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JewishGen Talks: Roots of Jews in North Africa: Names and History #JewishGenUpdates


Avraham Groll
 

We invite you to attend another free presentation in our series of JewishGen Talks webinars, with Dr. Alexandre Beider.

 

Roots of Jews in North Africa: Names and History.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021
2:00 pm Eastern Time (New York)

Registration is free with a suggested donation.
Please click here to register now!
 
About the Talk
Today, the Jews whose ancestors lived before mid-20th century in the four countries of Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) represent the largest Jewish group after the Ashkenazim. Often, they are considered Sephardi. This consideration is partly supported by the historical sources and certain names used. One can distinguish at least three independent layers of Sephardi migrants that came to this area during various periods. Another popular theory considers these Jews to be descendants of Berbers (whose tribes were present in North Africa before the Muslim conquest of these territories in the 7th-8th centuries) converted to Judaism. This theory will be critically addressed during the lecture, along with the roots of one of the most mysterious Jewish communities, that of Ghardaïa, deeply inside the Sahara desert.

About the Speaker:

Alexander Beider was born in Moscow in 1963. He studied mathematics and theoretical physics in Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology from which he received a PhD in applied mathematics (1989). Since 1990, he lives with his family in Paris, France. In 2000, he received his second PhD, this time in the domain of Jewish studies, from Sorbonne. Beider uses onomastics and linguistics as tools allowing to unravel the history of the Jewish people. He has written a series of reference books dealing with the etymology of Jewish surnames, all published by Avotaynu Inc. They include: A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire (1993, 2nd revised edition in 2008), Jewish Surnames in Prague (15th-18th centuries) (1994), A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland (1996), A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia (2004), A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Maghreb, Gibraltar, and Malta (2017), and A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Italy, France and “Portuguese” Communities (2019). His Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names (2001) is the reference study in the domain of traditional Yiddish first names. Origins of Yiddish Dialects (Oxford University Press, 2015) synthesizes scholarship on the subject for the half century since the publication of Max Weinreich's “History of the Yiddish Language” (1973) and, according to certain critics, represents a comprehensive and convincing revision of its esteemed predecessor, no less than a new standard work in the domain. Beider is also the designer of the linguistic part of the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching method of computer-based searches for equivalent surnames.


Registration is free with a suggested donation.
Please click here to register now!



Gerson Sher
 

The post about Jews in North Africa is very interesting. Is anything known about their genetic makeup, particularly their Y-DNA? I've been tested and confirmed as haplotype E-P2, which is the parent haplotype of all North African peoples and is very rare. It's also known as E1b. One of its mutations, I believe E1b1b, is present in 25% of Ashkenazi Jews. E-P2 is most commonly found in 10% of Ethiopian males and, interestingly, it is the major paternal haplotype of African-American males. 

This group originated in northwestern Ethiopia - in the general area of today's Gondar, also of course the ancestral home of the falashas, which is probably a coincidence - and migrated across North Africa to West Africa. That would certainly include the arc of regions covered in this talk. From there, evidently, some 3,000 years later they were sold as slaves and sent by slave ships to the Western Hemisphere.) Perhaps my group of E-P2 instead wandered up the Nile into Egypt and mingled there with the Hebrews and others.)

There is a group of geneticists at the University of Rome who specialize in the study of this group. I've come across a very few North American Jews with the E-P2 haplotype - they are White - but it would be most interesting to identify more.

--------------------------------------
Gerson S. Sher, PhD
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Illegitimi non est carborundum


On Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 10:58 AM Avraham Groll <agroll@...> wrote:

We invite you to attend another free presentation in our series of JewishGen Talks webinars, with Dr. Alexandre Beider.

 

Roots of Jews in North Africa: Names and History.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021
2:00 pm Eastern Time (New York)

Registration is free with a suggested donation.
Please click here to register now!
 
About the Talk
Today, the Jews whose ancestors lived before mid-20th century in the four countries of Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) represent the largest Jewish group after the Ashkenazim. Often, they are considered Sephardi. This consideration is partly supported by the historical sources and certain names used. One can distinguish at least three independent layers of Sephardi migrants that came to this area during various periods. Another popular theory considers these Jews to be descendants of Berbers (whose tribes were present in North Africa before the Muslim conquest of these territories in the 7th-8th centuries) converted to Judaism. This theory will be critically addressed during the lecture, along with the roots of one of the most mysterious Jewish communities, that of Ghardaïa, deeply inside the Sahara desert.

