Re: Autosomal Analysis Question #dna

Kevin Brook

Over the years, many JewishGenners have been curious about perceived East Asian physical traits (especially eye shapes) in certain members of their Ashkenazic families and genetic tests that assigned some of them tiny percentages of East Asian ancestry. Some of these posters speculated that the traits and genes could have come from Khazars, Mongols, or Tatars. If the source(s) had been Mongols, they feared that rape had been responsible.

The good news is we definitely didn't get these from rapists since the actual contributors were not men.  The scientific evidence for the source population wasn't revealed in earlier JewishGen messages (I searched the archive).

Now we know that in medieval times, probably the 1200s or 1300s, a Chinese woman traveled west on the Silk Road and she ended up becoming probably the first Chinese person to permanently settle in Europe, and not only that but she converted to Judaism and married a Jewish man and had at least one daughter and at least one granddaughter and her lineage continued from there, all raised in the Jewish community.  Sadly, we'll never learn her name or hometown or life story, which were unrecorded.  Obviously, if the Chinese settler had been a man instead, we would have been likely able to determine his surname by looking through a Y-DNA (paternal) match list.

It goes without saying that her native language and traditions didn't pass down to us to any degree.  What she did pass down is her mitochondrial sequence.  Scientists identified a mtDNA (maternal) haplogroup called M33c that is found mostly among Chinese ethnicities.  Its daughter branch M33c2 is also found among Chinese, specifically at least Han Chinese in Sichuan province, but also among Ashkenazic Jews from Eastern Europe. (Not among the original German Jews.)

Deborah Schilmeister Levenstein's great-uncle was right!

In addition, the East Asian haplogroups A and N9a3 among Ashkenazim likely came from Chinese women, too.

I had already provided some preliminary details to Mike Rothenberg via private email in March 2014 so his question in message #32910 from November 2017 surprises me. Anyway, I wanted you all to know what I know.


Jiao-Yang Tian, Hua-Wei Wang, et al., "A Genetic Contribution from the Far East into Ashkenazi Jews via the Ancient Silk Road," Scientific Reports 5 (February 11, 2015): article no. 8377.

Kevin Alan Brook, "The Chinese Lady who Joined the Ashkenazic People," Jewish Times Asia, March 2015, page 19.

Kevin Alan Brook, The Jews of Khazaria, Third Edition (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2018) on pages 203-204.

Kevin Brook

In reply to:

Deborah Schilmeister Levenstein, Message #306386:
"The men in his ggrandfather, my zeyde, and my greazt-uncles and great aunt all looked decidedly Asian.  One great-uncle often referred to himself as a 'Chinaman.'"

Victoria Fisch Reed, Message #199956:
"our cousin, the former DA of San Bernadino, was often mistaken for Chinese or Mexican, and I own a photograph of perhaps a great-great grandfather (we've never been sure) taken sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century, whose eyes have a decidely Asian appearance. In addition, I was in New York this weekend and got to see my first cousin's son [...] He said to me that he had forgotten this incident, but that when he was young and moved to Texas, some of the kids didn't want to play ball with him because they thought he was Korean and didn't speak English."

Andrea King, Message #257965:
"Many of the descendants of my Great Great Grandfather Aaron Bennett (including my grandma) had asian shaped eyes!"

Eric Benjaminson, Message #257421:
"We have always wondered why one of the defining physical features of male Benjaminsons is an oriental cast to our eyelids."

Joe Hirschfeld, Message #520299:
"That is why I'm told many Jews of European ancestry have an Asiatic look. This may be a myth, but that look is true in my family- one aunt particularly and a few cousins."

Ann Rabinowitz, Message #267391:
"There are many Jews who have slightly "oriental" eyes from the Baltics including several of my family."

Anne Lapidus Brest, Message #168583:
"In my ex husband's family [...] many family members have "Oriental" features.  More so in the older family members, but it has carried down through the generations and my daughter has "Oriental" eyes.  Where would this come from?  The family are from Latvia."

Evelyn Filippi, Message #200011:
Evelyn thought Israelis whose ancestors lived in Russia, unlike other Israelis, "had the look  of Mongol to me . They had  it  in the eyes."

