DNA Research #DNA Re: Sephardic or Ashkenazi? #dna

R Jaffer

In response to Yohanan Loeffler's question as to why his cousin's DNA
results did not show any Sephardic results >from his Dutch ancestors,
there are two possible answers. The one he is seeking is scientific,
and the short answer is 1) there is currently no "Sephardic" test, 2)
luck of the draw as to which genes your cousin inherited from
ancestors who lived 200+ years ago, and 3, his results might be
slightly different if sent to a different testing company. Others will
probably give a more detailed response to this question.

The second possible answer is that his Dutch ancestors were not
Sephardic. You have taken over a tree created by another person who
"was no so involved in research methods". There were separate
Ashkenazic and Sephardic synagogues, cemeteries, and records in
Amsterdam. You did not state where in Holland his ancestors lived or
when they left, so it is difficult to give exact advice.

I suggest that you try to find his ancestors in the excellent online
Ashkenazic databases found at: https://www.dutchjewry.org . The
Portuguese records there are fewer. The key to tracing his family is
to learn the surname the family adopted in 1811 if they were
Ashkenazi. The Portuguese mostly had surnames >from the 16th century. I
paid an Amsterdam archivist to help me find my husband's family in the
records. When most families left Holland to go to English speaking
countries, they dropped their adopted surname and went back to a
patronymic type surname. His Posnanki, meaning >from Posen, family in
Amsterdam, became Ezekiels in the US and his Richter family in
Amsterdam uses Levy here. Once I had the correct family, I was able to
trace back many generations in Amsterdam through the databases
mentioned above.

The other thing to keep in mind is that while the Sephardi and
Ashkenazi did not usually intermarry in Amsterdam, that isn't true
when they left their country. Moses Ezekiel, 1844-1917, the first
Jewish American sculptor, wrote in his memoir assembled in "Memoirs
from the Baths of Diocletian" that his family was Sephardic. He has
been widely quoted and assumed to be correct. While his mother was a
De Castro and obviously Sephardic, his father was an Ezekiel/Posnanki,
a family that needed to adopt a surname because they didn't have one.
His paternal grandparents had died before he was born, and he therefor
only knew his Sephardic grandparents. Moses Ezekiel stated that his
father told him his family was Sephardic because the groups never
intermarried. However, while Moses Ezekiel's mother was born in
Amsterdam. his father was born in Philadelphia in 1812 and married his
Sephardic wife in Virginia in 1835. They shared their Dutch
background, and Ashkenazi/Sephardi heritage was not as important in
this country. So, your family assumptions should be tested and
documents located. I have been able to trace the Ezekiel/Posnanki
family back through a distant maternal grandmother to the first cantor
of the Great Synagogue (Ashkenazi) of Amsterdam in the 17th century,
and all of the Ezekiel/Posnanki line are buried in Askenazi
cemeteries. Sir Moses Jacob Ezekiel was only half Sephardic!

For further background information see:

Roberta Jaffer
Massachusetts, USA

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