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  • 7/16 Ashkenazi?

    Hi all. I recently received my ftdna results and it came back as follows: 60 percent European, 3 percent west middle eastern, and 35 percent Ashkenazi. According to family lore, one of my grandfathers is fully Ashkenazi on my father's side, while my mother's father is around 3/4 Ashkenazi (his mother was supposedly half Jewish half Irish). The remaint half is Italian, from Naples and Genoa. This would therefore make me 7/16 Jewish, but 35 percent seems a bit low. Could this still be accurate? Many thanks.

  • #2
    The fractions you inherit from each ancestor are not necessarily equally distributed. So some ancestors can be over-represented, some under-represented. It might just be that you happened to inherit less than the average from your Ashkenazi forebears. I don't think the variance is sufficient to declare your family folklore untrue.

    I am somewhat the other way round - showing as just 67% British Isles, despite having three British grandparents - British as far back as I'm so far able to trace.

    I have one fully Ashkenazi grandparent, but am showing as 24% Jewish Diaspora, but 8% Middle Eastern.

    The origins of the 8% Middle Eastern should be clarified when I get my mother's results in a few days - she is half Ashkenazi. But I fully expect the Middle Eastern bit to have come from the Ashkenazi ancestors too.

    If it doesn't (i.e. my mum shows NO Middle Eastern ethnicity), I'll be left wondering how my remaining three "British for generations" lines come to be part Middle Eastern.

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    • #3
      Interesting. I also just took the JTest on Gedmatch and it pegged me at 14.24 percent Ashkenazi. Not sure about the significance of that...

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Michelstaedter View Post
        Interesting. I also just took the JTest on Gedmatch and it pegged me at 14.24 percent Ashkenazi. Not sure about the significance of that...
        That's within a normal range for a person who is approximately or nearly half-Ashkenazi.
        But it's a misleading indicator so nobody should use it.
        For one thing, it always picks up some Italian ancestry as "ASHKENAZI" even if it isn't.
        The oracle section is better.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by khazaria View Post
          That's within a normal range for a person who is approximately or nearly half-Ashkenazi.
          But it's a misleading indicator so nobody should use it.
          For one thing, it always picks up some Italian ancestry as "ASHKENAZI" even if it isn't.
          The oracle section is better.
          Incidentally my other ancestry is half Italian catholic. Ironically it is on this side of the family that there are carriers (and sufferers) of Gaucher's disease, which if I am not mistaken is almost exclusively associated with Ashkenazi Jews. My top five oracle scores are as follows. Essentially the question is whether I am of 7/16 Ashkenazi descent, or 3/8:

          60.6% Tuscan 39.4% AJ
          53.5% North_Italian 46.5% AJ
          65.3% South_Italian_&_Sicilian 34.7% AJ
          54.5% AJ 45.5% PT
          57.7% AJ 42.3% ES

          @khazaria I note from your other posts that you said that you had collected data from various people with partial Ashkenazi ancestry. I was wondering if you might share those with me to help in my own parcing of my results. Barring success this way, does anybody else know ways I could track down the exact ancestry of my maternal great grandmother? The paper trail has gone cold...

          Best,

          Nick
          Last edited by Michelstaedter; 16 June 2017, 04:05 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by khazaria View Post
            That's within a normal range for a person who is approximately or nearly half-Ashkenazi.
            But it's a misleading indicator so nobody should use it.
            For one thing, it always picks up some Italian ancestry as "ASHKENAZI" even if it isn't.
            The oracle section is better.
            It may be "within the normal range", but surely at the very low end of it, for someone who was "half" Ashkenazi?