Charles Nydorf, Message #31737:
"A component associated with East Asian populations like the Hmong of China is .2% among the Sephardim and .8% among the Ashkenazim. These numbers are small but higher among the Ashkenazim as would be expected."

SZTARK, WAJZER and WAJNBERG from Przytyk #poland #general


I've just found out about two unknown to us  great aunts from my wife's SZTARK family from Przytyk, Poland,  one was married to Leib WAJZER
and the other to Jojna WAJNBERG (born in Kozienice). I got some information about those families from JewishGen and Yad Vashem but I wish to know more. 
According to Yad Vashem, Zvi WAJZER was the only surviver of 6 siblings, he lived in 1957 in Tel Aviv, and according to ספר פשיטיק (Przytyk Yizkor book)
he had a daughter in law named Sarah BAUM.
Any help will be appreciated.
Melbourne, Australia

Researching (main surnames):

Re: United Hebrew Cemetery St. Louis, MO #usa #names #photographs

Peter Cohen

In my research, I came across several children in my family under the age of one, that I had never heard about. It seems like it was common for the generation born in the nineteenth century to never speak of dead children. There may have been a superstition connected with it.
Peter Cohen

Re: Herrnstadt family can anyone identify those people in this photos #germany #israel #photographs

Simon Srebrny

I can't answer your question, but I have put together a modest, incomplete tree of this Herrnstadt family.
Else Herrnstadt, wife of Oscar Grab, was born in Lissa on 21 Feb 1884.

Simon Srebrny
from London, living in Berlin

Re: How many "first names" did people have? #names

Jeremy Lichtman

I've frequently seen this in Polish or Lithuanian records.

People typically had two names. They were generally interchangeable (unless they only liked one of them!), which is odd to people today who are used to a first name / second name schema.


Jeremy Lichtman
Toronto, Canada

Descendants of Harry and Anna(Feldman) Katz #usa


Harry Katz, b. April, 1888, Bucharest, Romania ,and his wife, Anna Feldman,b. circa 1891, had three children, all born in New York. Isadore Irving Katz, b. 29 Jan. 1917 - d. Nov. 1975; Hyman Katz ,b. 28 Feb 1918-d. April 1998; and Ethel Katz, b. @ 1921- no other information beyond the US Census 1940. These three siblings were my mother's first cousins. I would love to be able to contact their children , or grandchildren.
 Another avenue of finding my grandfather, Sam Katz, the youngest sibling of Harry (Chune) Katz . I am unsure of any marriage partners of the three. I have checked the marriage indexes , but am unable to narrow it down. 
    Thank-you , again for all your help!
   Diane Preston
   N.Stonington, CT 

Info on Selig Schlesser b. 1898 #usa

Richard Stower

I am looking for any information on Selig Schlesser who was an actor in the Yiddish Theater in NYC in the 1920s.

Thank you.

Richard Stower
Yarmouth, Maine
Dobrowa Tarnowską: KANNER, SCHMIDT, WERNER

Schwartz connection - Chicago/Aurora, IL #usa #general

Kelley Conrad

I have an unknown great-grandfather on my father's side (his mother's father) and recently had a relatively close DNA match on that side. His DNA match is close enough to me that he could possibly be a half-brother or nephew to my grandmother and cousin to my father. He knows very little about his family so I've hit a roadblock. My grandmother was born in NH 1916 and there's another close DNA match who is possibly her 1/2 sister (father unknown), born in the 1930s in Aurora, IL.

He wrote that he might have had an aunt who married into the Walgreens family. His surname is Schwartz and his father was originally from Chicago, IL. His father ran away from home at age 10 or 11 and never returned, but they believe the father's sister married into Walgreens. I don't have any dates of birth/death and he is unsure of his grandfather's given name. He believes the grandfather's name was Samuel Schwartz, but isn't 100% sure. 

Has anyone heard of a Schwartz-Walgreen connection? Anyone with Schwartz family from Chicago with a family tree I could take a look at? It's like finding a needle in a haystack since I don't have dates or much info.  

I appreciate any info!

