“Deliverance from another Place,” is an excellent book authored by Joel League. It makes a reference to DNA testing, referring to the article which I am quoting below. The article is a few years old, but is still true today. It is an interesting fact that more and more people are seeking their Jewish Roots, and some are resorting to DNA testing. If this is you then you may find the article below interesting.
Deliverance from another Place can be found the the site click to read: Deliverance
Genetic testing raises an age-old question — are the Jews a people, or a religion?
Two new genome studies of Jews worldwide prove that the Jewish people — long called the “People of the Book,” the “Chosen People” or, in unkind circles, “those people” — are, indeed, a people after all.
The first study, by researchers at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, found that Jews across the globe share distinct genetic traits that are different from other groups and that trace back to the ancient Middle East.
Researchers say the study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, puts to rest age-old questions about whether Jews are a group of unrelated people who share a religious ideology or a distinct ethnicity with common ancestry.
“The debate is over,” said Dr. Edward R. Burns, one of the lead authors of the study. “The Jewish people are one people with a common genetic thread that evolved in the second or third century BC.”
The study, “Abraham’s Children in the Genome Era,” compared the genetic analyses of 237 Jews, including Sephardic (Middle Eastern) and Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews — as well as an analysis of 418 non-Jews worldwide, and found that the Jews were more closely related to each other than to their fellow countrymen.
Past studies have reached similar conclusions, but they looked at smaller populations and considered only blood groups, mitochondrial DNA (a type of DNA passed down by mothers) or Y chromosomes (passed down by fathers).
For this inquiry, researchers conducted a genome-wide analysis of the major groups of the Jewish Diaspora — Ashkenazi Jews; Italian, Greek and Turkish Sephardic Jews; and Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian Jews.
The study — and a second genetic study published Friday in the journal Nature — scientifically undermines arguments made by those who challenge Jews’ historical relationship to Israel, such as former White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who resigned last week after saying Jews in Israel should “go home” to Germany, Poland and the United States.
Turns out, the Jews in Israel are already there.
JEWS were expelled from what is now Israel in roughly the sixth century BC and again in the second century AD. Though the population scattered to all corners of the globe, a religious and traditional connection to Israel remained in the Diaspora.
But skeptics have long questioned whether the people who daven in Brooklyn have any real ancestral link to those early Jewish people.
The studies, then, are like a genetic coat of arms.
“It seems that most Jewish populations, and therefore most Jewish individuals, are closer to each other [at the genetic level], and closer to the Middle Eastern populations, than to their traditional host population in the Diaspora,” Israeli geneticist Doron Behar, author of the Nature study, told the BBC.
Behar’s study examined the genes of people from 14 Jewish communities and compared them to 69 non-Jewish communities, finding — as the American Journal of Human Genetics did — a common ancestral Middle Eastern link among all Jews.
One key difference in Behar’s study is that it also included Ethiopian and Indian Jews; he found that those communities were genetically closer to their non-Jewish neighbors than the other Diaspora groups were to theirs. This may be due to a higher degree of genetic, religious and cultural crossover when the Jewish communities in these areas became established.
Both studies also find that Jews have a strong genetic link to modern Palestinians, Druze and Bedouins, following another traditional understanding of both the Jewish and non-Jewish populations of the region. (Israeli Jews and Palestinians sometimes refer to each other as “cousin,” a term used to recognize the common Biblical understanding that both groups descended from Abraham.)
“We both come from some common stock, so it’s an interesting and welcome finding,” Burns said.
Scientists are quick to note that the genetic link between Jews of disparate geographic regions does not constitute a race. This genetic link can best be compared to a nationality — albeit one that spans the globe.
DNA analysis in both studies shows that European Jews are related to Middle Eastern Jews and non-Jewish Middle Eastern people, a finding that also repudiates claims by some that Ashkenazi Jews are the descendants of Slavs or Khazars, a north Caucasus group, who converted to Judaism in the ninth century.
“It de-legitimizes the attempts to suggest that there is an alternate origin to Judaism,” said Paul Root Wolpe, professor of bioethics at Emory University in Atlanta, who was not part of the study. Despite “all of the attempts to try to rewrite the Jewish people’s understanding of their own history, over and over again genetic studies show that there is more truth to the tale.”
Wolpe notes that Jewry had a similar reaction in 1997, when a Y chromosome study revealed a strong genetic marker that seemed to support the Biblical account of a priestly family, the Cohanim, descended from Moses’ brother Aaron.
That the new data also seemed to follow the Jews’ historical and Biblical narrative was particularly exciting to Burns, who is Jewish.
“I, along with my co-authors, went to these different populations, Iraqis, Iranians, etc. We talked to these people, and they had a certain hopefulness that the genetic analysis would establish for them a type of universal Jewish pride,” he said. “My own personal feeling is that (among Jews) differences in culture and geography become meaningless because we’re all sisters and brothers.
“There is a saying in Hebrew, k’lal Yisroel arevim zeh bazeh, all Jews are [responsible for one another because we are] connected,” he said. “Now we have scientific proof.”
But there is another popular saying: “Two Jews, three opinions.”
Wolpe noted the historical disquiet Jews have felt around genetic testing and categorizing.
