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  • Family Finder and/or Y-DNA Test useful?

    Family Finder and/or Y-DNA Test useful?

    Hello everybody...

    There is a possibility that my grand-grand-grand-Grandfather was a Ashkenazi Jew, and I would like to get certitude about his origin. If I calculated correctly I would get only about 3% Ashkenazi (if our assumptions are relevant) if I order the Autosomal/family finder test, and I read that such a low percentage is normally seen a "background noise". But it is still within the 6 generations the test should be used for.
    On the other hand I descend from him in a direct male lineage, so I guess a Y-DNA test should be more accurate.
    So my questions are if I could clarify his "ethnical" origin via Y-DNA test, and if a Autosomal test is of any use for my purposes?

    Many Thanks,
    Vulpus

  • #2
    I would hesitate to "recommend" you a test, as in the end, I think that's a matter for you, and you might even want to do both, if you can afford it.

    If you are sure that you are descended from him in a direct male (only) lineage, then yes, Y-testing may be of some value, but, as I understand it, there are no uniquely Ashkenazi Y haplogroups (I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong), so although you might find that you (and, by inference, him) have Y results that are entirely compatible with his being Jewish, I'm not sure it could 100% prove it.

    On the subject of Family Finder, 3% (if it were that high) is NOT discounted as noise - at least at FTDNA.

    The current My Origins threshold between "noise" and significance is 2%. Obviously, there's always going to be something a bit arbitrary about these distinctions. Why 2%, and not 3, or 1?

    But my mum was recently tested, and, to everyone's amazement, came out as 2% central Asian (Indian subcontinent). This was included in her "proper" results, not her trace results. Had it been lower, it would have been recorded in the trace results section.

    In our case (your mileage may vary) we do think there's more to this than just "noise". It has been a source of comment in the family for many years that some of them have strangely Asian-looking eyes.

    I'd be the first to admit that, in general, looks are NOT a reliable guide to ethnicity. However, this being a family talking-point for some years, and then seeing Asian ethnicity crop up in my mum's results, I find it impossible to believe the two are unconnected.

    I'm now struggling to find an ancestor who might have served in British India, which could explain both the distinctive family features AND my mum's unexpected ethnicity findings!

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    • #3
      I think that there are Jewish Y-DNA subclades, because isn't that how Bennett Greenspan started his interest in DNA testing? FTDNA also has a page about how to "Discover Your Jewish Ancestry," where they mention Y-DNA testing.

      For some reason you need to log in to FTDNA to read this 1997 article (by Michael F. Hammer, Karl Skorecki, Sara Selig, Shraga Blazer, Bruce Rappaport, Robert Bradman, Neil Bradman, P.J. Waburton, Monic Ismajlowicz) "Y Chromosomes of Jewish Priests," which gives some details on how they determined the Y-DNA of the Jewish priests.
      Last edited by KATM; 26 June 2017, 08:45 AM.

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      • #4
        Thank you for your replies.

        I find it hard to understand the concept of a "noise" anyway... They may be traces of far away ancestors or maybe just coincidence.

        So i guess that both tests might help me with my investigations.

        @Tmason
        You have a very interesting background, good luck with your investigations.

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