Re: A curious mtDNA question #dna

Mashiach L. Bjorklund

mtDNA does not reflect very recent ancestry very well. So perhaps deep in your family roots you had a Sephardic maternal ancestor. In other words a common ancestor who's descendants are now both Ashkenazi and Sephardic. It's also possible that deep in your family roots a maternal female sibling or cousin married into a Sephardic family. Those Sephardic descendants would also have similar mtDNA to yours even though collectively you share a common Ashkenazi ancestor with them.

In any case, intermarriage was not that uncommon between both groups, even hundreds of years ago. Ultimately all Jews descend from the same group of common ancestors as well. The Netherlands has had an active Sephardic community since the 1400's. They literally lived next door to their Ashkenazi neighbors for hundreds of years and I am sure there are plenty of examples of intermarriage from that. Many other places (like Greece and Italy) have had both groups living side by side for longer than that.

BTW, my wife's grandmother was Sephardic from the Azores and her grandfather was Ashkenazi. So my daughter has Sephardic mtDNA but she was raised in the Ashkenazi culture as were her parents (us). But it was traditional genealogy and oral family history that explained her DNA results to us.

So while your DNA discovery is interesting, any real answer will probably still have to come from traditional genealogy. In the mean time, try a few Sephardic dishes for dinner. See if the taste has a familiar ring to it.

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