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Brother's matching Ashkenazi - Complete surprise

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  • Brother's matching Ashkenazi - Complete surprise

    Since his matches are showing Ashkenazi (almost all) how far back are we talking since NO ONE in our family ever thought we were from a Jewish lineage. Grandfather came over from Poland in 1907, as a Polish Catholic. None of the names matched ours on the list, so I was wondering when we were Jewish, in what time frame? Being Ashkenazi is a surprise, but I would like to find out more information about when the switch occurred. Can anyone shed some light on this for me? Thanks

  • #2
    Originally posted by mytree View Post
    Since his matches are showing Ashkenazi (almost all) how far back are we talking since NO ONE in our family ever thought we were from a Jewish lineage. Grandfather came over from Poland in 1907, as a Polish Catholic. None of the names matched ours on the list, so I was wondering when we were Jewish, in what time frame? Being Ashkenazi is a surprise, but I would like to find out more information about when the switch occurred. Can anyone shed some light on this for me? Thanks
    I have tons of ashkenazi and sephardic levite matches on my 12 markers. Starting in 1,2,3, and 4 mutations. Where are his matches?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by mytree View Post
      Since his matches are showing Ashkenazi (almost all) how far back are we talking since NO ONE in our family ever thought we were from a Jewish lineage. Grandfather came over from Poland in 1907, as a Polish Catholic. None of the names matched ours on the list, so I was wondering when we were Jewish, in what time frame? Being Ashkenazi is a surprise, but I would like to find out more information about when the switch occurred. Can anyone shed some light on this for me? Thanks
      Are you talking about a Y-DNA test? On the results page, can you move the results to Y-Search (anonymously if you like)?

      Regards,
      Jim

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      • #4
        Ashkenazi Brother

        At the 12 Marker, he has 7 exact matches, 42 matches with a genetic distance of 1. At the 25 marker, genetic distance 2 with 11 matches,37 marker genetic distance 2, 1 match, and at the 37 marker genetic distance 3, 7 matches, and at the 37 marker genetic distance of 4, 24 matches, all Ashkenazi. He is in denial that we could have been anything but Polish Catholic and the DNA test is wrong. Since I'm not knowledgable, I don't know how to answer this question. Were we ever Jewish in the last 150 years or so?

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        • #5
          mytree,

          The fact that your brother has all Ashkenazi matches at the 37-marker level is a clear indicator that your paternal line does indeed have Jewish ancestry. However, it's not possible to determine from the DNA results alone how far back the conversion happened.

          As you noted in one of your posts (I either saw it here or on DNA-forums), your brother's matches have a myriad of surnames. That's because most Ashkenazi Jews have had surnames for only 200-300 years, while the 37-marker matches could go back 500 years or more.

          Your best bet for finding the conversion is the traditional genealogy route -- look for church records for your family in Poland, and hopefully you will find a record of the conversion. Maybe someone here who is familiar with researching church records in Poland can give you further insight on this.

          Also, check out Bennett Greenspan's article, "Can DNA Testing Confirm Jewish Ancestry?"



          The one other thing you can do, just to be completely sure that you have received the correct results, is contact the FTDNA helpdesk, explain that you weren't expecting Jewish ancestry, and ask if the lab can review your results to ensure that there wasn't a mix-up.

          Assuming you have indeed received the correct results, I can assure you that you aren't the first and won't be the last to discover unknown Jewish ancestry through DNA testing

          Elise

          Comment


          • #6
            Elise,

            I would like to ask a very simple question. (After a bit of explanation)

            My ancestry (non american) is very English, Irish and Danish/Swedish with a vagues possiblety of a Baltic sea connection in one line. (honestly didnt think this guy was a direct ancestor, but a "step dad' of my gt grandmother. Nothing points to him being her father, except he married her mother 4 years after my gt grand mothers birth )
            We presume this one immigrant to Sweden was from the Swedish controlled areas of Poland, Lithuania in the 1600s. His name is not Swedish.

            We have not found any connection to Jewsihness going back to early 1700/1600 in family lines in England and Denmark/Sweden. Ireland is a harder area, but the families are all Catholic back to 1800.
            The "Baltic" family line is very invloved with the Lutheran Church and Swedish Public Offices in the 1700/1800s.

            I find quite a few matches on family finder with Jews, but have no way to account for it, except from this one line that may be from Poland/Lithuania.
            The FF matches are from Poland, German and Belarus/Ukraine regions.
            Most have no connecton to Irish/English/Danish families, one has a Jewish/Irish line.

            How does Jewish linegage travel, is it paternal or maternal or both?? or does it not matter?
            Is it common/easy for someone to change from Jew to Lutheran.
            Am I looking at it all wrong.


            Regards
            f

            Comment


            • #7
              Autosomally, "Jewishness" can descend through either parental line but traditionally, tribal membership descended matrilineally.

              The "conversion" of your FF relative could have been from Christian to Jewish or Jewish to Christian - your Jewish cousins could be descended from a Christian that converted to Judaism or your Christian ancestor could have converted from Judaism.

              Assuming, in the second case, the conversion was not coerced, conversion to a Protestant sect may have been more attractive to a Jew than conversion to Catholicism. There is some evidence that Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism later converted to Protestantism. For Jews and Protestants, divine authority is invested in the Bible, for Catholics it resides in the Papacy. Jews and Protestants (except Anglican/Episcopal churches) have no institutionalized clergy and a very flat hierarchy. Jewish rabbis are primarily teachers and may offer views divergent from one another, that is very similar to the role of preachers in Protestants sects.

