Changing Market for Home DNA Testing

Herbert Lazerow

    Part of the problem with dna testing services is that our expectations are too high and their explanations are too minimal, and often not read.
    1. There is a lot of "noise" dna out there that matches, especially for Ashkenazi Jews and other communities with a long history of intra-marriage.  For that reason, a large number of centiMorgans of match may not tell us much except that at some point in history, there was a common ancestor.  The problem is that for Jews whose ancestors come from eastern Europe, records only began to be kept in the 1800s, and many of those records have since been destroyed or temporarily lost.  For that reason, we can neither confirm nor deny a relationship based on a common ancestor who was born much before 1800.  What tells us in a rough way how long ago the common ancestor lived is the second number, the length of the longest consecutive string of matching dna.  It seems to require a minimum of 20 cMs, and more often 40 cMs, to find a common ancestor after 1800.
    2. We each can be sure that we are receiving 50% of our dna from each parent.  Thus, in a perfect statistical world, grandfather (gf) would have 50% of greatgrandfather’s (ggf) dna and 50% greatgrandmother’s dna.  Gf’s son father (f) would have 25% ggf dna, and father’s son (s) would have 12.5% ggf.  However, that is not exactly how it works because
    3.  the 50% of each of your parent's genes you receive is a RANDOM half.  Assume that ggf had only 8 genes, A-H.  Assume further that gf inherited 4 of them, genes A-D, 50%.  F inherited 50% of gf’s genes, but which ones? It could have been A-D, in which case father would have 50% ggf genes, just like gf. If father inherited genes E-H, father would have no ggf genes. Either result is possible, though neither is the most statistically likely.  It is more likely that f inherited 3, 2, or 1 ggf genes. Let's say he inherited 2, though it might as easily have been 1 or 3.  Now I make my grand entrance into the world.  How many ggf genes do I get? Maximum is 2, because that was all f had.  I am more likely to get 1 than 2, and more likely to get none than 2, because I had only a 1 in 4 chance of getting any, since only 2 of father’s genes were ggf genes.
    4. Which seems depressing for the likelihood of finding relatives by dna testing, but the good news is that we each have more than 8 genes. We have about 3 billion “base pairs”. Even at the remove of 5 generations, there is likely to be some evidence of relatedness. 
    This is why my test reports such different numbers of matched centiMorgans for people who bear the same relationship to me. My known second cousins vary from 291 total matched centiMorgans/75 cMs longest matched segment to 240/43 to 200/21.  I have a third cousin with whom I share only 103 cMs, but our longest consecutive string is 60 cMs.
    Sometimes I think that science is not nearly as precise as we non-scientists believe. Or perhaps it is very precise, but we need to learn to read it better.  For Ashkenazi Jews, big total cMs are not as important as long length of longest strand.
    That raises three problems with home dna testing companies. I have tested with Family Tree DNA and Ancestrydna, and posted my Family Tree results to MyHeritage, so I can only speak about those services.
     The services vary in different ways.  Ancestrydna advertises that it has the largest database.  My hunch is that Family Tree DNA has the largest Jewish database.  MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA provide a host of services and information for comparing your results with others. Ancestrydna does not even provide the length of the longest continuous stretch of matching dna; you can try to figure it out from the number of segments counted and the total amount that matches, but that is just a guess.
     Those services that ask for ancestral surnames do not ask very effectively.  The time to ask is in your application for the testing kit, but that would slow down the moment when the customer pays his money.  They could direct you to an appropriate form when they send you notice that your results are ready, but they do not. You must find it yourself.
     It is incredibly frustrating to have a match and message the person, but receive no response. I always send my ancestral surnames and locations to my matches.  I assume that a person who does not respond finds no matching surname or geography, but that is not always true.  Some known relatives have not responded. An alternate explanation is that these are people who received the test kit as a gift or who did the test as an accommodation to a close family member, but are really not interested.
     On messaging, there is a big difference between Family Tree DNA, which provides the e-mail address of your matches, and Ancestrydna and MyHeritage, which require that you communicate through their internal messaging service.  For a period the latter did not allow use of the messaging service if you did not continue to subscribe.  I think they have discontinued that limitation.
     The changing market for home DNA testing may simply reflect a changing fad, disillusionment due to excessively high expectations, too many companies dividing the market, or the fact that most people who want testing have done it. Company mergers might benefit users because they would increase the size of the database used for comparison, but one must always be aware that there are competition laws both in Europe and the U.S. that may present legal impediments to mergers, or even sharing of databases between companies.
Herbert Lazerow
Professor of Law, University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park, San Diego CA 92110 U.S.A.
(619)260-4597 office, (858)453-2388 cell, lazer@...
Author: Mastering Art Law (Carolina Academic Press 2015)

Stern-Perl family in Brooklyn NY.