About the Speaker:

Alexander Beider was born in Moscow in 1963. He studied mathematics and theoretical physics in Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology from which he received a PhD in applied mathematics (1989). Since 1990, he lives with his family in Paris, France. In 2000, he received his second PhD, this time in the domain of Jewish studies, from Sorbonne. Beider uses onomastics and linguistics as tools allowing to unravel the history of the Jewish people. He has written a series of reference books dealing with the etymology of Jewish surnames, all published by Avotaynu Inc. They include: A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire (1993, 2nd revised edition in 2008), Jewish Surnames in Prague (15th-18th centuries) (1994), A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland (1996), A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia (2004), A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Maghreb, Gibraltar, and Malta (2017), and A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Italy, France and “Portuguese” Communities (2019). His Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names (2001) is the reference study in the domain of traditional Yiddish first names. Origins of Yiddish Dialects (Oxford University Press, 2015) synthesizes scholarship on the subject for the half century since the publication of Max Weinreich's “History of the Yiddish Language” (1973) and, according to certain critics, represents a comprehensive and convincing revision of its esteemed predecessor, no less than a new standard work in the domain. Beider is also the designer of the linguistic part of the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching method of computer-based searches for equivalent surnames.


Registration is free with a suggested donation.
Please click here to register now!



Kevin Brook
 

Gerson, replying to your post #655050:

Alexander Beider isn't a geneticist but focuses on the origins of names.  At the end of his article "Jews of Berber Origin: Myth or Reality?" in Hamsa, Journal of Judaic and Islamic Studies 3 (2016-March 2017) on pages 38-61, he wrote (on page 61): "Yet, the consideration of the corpus of given names and the linguistic features of Judeo-Arabic dialects shows the absence of the Berber substrata in this corpus and the idioms in question.  This factor makes highly implausible the idea about the genetic contribution of the Berber-speaking ancestors, proselytes or not, being significant for the Judeo-Arabic speaking Jews who lived in modern times in North Africa."

That analysis is useful but not sufficient.  We do need to look at genetic evidence in order to answer this question.

Among Moroccan Jews, who are a diverse lot, their Y-DNA lineages include J1, J2, Q-M342, T-M70, E-V22, L-M342, R1b-M269, R2a, E-L19, E-V13, E-V65, and I2a-Y7219.  Some of their branches of these haplogroups are of Levantine origin, others of European or North African origin.  At least 50% of Moroccan Jews' paternal lines are Levantine (Israelite).

Regarding the theory of Berber ancestry in North African Jews that Beider mentioned in his article and will discuss in his forthcoming lecture, there are some genetic data that contradicts his skepticism.  E-L19 and E-V65 and possibly some varieties of T-M70 in fact are of Berber origin.  A researcher found E-L19 among 10% of Moroccan Jewish men and E-V65 among 1% of them.

1% of Moroccan Jews carry the mtDNA haplogroup L2a1 which they got from Berbers but it was earlier of Sub-Saharan African origin.

Moroccan Jews also have variable signals of Berber ancestry in their autosomal DNA.  It's also noticeable in Tunisian Jews.  In the Eurogenes K36 deep-ancestry calculator, a Tunisian Jew in my research project scores 7.6 percent of the North African element built from Berber reference populations.  Some Berber autosomal DNA is also present in the other Sephardic Jewish groups and even to a more limited extent (ranging from 1 to 4 percent) in all Ashkenazic Jewish groups.

Here's what the geneticist Razib Khan said in his 2020 audio interview with David Shor, whose parents are Moroccan Jews: "I know you have Berbership. Just for the listeners, basically all Sephardic Jews that I've ever looked at, if you put them on a principal component analysis, they're not that different than European Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, the traditional mainstream, but the Moroccan Jews are all shifted towards Berbers, which means that they must have some Berber ancestry."

(Principal component analysis is a technique to analyze autosomal DNA.)

In summary, Moroccan Jews are largely a mixture of Sephardic Jews, Pre-Sephardic Jews, Berbers, and Spaniards.  Those living in more southerly areas of Morocco have more Berber ancestry.

In October 2017, Beider emailed me:
'I don't say that ethnic Berbers did not contribute at all to the formation of the North African Jewry. I just say that:
- this contribution is unlikely to be significant
- arguments proposed by proponents of the theory of "Judeo-Berbers" are not cogent.'

Kevin Alan Brook