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Genetic evidence links Jews to their ancient tribe
JP ^ | 11/20/2001 | By Judy Siegel

Posted on 11/19/2001 3:41:35 PM PST by Sabramerican

Genetic evidence links Jews to their ancient tribe
By Judy Siegel

JERUSALEM (November 20) - Genetic evidence continues to provide additional proof to the claims that the Jewish people are descended from a common ancient Israelite father: Despite being separated for over 1,000 years, Sephardi Jews of North African origin are genetically indistinguishable from their brethren from Iraq, according to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

They also proved that Sephardi Jews are very close genetically to the Jews of Kurdistan, and only slight differences exist between these two groups and Ashkenazi Jews from Europe.

These conclusions are reached in an article published recently in the American Journal of Human Genetics and written by Prof. Ariella Oppenheim of the Hebrew University (HU) and Hadassah-University Hospital in Ein Kerem.

Others involved are German doctoral student Almut Nebel, Dr. Marina Faerman of HU, Dr. Dvora Filon of Hadassah-University Hospital, and other colleagues from Germany and India.

The researchers conducted blood tests of Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Kurdish Jews and examined their Y chromosomes, which are carried only by males. They then compared them with those of various Arab groups - Palestinians, Beduins, Jordanians, Syrians and Lebanese - as well as to non-Arab populations from Transcaucasia - Turks, Armenians and Moslem Kurds.

The study is based on 526 Y chromosomes typed by the Israeli team and additional data on 1,321 individuals from 12 populations. The typing of the Jewish groups was performed at the National Genome Center at HU's Silberman Institute of Life Sciences.

The Fertile Crescent of the Middle East was one of the few centers in which the transition from hunting-gathering to permanent settlement and agriculture took place. Genetic studies suggest that migrating Neolithic farmers dispersed their technological innovations and domesticated animals from the Middle East towards Europe, North Africa and Southwest Asia.

Studies of Y chromosomes have become powerful tools for the investigation of the genetic history of males, since these chromosomes are transmitted from fathers to sons.

Surprisingly, the study shows a closer genetic affinity by Jews to the non-Jewish, non-Arab populations in the northern part of the Middle East than to Arabs. These findings are consistent with known cultural links that existed among populations in the Fertile Crescent in early history, and indicate that the Jews are direct descendants of the early Middle Eastern core populations, which later divided into distinct ethnic groups speaking different languages.

Previous investigations by the HU researchers suggested a common origin for Jewish and non-Jewish populations living in the Middle East. The current study refines and delineates that connection.

It is believed that the majority of today's Jews - not including converts and non-Jews with whom Jews intermarried - descended from the ancient Israelis that lived in the historic Land of Israel until the destruction of the Second Temple and their dispersal into the Diaspora.

The researchers say that a genetic analysis of the chromosomes of Jews from various countries show that there was practically no genetic intermixing between them and the host populations among which they were scattered during their dispersion - whether in Eastern Europe, Spain, Portugal or North Africa.

A particularly intriguing case illustrating this is that of the Kurdish Jews, said to be the descendants of the Ten Tribes of Israel who were exiled in 723 BCE. to the area known today as Kurdistan, located in Northern Iraq, Iran and Eastern Turkey. They continued to live there as a separate entity until their immigration to Israel in the 1950s. The Kurdish Jews of today show a much greater affinity to their fellow Jews elsewhere than to the Kurdish Moslems.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: archaeology; genetics; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history
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Gosh
1 posted on 11/19/2001 3:41:35 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: Lent
Think the Khazar BS is over?
2 posted on 11/19/2001 3:44:16 PM PST by Sabramerican
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: Sabramerican
bump
4 posted on 11/19/2001 3:48:28 PM PST by Free the USA
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To: Sabramerican
Well, SA, I'll tell ya this: U, my cousin-in-law, is a Kurdish Jew. Great guy--love him. But he is several shades darker than all the Ashkenazi Jews I know. This doesn't jibe with the evident lack of intermarriage that they talk about among the Ashkenazi. Oh well...I guess I still have to believe the genes.
5 posted on 11/19/2001 3:48:43 PM PST by Pharmboy
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To: Sabramerican
"practically no genetic intermixing between them and their host population'

There are more children in America under the age of 11 with one Jewish parent and one gentile parent than there are children under the age of 11 in America with two Jewish parents. So...I'm not sure for how much longer this particular statement will be valid.

