots or red and blond/light brown hair with light eyes. The black hair and brown eyes are the minority. Most of the darker haired members of the extended family have Mizrahi Jewish heritage.

      • Yeravam says:

        “Ashkenazi specifically and explicitly do not come from the middle east.”

        Except we do. There are countless DNA studies confirming our origin. We are on average *at least* half Middle Eastern.

        Sorry.

        “Half my family is Ashkenazi and they’re all lighter skinned, light hair, lots or red and blond/light brown hair with light eyes.”

        My family is entirely Ashkenazi and most could easily pass as natives in Lebanon, Egypt, or even Yemen. To the point that strangers ask them for directions in Arabic all the time.

        There are many, many Ashkenazi Jews who are indistinguishable from other MENA people. On the flipside, plenty of non-Jewish Levantines have light-skin and eyes. It’s not proof of anything.

        • passingtime85 says:

          If you gathered all Ashkenazi people and looked at alone phenotype traits alone they’d be lighter rather than darker by a majority. Every time I’ve ever been around Hasidic people in large groups, it was a sea of white with a little olive thrown in.

          Ashkenazi s are specifically European in origin. When rabbis started naming the section of Jewry around the world the Jews from mid Europe were called named because of the proximity to Germany.

          Ashkenazi show up as genetically similar to their mid east cousins, but they are phenotypically dissimilar. Darker people of Ashkenazi heritage are less common than lighter ones.

          • Vik27 says:

            Oh really what about Donna Feldman , David Proval, Nev Schulman , Amir Arison , Mark Margolis, Idan Raichel, Ranaan Gissin , Josef Gerstmann, Maurycy Gottlieb, Joel Smollett, Gina Bellman, Adam Sandler, Jean Jacques Goldman, Hans Berliner, Aaron Swartz, Jeremy Stoppelman, Sasha Baron Cohen, they are all dark Ashkenazim. Ashkenazim are levantine in origin , this is what DNa has proven .My paternal haplogroup is J1a which common among Gulf Arabs from Yemen , Saudi Arabia and UAE. Jews in general are middle eastern. In fact the Ashkenazim side of my family are all brown and olive skinned , most look Arabic, Armenian , some Sicilian, Italian and Greek and some look Moroccan. Ashkenazim are Mediterranean Diaspora Jews.

        • Yeravam says:

          “If you gathered all Ashkenazi people and looked at alone phenotype traits alone they’d be lighter rather than darker by a majority. Every time I’ve ever been around Hasidic people in large groups, it was a sea of white with a little olive thrown in.”

          Not all Hasidic people are Ashkenazi, for one thing.

          Two, I’ve lived around Ashkenazi Jews my entire life. I am one. And most have, at bare minimum, a Mediterranean look, if not an explicitly Middle Eastern one. I know only a handful that are blonde and blue eyed.

          Three, I’ve visited Maronite churches and hung out with Druze when I was in Israel. A very large percentage have light-features. Samaritans have an even greater proportion of light-features (e.g. blonde/red hair, fair skin, etc) than Ashkenazim do, and they have ZERO European ancestry.

          “Ashkenazi s are specifically European in origin. When rabbis started naming the section of Jewry around the world the Jews from mid Europe were called named because of the proximity to Germany.”

          Ashkenazi, Sephardi, etc are terms denoting migration patterns, NOT origin. We are called Ashkenazim because our ancestors *settled* north of the Rhine in the Middle Ages. That doesn’t make us of European origin. We arrived to Europe because we were exiled/taken as slaves from the Middle East. We’re Middle Eastern. Not Europeans.

          Ashkenazi is a diasporic identifier, not an ethnic one.

          “Ashkenazi show up as genetically similar to their mid east cousins, but they are phenotypically dissimilar. Darker people of Ashkenazi heritage are less common than lighter ones.”

          Ashkenazim are lighter on average than other Levantines (as a result of centuries living in a cold climate), but the difference is not significant enough to warrant any kind of “racial” distinction. On the whole, if one tried to parse Ashkenazi Jews from Lebanese, Syrians, etc just based on looks, there would be many embarrassing mistakes made.

        • passingtime85 says:

          “Not all Hasidic people are Ashkenazi, for one thing.”

          Yep not all Hasidic people are Ashkenazi, but most are, probably past 60% and that’s a generous low ball figure.

          “Two, I’ve lived around Ashkenazi Jews my entire life. I am one. And most have, at bare minimum, a Mediterranean look, if not an explicitly Middle Eastern one. I know only a handful that are blonde and blue eyed.”