            I am only one quarter Ashkenazi, but show 24%. My mother is half, and shows 44%.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Michelstaedter View Post
              Incidentally my other ancestry is half Italian catholic. Ironically it is on this side of the family that there are carriers (and sufferers) of Gaucher's disease, which if I am not mistaken is almost exclusively associated with Ashkenazi Jews. My top five oracle scores are as follows. Essentially the question is whether I am of 7/16 Ashkenazi descent, or 3/8:

              60.6% Tuscan 39.4% AJ
              53.5% North_Italian 46.5% AJ
              65.3% South_Italian_&_Sicilian 34.7% AJ
              54.5% AJ 45.5% PT
              57.7% AJ 42.3% ES

              @khazaria I note from your other posts that you said that you had collected data from various people with partial Ashkenazi ancestry. I was wondering if you might share those with me to help in my own parcing of my results. Barring success this way, does anybody else know ways I could track down the exact ancestry of my maternal great grandmother? The paper trail has gone cold...

              Best,

              Nick
              I do not believe these projections are as mathematically exact as you are hoping. 7/16 and 3/8 are as close as make no difference in this context. Both are only approximations, and, as such, consistent with one another. I do not think you are ever going to obtain a definitive answer as to which is "more correct" - or at least, I certainly can't see how. Perhaps one of them is spot on - but we can't tell which? Perhaps the reality is somewhere in the middle? Or perhaps both are too low, or too high?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tmason View Post
                It may be "within the normal range", but surely at the very low end of it, for someone who was "half" Ashkenazi?

                I am only one quarter Ashkenazi, but show 24%. My mother is half, and shows 44%.
                I think he was referring to the JTest in this instance. Point taken with regard to the difficulty of ascertaining from percentages whether it is one or the other. I am certainly less than half, and certainly at least 3/8. However I believe the "true" way to solve this mystery would be through conventional genealogy. I am unfortunately completely stuck in this regard, as we know virtually nothing about the ancestor in question, other than that she had "some Irish" ancestry cooked possible Jewish dishes and "looked very Jewish". The Irish shows up pretty clearly in my 23andme results (7.5% British and Irish). These anecdotes however are extremely poor evidence to go by, of course. Has anybody else had success in tracking down "lost" ancestors like mine on here before?

                Best,

                Nick

                Comment


                • #9
                  From personal experience, I'm afraid making meaningful interpretations of Ashkenazi matches is problematic, to say the least.

                  A practical example: my (half Ashkenazi) mother's FF results are just in.

                  A very unexpected aspect of her results was that she was showing 2% Central Asian (Northern India or Pakistan). 2% is just above the threshold to be dismissed as noise, but probably equates to at least 5 or 6 generations distant - but we have no idea how she comes to be "Indian" at all.

                  As this was more intriguing by far than the fact she's half Ashkenazi - which we know, rather than approaching closest matches first, I started approaching the small number who have disclosed their ethnicity, and share this similar "small" Asian percentage.

                  The first one I wrote to was also of Ashkenazi descent, and invited me to do an "in common with" between my mother and her, to see if we could narrow down the relationship.

                  We did - but not in any meaningful way. My mother has over 7000 matches in total - most of them Ashkenazi. When I ran an "in common with" on the selected match, about 3,500 - or half of ALL her matches were common to both of them. OK, we'd ruled out 3,500, but the remaining 3,500 were still far too many to interpret. All it proved was that "all" Ashkenazi people - or in this case half of them - are related to all the others.

                  It's good at painting very broad brushstrokes. If I hadn't known that we were of Ashkenazi descent, Family Finder would have made it very clear for me. But as it is, I did know, and it has been no help at all in isolating specific lines.

                  I don't mean to put you off - perhaps you will be luckier than me. But all I can derive from my mother's matches is: "Pretty much all of them are Jewish".

                  I only found a single ancestral surname match (out of the 7000!) to her somewhat unusual Ashkenazi family name, so I thought that really had to be significant, but the match and I still weren't able to put the pieces together. His great grandparents and mine had the same surname, and were from the same place, roughly speaking (definitely same province, but not necessarily village). But how they were related to each other is anybody's guess.