6 posted on 11/19/2001 3:49:02 PM PST by quebecois
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To: Sabramerican
No, they will just say it is a "Zionist conspiracy".
7 posted on 11/19/2001 3:49:11 PM PST by Nachum
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To: Sabramerican
Genetic evidence continues to provide additional proof to the claims that the Jewish people are descended from a common ancient Israelite father..

His name wouldn't happen to be Abraham, would it? He had two sons, Ishmael by Hagar, and Isaac by Sarah.

8 posted on 11/19/2001 3:52:17 PM PST by pray4liberty
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To: Sabramerican
It's been over years ago but the ignorant goofs keep going to their well. This study coupled with the following and an examination of the historical record as well debunk a lot of themes which the anti-Semites like to exploit.:Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes
9 posted on 11/19/2001 3:56:13 PM PST by Lent
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To: Sabramerican
"Think the Khazar BS is over?"

Firstly this study only deals with the Y-chromosome. This only affects the direct male line of ancestors. So racial mixing between Jews and Gentiles is not disproven by this in the least. It is possible for instance, that Jewish men moved to "Khazaria" and took "Khazar" women as wives and then rased their children as Jews.

For example, I bet that if someone did a Y-chromosme study of the mestizo population in Mexico the result would show that the mestizo Y-chromosome is very similar to the Y-chromosome of Spaniards. But this doesn't prove that Mexican mestizos are of the same race as the Spaniards and it most certainly couldn't be used to "prove" that the mestizos are actually racially "pure".

Secondly it doesn't give the statistics of relative purity with the Y-chromosome. Surely the purity is not 100%. So we can only conclude that the Jewish groups studied are genetically related in their male lineage. But we cannot conclude that they have a 100% pure male lineage. We cannot conclude that there was no mixing in the male lineage. And most certainly this isn't proof that Jews have not mixed with non-Jews.

The fact that mixing and conversions happened is self-evident just from looking at the lighter Ashkenazi Jews and then looking at some of the black African Jews.

10 posted on 11/19/2001 3:57:24 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Nachum
>Others involved are German doctoral student Almut Nebel, Dr. Marina Faerman of HU, Dr. Dvora Filon of Hadassah-University Hospital, and other colleagues from Germany and India.

Figures that a German is investigating Jewish genetics.

11 posted on 11/19/2001 3:58:34 PM PST by glorgau
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To: quebecois
You miss the point. Jews have always intermarried and otherwise melted into the local populations. But those people lost their Jewish identity. Which means that even one who hates Jews may have had a Jewish ancestor.

Those of us who remain Jews are direct descendants. Some, it may surprise you, have the genealogy record going back thousands of years.

12 posted on 11/19/2001 3:59:30 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: Marduk
This only affects the direct male line of ancestors

LOL. Guess you thought that out very clearly except for the fact that Judaism is only from the mother.

13 posted on 11/19/2001 4:02:41 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: Sabramerican
"Guess you thought that out very clearly except for the fact that Judaism is only from the mother."

Judaism may officially go through the female line. But the Y-chromosome goes through the male line. Thus if you want to use the Jewish matrilineal definition of Judaism a proper study should study the mitochondrial DNA, not the Y-chromosome. The mitochondrial DNA is passed through the female line only.

14 posted on 11/19/2001 4:05:53 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Marduk
That a Jew had a Jewish mother is a given. If anything needed to be tested it was the paternal line.
15 posted on 11/19/2001 4:08:48 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: Sabramerican
This doesn't seem to address that point. It does not mention that an Askenazzi (sp?) Jews were surveyed. This is the group discussed in the Koestler's Kazar thesis.
16 posted on 11/19/2001 4:12:53 PM PST by Captain Kirk
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To: Sabramerican
This isn't going to make Hollywood happy.
17 posted on 11/19/2001 4:13:57 PM PST by elbucko
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To: Sabramerican
"That a Jew had a Jewish mother is a given. If anything needed to be tested it was the paternal line."

It is not a given. If you want me to take it as a given show me the scientific proof. I ask for science, not religious faith. It seems perfectly plausible to me that Jewish men might might have taken Gentile wives, the wives may then have converted and raised their children as Jews. Culture is usually passed more through the male line than through the female line.

18 posted on 11/19/2001 4:14:10 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Captain Kirk
The researchers conducted blood tests of Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Kurdish Jews

Reading is fundamental

19 posted on 11/19/2001 4:14:56 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: Marduk
We cannot conclude that there was no mixing in the male lineage. And most certainly this isn't proof that Jews have not mixed with non-Jews.