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              • #8
                Thanks Tom,

                I guess then really it could be on any on my lines from Scnadanavia or even possibly in England.
                More likely the Scandanavians though with matches in the Baltic regions..
                I'll probably never really find out.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mytree View Post
                  Since his matches are showing Ashkenazi (almost all) how far back are we talking since NO ONE in our family ever thought we were from a Jewish lineage. Grandfather came over from Poland in 1907, as a Polish Catholic. None of the names matched ours on the list, so I was wondering when we were Jewish, in what time frame? Being Ashkenazi is a surprise, but I would like to find out more information about when the switch occurred. Can anyone shed some light on this for me? Thanks
                  Please do not take offense, but did you and your brother come up on Family Finder as a full sibling match?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Of course, gene flow can go in any direction. According to a recent article in Science, Ashkenazi in general have 30 - 60 percent of their autosomal DNA matching the population they lived in. For example in areas that have been Poland/Belarus/Ukraine/Lithuania, the Ashkenazi would share those percentages of autosomal DNA with the surrounding population.

                    And I think the corollary would be those surrounding populations are part Ashkenazi too. People who live together get together.

                    I have something similar with autosomal matching and the Ashkenazi relatives seem very surprised to have non-Ashkenazi relatives. I am starting to realize how closely related everyone with European roots is.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm in the same situation. I have at least one fifth-cousin-or-more-distant match that seems to be Ashkenazi, and my ancestry is partly Lutheran from East and West Prussia (now, of course, Poland). I've been scratching my head over this putative connection, so it's interesting to hear it may not just be statistical noise.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mytree View Post
                        He is in denial that we could have been anything but Polish Catholic and the DNA test is wrong. Since I'm not knowledgable, I don't know how to answer this question. Were we ever Jewish in the last 150 years or so?
                        On DNA-Forums (if indeed you are the same person who posted there), you gave some very crucial additional information:
                        ---
                        I've contacted my aunt, who's a 97 year old nun, and asked her about my grandparents. She said she knew they were born in the Russian Federation, but had no knowledge as to whether they were Jewish. Again, her parents refused to discuss the past; and they did not fraternize outside the immediate family. My aunt was raised Catholic, and both of her parents spoke Russian and Polish.
                        ---

                        I have highlighted three salient behaviors that, I daresay, are not typical of (Catholic) Polish-American families, and suggest that the family had a story they did not wish told.

                        One clue might be the year of immigration. A couple years ago I encountered a case similar to yours, but in which the mystery was more glaring: an irregular adoption, a previous surname that was never disclosed, and an alleged Polish immigrant whose first language was definitely not Polish, as well as an Ashkenazi Jewish yDNA result. I wondered to myself: Why would a young Jewish man go to such trouble to change not only his religion but his very identity, when America was bustling with a flourishing Ashkenazi Jewish community that would have been happy to help another newcomer?

                        The year of immigration turned out to coincide with the 1905 Russian Revolution, a failed revolt against the tsar that manifested itself in occupied Poland as the Lodz Insurrection. The tsar's reaction was brutal:
                        ---
                        The years of revolution were marked by a dramatic rise in the numbers of death sentences and executions.
                        ...
                        These numbers reflect only executions of civilians, and do not include a large number of summary executions by punitive army detachments and executions of military personnel that mutineed.

                        Peter Kropotkin also notes that official statistics did not include executions during punitive expeditions, especially in Siberia, the Caucasus, and the Baltic provinces.
                        ---

                        I suspect, therefore, that cases of changed identity emerging from the Russian Empire in the 1905-1907 period may have been participants in revolutionary activities who had to flee for their lives from the Okhrana.

                        Only slightly off-topic, the Okhrana's specialty was what we now call false-flag terrorism--the deliberate incitement of anti-government violence in order to respond with drastic repressive measures:
                        ---
                        The exposure of Yevno Azef (who had organized many assassinations, including that of Plehve) and Dmitri Bogrov (who assassinated Stolypin in 1911) as Okhrana double agents put the agency's methods under great suspicion; they were further compromised by the discovery of many similar double agents-provocateur.
                        ---
                        Last edited by lgmayka; 27 November 2010, 12:06 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Taz85 View Post
                          I have tons of ashkenazi and sephardic levite matches on my 12 markers. Starting in 1,2,3, and 4 mutations. Where are his matches?
                          Sorry, I didn't answer right away, new to this. His is up to 67 markers and 7 exact matches, and 1,2,3,4 mutations, all Ashkenazi with a few sephardic levite. Doing testing on myself (mtdna) along with two sisters. Trying to get a mtdna from our fathers mother side.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            ashkenazi descent

                            As many people have already said, the conversion could have happened either way (Christian to Jewish or Jewish to Christian). The YDNA results mean your male line should share a common ancestor with those folks who've identified their heritage as Ashkenazim. You won't know where or when that common ancestor lived without proper paper research, although a close match at 67 markers is very very good.

                            It is not uncommon to find stories of Eastern European Jews who converted, out of convenience, out of faith, or most often by force; I've read some stories of people coming out of the Holocaust who hid their Jewish identity to survive and kept it hidden out of fear even in the U.S.A, and their descendants had no clue (Madeline Albright comes to mind); such stories can be found going back to the pogroms of Russia, etc.

                            So, definitely, the only way to know is through good old fashioned genealogical research, find birth records, villages or towns of origin, etc. to find that common ancestor

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mytree View Post
                              Sorry, I didn't answer right away, new to this. His is up to 67 markers and 7 exact matches, and 1,2,3,4 mutations, all Ashkenazi with a few sephardic levite. Doing testing on myself (mtdna) along with two sisters. Trying to get a mtdna from our fathers mother side.
                              Your last sentence confuses me.

                              Are you saying that you are looking for a relative to test in order to find your father's mother's mtDNA, in addition to the testing that you and your sisters have done?

                              You and your sisters will not be the same mtDNA line as your father's mother, you are aware of that I hope.

                              Comment

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