          I have as well. I didn’t say all Ashkenazi have blonde hair and blue eyes I said MY family has light features that out number the individuals with darker traits. I’d say 75% fall into blonde or red or light brown hair, vs the 25% that have that deep dark brown-black hair. Blue and green and grey eyes heavily outweigh brown eyes however, with the brown eyes representing probably 10% of my relatives. Just a personal family anecdotal statistic. MY family doesn’t have the Mid-east look overall in terms of skin tone/complexion.

          Most people with Ashkenazi heritage I’ve met though don’t have that look, they sometimes may have a vague olive Mediterranean look, but they could pass for most any people from southern Europe but it’s not a typical West Asian or North African look. Most I’ve met are pale or pink skinned.

          “Three, I’ve visited Maronite churches and hung out with Druze when I was in Israel. A very large percentage have light-features. Samaritans have an even greater proportion of light-features (e.g. blonde/red hair, fair skin, etc) than Ashkenazim do, and they have ZERO European ancestry.”

          Samaritans huh, what exactly is this great proportion to you? There’s less than 1000 of them, and they the overwhelming majority seem very similar phenotypically to the surrounding populations.

          “Ashkenazi, Sephardi, etc are terms denoting migration patterns, NOT origin. We are called Ashkenazim because our ancestors *settled* north of the Rhine in the Middle Ages. That doesn’t make us of European origin. We arrived to Europe because we were exiled/taken as slaves from the Middle East. We’re Middle Eastern. Not Europeans.

          Ashkenazi is a diasporic identifier, not an ethnic one. ”

          I know what origin means. I know where the Hebrew people originated. I know the etymology of the words that describe the current major demographics of the Jewish people.

          It cannot be ignored however that for first few hundred of years of settlement and relocation, Jewish men took wives from Greece, Italy, Germany, etc etc. Then then closed off the gene pool and became very endogamous. This made a genetic bottle neck and really changed the phenotype of the Jewish people that have resided in Europe firmly for over 1700 years. It made a highly distinctive ethnic group, that has distinct genetic markers, culture, and even phenotypical traits.

          Race falls into 1 of 4 maybe 5 mega groups, it’s an overall wide stroke designation that doesn’t mean much. Ethnicity though is something that can be a little more descriptive and accurate to a point. There’s clear differences between people of Ashkenazi heritage vs people solely of the middle eastern descent.

        • andrew says:

          Well it’s obvious someone who cites small ethno-religious groups like Samaritans as reference and claim that 60-70% of Jews look like Ben Bernanke is a troll (and most likely not Jewish).

        • Yeravam says:

          “Yep not all Hasidic people are Ashkenazi, but most are, probably past 60% and that’s a generous low ball figure.”

          Many are converts, Sephardim, even Mizrahim. An even larger number come from mixed families. My own family among them. Point being, you won’t know someone’s true background just by looking at their clothing.

          I live in one of the most Jewish/Ashkenazi areas of the country, and almost every time I’ve met someone who was fully Ashkenazi (i.e. they didn’t have any non-Jewish or convert parents), they either had a broadly Mediterranean look or an explicitly Middle Eastern one. Maybe 25% had an unambiguously European look, but again, that’s not at all uncommon among Levantines.

          My anecdotes probably won’t convince you, and yours won’t convince me. So this is a useless argument.

          “I have as well. I didn’t say all Ashkenazi have blonde hair and blue eyes I said MY family has light features that out number the individuals with darker traits. ”

          You said…

          A. Ashkenazi Jews are not Middle Eastern
          B. Middle Eastern looks are exceptionally rare among Ashkenazim

          Both of these claims are demonstrably false. We are Middle Eastern, and many of us do look the part. These are facts, however much anti-Semites (like andrew) wish they weren’t.

          “I’d say 75% fall into blonde or red or light brown hair, vs the 25% that have that deep dark brown-black hair. Blue and green and grey eyes heavily outweigh brown eyes however, with the brown eyes representing probably 10% of my relatives. Just a personal family anecdotal statistic. MY family doesn’t have the Mid-east look overall in terms of skin tone/complexion.”

          Yours doesn’t, but mine absolutely does. As do countless other Ashkenazi families. Your experience isn’t the norm here.

          “Most people with Ashkenazi heritage I’ve met though don’t have that look, they sometimes may have a vague olive Mediterranean look, but they could pass for most any people from southern Europe but it’s not a typical West Asian or North African look. Most I’ve met are pale or pink skinned.”

