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35% Sephardic Jewish in non-Jewish person

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  • 35% Sephardic Jewish in non-Jewish person


    I was wondering whether some of you could help me out with interpreting my my origins results.

    I am half Dutch/South Italian and half Middle Eastern Arab of Palestinian origin (With most of my family living in modern day Israel).

    These are my FtDNA my origins results:
    (30% West and Central European, 8% British Isles, 35% Sephardic Jewish, 22% West Middle East, 2% East Middle East, 3% Trace Regions).

    Most of the ethnicity estimates showed up as we had expected. The highest estimate, 35% Sephardic Jewish, was a total surprise as I have no known Jewish Ancestry on either side of the family. So was the fact that 0% Italian DNA showed up, despite having a direct Italian ancestor.

    Could it be possible that the FtDNA calculator has mistaken my Italian ancestry for Sephardic Jewish ancestry?
    I'm asking this because MyHeritage showed me as having 50% Italian ancestry and 0% Jewish ancestry.
    Now, I must say that 50% of Italian ancestry is in itself an overestimation, as I only have one Italian grandparent.

    My maternal grandfather comes from a very isolated area in South Italy close to Napoli and not much is known about his ancestry but as far as we know his family has always been Catholic. The surnames, however, are very ambiguous and are used by both Jewish and non-Jewish individuals.

    The same applies to my paternal grandparents. As far as we know they have always been fully Arab. We were therefore very surprised to see how small the Middle Eastern estimate was in both of the results (MyHeritage only showed 15% Middle Eastern with 10% North African and 10% West Asian with the rest being European whereas FtDNA only showed 24% Middle Eastern).

    Despite not having any known Jewish ancestry, a good number of matches have showed up with people that have Jewish sounding first names and surnames (Both Ashkenazi and Mizrachi) in the family finder.

    Does anybody have a clue as to why the results are the way they are? 35% of Sephardic Jewish DNA is a very high percentage and would suggest very recent Sephardic Jewish admixture (provided that the FtDNA results are indeed accurate).

    Should I get another sample tested?
    Last edited by RB96; 30 May 2019, 06:09 PM.

  • #2
    If you have any Sephardic, it would be through your Southern Italian ancestors. We do occasionally find Italian-Jewish autosomal DNA ties (from the past 16 generations) in Sicily and in Campania and/or Calabria. But your actual Sephardic is definitely not as high as 35%; that is a known problem with MyOrigins when Italians and Arabs get tested here because of ancient overlaps. Your actual Sephardic % is probably under 1%.

    As you wrote here, you found some matches who may be Ashkenazic Jews. That could be indicative of your having Sephardic Jewish, Italki Jewish, and/or Sicilian Jewish ancestry. For further discussion, I will send you a reply to your private message to me.


    • #3
      A quick summary of what I emailed RB96: He does indeed have some matches who are partially Ashkenazic and probably 2, 3, or 4 full Ashkenazic Jews. Two of the mixed ones also have Italian ancestors, though, so he should focus on people with exclusively Jewish ancestry within their past 4-5 generations. He should look into the chromosomal locations where he matches the people who are especially worth looking into, whom I named and starred, to see if multiple Jews match in the same place, whether in Family Finder or across other DNA databases.
      Last edited by khazaria; 1 June 2019, 12:38 AM.


      • #4
        Originally posted by RB96
        My maternal grandfather comes from a very isolated area in South Italy close to Napoli
        If it's not too indiscreet, may I ask where is this isolated area?


        • #5
          Perhaps the issue is more technical with FTDNA. My father and mother both tested with FTDNA and neither have any Jewish (Ashkenazi or Sephardic) DNA in myorigins. I on the other hand show 11% Sephardic in myorigins. My father is half Iranian and this is accurately represented in his myorigins results (as is our relationship as parent/child). My mother is Italian/French and this is basically represented. Both parents have 0% Jewish. There is no acceptable explanation as to why my results are 11% Sephardic other than my middle eastern results being muddled up and incorrectly attributed.


          • #6
            Its because myOrigins2 is very outdated, I get 9% Sephardic and have no known Jewish ancestors, FTDNA needs to step up their game with their reference panels for autosomal tests or get left behind.