There is not a claim that there is no mixture. However, the claimed mixtures for Ashkenazi Jews for example is much smaller then typically has been suggested. Note the following from the National Acad. of Sciences:

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Medical Sciences
Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes

M. F. Hammer*,dagger ,Dagger , A. J. Redd*,dagger , E. T. Wood*,dagger , M. R. Bonner*, H. Jarjanazi*, T. Karafet*, S. Santachiara-Benerecetti, A. Oppenheim||, M. A. Jobling**, T. Jenkinsdagger dagger , H. OstrerDagger Dagger , and B. Bonné-Tamir§

* Laboratory of Molecular Systematics and Evolution, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721;  Department of Genetics, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Pavia 27100, Italy; || Hadassah Medical School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91120, Israel; ** Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, England; dagger dagger
 SAMIR, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa; Dagger Dagger  Department of Pediatrics, New York University Medical Center, New York, NY 10016; and § Department of Human Genetics, Sackler School of Medicine, Ramat Aviv 69978, Israel

Communicated by Arno G. Motulsky, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, March 15, 2000 (received for review November 17, 1999)

  Abstract
Top
Abstract
Introduction
Subjects and Methods
Results
Discussion
References

Haplotypes constructed from Y-chromosome markers were used to trace the paternal origins of the Jewish Diaspora. A set of 18 biallelic polymorphisms was genotyped in 1,371 males from 29 populations, including 7 Jewish (Ashkenazi, Roman, North African, Kurdish, Near Eastern, Yemenite, and Ethiopian) and 16 non-Jewish groups from similar geographic locations. The Jewish populations were characterized by a diverse set of 13 haplotypes that were also present in non-Jewish populations from Africa, Asia, and Europe. A series of analyses was performed to address whether modern Jewish Y-chromosome diversity derives mainly from a common Middle Eastern source population or from admixture with neighboring non-Jewish populations during and after the Diaspora. Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level. Admixture estimates suggested low levels of European Y-chromosome gene flow into Ashkenazi and Roman Jewish communities. A multidimensional scaling plot placed six of the seven Jewish populations in a relatively tight cluster that was interspersed with Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations, including Palestinians and Syrians. Pairwise differentiation tests further indicated that these Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations were not statistically different. The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora.

  Introduction
Top
Abstract
Introduction
Subjects and Methods
Results
Discussion
References

Jewish religion and culture can be traced back to Semitic tribes that lived in the Middle East approximately 4,000 years ago. The Babylonian exile in 586 B.C. marked the beginning of major dispersals of Jewish populations from the Middle East and the development of various Jewish communities outside of present-day Israel (1). Today, Jews belong to several communities that can be classified according to the location where each community developed. Among others, these include the Middle Eastern communities of former Babylonia and Palestine, the Jewish communities of North Africa and the Mediterranean Basin, and Ashkenazi communities of central and eastern Europe. The history of the Jewish Diaspora---the numerous migrations of Jewish populations and their subsequent residence in various countries in Europe, North Africa, and West Asia---has resulted in a complex set of genetic relationships among Jewish populations and their non-Jewish neighbors. Several studies have attempted to describe these genetic relationships and to unravel the numerous evolutionary factors that have come into play during the Diaspora (2-11). Some of the key arguments in the literature concern the relative contributions of common ancestry, genetic drift, natural selection, and admixture leading to the observed similarities and differences among Jewish and non-Jewish communities.

Given the complex history of migration, can Jews be traced to a single Middle Eastern ancestry, or are present-day Jewish communities more closely related to non-Jewish populations from the same geographic area? Some genetic studies suggest that Jewish populations show substantial non-Jewish admixture and the occurrence of mass conversion of non-Jews to Judaism (2, 3, 10, 12). In contrast, other research points to considerably greater genetic similarity among Jewish communities with only slight gene flow from their respective host populations (5, 7, 9, 11, 13). Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that the degree of genetic similarity among Jewish communities and between Jewish and non-Jewish populations depends on the particular locus that is being investigated (4, 8, 11). This observation raises the possibility that variation associated with a given locus has been influenced by natural selection.

All of the aforementioned investigations used "classical" genetic markers such as blood groups, enzymes, and serum proteins, as well as immunoglobulins and the HLA system. More recently, restriction fragment length polymorphism studies were initiated by using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), the nonrecombining portion of the Y chromosome (NRY), and other nuclear loci (14-20). An advantage of nucleotide-level studies is that they circumvent some of the complications associated with selection; however, these studies have not fully resolved many of the key issues in the earlier literature.

