It's not surprising to either Judy Simon or me as co-admins of the IberianAshkenazi Project at FamilyTreeDNA.com. Every week, more and more people join the group, and Judy has been able to connect some 30% of ostensible Eastern European Ashkenazim with Hispanic, Converso and other Sephardic families today. The more people who test, the more information is gathered, enlarging FamilyTreeDNA's database potential genetic matches
Here's the part from Rubin's story that really made me happy:
The more obvious discoveries will reveal themselves first. For instance, in comparing myself with my matches, it quickly became apparent that I am of Jewish descent—something I had suspected at least since my bar mitzvah. I also wasn’t too surprised to learn that my matches’ ancestors were mostly, like
mine, from eastern Europe.
But eastern Europe is a big place; while I had believed that my maternal line originated in Lithuania, I found close matches in western Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, and eastern Ukraine.
Even more dispersed is the family on my father’s side: while my earliest known ancestor in that line came from Belarus, I found close matches in such distant locales as Germany, Latvia, Hungary, and Bosnia. Oh, and also Puerto Rico, where the family of a man I’m supposedly related to has been living for more than 300 years.
Now that was a head scratcher. At first I thought it must be a mistake. But we are, indeed, a match. There is a 96.56 percent chance we share a common ancestor within the past 24 generations. That’s about 600 years ago—or some 85 years before all Jews were expelled from Spain. Which means there’s a good chance I’m not only eastern European but Spanish.
Welcome to the club, Richard!
I can hope that he will now be encouraged to read up on Sephardic history and learn about the exodus after the 1391 pogroms that resulted in the murder or forced conversion to Catholicism of thousands of Spanish Jews and, along the way, decimated or completely destroyed Jewish communities across Spain.
Click here to read the complete AARP article. For more information on the IberianAshkenaz group, click here. To join, or for more information, email Judy.