          Most of the Levant is like this, especially the aforementioned groups. Very few look straight up Arabian or Egyptian. My point is that if you were take Ashkenazim and Samaritans, Lebanese, Druze, etc and put them side by side, most wouldn’t be able to tell a difference.

          “Samaritans huh, what exactly is this great proportion to you? There’s less than 1000 of them, and they the overwhelming majority seem very similar phenotypically to the surrounding populations.”

          If you’ve ever been to Israel and visited Samaritan areas (as I have), you would know this isn’t true.

          I cited them because they’ve been a strictly endogamous population for more than 2000 years. This means they are more representative of a baseline, pre-Arab Levantine look. How few in number they are is irrelevant.

          Many Samaritans I’ve met in person and seen pictures of online have light hair and light skin. Blonde and red hair is far from uncommon.

          “I know what origin means. I know where the Hebrew people originated. I know the etymology of the words that describe the current major demographics of the Jewish people.”

          Well, you denied the fact that we are Middle Eastern in your first reply. So…

          “It cannot be ignored however that for first few hundred of years of settlement and relocation, Jewish men took wives from Greece, Italy, Germany, etc etc. Then then closed off the gene pool and became very endogamous. This made a genetic bottle neck and really changed the phenotype of the Jewish people that have resided in Europe firmly for over 1700 years.”

          1. Jewish men in Europe took wives from Italy and Greece, not Germany. The Germanic component in Ashkenazim is minimal at best. Genetically, Ashkenazim are still 80-90% Middle Eastern/Mediterranean (50-60% Middle Eastern, 30% Greco-Roman Med).

          2. Although our phenotypes did change, it didn’t change significantly. We certainly looked distinct enough that we stood out in our host lands. We were well-known (and hated) for having dark skin, long noses, and other decidedly Middle Eastern-Mediterranean traits.

          3. Centuries of diaspora doesn’t cancel out our Middle Eastern identity/origins, nor does intermixing with foreign populations (which almost every group on Earth has done to some extent).

          “It made a highly distinctive ethnic group, that has distinct genetic markers, culture, and even phenotypical traits.”

          We’re a sub-ethnicity, not a distinct ethnic group. We belong to the larger Jewish ethnicity which is (drumroll) Middle Eastern. Our phenotypes and culture are still largely Levantine. We share more in common with other Jewish groups, and Samaritans, than we do with any European population.

          “Race falls into 1 of 4 maybe 5 mega groups, it’s an overall wide stroke designation that doesn’t mean much. Ethnicity though is something that can be a little more descriptive and accurate to a point. There’s clear differences between people of Ashkenazi heritage vs people solely of the middle eastern descent.”

          I never said we were genetically pure Middle Eastern. I said we were ethnically Middle Eastern people (which we are), and that our origins are in the Middle East (and they are). You denied this in your original reply.

          We spent many centuries in Europe. We mixed to a degree with Europeans. And our culture was influenced to a degree by European culture. We are also a Middle Eastern ethnic group. We are largely phenotypically Middle Eastern/Mediterranean. Our core culture is Middle Eastern. It is possible for all of these things to be true at once.

          “Well it’s obvious someone who cites small ethno-religious groups like Samaritans as reference and claim that 60-70% of Jews look like Ben Bernanke is a troll (and most likely not Jewish).”

          You can’t discredit my views, so you try to discredit me as a person. Typical anti-Semitic maneuver.

          I cited them because they are 100% Levantine. And I didn’t just cite them. I cited Maronites as well, and they are a much bigger group. Other Levantine groups (like Jordanians and Palestinians for example) have a much higher proportion of Arabian and African admixture, which Samaritans, Maronites, et al lack.

        • passingtime85 says:

          Yeravam

          We can refute, retort, and counter everything we think we know on the subject. It’s like you said, useless. I do have to point out however you misquoted me several times and inferred the meaning behind my statements and you were incorrect, in your assumptions.

          Your mind is dead set to say Ashkenazi Jews have an overly Mediterranean look and even a Mid east look. You think the schism between looks in the Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi, and I bet you’d you’d through in the Maghrebi, is such a small one, no one could tell the difference from one to the other.

          You also seem to believe people could not tell the difference between the Ashkenazis, that currently reside in Israel, and the people in the local surrounding countries/regions. Mind you these people that have not have a mass influx of European genes for the last several thousand years, unless you think the crusades severely impacted their gene pool. You also keep bizarrely suggesting light features is common throughout the middle east, which I don’t understand, what percentage wise is “common” to you? Regardless, this is what I have inferred about your opinion on the topic.