Analyses of mtDNA and the NRY are especially relevant to studies of Jewish origins because, according to ancient Jewish law, Jewish religious affiliation is assigned maternally (1). In particular, studies of paternally inherited variation provide the opportunity to assess the genetic contribution of non-Jewish males to present-day Jewish genetic diversity. This research represents one of the first comparisons of biallelic variation on the NRY in Jewish and non-Jewish populations from similar geographic areas. We surveyed 18 biallelic polymorphisms in 7 Jewish and 22 non-Jewish populations from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to assess the relative contributions of common ancestry, gene flow, and genetic drift in shaping patterns of NRY variation in populations of the Jewish Diaspora.

Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes

20 posted on 11/19/2001 4:15:54 PM PST by Lent
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To: Marduk
Jewish men might might have taken Gentile wives

Or we're from Mars.

21 posted on 11/19/2001 4:16:52 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: Marduk
There have been confirmatory studies on the mitochondrial chromosomes published in the magazines Science and Nature which came to the same conclusions. It is beyond debate at this point.
22 posted on 11/19/2001 4:17:38 PM PST by imperator2
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To: imperator2
It is beyond debate at this point.

I give you odds.

23 posted on 11/19/2001 4:19:15 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: Sabramerican
I=I'll
24 posted on 11/19/2001 4:19:34 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: Lent
I agree with you that the claim is not that there was no mixture. The problem is that some people want to misinterpret it to mean that. I have actually been aware of studies showing that the various disparate Jewish populations, even some of the African Jews, have similar Y-chromsomes. However the improtant thing is that we're talking of relative purity, not absolute purity. Mixing surely happened.

"There have been confirmatory studies on the mitochondrial chromosomes published in the magazines Science and Nature which came to the same conclusions. It is beyond debate at this point."

That would be interesting to see. So far I have only seen Y-chromosome studies.

I think that again the important point is that these studies do not show absolute purity. They only show relative purity. These studies show for instance that Ashkenazi Jews may be genetically closer to Middle Easterners than European Gentiles. But by the same token they show they are closer to European Gentiles than are Middle Easterners. So mixing is part of the equation.

I just object to the claim that Jews are 100% pure. This is clearly preposterous for there are Ashkenazic Jews with rather Nordic characteristics as well as black Jews with Negroid characteristics. Surely it is impossible to claim that both the Ashkenazic Jews and the black Jews are 100% racially pure descendants of the same ancestors. They couldn't possibly have diverged that much in only 2,000 years. Thus there must have been some mixing. The only debate is as to the degree of mixing. Even the proponents of the Khazar hypothesis believe that some Jewish priests went to Khazaria.

25 posted on 11/19/2001 4:27:31 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Sabramerican
That's interesting.

I'm not Jewish, but I've been trying to trace my bloodlines back in Ireland.

26 posted on 11/19/2001 4:29:32 PM PST by Dan from Michigan
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To: Pharmboy
The characteristic we call "skin color" is forced by latitude. This is most likely related to the need for Vitamin-D which is produced in the skin through exposure to Sunlight. Dark skin blocks out the Sun's rays. Light skin let's them in. There are numerous sites on the net that explain this.
27 posted on 11/19/2001 4:33:02 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: Marduk
African Jews, have similar Y-chromsomes. However the improtant thing is that we're talking of relative purity, not absolute purity. Mixing surely happened.

Actually, the study above confirms that the Ethiopian Jews who Israel opened its doors to were not of the same gene pool noted in commonality with the Oriental, Sepahardic, Ashkenazic Jews and other Middle Easterners. Hence, they were converts. This does fit the Biblical "Table Of Nations" which indicates the Blacks were descendants of Ham and the Jews and Arabs, Shem.

Insofar as the Khazar thesis, I think it is plainly obvious now that it was a gross overstatement by Koestler in his "The Thirteenth Tribe". No doubt some admixture in Eastern Jewry but not to the extent claimed by Koestler in any fashion.