Thank you,
Kelley Conrad
Upton, MA

Re: United Hebrew Cemetery St. Louis, MO #usa #names #photographs


Hi Debbie,

My husband who is originally from St. Louis said to contact Berger Funeral Home and Rindskof
Funeral Homes as they may have records from that era.  

Anne Goldfarb (Chana Rachel Kean

Re: Brittany centfraniers, ennobled from 1400 to 1600, Leroy, LeJuiff #france #records

Sue Nusbaum

The Book by Herve Torchet: Accounts of the Duc of Bretagne 1420-1433, available through, may provide the information you are seeking, if your ancestors bought nobility. 

"Fouages" were a royalty or tax paid by household. Torchet has published several books about changes in the Fouages. One is for Saint-Malo where my ancestors are from: The Reformation  of the Fouages of 1426, Diocese of Saint-Malo. 

These "Fouages" books are quite expensive, 215 Euros, plus shipping. 

Sue King Nusbaum
Longboat Key, FL, US

R' Moshe of Kletzk -18th Cent. #rabbinic

Yonatan Ben-Ari

There was a Moshe of Kletzk in the 18th cent. who was the father of
Rabbi David of Novarodok( the " galya Mesechta") during the 19th cent.
I do not know what his surname was , if he had one at all. I know that
he was not EISENSTAT who was a colleague of his, also from Kletzk.
His son, Rabbi David, seems also not have had a family (that I know
of). Does anyone know of any descendants of the above Moshe or if he
had a family name?

According to family lore my great great grandfather was a brother of
the above Rabbi David. Our family name was ABRAMOWITZ but no source
that I have seen mentions this family name with the above Moshe or his
son David. It is recorded that David's son , Moshe, adopted the family
name of his father-in-law HOROWITZ (from Minsk). Rabbi David's
son-in-law who published David's book was a RABINOWITZ.


Yoni Ben-Ari, Jerusalem

Who is the better option for DNA: siblings or father and son? #dna


Hi, I'm told that two relatives taking DNA tests give a better idea  but I wondered if anyone knew which is the better option out of a father and son or two brothers. We're hoping to find unknown relatives who stayed in Poland or went to the USA.
Thanks for any help,
Carol Cambers

Re: Descendants of Yosef Meir Weiss the "Imrei Yosef" #romania

Peninah Zilberman

Shalom Sarah,


Indeed “Spinka Rebbe” , from Marmaures has a large Dynasty in Bnei Brak, a religious suburb of TLV, Israel.

I just checked on Google, there are some sources which can help you to reach the people you are looking for

Good Luck

Peninah Zilberman


Peninah Zilberman


Canada 1-416-781-0330

Israel 972-54-228-8141



Sent from Mail for Windows 10


Re: Tombstone translation #translation

Mike Coleman

For the avoidance of doubt, should such be needed by any reader, my posting of the tweaked image is simply as an aid for a third party attempting a translation.

Mike Coleman, U.K.

Re: Sephardic SIG Are Tsentsiper/Zenziper/Sensibar out of Belarus of Sephardic ancestry? #sephardic

Kevin Brook

As I told Joshua via private email when he asked me the same question in August 2019, the Ashkenazic surname Zenziper/Tsentsiper isn't considered Sephardic by any of the name experts such as Alexander Beider. I am sure it isn't. It was almost certainly first assigned to Jews in the early 19th century.

Legitimate Sephardic surnames in Ashkenazic communities include Algazi, Alfasi, Kastel, and Abarbanel.

Kevin Alan Brook

Re: DNA Testing on Karaites #dna

Kevin Brook

My East European Karaite DNA study's results have been published in a peer-reviewed journal:

"The Genetics of Crimean Karaites" by Kevin Alan Brook
in Karadeniz Araştırmaları (Journal of Black Sea Studies), No. 42 (Summer 2014): pages 69-84

I also presented a summary of these results on pages 213-215 of my peer-reviewed book "The Jews of Khazaria, Third Edition" (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2018).

Kevin Alan Brook

Re: Origin of Latvian Jews #latvia

Kevin Brook

I have two pieces of good evidence for this.

1. A member of the Sephardic-turned-Ashkenazic family Abugov (the Russified form of Abohab) studied in Dvinsk, a city which is now in Latvia under the name Daugavpils.