          I disagree, and most people on this site would agree with me. Most people that have any interest in/or pay attention to heritage, would say, ethnicities such as the Ashkenazim have a few common traits or looks. The data is irrefutable, beyond personal opinion, 65-81% of the Ashkenazi MT-DNA heritage is from European origin. That is a at such a high percentage, that it would be impossible for the genetic influence not to effect the phenotype, and change it from the founding lineages of the mid East.

          People can disagree until they’re blue in the face, it does not make, you, or I, or them, correct.

          It’s not racist to claim people of East Asian descent have monolids by an overwhelming majority. It’s not racist to say Ashkenazis look dissimilar when standing next to their distant Middle Eastern cousins, it’s just a fact.

          Maybe you don’t see things that way, that’s fine, others people do see it my way. I’ll use an analogy. You may look at a color blind test and not see the number in the pattern, I do, and others do as well. It does not make either party incorrect, it just means we see the world differently.

          The discussion has hit an impasse.

        • Yeravam says:

          “I do have to point out however you misquoted me several times and inferred the meaning behind my statements and you were incorrect, in your assumptions.”

          Erm…

          “Ashkenazi specifically and explicitly do not come from the middle east.”

          ^These were your words.

          “Your mind is dead set to say Ashkenazi Jews have an overly Mediterranean look and even a Mid east look.”

          I’m not “dead set” on anything. Everything I’ve pointed out in here comes from my own experiences, which are quite extensive.

          “You think the schism between looks in the Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi, and I bet you’d you’d through in the Maghrebi, is such a small one, no one could tell the difference from one to the other.”

          I never said this. I said the schism between Ashkenazi Jews and Maronites, Samaritans, Sephardim is small. Mizrahim, particularly Yemenites and Persian Jews, are a different story. The latter two groups are noticeably darker than Levantines because they have Arabian and Persian admixture.

          Ashkenazim and the other groups, however, share more than half of their genetics in common. Ashkenazim share no less than 80% of their ancestry in common with North African and Syrian Jews. So it’s an obvious given that they will be mostly indistinguishable from one another.

          “You also seem to believe people could not tell the difference between the Ashkenazis, that currently reside in Israel, and the people in the local surrounding countries/regions.”

          This I did say, because it’s true. I’ve seen it first hand. The only exceptions would be…

          1. Palestinians and Jordanians, both of whom were more impacted by Arabians and sub-Saharan Africans. This is why they cluster in the Gulf with Saudis, Yemenis, and Bedouin, rather than in the Levant.

          2. In cases where the person looks stereotypically “Ashkenazi” e.g. Andy Samberg, Matt Kirshen, Josh Sussman.

          But nothing much beyond that. The idea that Ashkenazim are largely European in appearance with no visible roots in the Levant is a very recent one, and has little to no basis in reality.

          “Mind you these people that have not have a mass influx of European genes for the last several thousand years, unless you think the crusades severely impacted their gene pool.”

          There is no evidence that Crusaders had any substantive, lasting genetic impact on Samaritans, Lebanese Christians, etc. That’s kind of my point. So if there’s an abundance of brunette or even blonde hair, fair-skin, and light eyes in those populations, then it’s obvious that these features aren’t necessarily European, nor are they indicative of European ancestry.

          Ashkenazim and Sephardim do have European input, but it is almost entirely Greek/Italian. On the outermost periphery of Europe. And it amounts to less than half of their overall ancestry, so calling it a “mass influx” is a stretch.

          Moreover, the phenotypical distinction between Levantines and Greeks/Italians, especially in antiquity, isn’t that wide. There was, and still is, significant overlap.

          And as far as European ancestry goes, there’s quite a bit of Greek, Italian, and even East European ancestry in Turkey. Light hair, eyes, and skin are extremely common. Yet no denies that they are Middle Eastern.

          The idea that centuries of exile in Europe cancels out the fact that we belong to a Middle Eastern ethnic group and diaspora makes no sense. Ditto for the argument that intermarriage with Europeans (which isn’t nearly as significant as many have claimed, and more or less completely ceased after Rome became Christian) supplants or overrides our origins.

          We are a Middle Eastern diaspora and ethnic group. By definition. That’s why we’re called Jews in the first place, and it’s also why we’re called diaspora Jews in every country except Israel.

          “You also keep bizarrely suggesting light features is common throughout the middle east, which I don’t understand, what percentage wise is “common” to you? Regardless, this is what I have inferred about your opinion on the topic.”