28 posted on 11/19/2001 4:35:44 PM PST by Lent
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To: muawiyah
"The characteristic we call "skin color" is forced by latitude. This is most likely related to the need for Vitamin-D which is produced in the skin through exposure to Sunlight. Dark skin blocks out the Sun's rays. Light skin let's them in. There are numerous sites on the net that explain this. "

That is one hypohesis. I am not convinced of it. Anyone can verify for himself that Arawak Indians living in the equator are much lighter than the Africans living in the equator. Similarly the Eskimos live farther north than the Swedes, yet the Eskimos are darker. Whichever the case 2,000 years are not enough. The Afrikaners have lived in South Africa for 400 years and they as white as the Dutch living in Holland.

Secondly the black African Jews are not merely dark-skinned. They have Negroid facial features. When I speak of "Negroid features" I am not talking of skin color. The people of India are brown-skinned but they are Caucasoid.

29 posted on 11/19/2001 4:42:03 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Sabramerican
Well...here IS my point. There is an enormous amount of mixing going on in the Jewish population, esp. in the USA (my children, for starters). When you look at the intermarriage rates combined with the very low fertility rates of Jewish females...the Jewish population is falling and aging.

Traditionally, Jewish culture has essentially been exclusionary by nature. Thus, you may be correct in that the past mixtures have blended into the surrounding populations, while the "purer" groups have continued with Jewish culture.

This particular strategy may not be working any more. In order to maintain any Jewish population base in the US, the Jewish community must develop mechanisms to reach out and include the mixed children. As I mentioned, these mixed kids now make up the majority of Jews' children. Without them, there simply won't be enough Jews to maintain any sort of population base or culture in America.

30 posted on 11/19/2001 4:44:32 PM PST by quebecois
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To: Lent
"Actually, the study above confirms that the Ethiopian Jews who Israel opened its doors to were not of the same gene pool noted in commonality with the Oriental, Sepahardic, Ashkenazic Jews and other Middle Easterners. Hence, they were converts. This does fit the Biblical "Table Of Nations" which indicates the Blacks were descendants of Ham and the Jews and Arabs, Shem.

Yes. The Ethiopian Jews do not have the Jewish Y-chromosome. But there are other African Jews, I forget their name right now, that have been proven to have the Jewish Y-chromosome. In fact, one study showed that these black Jews actually have a higher degree of purity in the priestly "Cohen" Y-chromosome than the Ashkenazic Jews.

"Insofar as the Khazar thesis, I think it is plainly obvious now that it was a gross overstatement by Koestler in his "The Thirteenth Tribe". No doubt some admixture in Eastern Jewry but not to the extent claimed by Koestler in any fashion."

That may well be.

31 posted on 11/19/2001 4:45:06 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Marduk
As Lent wrote: the black Jews are recognized as ancient converts.

As I've written before, sometimes, but not always, you can distinguish physically between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. But among ourselves, the only difference- that counts- is certain difference in customs. For example Ashkenazi Jews don't eat corn on Passover, the Sephardi do. Neither of us denies the descent or legitimacy of the other.

32 posted on 11/19/2001 4:50:24 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: Lent
The black Jews I am talking about are called the Lemba. You can read about them here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/israel/familylemba.html

"The first striking thing about the Y chromosomes of the Lemba is that you find this particular chromosomal type (Cohen modal haplotype) that is characteristic of the Jewish priesthood in a frequency that is similar to what you see in major Jewish populations. Something just under one out of every 10 Lemba that we looked at had this particular Y chromosomal type that appears to be a signature of Jewish ancestry. Perhaps even more striking is the fact that this Cohen genetic signature is strongly associated with a particular clan in the Lemba. Most of the Cohen modal haplotypes that we observe are carried by individuals of the Buba clan which, in Lemba oral tradition, had a leadership role in bringing the Lemba out of Israel."

33 posted on 11/19/2001 4:50:56 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Sabramerican
"For example Ashkenazi Jews don't eat corn on Passover, the Sephardi do. "

That must be a new tradition. Corn comes from America, right?

34 posted on 11/19/2001 4:54:13 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Marduk
as well as black Jews with Negroid characteristics

I always heard that the Ethiopian Jews were the descendents of King Solomon and the Ethiopian woman described in the Song of Solomon. Or was it David and the queen of Sheba? Now I'm getting confused. I guess I had better read the Song of Solomon again, I haven't visited that little book in years.

35 posted on 11/19/2001 4:57:04 PM PST by epow
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To: Marduk
click
36 posted on 11/19/2001 4:59:27 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: epow
Here's another link on the Lemba: http://www.returntoglory.org/Gallery/lemba.htm

The Lemba are not from Ethiopia, they are from South Africa.