Neil Rosenstein

Looking to make contact with the family of Avraham David Perl and his
wife Meita (Marta) born Stern in Strimtura, Rumania in 1881 and came
to the US in about 1913 and were Sighter Chassidim in Williamsburg and
members of the Sighter synagogue on Hewes Street

New publication of Jews of Czestochowa, translation of Tshenstokhover Yidn

Joel Alpert

The Yizkor-Books-In-Print Project is pleased to announce its 92st
title: Jews of Czestochowa, translation of Tshenstokhover Yidn
Original Book Edited by Dr. Raphael Mahler
Published by the United Czestochower Relief Committee and Ladies
Auxiliary, NY 1947
Project Coordinator and Translator: Gloria Berkenstat Freund
Layout: Donni Magid and Janice Sellers
Cover Design: Rachel Kolokoff Hopper

Hard Cover, 11” by 8.5”, 824 pages with all original illustrations and

This Memorial Book was written by former residents of Czestochowa,
Poland. Some who left the town before the war wrote articles and
essays about the rich Jewish life in town: the people, the dreamers,
the doers, the ultra-religious, the secular, the Zionists, the
socialists…The various institutions in town, the charities and the
help societies for the needy.

This book contains many first-hand accounts and personal remembrances
of the survivors and emigrees from these towns and serves at a fitting
memorial to these destroyed Jewish communities and in addition bears
witness to their destruction.

For the researchers, this book contains a wealth of both genealogical
and cultural information that can provide us with a picture of the
environment our ancestors left when they left the town.

Consider this book as a Purim gift to a special relative.
For all our publications see:
For ordering information see:

Discounts available for orders of 4 or more books: email to ybip@...
List price: $72.95 Available on Amazon for around $53 may have lower
prices elsewhere

Czestochowa is located at 50 deg 48 min / 19 deg 00min

Alternate names for the town are: Czestochowa [Polish], Chenstochov
[Yiddish], Tschenstochau [German], Censtochová [Czech], Chenstokhova
[Russian], Chenstokhov, Chestokhova, Tshenstokhov

Nearby Jewish communities:
Olsztyn 7 miles ESE
Mstow 8 miles ENE
Kamyk 9 miles NNW
Klobuck 11 miles NW
Aurelow 13 miles NE
Truskolasy 13 miles WNW
Miedzno 14 miles NNW
Janow, (near Czestochowa) 15 miles ESE
Zarki 16 miles SE
Przyrow 17 miles E
Myszkow 18 miles SE

Re: LUCHANSKY, Koshevata, Ukraine and LUBCHANSKY, Grodno, Belarus


There is more similarity in English between the two surnames than there is in Russia. Lubchansky is, most likely, is LYUBchansky in Russian. It is the same issue of transliteration as with my own name: Feldblyum vs. Feldblum.


There is a town of Lyubcha in Belarus, which was probably the source of the name Lyubchansky.


OTOH, there is a town of Luchin somewhere in the Kiev region, which was probably the source of the Nmae Luchinsky, Luchansky, etc.


That is not to say, however, that the two families cannot be related, or that a spelling variation could not be introduced in the US.



Boris Feldblyum Architectural Photography * 8510 Wild Olive Drive, Potomac, MD 20854, USA * 301-424-2654 *


Check the latest on Instagram


Boris Feldblyum

Re: Mogilev Birth Index #belarus

David Ellis

On FamilySearch, I found the following index to multiple books of vital records from Mogilev:

The records are handwritten in Russian and Hebrew, and the microfilm images can be viewed online.  Image quality is faint and hard to read.

The absence of a child's name from the birth record index is likely to indicate a male who died before the age of one week.

Have you updated your or your societies' website to https? This is critical

Jan Meisels Allen


Google announced this week that they will be blocking download of files, including pdfs, from non-HTTPS sites on Chrome browser starting with the next few releases this year. This includes if you have a mixture of http and https [ages non https downloads started on secure pages.