2. Autosomal DNA matching established Sephardic links to an Ashkenazic family from Rēzekne, another Latvian city, as I wrote in my article "Sephardic Jews in Lithuania and Latvia" in the August 2016 issue of ZichronNote, Journal of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, after I received written permission from the living named participant:

"Judith Simon, a co-administrator of the two Iberian Ashkenaz projects at Family Tree DNA, grew up fascinated by the oral history related by her culturally Ashkenazic maternal grandfather, Shaya Brozgol (who changed his name to Sam Gold), that his ancestors on his father’s side included Sephardic Conversos who left Spain during the Inquisition. Brozgol was born in 1892 in Re_zekne, a city in eastern Latvia where his ancestors had also lived during the 1700s and 1800s, and married another Ashkenazic Jew from there. The family’s story of Sephardic heritage led some of Shaya’s cousins to move to Spain."

"Judith and several members of her family had their autosomal DNA tested, and two male paternal descendants of her Brozgol line had their Y chromosomal DNA tested. Family Tree DNA and GEDmatch provided matches that confirm the story. Judith, her brother, and her maternal aunt Pearl Freed share a triangulating identical-by-descent autosomal segment with seven Latin American Hispanics, and Pearl has several additional segments that match multiple Hispanics including Mexican-Americans with deep roots in northeastern Mexico and a Puerto Rican."

"The Brozgol Y-DNA lineage is also suggestive of Sephardic ancestry since not only does one of their closest matches (Belarusian Jewish) have an oral history that their paternal line came from the Ottoman Empire, but they also match Hispanics from Mexico and Texas whose most distantly known paternal-line ancestors centuries ago had Spanish first and last names. However, estimates vary widely on when the common Y-DNA ancestors of the Brozgol men and the Hispanics lived, making the autosomal results more definitive."

The total amount of Sephardic DNA in Litvaks is small - often no more than the average Mexican Catholic has - but finding them matching each other autosomally is powerful evidence supporting the genetic study Jan Meisels Allen posted to this group on 1/14/2019 in her message titled "(Latin America) Genetic Study of Latin Americans Reveals History of Converso Migration" that included some Mexican samples.

Kevin Alan Brook

Re: Cape Verde Jewish roots? #dna #sephardic

Kevin Brook

DNA ethnicity estimates are not the only, or the most accurate, way to determine this answer because they can give false positives as well as false negatives. MyHeritage DNA's and Family Tree DNA's Sephardic Jewish categories are not foolproof, particularly the former.

It's more significant to find autosomal DNA cousin matches who are Jewish (either Sephardic or Ashkenazic), but don't automatically trust that those matches are real because short segments need verification. Extensive rounds of triangulation among 6 or more matches and two-sided parent-child phasing using GEDmatch's tools helps to distinguish real matches from identical-by-chance matches. Merely matching one or two Jews randomly isn't enough; you would have to establish a pattern where a cluster of them match on the same chromosome across the same start and end positions and that they also match each other in the same location. I also recommend ignoring matches that fall entirely within Excess IBD Regions because those are notorious for false matches.

Y-chromosomal testing is far less likely to yield Jewish matches for the average descendant of Sephardic Conversos, compared to autosomal DNA tests.

I have not yet seen a Cape Verdean match to a Sephardic DNA segment but indications are that it would be possible based on what we know about the island's migrational history. I have confirmed the existence of Sephardic DNA segments in mainland Portuguese Catholics, Azorean Portuguese (from the Azores Islands), and Brazilian Catholics.

Kevin Alan Brook

Re: December 2020 Summary of IAJGS Records Access Alert #general #jgs-iajgs #records

Marjorie Geiser

For anyone NOT subscribed to this, i just want to say you're missing out on some fabulous information! Thanks, Jan, for the work you do in these.

Margie Geiser
Arizona, USA


Re: United Hebrew Cemetery St. Louis, MO #usa #names #photographs

Michael Hoffman

Hi Debbie,

Contact the St Louis Genealogical Society which has a Jewish SIG see access the communities section for Jewish.
also see the following ask them if they could visit the grave and take a digital photograph for you.

Michael Hoffman


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