                  I do think you may be spot on when you say that conventional genealogy is more likely to provide the leads, here. But like you, I'm absolutely stuck. We believe my great grandparents changed their first names to sound less foreign (specifically, less Jewish) when they arrived in England, so without knowing what their birth names were, it's like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Michelstaedter View Post
                    I think he was referring to the JTest in this instance. Point taken with regard to the difficulty of ascertaining from percentages whether it is one or the other. I am certainly less than half, and certainly at least 3/8. However I believe the "true" way to solve this mystery would be through conventional genealogy. I am unfortunately completely stuck in this regard, as we know virtually nothing about the ancestor in question, other than that she had "some Irish" ancestry cooked possible Jewish dishes and "looked very Jewish". The Irish shows up pretty clearly in my 23andme results (7.5% British and Irish). These anecdotes however are extremely poor evidence to go by, of course. Has anybody else had success in tracking down "lost" ancestors like mine on here before?

                    Best,

                    Nick
                    Yes, 44% would be unusual on the Jtest. A standard problem for AJs is that unless one's family was well known, few records go back before the 1800s---especially in Eastern Europe

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tmason View Post
                      my (half Ashkenazi) mother's FF results are just in.

                      [...]

                      The first one I wrote to was also of Ashkenazi descent, and invited me to do an "in common with" between my mother and her, to see if we could narrow down the relationship.

                      We did - but not in any meaningful way. My mother has over 7000 matches in total - most of them Ashkenazi. When I ran an "in common with" on the selected match, about 3,500 - or half of ALL her matches were common to both of them. OK, we'd ruled out 3,500, but the remaining 3,500 were still far too many to interpret. All it proved was that "all" Ashkenazi people - or in this case half of them - are related to all the others.
                      A reliable genetic genealogy study "Why Autosomal DNA Test Results Are Significantly Different for Ashkenazi Jews" in the June 2014 issue of Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy found that "full" Ashkenazim match-in-common to only about 1/3rd of the matches of other "full" Ashkenazim in Family Finder. That is also the kind of pattern I've seen in my immediate and extended family's results. There are a great many Ashkenazic matches who don't appear across every one of our match lists. And in the case of phased matches I got from my parents, many matches really are only paternally-linked or maternally-linked, and are so indicated by the proper symbol next to the match.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by khazaria View Post
                        A reliable genetic genealogy study "Why Autosomal DNA Test Results Are Significantly Different for Ashkenazi Jews" in the June 2014 issue of Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy found that "full" Ashkenazim match-in-common to only about 1/3rd of the matches of other "full" Ashkenazim in Family Finder. That is also the kind of pattern I've seen in my immediate and extended family's results. There are a great many Ashkenazic matches who don't appear across every one of our match lists. And in the case of phased matches I got from my parents, many matches really are only paternally-linked or maternally-linked, and are so indicated by the proper symbol next to the match.
                        Amendment: I have also seen the pattern described in the Avotaynu article when I examined other Ashkenazic families' Family Finder match lists at their request - so my analysis does not involve only my own family, which is slightly mixed. There truly are many pairings between Ashkenazim that do not meet Family Finder's minimum thresholds to show as matches. Their weak level of matching can also be seen between certain pairs inside GEDmatch.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          So, in effect, Khazaria, are you saying my mother's "commonality" with other Ashkenazim is in fact unusually high, for someone who is only "half"?

                          I do apologise that this is off-topic for the original poster. I hope it may be an interesting aside, as they are also researching Jewish ancestry.

                          Obviously, increased "in common withs" do not improve the chances of narrowing down which specific lines are relevant - quite the contrary.

                          But is there anything I can learn from Mum having more "in common withs" than expected?

                          Clearly, one interpretation would be that she was more than half Jewish - i.e. there was some Jewish contribution from her paternal line as well. But both the paper trail and her overall ethnicity results are consistent with her having only one Jewish parent.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hmm. I am such a noob at this. Does anybody have any advice on tracking down my great grandmother? What tools are there available on FTDNA to accomplish such a task? Nick

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Tmason,
                              You cannot see the names of your mother's match's matches that your mother doesn't share. I am quite sure the quantity of such matches is high.

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