“Starting in Chrome 82 (to be released April 2020), Chrome will gradually start warning on, and later blocking, these mixed content downloads. File types that pose the most risk to users (e.g., executables) will be impacted first, with subsequent releases covering more file types.”


Google plans plan to roll out restrictions on mixed content downloads on desktop platforms (Windows, macOS, Chrome OS and Linux) first. Their plan for desktop platforms is as follows:





Thank you to David Oseas, JGSCV webmaster for sharing this information.



Jan Meisels Allen

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee




Re: Brothers Spell Their Name Differently

Molly Staub

I would enter both BOTH men as Tabachnik/Tabatchnik. That way, anything that
appears under each can be compared for parents, residences. etc.

Molly Arost Staub
Boca Raton, FL


Re: Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance, Mechelen, Belgium's Web site

is one of many items that popped up in a google search. it has an extensive list of links, databases, etc related to the Holocaust in Belgium

Linda Riesenberg Rakoff
Newton, Massachusetts, USA
ASCHNER‑Assakurte, Berko, Beuthen/Bytom, Berlin, Bratislava, Brezova p. Bradlom, Brunn, Budapest, Cakovec , Chorzow [Konigshutte], Danzig, Hradiste nad Vratom, Katlo, Kattowitz, Nyitra, Kosice, Ratibor, Spisska Nova Ves, Warsaw, Wien, Wroclaw, Zagreb,  
GOLDMAN(N), LANGER ‑Kosice, Bolyar; Miskolc, Presov
LOW'Y‑Brezova, Hradiste, Spisska Nova Ves; 
MELTZER, PERLBINDER, LADENHEIM‑‑ Horodenka, Zaleszczyki, Galicia
RIESENBERG‑ Horodenka, Kasperowce, Zaleszczyki

WWII German Ammunition Factory in Minden, Westfalen, Germany #germany

Marsha Abraham Shapiro

From 1942-45, my mother worked, with false identity papers, in an ammunition factory located in the district of Minden, Westfalen, Germany.  I would like to identify the name of the factory.  She remembered the owner's surname as something like Siddorf.  
Marsha Abraham Shapiro

ABRAHAM, HOFFMAN, KOENIGSBERG, ACKERMAN - Nagyrakocz/Vel'ky Rakovec, Polyana, Hungary/Czechoslovakia
BOHRER, WACHS/WAKS - Dabrowica (Podkarpackie),Grodzisko, Lezajsk, Jastrzebiec, Kurylowka,Tarnawiec,Poland
WAGNER - Dabrowica (Podkarpackie), Poland
ZIMMERMAN - Tarnogrod, Poland

Re: Looking for help please - searching great grandparents - ALBEITMAN /PFEFFER

Susan Millar

Hello again,

I can see from Harry’s naturalisation papers that he was born in Warsaw and was of Russian nationality.

I have tried searching for any records for my family on JewishGen.   The only record that comes up for me is the marriage of Eva Albeitman to Richard Ingram.

I would like to ask if anyone is able and willing , to perhaps search for the birth record / marriage record of Esther Milly PFEFFER to Mark (Mordechai) Albeitman.

I would assume they were married in Warsaw.    I have no knowledge of any siblings.  According to Esther and Mark’s headstone, both had fathers named Abraham.

I have seen the name David Pfeiffer written on an envelope by my grandfather Richard.  I have no idea who David might be.

I am at a total loss as to how to proceed from here.

I thank you in advance for any help anyone is able to give me.

New Zealand

Mogilev Birth Index #belarus

Marilyn Robinson

While researching the surname, YUDIN, I came across the "Mogilev Birth Index for Boys, 1864-1894 Database" on JewishGen. The index had the following information:
YUDIN (surname)---1879 (birth)---- 248 (index)--- Leiba (father).
How/where can I see a copy of the original document? Would it be available online??

Thank you.
Marilyn Robinson
Researching: Yudin, Kwass/Kvass/Kuoss,


David Lewin

Is there anyone with LEBRECHT and BRASCH research in East and West Prussia ?

Edward Yuda LEBRECHT (b.2 Nov 1822-Liebemuehl,Kreis Osterode d.14 Nov
1899/12 Nov 1900-Strasburg
Charlotte BRASCH (b.31 Dec 1832/1 Jan 1833-Bladiau,Heiligenbeil d.9
Jan 1901-Brodnica,Strasburg)

related location: Briesen,West Prussia, Bladiau,Heiligenbeil, Gollub, Berlin
Hagenau,Kr Mohrungen,East Prussia
Zintern Ostpreussen
Liebemuehl,Kreis Osterode

David Lewin

Re: Asking Family For Information

Laurie Sosna

It does depend on how much you already know, what you are looking for and how close you are to the family members.
Start with what you know and let them fill in the rest.  People will add to or correct, the blank form can be daunting.