37 posted on 11/19/2001 5:05:13 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Marduk
"Corn" means something all together different in most of the world. What we call "corn," they call "maize." "Corn" to non-Americans, generally means grain, wheat or oats.
38 posted on 11/19/2001 5:09:32 PM PST by B Knotts
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To: Marduk
I saw that program about the Lemba; it was fascinating.
39 posted on 11/19/2001 5:10:40 PM PST by B Knotts
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To: Marduk
A little more:

http://www.faqs.org/faqs/judaism/FAQ/07-Jews-As-Nation/section-9.html

"Recently, Kohen Madol Haplotype testing has been performed among the Lemba; these tests have proven the Lemba to have the highest concentration of the gene marker than any known halakhic Jewish group. This is reported in an article titled "Decoding the Priesthood" by Peter Hirshberg and Jane Logan, in Jerusalem Report (May 10, 1999 issue). According to this article, the Lemba have the same proportion of the gene as "Western" Jews and a remarkably high frequency among their Buba clan, a senior clan parallel to our Cohens. "

40 posted on 11/19/2001 5:13:03 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Marduk
Yes I read about these as well some time ago. I note the Cohen priestly connection in this article minus the pictures:

Jewish Genes & Genealogy

The DNA Chain of Tradition - The Discovery of the "Cohen Gene"

by Rabbi Yaakov Kleiman

Jewish tradition, based on the Torah, is that all Kohanim are direct descendants of Aharon, the original Kohen. The line of the Kohanim is patrilineal: it has been passed from father to son without interruption from Aharon, for 3,300 years, or more than 100 generations.

Dr. Karl Skorecki was attending services one morning. The Torah was removed from the ark and a Kohen was called for the first aliya. The Kohen called up that particular morning was a visitor: a Jew of Sefardic background. His parents were from Morocco. Skorecki also a has a tradition of being a Kohen, though of Ashkenazi background. His parents were born Eastern Europe. Karl (Kalman) Skorecki looked at the Sefardi Kohen's physical features and considered his own physical features. they were significantly different in stature, skin coloration and hair and eye color. Yet both had a tradition of being Kohanim--direct descendants of one man--Aharon HaKohen.

Dr. Skorecki considered, "According to tradition, this Sefardi and I have a common ancestor. Could this line have been maintained since Sinai, and throughout the long exile of the Jewish people?" As a scientist, he wondered, could such a claim be tested?

Being a nephrologist and a top-level researcher at the University of Toronto and the Rambam-Technion Medical Center in Haifa, he was involved in the breakthroughs in molecular genetics which are revolutionizing medicine and the study of the life-sciences. He was also aware of the newly developing application of DNA analysis to the study of history and population diversity.

He considered a hypothesis: if the Kohanim are descendants of one man, they should have a common set of genetic markers--a common haplotype-- that of their common ancestor. In our case, Aharon HaKohen.

A genetic marker is a variation in the nucleotide sequence of the DNA, known as a mutation. Mutations which occur within genes—a part of the DNA which codes for a protein—usually cause a malfunction or disease, and is lost due to selection in succeeding generations. However, mutations found in so-called “non-coding regions” of the DNA tend to persist.

Since the Y chromosome, besides for the genes determining maleness, consists almost entirely of non-coding DNA, it would tend to accumulate mutations. Since it is passed from father to son without recombination, the genetic information on a Y chromosome of a man living today is basically the same as that of his ancient male ancestors, except for the rare mutations that occur along the hereditary line. A combination of these neutral mutations, known as a haplotype, can serve as a genetic signature of a man’s male ancestry. Maternal geneaologies are also being studied by means of the m-DNA (mitrocondrial DNA), which is inherited only from the mother.

Dr. Skorecki then made contact with Professor Michael Hammer, of the University of Arizona, a leading researcher in molecular genetics and a pioneer in Y chromosome research. Professor Hammer uses DNA analysis to study the history of populations, their origins and migrations. His previous research included work on the origins of the Native American Indians and the development of the Japanese people.

A study was undertaken to test the hypothesis. If there were a common ancestor, the Kohanim should have common genetic markers at a higher frequency than the general Jewish population.

In the first study, as reported in the prestigious British science journal, "Nature" (January 2, 1997), 188 Jewish males were asked to contribute some cheek cells from which their DNA was extracted for study. Participants from Israel, England and North America were asked to identify whether they were a Kohen, Levi or Israelite, and to identify their family background.