“In part by claiming to be a people, the Jews set themselves up for a bad thing when anti-Semitic eugenics dawned” in Nazi Germany, he said.
SPIRITUALLY, meanwhile, some question the implication of these types of studies for a people that is only 13 million strong and constantly shrinking.
“I think it has the potential to be misused,” said Rabbi David Wolpe, brother of Paul Wolpe and rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.
According to national statistics, nearly 54% of American Jews marry outside the faith. Only a third of those interfaith couples raise their children as practicing Jews, which means that every year there is tremendous Jewish attrition. It’s an issue that vexes Jewish religious leaders, some of whom have slowly begun to shed age-old customs against encouraging conversions into Judaism.
In New York, with a population of roughly 2 million Jews, the numbers are slightly less stark. Twenty-two percent of married couples are intermarried — with 30% of those raising their kids Jewish, according to the North American Jewish Data Bank.
The question is whether the children of intermarried couples who identify themselves as Jewish are actually Jewish. Genetics might say no, but tradition and Jewish law would (in most cases) say yes.
“The question about intermarriage is not about diluting the DNA, it’s about losing the tradition,” Wolpe said. “Someone can easily look at this study and say, ‘That’s why we shouldn’t have converts.’ In an age when we lose a lot of people to intermarriage, to use this to discourage conversion would be a shame.”
This kind of genetic-identification is already prevalent among some Jews.
In Israel, pending legislation surrounding what constitutes legal conversion is hotly debated. And in the United States, the melting pot nature of American Judaism is challenging some people’s metaphysical notion about what it means to be a Jew.
“My sister-in-law is Filipino. She practices Judaism — which is more than I do — but I can’t call her a fellow Jew in that same sense,” said Sandy Malek, president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles, which is hosting an international conference next month featuring some of the researchers involved in the first study. “There is a people-hood for Jewish people that is separate from the religion.”
But many Jewish religious leaders would argue the opposite. While the new research says much about Jews, it doesn’t have any bearing on Judaism, said David Wolpe, the rabbi, who explained that he is “not moved” by the effort to scientifically link and define Jews.
“The findings say more about the spiritual strength of our forbearers, the way they treasured tradition so much that they would not compromise it to be part of the rest of society,” he said. “Our spirit guarded our DNA, not the other way around.”
And as Paul Wolpe, the bioethicist, notes, “A group can be descended from [ancient] converted Jews and should have as much legitimacy.”
(Indeed, a kind of scientifically necessary bias against converts was built into the study: In order to participate, subjects had to have four Jewish grandparents.)
Religious Jews say they’re People of the Book, not People of the Swab. They don’t need a genome sequence to tell them they have a profound tie to Israel, the Jewish people and the Jewish faith.
“Spiritually this is a pleasant and welcome reinforcement of what I already knew, but the bottom line is Torah trumps genome,” said David Wolpe, the rabbi.
Like those tradition-guarding for-bearers, modern religious Jews are circumspect about assigning too much importance to scientific findings.
“I think that it’s a dangerous precedent to base your spiritual claims on the latest findings of science,” Wolpe said. “The trouble with today’s science is that it’s today’s science. If everybody stands up and trumpets it, and then tomorrow they say something else, what are we going to say?”
The varied reaction to the study highlights the difficulty in defining Jews — even, and maybe especially, in the age of genomics. The difference between what a secular and a religious Jew considers being “Jewish” is probably greater than the genetic differences between the two people themselves.
To the religious, Judaism is defined by customs and beliefs. To the secular, Jews are members of an ethnic “tribe,” a tribe that knows from good bagels.
“I’m a very secular person, but I have always, since childhood, felt we are a people,” Malek said.
Malek notes that that secular “people-hood” is indebted to ancient religious practices, particularly the tradition of not marrying outside the faith. And as genetic testing evolves and gets less expensive, ancestral Jews’ religious marriage practices could make up for the fact that they were lousy record-keepers.
“In Jewish genealogy, there are not a lot written records, at least on the Ashkenazi side,” Malek said. “So the DNA substitutes for us that way.”
REGARDLESS of how the studies are received in political and religious communities, they likely will have major implications in medicine and other fields.
The analysis by Burns and his colleagues provides the first detailed genetic map of the major Jewish groups, information that can be used as a kind of dictionary to study the genetic origins of commonly acquired diseases such as cancer and heart disease. This information can benefit not only Jews, but the population as a whole, as researchers use the data better understand possible genetic components of diseases, researchers said.
The study could also yield valuable information for a host of conditions already thought to have a genetic component, from near-sightedness to breast cancer — just don’t call any of those diseases “Jewish.”
Even the host of ailments that are considered “Jewish genetic diseases,” including Tay-Sachs Disease and Bloom’s Disease, occur in the general population, said Paul Wolpe, the bioethicist, who is also on the board of the Victor Centers for Jewish Genetic Diseases.
“I’ve always spoken out against the term ‘Jewish genetic diseases,’” Wolpe said. “There are no diseases that Jews get that other people don’t get. Some of the Jewish genetic diseases we don’t even get at higher rate. But I lost that battle a long time ago.”
Two Jews, three opinions. But one people.
Mayrav Saar, June 13, 2010, click to read: NY Post