9 September 2015 - 25 Elul 5775 - כ"ה אלול ה' אלפים תשע"ה
The Chinese lady who joined the Ashkenazic people E-mail

In recent years, advances in genetics have enabled scientists to pinpoint our origins and relationships to specific geographic regions and ethnic groups with a fairly high degree of accuracy.

Geneticists nowadays examine mitochondrial DNA, which passes from mother to child, Y chromosomal DNA, which passes from father to son, and autosomal DNA, which derives from a multitude of ancestral lines and typically picks up portions of the genetics of all sixteen of an individual’s greatgreat-grandparents. By following the trails blazed by all three types of DNA, including patterns of mutations in the uniparental types, one can reconstruct a compelling narrative of migrations related to an individual or an ethnic group.

Jews of all kinds, but especially Eastern European Ashkenazic Jews, have been eager to take DNA tests to learn more about their deep ancestors and relatives, since the paper trail of vital records from the Russian and Austrian empires runs cold for most families before the early-to-mid 19th century and most surnames were adopted relatively recently.

Ashkenazim with ancestors from Eastern and Central Europe make up large portions of the testing pools of the top three American direct-to-consumer DNA testing companies – Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, and AncestryDNA – and have been recruited for numerous genetic studies over the past two decades.

Much of this research has established that the vast majority of Ashkenazic lineages trace back to Europe and the Middle East 2,000 years ago, with a large portion coming from ancient Israel and its environs. But this research has also turned up traces of unexpected roots.

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