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Confused, possibility of Ashkenazi Ancestry?

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  • #16
    Edited because of double post.
    Last edited by rainbow; 25 March 2009, 11:04 PM.

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    • #17
      Ashkenazi, Jewish, Semitic.

      Originally posted by efgen View Post
      Joshua,

      As others have said, there is a certain amount of R1a1 among Ashkenazi Jews. But as you can see by your RAO list, your 12-marker matches are a mix of both Jews and non-Jews.

      Matches at 12 markers don't necessary reflect recent connections, and it's VERY common for Jews and non-Jews to match each other at this level. As an administrator of several Jewish DNA projects here, I am constantly getting email from non-Jewish people who are stymied by their 12-marker Ashkenazi matches and wonder if that means they have Jewish ancestry.

      My answer is this -- test more markers. The more markers you compare, the more you refine your matches into recent timeframe (hundreds of years rather than thousands of years). You have the option to upgrade to 25, 37 or 67 markers. 25 can still give distant and ambiguous matches, so I always recommend going with 37. You could go all the way to 67 if you want, but it's usually not necessary for this purpose.

      At 37 markers, you'll get matches who are related within about 500 years (give or take). So if you still have Ashkenazi matches at the closest levels (GD of 0, 1, 2) at 37 markers, that would be a much higher indication that you may indeed have Jewish ancestry. But, if your close Ashkenazi matches disappear at 37 markers and you match only non-Jewish people, then that would indicate non-Jewish ancestry.

      Project participants get a discount on testing. If you're not already in a project, you should join the Haplogroup R1a project before you upgrade. Besides getting the discount, you'll also have a project administrator who should be very familiar with R1a and be able to answer more detailed questions about the R1a haplogroup.

      http://www.familytreedna.com/public/R1aY-Haplogroup/

      To upgrade your markers, log in to your MyFTDNA account, click Order Tests and Upgrades on the left, then find Y-Refine12to37 in the menu and follow the rest of the instructions to complete the order.

      One other money-saving tip -- for R1a, it's generally not recommended to order the Deep-Clade test that's offered on your Haplotree page. This would test you for 5 subgroups of R1a1, but those subgroups appear to be extremely rare, and not a single person in the project has tested positive for them yet.

      Hope this helps,

      Elise
      Very good analysis and advice.
      As usual, we have terminologic definitions to clarify, probably already well known to Elise.

      The Khazars, who became (Ashkenazi) Jews by royal decree, were not DNA-Semitic, but attracted Semitic-Jewish immigration and inblending thereafter. That may be one explanation for non-J1 and J2 haplotypes occurring in eastern European Jewish families.
      The DNA of Jewish-Religion people is often not distinguishable from that of the many Semitic persons of a different religion in the middle East, so locational and family records may be more significant than DNA.
      (Of course the Cohanim represent a specific intra-Jewish social caste which counters this trend.)
      However, after 1200 years, it is still theoretically possible to have totally Khazar non-Semitic DNA and a millennium or more of family Jewish religious observance. And the converse, a definitely Jewish, Cohanim DNA modal but a (at least recent) non-Jewish family history. But so rare!

      Cultural religious ethnicity does not necessarily show in the DNA, so it is not always possible to prove or exclude Jewish religious family history based on the DNA. To be, or not be, Jewish is ultimately a personal characteristic.

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      • #18
        Haplogroup R including R1 began in Asia not Europe. There are many ways R1a reached Europe, Khazar migration is only one pathway.

        There is no such thing as a Jewish or Semitic haplogroup, e.g. haplogroup J. J began in western Asia before the development of modern religions or the Semitic language. Jewishness is a matter of belief rather than genetics. Giving priority to genetics would incorrectly imply that there are different classes of Jews. If anything, the R1a Levites were more devout than most other Jews.

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        • #19
          Joshua, the confusion stems from people who list their religion with their haplogroup thinking that they are DNA Jewish when they aren't. And it is unfair. Why is Ashkenazi listed in so many haplogroups? Why don't these databases include R1a Greek Orthodox or Danish Lutheran or Italian Roman Catholic?

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          • #20
            And Josh, I had a similar experience when I saw that a few people who are mtdna H1 list themselves as Ashkenazi, but I knew that was nonsense. It is unfair to see only one group list their religion. Either the term Ashkenazi should be dropped from the databases or those that maintain the databases should strive to include others such as Cornish Methodist and English Mormon and Swiss Hindus and Scottish Presbyterian.

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            • #21
              A point

              Originally posted by rainbow View Post
              And Josh, I had a similar experience when I saw that a few people who are mtdna H1 list themselves as Ashkenazi, but I knew that was nonsense. It is unfair to see only one group list their religion. Either the term Ashkenazi should be dropped from the databases or those that maintain the databases should strive to include others such as Cornish Methodist and English Mormon and Swiss Hindus and Scottish Presbyterian.

              There are two different major groups of R1b Ashkenazi, some with markers of a near eastern origin others without. But it seems those who work closest with this technology point out clearly that the level of distinction for which we sometimes search is not in the data or possible given the current level of technology (assuming there is a technological measurement possible).

