Jesse Springer <Jessemspringer@...>
Hoping someone with experience finding elusive Jewish ancestors based on DNA matches can help...
My dad didn't know he had Jewish ancestry until taking a MyHeritage DNA test and receiving his report that estimates he is ~19% Ashkenazi and ~11.5% West Asian (the remaining ethnicity percentages are English & Irish/Scottish, which we anticipated but expected to total nearly 100% combined).
Anyways...the West Asian DNA is also assumed to be from a Jewish ancestor because when we filter his genetic matches to show only those with West Asian results, the first match is named Avi Cohen, and the name of another is written in Hebrew and lives in Israel.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but these percentages seem to suggests that at least 1 of his grandparents was of nearly 100% Jewish ancestry. This is a complete mystery to us, as for several generations his family identified as Irish, English & Scottish (his report attested that this is indeed the case, just not to the extend he anticipated), and we have the documents that show the births of his known ancestors in Ireland and England, as well as their immigration to the USA.
Using MorleyDNA and YFull software, my father's haplogroup is predicted to be Q-M378. From what I've researched, the majority of Irish males belong to the R haplogroup (his paternal line all identified as Irish, while his maternal line was mostly English & some Scottish). My dad's surname is HALLORAN (originally O'HALLORAN when his paternal great-grandfather lived in Ireland; he changed it to Halloran upon immigration to USA). There's a Y-DNA haplogroup project at FTDNA for males with surname Halloran/O'Halloran, and sure enough, the ones so far who have contributed to the project consistently test as R haplogroup, which is not surprising considering that's the haplogroup of most Irish men.
From what I've read, haplogroup Q-M378 is fairly common in Ashkenazi and also West Asian males. So in light of this, we've concluded that his Ashkenazi/West Asian ancestry was on his paternal side. This certainly helps narrow things down, but still leaves us scratching our heads because of the Halloran surname and several generations of Irish Catholic idenity without a hint of Jewish ancestry. We know my dad wasn't adopted, as he looks just like his father, and although his brother doesn't look much him, his brother's son looks almost like he and my dad could be twins. We are fairly certain his father wasn't adopted because he closely resembles his 9 siblings (I don't have a picture of his parents to compare but I'm assuming there's just no way they adopted 9 children who all looked alike). One possibility is that my grandfather's dad was adopted. But this also seems unlikely since we have his birth certificate and nothing hints at adoption, so it leaves me wondering if an extramarital affair took place and that's why his paternal haplogroup deviates from the typical R haplogroup of Irish/Halloran males. If this is what happened, it seems unlikely to ever find out who the real father was... but I am hoping that one day the truth can be found and my father can know more about his genetic ancestors.
Thanks so much in advance for your time and helpful suggestions! I apologize for such a long post! 🤭