The results of the analysis of the Y chromosome markers of the Kohanim and non-Kohanim were indeed significant. A particular marker, (YAP-) was detected in 98.5 percent of the Kohanim, and in a significantly lower percentage on non-Kohanim.

In a second study, Dr. Skorecki and associates gathered more DNA samples and expanded their selection of Y chromosome markers. Solidifying their hypothesis of the Kohens' common ancestor, they found that a particular array of six chromosomal markers were found in 97 of the 106 Kohens tested. This collection of markers has come to be known as the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH)--the standard genetic signature of the Jewish priestly family. The chances of these findings happening at random is greater than one in 10,000.

The finding of a common set of genetic markers in both Ashkenazi and Sefardi Kohanim worldwide clearly indicates an origin pre-dating the separate development of the two communities around 1000 C.E. Date calculation based on the variation of the mutations among Kohanim today yields a time frame of 106 generations from the ancestral founder of the line, some 3,300 years, the approximate time of the Exodus from Egypt, the lifetime of Aharon HaKohen.

Professor Hammer was recently in Israel for the Jewish Genome Conference. He confirmed that his findings are consistent that over 80 percent of self-identified Kohanim have a common set of markers. The finding that less than one-third of the non-Kohen Jews who were tested possess these markers is not surprising to the geneticists. Jewishness is not defined genetically. Other Y-chromosomes can enter the Jewish gene pool through conversion or through a non-Jewish father. Jewish status is determined by the mother. Tribe membership follows the father’s line.

Calculations based on the high rate of genetic similarity of today’s Kohanim resulted in the highest “paternity- certainty” rate ever recorded in population genetics studies—a scientific testimony to family faithfulness.

Wider genetic studies of diverse present day Jewish communities show a remarkable genetic cohesiveness. Jews from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, North Africa and European Ashkenazim all cluster together with other Semitic groups, with their origin in the Middle East. A common geographical origin can be seen for all mainstream Jewish groups studied.

This genetic research has clearly refuted the once-current libel that the Ashkenazi Jews are not related to the ancient Hebrews, but are descendants of the Kuzar tribe--a pre- 10th century Turko-Asian empire which reportedly converted en masse to Judaism. Researchers compared the DNA signature of the Ashkenazi Jews against those of Turkish-derived people, and found no correspondence.

In their second published paper in "Nature" (July 9,1998) the researchers included an unexpected finding. Those Jews in the study who identified themselves as Levites did not show a common set of markers as did the Kohanim. The Levites clustered in three groupings, one of them the CMH. According to tradition, the Levites should also show a genetic signature from a common patrilineal ancestor.

It is interesting to note that the tribe of Levi has a history of a lack of quantity. The census of BaMidbar shows Levi to be the smallest of the tribes. After the Babylonian exile, the Levites failed to return en masse to Jerusalem, though urged by Ezra HaSofer to do so. They were therefore fined by losing their exclusive rights to maaser. Though statistically, the Levites should be more numerous than Kohanim, today in synagogue, it is not unusual to have a minyan with a surplus of Kohanim and yet lack even one Levite. The researchers are now focusing effort on the study of Levites' genetic make up to learn more about their history in the Diaspora.

Using the CMH as a DNA signature of the ancient Hebrews, researchers are pursuing a hunt for Jewish genes around the world. The search for lost tribes, whether the Biblical 10 Lost Tribes which were uprooted from Eretz Yisrael by the Assyrians, or other would-be Jews, Hebrews or "chosen peoples," is not new. Using the genetic markers of the Kohanim as a yardstick, these genetic archaeologists are using DNA research discover historical links to the Jewish people.

Many individual Kohanim and others have approached the researchers to be tested. The researchers' policy is that the research is not a test of individuals, but an examination of the extended family. Having the CMH is not a proof of one's being a Kohen, for the mother's side is also significant in determining one's Kohanic status. At present, there are no halachic ramifications of this discovery. No one is certified nor disqualified because of their Y chromosome markers.

The research, which began with an idea in shul, has shown a clear genetic relationship amongst Kohanim and their direct lineage from a common ancestor. The research findings support the Torah statements that the line of Aharon will last throughout history. That our Torah tradition is supported by these findings should be a reinforcement for Kohanim and for all those who know that the Torah is truth, and that G-d surely His promises.

May we soon see Kohanim at their service, Levites on their Temple platform and Israelites at their places.

