The term Jewfro is a portmanteau or invented word derived from "Jewish" and "Afro." Some people of Jewish descent, most notably the European Ashkenazim culture, prefer to wear their hair in a naturally curly style reminiscent of the traditional black Afro. A Jewfro does not generally feature the tight curls of a black Afro, but is more of a compilation of curly and wavy hair teased out from the wearer's head in a loose Afro style. Some Jewfro wearers will have their hair professionally cut and styled to produce a more balanced effect, but others prefer to wear it more unkempt. This hairdo is often styled or combed by using the same type of pick combs used on traditional Afros.
The expression Jewfro didn't become especially popular until the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, many African-Americans began to wear their hair in a more natural style, which for many was a tightly curled Afro. Younger members of the Jewish culture also decided to express themselves by wearing their naturally wavy or curly hair in a style that didn't necessarily conform with the social norms of the day. By wearing a Jewfro, many influential Jewish entertainers, athletes and other public figures could establish their own cultural identity.
Growing a Jewfro hairstyle is not restricted to those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, however. Many people have naturally curly or wavy hair which can grow out to a substantial length. The wearer can ask a hairstylist to trim his or her hair for length, but not as much for height or thickness. Some people may find that blow drying and the use of certain hair products which encourage curling and stiffness can also help create the Jewfro hairstyle. Pulling and teasing the hair with a traditional Afro comb will also help create a fuller Jewish Afro.
There are a number of famous celebrities and notable figures who have helped to popularize the Jewfro. Singer Art Garfunkel, for example, sports a prominent Jewish Afro, as does Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers band. During the 1970s and 1980s, iconic singer/songwriter Bob Dylan wore his hair in a teased Jewish Afro. Other famous Jewfro wearers include Larry Fine of the Three Stooges, fitness guru Richard Simmons, music producer Phil Spector, film critic Gene Shalit, comedian Adam Samberg and comedic actor Seth Rogen. In some pop culture circles, wearing a Jewfro successfully gives the wearer a certain cache or personal charisma.