          For Turks, I would say definitely half, if not more. For Druze, Maronites, Samaritans, I would say at least 25% (so about as much as Ashkenazim, if not slightly less). None of this is “bizarre” to anyone who has been to the region or has done sufficient research (and doesn’t have any kind of pre-existing prejudices).

          “I disagree, and most people on this site would agree with me.”

          The opinions of faceless strangers on the internet, quite a few of whom have expressed anti-Semitic viewpoints, mean absolutely nothing to me. It’s not like the masses haven’t been wrong about Jews millions of times before.

          Regardless, this is an argumentum ad populum fallacy.

          “Most people that have any interest in/or pay attention to heritage, would say, ethnicities such as the Ashkenazim have a few common traits or looks. The data is irrefutable, beyond personal opinion, 65-81% of the Ashkenazi MT-DNA heritage is from European origin. That is a at such a high percentage, that it would be impossible for the genetic influence not to effect the phenotype, and change it from the founding lineages of the mid East.”

          You speak as though I denied the European input in Ashkenazim. I did not.

          This is what I said…

          1. Ashkenazim are ethnically Middle Eastern, and have every right to identify and be seen as such.
          2. More than half of our genes come from the Middle East, and are shared with other Levantine populations.
          3. A very large number of Ashkenazim look Middle Eastern, including my own Jewish relatives. Because we ARE Middle Eastern.
          4. Fair-skin, light eyes, and blonde/brunette hair are far from uncommon in the Levant.
          5. If you were to put Ashkenazim side by side with Sephardim, Lebanese Christians, Samaritans, and Druze, most wouldn’t be able to tell them apart easily (not without making many embarrassing mistakes).

          All of these claims are true. Demonstrably so.

          “It’s not racist to claim people of East Asian descent have monolids by an overwhelming majority. It’s not racist to say Ashkenazis look dissimilar when standing next to their distant Middle Eastern cousins, it’s just a fact.”

          One of these claims is not like the other.

          The first claim is true. The second claim is demonstrably false, at least vis a vis other Levantine populations (i.e. those that remained endogamous and don’t have significant Arabian/African input).

          No, it isn’t racist to say Ashkenazim don’t look 1:1 the same as other Levantines. It IS racist to say that they are NOT Levantines, or that their ties to the Levant are “distant” at best. The latter is a form of erasure, and is therefore anti-Semitic.

          “Maybe you don’t see things that way, that’s fine, others people do see it my way. I’ll use an analogy. You may look at a color blind test and not see the number in the pattern, I do, and others do as well. It does not make either party incorrect, it just means we see the world differently.”

          You assume that, because I don’t see things your way, that I must have some kind of impairment. That is quite an arrogant statement.

        • Yeravam says:

          “I never said this. I said the schism between Ashkenazi Jews and Maronites, Samaritans, Sephardim is small. Mizrahim, particularly Yemenites and Persian Jews, are a different story. The latter two groups are noticeably darker than Levantines because they have Arabian and Persian admixture. ”

          I meant to say “the latter two groups are noticeably darker than OTHER Levantines”.

          Typo.

        • Yeravam says:

          One last point I would like to expand upon.

          “The opinions of faceless strangers on the internet, quite a few of whom have expressed anti-Semitic viewpoints, mean absolutely nothing to me. It’s not like the masses haven’t been wrong about Jews millions of times before.”

          You can see this very clearly on just about any Ashkenazi profile where the celebrity in question is just a *little* too brown for their liking (which happens quite often). You get all of these exotic, insane theories as to “the real reason” they look that way, but it’s always some variation of “oh, he MUST be part Sephardic, he absolutely MUST be” or “I bet he’s had plastic surgery” or “he probably just tans a lot”.

          My point being, there is a strong and adamant refusal on the part of many (including on this site) to accept that Ashkenazi Jews are from the Middle East, and that this is why we look the way we do. I’m REALLY getting tired of it, to be perfectly honest. Refusing to accept reality won’t make it any less of a reality, and it sure as hell isn’t going to “Free Palestine” or whatever. It’s just going to make you look like an anti-Semitic ass.

  3. mycarf123123 says:

    Yemenite Jews are Mizrahi Jewish as well.

  4. ames says:

    You’re correct, but it still happens. My family is Ashkenazic, and my nephew’s wife is from a Persian (Sephardic/Mizrahi) family. In Los Angeles, where all different kinds of Jews live together, it can happen.

  5. aps says:

    Her father Russian-Jewish

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