DNA mtDNA - Newly found Jewish Cousins - Research advice needed #dna



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I have recently done an Autosomal DNA test which came back with the overwhelming results linking me to some 1000+ Jewish cousins. While I had a suspicion that I might have some Jewish ancestry the results were far beyond my expectation. However, I am stuck because I do not recognise any of the surnames and am not able to link to my family tree.


I was born in Lithuania. But according to my paternal grandmother, her parents PLATEISS / PLATEIS were Baltic Germans based in Riga. Strangely, my grandmother baked challah, this tradition has been passed from generation to generation since my gggg-grandmother surname DIKAITE / DIKIS. I suspect they could have been Jews converted by The Lutheran Church, with links in Germany, Latvia and Lithuania (Birzai). I am researching the above names to determine if Jewish.


My maternal side of the family from Pasvol, Salat and Birzai (District Ponevez) claim to be 100% Lithuanian, although I do question some surnames ROZENAS, VRUBLIAUSKAITE, MASKOLIUNAS, RUTKEVILIS, KASCIUSKA, SLEKONIS and the accuracy of the maternal family tree altogether. The documents have been destroyed and my maternal grandmother’s stories are confusing, her denial of Jewish roots, a very sensitive emotional reaction and deliberate attempts to stop my research made me believe she must be hiding the identity of the ancestors and that the names have possibly been changed to Lithuanian. In the meantime, mtDNA test results linked me to people with Jewish ancestral names in haplogroups H & H1b, also people in Scandinavia, British Isles, Netherlands, Sicily, even a few cousins in Brazil and Iberian Peninsula. I realise dna test is not a valid proof of one’s Jewishness but I am fascinated by the idea that there is a chance my mom could actually be Jewish.


I do not know how to best proceed with my search from here and would be extremely grateful for tips and suggestions on how to identify my Jewish ancestors.


Thank you,



Agne Grigaraviciute




Molly Staub

Hi Agne, I test as 100% Ashkenazic Jewish, but I have found links to Syria (relatives seeking religious freedom who emigrated to my father's native town in Bessarabia in the 19th century), Brazil and Argentina (relatives fleeing Russian pogroms who settled in South America in the 20th Century), China (formerly from Russia in the 20th century probably pursuing economic opportunities), and Australia and New Zealand (from a branch that had settled in Great Britain originally from Russia). I suggest you follow every possibility; that's what makes genealogy research such fun! And why they call  us "wandering Jews."

Molly Staub

Bob Kosovsky

Agne, let me post what FamilyTreeDNA says about mtDNA.  The boldface-underline is mine:

mtDNA testing will not be able to identify specific countries that your maternal ancestors came from. mtDNA mutates slowly which allows you to find out ancient information (such as your haplogroup), and will not help you learn about your more recent (within the past 200-500 years) origins. However, you can use mtDNA results with your personal genealogy research to contact your matches to find out more about where your common ancestors may be from.

That means the people with whom you match could have common relatives older than 500 years.  In other words, mtDNA by itself is generally not useful for finding relatives.

Bob Kosovsky, New York City, seeking any and all permutations/locations of:
Slutsk: DAVIDSON, GELFAND (also Sioux City, Iowa)

Adam Cherson

Dear Agne Grigaraviciute,
If you are saying that you believe your maternal grandmother was born Jewish then you would have a substantial amount of Jewish genes. I have used a method before to identify whether a person is likely to have a substantial Jewish ancestry and could help you in this regard, if you wish. What I do cannot help with identifying any recent relatives, but would be worth trying simply to confirm whether your guess about your grandmother is correct.
Adam Cherson

Bob Silverstein

Hi Agne,

Regarding the genetic data, I would create these priorities.
  1. Try to get everyone in your mother's generation and older to test.  This may be a challenge since your mother seems to be hiding something.  Hiding or denying Jewish roots did occur although you do not know for sure this is the case here.
  2. Upload your DNA to FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and GEDmatch.  All are free and GEDmatch has the best tools.
  3. Contact everyone closer than and including third cousins.  If you are lucky, one in four will respond.
Good luck and keep us posted.

Bob Silverstein