              Beyond that, I think you have a very good point for another reason. The questions we ask determine the answers we receive. If we box up the question in multiple qualifiers we may get the answer to our question but the answer will be incomplete because the question is the wrong question. Clearly if the hypothesis is there is a 1:1 ration between any named haplogroup and an ethnic identity tied to Judaism the data is in conflict with the hypothesis. Judaism is a mosaic. We are limiting ourselves against the weight of the data if we categorize ourselves into what appears to be a non match of what otherwise is clearly a match by virtue of a label.

              We can learn from the various discussions across the forums that debate endlessly the ethnic origin of a configuration of DNA, but we also can deny ourselves the opportunity to learn more by insisting the comparisons be pre-segregated along preconceived ideas about who we are.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by rainbow View Post
                And Josh, I had a similar experience when I saw that a few people who are mtdna H1 list themselves as Ashkenazi, but I knew that was nonsense. It is unfair to see only one group list their religion. Either the term Ashkenazi should be dropped from the databases or those that maintain the databases should strive to include others such as Cornish Methodist and English Mormon and Swiss Hindus and Scottish Presbyterian.
                OK, I've held my tongue long enough reading your posts, Rainbow. Who died and made you the Ashkenazi police?!

                "Ashkenazi" is not a RELIGION! It's a people, a culture. The religion of Ashkenazi people is Judaism, and several different types of Judaism. It doesn't matter WHAT our haplogroup is or what our religious observances are -- we are culturally and historically Ashkenazi Jews and have been for as many generations as those of us living today can remember or trace through records.

                As an Ashkenazi Jew, as far as I'm personally concerned, my culture is not defined by whether my ancestors were among the ancient Hebrews who lived in Israel over 3000 years ago! My parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents, and even my 5th great-grandparents, all who were Ashkenazi Jews living in Eastern Europe, are who define my culture, my family history and my ancestry. So your comments about what haplogroups are or aren't "real" Jews are completely offensive and unwarranted, and they need to stop, immediately. If you want to bash Jews, do it elsewhere, NOT on this board.

                And it's not FAIR that Ashkenazi is listed in the database? Give me a break! ANYONE can have appropriate clarifying information added to their record in the RAO database -- all they need to do is email FTDNA and ask for it to be added.

                Elise
                Last edited by efgen; 26 March 2009, 05:10 PM.

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                • #23
                  Clarification---in stating that R1a Levites were "more devout", I meant in terms of cultural responsibilities of Levites rather than innate tendencies.

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                  • #24
                    We all may well be mortified

                    Originally posted by josh w. View Post
                    Clarification---in stating that R1a Levites were "more devout", I meant in terms of cultural responsibilities of Levites rather than innate tendencies.
                    by the unintended implications of what we have said (and maybe the intended but not thought through implications). I did not understand what you were saying to be a "more than you" kind of statement but a statement of pride in your own heritage. I saw nothing offensive in them at all.

                    I said a couple things along the way in this thread I am rethinking also. I intended no offensive. I would guess there may be those of us who did not write but who thought things, who are also thinking about what they were thinking. I know what I intended to communicate but I am seeing the reflection of how it could be understood in Elsie's comments. So rather than justify or explain away what I said I want to apologize for what I did not foresee, regardless of what I thought I was communicating.

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                    • #25
                      Joshua, thank you for this thread. I am sure there have been other people who were confused and mislead by all the Ashkenazi-Jewish listings but never posted a thread about it before that I know of. Elise, I think you misunderstood my point. I wasn't bashing anyone's devoutness or great grandparents. My point was that religion, especially if it is only one religion, shouldn't be mixed with science. I could put that I am an mtdna H1 Hare Krishna, but that would be irrelevant or misleading to anyone else who is H1.

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                      • #26
                        Just to be clear, I am not a Hare Krishna. I was making a point. Just talking about the 800 lb gorilla in the room. Haplogroups are not proof of religion. Religion is not proof of ethnicity or deep origins. For the record, not all R1b is Anglican either.

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                        • #27
                          I am posting from my phone and it only puts through part of what I tried to say. I do think ydna J was the predominant haplogoup way back in the Holy Land during biblical times for all ethnic groups in the eastern Mediterranean.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by rainbow View Post
                            Elise, I think you misunderstood my point. I wasn't bashing anyone's devoutness or great grandparents. My point was that religion, especially if it is only one religion, shouldn't be mixed with science.
                            No, you completely miss the point that being Jewish is about MUCH more than religion. My great-grandparents immigrated from Belarus. They were *not* Belarusian and I do not have Belarusian ancestry. I am Jewish, they were Jewish, our ancestry is Jewish. I can convert to Christianity and I would *still* have Jewish ancestry.

                            When you understand the distinction between being culturally Jewish and practicing Judaism as a religion, as well as the distinction between having Jewish ancestry and descending from the ancient Hebrews/Israelites, only then will you begin to understand my outrage at your statement that an H1 being Ashkenazi is "nonsense."

                            Elise
                            Last edited by efgen; 26 March 2009, 09:23 PM.

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