I've had mixed results with relatives, some will give you a lot of info, others just won't.
You can follow up with emails and phone calls, but unless you are in the same room, you can't be sure of results.
I record the conversation, if I can. Using an app on my phone is less intrusive, people forget it's on.

I had a phone call once with a cousin, I tried to keep her on track, but things went off the rails pretty quickly.
Memory is a fluid thing, it meanders and wanders and connects in strange ways. Older relatives can get tired, or emotional. You have to legislate for that.

If you search for family history questionnaire genealogy, you'll find some great lists of questions.
Looking through them will give you an idea of how broad you can go.

There are some useful forms online, I searched for: family history form genealogy

Laurie Sosna

Re: Brothers Spell Their Name Differently

Laurie Sosna

I've got a lot of those (Levin/Levine) (Levitz/Levitt) (Sosna/Susner) (Goikhman/Hochman).

In my Reunion database, I use the spelling they chose and the original name (usually the oldest ancestor) in parentheses.

When it comes to online research (Ancestry, FamilySearch) I try to research them as individuals, adjusting spelling as I go.

If I find a document, I download it and name it with the spelling they chose.
All documents go into a folder with the family name (commonest spelling) and subfolders (census, naturalization, manifests, etc.)

Laurie Sosna
San Francisco, CA

Given name "Motchi" #lithuania

David Gordon

For years, I have dutifully included in my family tree an individual with the given name "Motchi."  That was how it was provided to me by a great-aunt, now long dead.  When pushed for more information, either about the name, the person, or the person's history, she knew nothing.  She knew (from stories) only of a given name that sounded like Motchi.  I've never made any headway at all discovering who this person was. 

Recently, I made contact with another family member who also had the name Motchi in his tree, backed by a similar oral tradition.  To make things even more complicated, in my version, the name belonged to a woman.  In his tradition, it was a man's name.  The only thing both traditions agree on is that this person, whoever he or she was, lived in Lithuania in the early to mid-19th century.  Even the last name is uncertain. 

Despite valiant efforts to discover a more "formal" name that this might be a nickname or other version of, we have both come up empty-handed.  Can anyone help us decipher the name?  Or even the right gender?  Thanks in advance.


David Gordon
tiganeasca /at/ gmail
Chicago, Illinois (USA)

GORDON: Butrimonys, Eisiskes, Daukniunai; HORWITZ: Smolevichi, Lapichi
GEBALOVITCH: Borisov; DRAZIN: Bobruisk





Re: Looking for people from Hertsa.


My husband's grandmother, Anna Moskovitz (I've used all the variant spellings), came from Hertsa.  She had 4 older sisters & came to NYC in 1906 when she was 12, so she was born in1894.  She lived with 1-2 of her older sisters until she married  Nathan Ginis c.1913-4.   Nathan died in the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918.  That's about all we know about her Rumanian roots. I've found photos of the town's old synagogue which is, of course, now used differently.  We'd love to learn more about her and her town.

Re: Brothers Spell Their Name Differently

Shelley Mitchell

Often the name change is automatically done with change of country in charge. For example, my family named Platz became Plac when Ukraine was in charge.
Shelley Mitchell 

Re: Asking Family For Information

Ina Getzoff

Depending on who you plan to interview for family information you can either set up an appointment with them and have your list of questions for the information you want to know or if they are in another part of the country you can speak with them on the phone. You can also e-mail them the questions and ask them to answer to the best of their ability. Lastly, you might want to speak with them and possibly record their answers if you have the ability to do that. Just a few suggestions.
Ina Getzoff
Delray Beach, Fla

Re: Brothers Spell Their Name Differently

david rafky

My fathers name was louis rafky, and his brother was herbert ravka. I believe ravka was the singular version of the name (I am  herbert ravka) and rafky was the plural version (I am a member of the rafky family). Just an educated guess. David Rafky. 

Re: Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance, Mechelen, Belgium's Web site


Here is the correct URL: 
Gershon S. Lehrer
Antwerp, Belgium

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