Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2006-12 > 1165942898

From: ellen Levy <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Is there such thing as Jewish DNA?
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2006 09:01:38 -0800 (PST)
In-Reply-To: <BAY124-W23BF039D63B4B6708128AD9ED10@phx.gbl>

I think to a certain extent, both Sean and Kathy are
correct. Thus, while Jews constitute an ethnic group
as Sean suggests, they also match haplogroups and
haplotypes seen in other populations (and hence are
not a racial group) as noted by Kathy. I'd go a bit
further than Sean and state that certain sub-groups or
communities constitute an ethnic entity, such as
Ashkenazi Jews.

I'm not convinced that Jews as a whole constitute an
ethnic group, though they may have shared a common
ancestry to a certain unknown extent sometime in the
distant past. Sean states that Jews have similar DNA
markers that date back thousands of years. I think
this is an oversimplification and overgeneralization
of the DNA results thus far, but in agreement with
Behar's statement in the Pash article that was also
posted to the List this week. I don't think we really
know to what extent Ashkenazi Jews match Sephardic
Jews. Ashkenazim do not appear to match Middle
Eastern Jews to any great extent. And looking at
other ethnic "criteria" such as common culture, food,
language, etc., there are significant differences
between these diverse Jewish communities.

I'd suggest a more accurate statement is that some
Ashkenazi Jews appear to share some Y chromosome
markers that suggest a shared Israelite ancestry and
certainly strong founder effects.

However, they also genetically match many Europeans
and Central Asians. Ashkenazim display significant
ancestry that is more "recent" in origin and does not
presently suggest a point of origin in ancient Judea.
This doesn't negate the idea of their ethnicity. I
simply think the picture is more genetically and
culturally complex than is generally presented,
including by Bennett and Behar in the Pash article.

I think this raises an important question for those of
Ashkenazi descent to consider. Is Ashkenazi ethnicity
on a genetic level to be confined to those results
that indicate "an affiliation with a group from the
Levant/Near East" as Behar states? If so, then
Ashkenazi Jews are forced to disregard any genetic
"affiliation" that originated post-Diaspora or from
regions other than Middle East, including much of the
mtDNA lineages and Y groups like Q, I and R1a.

If you reread the Pash article, this "Semitic profile"
as described by Bennett is clearly the emphasis,
despite the one acknowledgement in the article that
from biblical times onwards, converts have been
accepted into the Jewish religion.

As an analogy, it was once suggested to me that the
formation of the Ashkenazi community can be viewed as
a bus. As for the people who got on the bus, where
they came from originally and when they got on the bus
should not matter. But I'm suggesting that it does
matter. It seems to matter a lot.

Ellen Coffman

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