Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2005-04 > 1113202661

From: "Kiernan O'Rourke-Phipps" <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Jewish/non-Jewish surname and Y-DNA results
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 23:57:41 -0700
In-Reply-To: <>


Thanks for you taking the time to give such a considered answer.

> This may not
> be the answer you were hoping to hear, but I think it
> is the most accurate.

Well, I'm not actually "hoping" for anything from raising this topic--except
to increase my understanding of how DNA can be used to supplement
linguistic, historical, anthropological, and plain old genealogical
documentation. My father's surname is just an example of a family puzzle
that many other people might also have since surname studies are being
conducted through Y-DNA testing. That is, surnames shared across groups are
going to raise such questions when people first try to interpret their Y-DNA

It seems from what you say that Y-DNA can NOT be used to distinguish Jewish
from non-Jewish ancestry. OK.

But I am puzzled by the idea of taking European (whether Christian or pagan
or whatever) as the default for R1b rather than just saying that Y-DNA won't
help prove Jewish or non-Jewish ancestry either way. I can see it if being
Jewish is being viewed as more of a cultural/religious concept than genetic
category. Also OK.

I'm sure you've had enough of this discussion. So thanks again for your


> From: ellen Levy <>
> Reply-To:
> Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 21:21:28 -0700 (PDT)
> To:
> Subject: Re: [DNA] Jewish/non-Jewish surname and Y-DNA results
> Resent-From:
> Resent-Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 22:21:35 -0600
> Kiernan:
> Do you mean do I always view R1b as non-Jewish or
> European in origin? I view the original source of
> Jewish R1b as European (not necessarily as
> "Christian." Could have just as easily been pagan,
> depending on when the admixture or conversion
> occurred). That means that when the Jews came to
> settle in Europe, R1b became part of the genetic
> makeup of the Jews over time. So yes - I take R1b as
> "non-Jewish" as a default position, though there are
> Jews who are R1b (approximately 9% of the Ashkenazi
> results) and have been Jewish for 1500 years or more.
> There is no evidence, however, that Jewish R1b is
> Middle Eastern/Israelite in origin.
> So if you are non-Jewish and are R1b and have no
> genealogical history of any Jewish background, then
> chances are pretty overwhelming that your ancestry is
> non-Jewish.
> As for Jews who are R1b needing to find "evidence" of
> Jewish background through something other than DNA, I
> agree with that statement in a way, though that goes
> for all Jews, not just R1b Jews. Rather, they don't
> need to find "evidence," but their ethnicity is
> generally based on something other than DNA results.
> Now Jewish DNA researchers were no doubt thrilled to
> find genetic evidence of Middle Eastern/Israelite
> ancestry (haplogroup J1 in particular). This helped
> "prove" that they were not just the spiritual
> descendants, but also the genetic descendants, of the
> ancient Israelites.
> However, that is the reaction of DNA researchers and
> those of us who are interested in such topics, not the
> majority of the Jewish community. Most of them
> couldn't care less about DNA and what it "proves."
> Maybe that is because most Jews just assumed there was
> a direct genetic link. Or maybe that is because most
> view the spiritual/religious inheritance as
> outweighing the necessity of finding any genetic link.
> In any case, most Jews out there don't base their
> Jewish ethnicity on their DNA. DNA results don't
> "prove" ethnicity among Jews. Heck, even being J1
> doesn't "prove" you are Cohanim. Do you think the
> synagogues have kicked out the Cohens who have results
> other than J1? DNA testing is a relatively new
> science anyway. My father, for example, couldn't care
> less about DNA testing and what it reflects about the
> complex genetic origins of European Jews (he is R1a,
> by the way). All he knows is that he was born Jewish
> and that his parents were Jewish and his grandparents
> and so on back.
> If you match Jewish R1b Semlers (as you stated "raised
> in the faith and/or cultural ties, paper trail, etc),
> then there is a possibility that you may have Jewish
> ancestry. However, there is a much stronger
> possibility that your Jewish Semler's have European
> ancestry (in fact, they almost certainly do) and that
> a Christian Semler simply converted to Judaism
> sometime in the past.
> As far as I can tell you have no history of being
> Jewish in a genealogical, cultural, or religious
> sense. There is basically no family history of being
> Jewish. You are R1b with no known genetic connection
> to any Jewish Semler's (you haven't tested Jewish
> Semler's and found them to be R1b with a haplotype
> that matches your own). Thus, from this information,
> at this point in time, you can assume that you most
> likely have no Jewish genetic ancestry. This may not
> be the answer you were hoping to hear, but I think it
> is the most accurate.
> Ellen Coffman
> --- Kiernan O'Rourke-Phipps <>
> wrote:
>> Hi Ellen,
>> Thanks for that. OK. You're saying that Y-DNA is at
>> present silent on the
>> subject of Jewish/non-Jewish--it doesn't say we are
>> and doesn't say we
>> aren't because R1b is R1b--whoever has it. That
>> makes sense. So an R1b
>> Semmler with two "m's" in their name is no different
>> in DNA terms than a R1b
>> Semler with one "m". If I'm reading you correctly.
>> So does that mean that you would take non-Jewish as
>> the default position for
>> R1b? That is, would you always (almost always?)
>> assume Christian for an an
>> R1b, no matter what their surname, unless there was
>> clear non-genetic
>> evidence that an R1b was Jewish (raised in the faith
>> and/or cultural ties,
>> paper trail, etc.)?
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