A Blessing Forever

Just as the Kohanim’s lineage spans more than 3,000 years, so does the Blessing which they deliver span Jewish history. Since it’s inception at the inauguration of the Mishkan on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, 2449 CC (equals 1311 BCE), the Blessing of the Kohanim has been recited daily by descendants of Aharon HaKohen somewhere in the world, everyday.

It is a remnant of the Temple service which was never lost. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the mishmarot—family service groups of Kohanim—kept their tradition of knowing the week of their particular watch at the Temple. From the time of the Babylonian and Persian exile, Jewish communities have included the Birkat Kohanim in their communal service.

Sefardic custom, as written in the Shulchan Aruch, is for the Kohanim to bless the congregation everyday. Following the Rema, the Ashkenazi custom became to perform the Blessing only on holidays. Presently in Eretz Yisrael, following the talmidim of the Vilna Gaon, the custom has been restored to recite the Blessing everyday and twice on Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and Yom Tov.

 


41 posted on 11/19/2001 5:13:33 PM PST by Lent
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To: Marduk
There are clearly Negroid type people in India and throughout South East Asia.

Afrikaaners live at a latitude where "light" skin can be maintained - they are hardly Central Africans.

The vitamin D thing kept human beings from living North of the 30th parallel until they had developed a way to acquire sufficient Vitamin D from a very, very, very extensive fish diet. Eskimos are among those who developed such a diet - including the eating of raw sea mammal livers - a major source of Vitamin D. Quite possibly their darker skinned offspring didn't die in infancy from rickets. As far as Arawaks being lighter than Central Africans, it is suggested that the Arawaks are recent arrivals to their present territory, plus they, like all other persons of predominantly American Indian ancestry, are of mixed European/Indian descent.

Again, there's a lot of this stuff on the net.

42 posted on 11/19/2001 5:15:13 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: Sabramerican
Sammy Davis, too?
43 posted on 11/19/2001 5:17:42 PM PST by Abcdefg
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To: Marduk
Being Jewish is by the mother. Being a Cohen is by the father.

If Cohenim took African wives the Cohen gene (which must be some powerful gene) would be there but the descendants would not be considered Jews... by other Jews.

44 posted on 11/19/2001 5:18:09 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: Lent
LOL. You make me feel like some kid in school raising his hand to give some quick answer competing with a professor responding to everything with a PhD thesis.
45 posted on 11/19/2001 5:21:10 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: muawiyah
Well, there is a newer hypothesis that the pigmentation affects the relative sperm count in men and affects the success ratio of pregnancy. Again, I'm still not convinced for the reasons I already gave. Eskimos are darker than Swedes. In fact Eskimos are at least as dark, if not darker than Yemeni Arabs. I think the cause of light skin may be related to cause of light eyes and light hair. And light eyes or hair certainly have nothing to do with bodily absorption of vitamin D.

"The vitamin D thing kept human beings from living North of the 30th parallel until they had developed a way to acquire sufficient Vitamin D from a very, very, very extensive fish diet."

Fine, let's look at somebody else. The descendants of the Spaniards and other Europeans in the tropics in places like Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico or Peru have lived there for as long as 500 years. They have maintained their light skin.

46 posted on 11/19/2001 5:24:10 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Sabramerican
"If Cohenim took African wives the Cohen gene (which must be some powerful gene) would be there but the descendants would not be considered Jews... by other Jews."

If what you say is true then you are saying that Jews do not admit converts? For example, if I decided to convert to Judaism I would never be accepted as a real Jew?

What if a Cohen Jew married a black African woman. And then his son married a black woman and then his son married a black woman and this one's son married a black woman. But then suppose that this last one's son married a Jewish woman with pure Jewish lineage... It's a little convoluted but you could get an individual with the Cohen gene with a direct Jewish line on the mother's side that had a lot of non-Jewish ancestors and who physically looked Negroid.

47 posted on 11/19/2001 5:30:36 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Marduk
I said nothing of the kind. In this case of the Africans, with the gene of Cohanim, there is no proof, that I know of, that the women converted.
48 posted on 11/19/2001 5:33:16 PM PST by Sabramerican
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To: Sabramerican
"I said nothing of the kind. In this case of the Africans, with the gene of Cohanim, there is no proof, that I know of, that the women converted."

What are you trying to say? Are you saying that maybe they didn't convert?

49 posted on 11/19/2001 5:40:57 PM PST by Marduk
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To: Marduk
The rebuttable presumption is that they did not convert. Do you have a reasonable reason to believe otherwise?
50 posted on 11/19/2001 5:44:57 PM PST by Sabramerican
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