Discovering your Lost Jewish Heritage through Y-DNA
Dr. Jeffrey Mark Paull
The major challenges and difficulties that are associated with tracing Jewish ancestry are well-known to Jewish genealogists. They include: frequent expulsions and migrations, the destruction of civil and Jewish community records, the lack of Jewish surnames, and the widespread destruction of the repositories of Jewish learning and culture, including synagogues, yeshivas, and cemeteries. As a result, most Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern European and Russian descent cannot trace theirancestry back more than a few generations, and fewer still can trace their ancestry to the period before the mandated adoption of fixed, inherited surnames during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The notable exceptions are the major rabbinical families,who adopted fixed surnames long before they weremandated by governmental authority. These families include some who rose to prominence through the great distinction of one or two individuals, and others who produced a succession of illustrious rabbinical scholars or community leaders whose lines of descent were studied and preserved over thecenturies.
There were numerous well-documented rabbinical lineages, Chassidic dynasties, and tzaddiks in the Russian Empire, and throughout Eastern Europe. Typically, these rabbinical lineages were very large families, with thousands of descendants, and were genetically interconnected through marriage with one another. Due to the endogamous nature of the Jewish population, many of us share a common ancestor in one or more of these rabbinic families.
For centuries, Jews have preserved their yichus by connecting themselves to these rabbinical families, either through marriage, or by paper trail, but, what can be done for those whose yichus has been lost? Fortunately, there is another way to connect to these rabbinical families –
through DNA. Thanks to recent advances in genetic genealogy and DNA technology, this is now possible to do for many more individuals of Jewish descent than ever before.https://www.academia.edu/35426038/Discovering_your_Lost_Jewish_Heritage_through_Y_DNA?email_work_card=view-paper