It's been four years now since I first sent my DNA sample, a painless cheek
swab, off to a well known commercial DNA testing firm. It is an adventure that
I highly recommend to all Gersiggers. It has revealed a whole new layer of
genealogic research for me with 17 new mt DNA cousins to date. I've made new
discoveries about possible migration patterns of the women in my family and
[stimulated fascinating] speculation about our origins.
DNA testing is a natural extension of what we are all doing with traditional
genealogy. Some of that is finding ancestors, connecting them with others,
giving their histories some life and putting them in a historical context. The
process of doing this has made genealogy an addictive hobby for me. I highly
recommend giving DNA testing a try if you have not done it yet. Like
genealogy, the more of us who do it, the more we will all benefit.
When I got my test results back four years ago there was only one other
exact match to my mutations. The lab told me that I was in what is known as
Haplogroup i as in Iris. What was clear is that it is an uncommon Haplogroup.
Only one percent of Jews belong to this group, or only one in 100 Jewish people.
I was given the name and email of my exact match. He had an unusual name so
a G-search revealed that he lived in California. I called him and found
that he was a retired lawyer. My DNA match was Jewish and knew that his family
was >from Belarus but not more than the names of two generations back. My
maternal line is >from several small towns in south western Germany (Hessan
Nassau). We are a well documented family with many intermarriages going back to
the early 1700s. The lawyer and I exchanged some pictures with email but
couldn't establish anything in common.
Next was a google search for more understanding of the Haplogroup i. There
was a lot about the Y Haplogroup i, not so much about mitochondrial. I found
that there was a large cluster of people, the men's Y on the western coast of
Ireland. I also found a great website by Bonnie Schrack devoted to our
Haplogroup. She gave us the name Iris which made a lot of sense since on the
computer the i looks a lot like a one or small L. Bonnie's site gave an explanation
that our ancestors were among the first hunter gatherers to make their way
into Europe about 26,000 years ago.
As time went on, I was getting notices of matches every other month or
so.Only three have not responded to emails. Of our group of 18 two of us have
German roots. One is >from Hungary but with a family story of German origins. The
others come >from Belarus, Galacia,Romania, Austria, Biyalystok, and
Lithuania. All who have responded are Jewish.
As our group has grown we have a critical mass of members who are doing
serious research about the meaning of our mutations which, by the way, have no
medical significance. We are now exploring the question of Sephardic rootsand
trying to put together a medical history. We are also comparing photos with
some striking results. We are located in all corners of the USA.
My sister and I met our California dna cousin several months ago. She is the
most active in researching our group. Like traditional genealogy it is good
to have more than one person doing some serious research. After the NY
Conference my sister and I met for lunch with two of our NYC dna cousins. It was an
exciting meeting with lots of family pictures and lots of talking. I noticed
that my sister and our two new cousins all had the same nose!
I'll report in more detail if there is interest. Please respond privately for
more details about commercial DNA testing.
Linda Levine Cambridge, MA LLevine2@aol.com
Researching in Germany: BAER >from Stebbach, WEINSCHENK >from Eppingen,
STRAUSS >from Selters, STRAUSS >from Hachenburg, HORKHEIMER and LEVI from
Freudental, HIRSCH or HIRSHCMAN >from Freudental. KAHN >from Stebbach, HEILBERG
from Meudt.MODERATOR NOTE: This is a summary of conversations I had with Ms. Levine during
the NY2006 Conference. I found her experiences with this form of research
interesting and suggested that she write about them for our Forum. JewishGen
hosts a list like GerSIG devoted to discussion of DNA based genealogy
research for those interested in more detailed discussion of the subject.