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AncestryDNA test results: European Jewish and so far no matches

AncestryDNA test results: European Jewish and so far no matches

Posted: 16 Nov 2012 8:28PM GMT
Classification: Query
Working my way through the tests. I started with the assumption that I was 100% European Ashkenazi Jewish. And I hoped to find relatives.

My 23andme test was some of the best money I ever spent. I'd do it again for the health information alone. Even for the genealogical information alone, it was worth it. 23andme gave me an mtDNA and some other hints and I know now that I'm part Sephardic Jewish too. A big (but welcome) surprise.

But their ethnicity classification was a big disappointment: 100% European/Near Eastern. Okay then.

Because 23andme gives you your raw data, I was able to use to do much better ethnic data tests. Came out as heavily Jewish, mostly Ashkenazi, but a lot of Sephardic too. Some Middle Eastern, a lot of Mediterranean, and plenty of Eastern European.

So far, neither 23andme or GedMatch have led to a single relative match. There are hundreds of matches but none have panned out. Apparently, because us Jews tend to marry each other, we sometimes have overly confident estimates of how closely related we are. That being said, I have enough genealogical research data to find just about any 2nd or 3rd cousin by matching trees, and nothing so far (I have a couple 2nd or 3rd cousins at 23andme but none have written me back).

So I was looking forward to the AncestryDNA results. I knew not to expect much from the ethnic grouping. Indeed, I got 94% "European Jewish" and 6% "Uncertain." Does anyone know? Would the uncertain be my Sephardic background? Or?

I thought the strength of the AncestryDNA test would be in the matches. Unfortunately, nothing closer than 4th cousin. I've checked dozens of trees and even written a few people and there is not a single surname match (that also matches location even very broadly), and no small town matches either (several do match for large cities like Warsaw or Budapest). Ironically, I match plenty of people with no "European Jewish" ancestry at all (but some "Eastern European").

I've paid for a transfer to FTDNA (raw data from 23andme) but they're having software issues and it's taking months. That is the largest Jewish database I hear, so maybe I'll get lucky there.

It's still fun. It's still worth it. There's still plenty more to explore.


Re: AncestryDNA test results: European Jewish and so far no matches

Posted: 17 Nov 2012 3:03PM GMT
Classification: Query

The uncertain is a catch all for anything they can't quite figure out. I have 9%.

AS far a s matches the other company you mention because they have a medical component at tracks lots of endogamous populations because they have more inherited medical issues.

That being said because they phase results here you are not as likely to get false matches as elsewhere. You also need to go further down your match list. I have found 44 confirmed matches and some of them are at the lowest confidence level. So keep looking. Do not depend on the list of matching names. glance through each list as a simple spelling change will not find the match.
Good luck.

Re: AncestryDNA test results: European Jewish and so far no matches

Posted: 17 Nov 2012 4:34PM GMT
Classification: Query
I had this discussion with a friend of mine from work the other day who is European Jewish from Poland, and he pointed out to me that he wouldn't expect much of a match because of the holocaust. He feels that most of his family and even distant cousins were wiped out completely. His parents weren't married before the war and are both concentration camp survivors.

I told him he should do it anyway at least to find possible survivors of his extended family and to get his results cataloged for future generations.

Re: AncestryDNA test results: European Jewish and so far no matches

Posted: 17 Nov 2012 4:57PM GMT
Classification: Query
a4est42: I only got my AncestryDNA results yesterday so haven't had much time with the match list, but yes I intend to pursue it. I misspoke when I said the closest match was 4th cousin. There are about half a dozen 3rd-4th cousins. I went through all of their trees (if they had a public one) and wrote every one, saying if I thought the potential for a match was in a particular direction. Of the private trees, one gave me access and the other wrote back after looking at my tree.

Another one had a surname match that didn't come up on Ancestry's little surname box, because of the spelling variation. I'm a Deutelbaum and am pretty sure at this point that *all* Deutelbaums from Hungary/Slovakia are related to me. This match had some Teutelbaums, which is a common variant but said they were from "Russia." Russia is a huge catchment for American Jews from Eastern Europe, but I've never seen it applied to anything but the most eastern reaches of the Hungarian Empire (certainly not NW Slovakia).

I also looked at the profiles of a couple dozen other matches, chosen somewhat randomly (but looked for larger public trees). Looked at surnames and locations and at their trees. Nothing.

I realize I only have solid lines for 2nd cousins (I know all my great grandparents with a good amount of detail) and a few up to 3rd cousins (great great grandparents). But in 3 large DNA matching sites I have yet to find a common surname (that isn't super common and from the wrong area) or town (other than big ones). Sure, I could be fairly closely related to someone who doesn't know their great grandma's maiden name so the connection isn't visible. But you think there'd be one common surname or knowing we were from the same small region in Europe where everyone was cousins (if you're a Jew with ancestry in Kotesova, Slovakia, I guarantee we're related).

It's a bit frustrating and disappointing, but I am far from giving up. And I've had enough positives from the testing to make it worthwhile. I figure if I can find just one match on each line, it will open up the floodgates for others, because I'll be able to expand my tree (provisionally if there aren't source materials, but still enough to get clues to go further).


Re: AncestryDNA test results: European Jewish and so far no matches

Posted: 17 Nov 2012 5:09PM GMT
Classification: Query
Lou: Yes, the Holocaust changed everything. I grew up knowing but I'm still floored by the vast numbers. Towns that used to be strongly Jewish with no Jews left anymore. Cities that used to be a third or more Jewish with a handful left now.

But there were survivors. People who scrambled and made it to other countries outside the war zones. People who stayed and made a new life for themselves in a different part of Europe. And children separated from their families and brought up without them.

If your friend doesn't want to test because he thinks it's not worth it, then yes I'd urge him to. Because his parents were young when they survived and there are likely family members they lost touch with. But if he doesn't want to test because it's emotionally overwhelming, I can understand that.

Most of my family survived (my mom got out of Hungary in 1939, the rest of my direct ancestors left Europe earlier). Some stayed and survived. Some stayed and didn't. But I still find it all overwhelming at times, even though I was born long after the war. Even though my mom was a small child when she left with her parents. Remember, your friend grew up with two concentration camp survivors. That is a completely different experience from what most American Jews have had (or Jews from other non-European countries and even some in Europe).

Poland was hit really hard. My grandfather is from Warsaw and he and his family came to the US just before and after WWI (they were separated). But I hear both his parents had siblings who went all over the world, I just don't know how to find them (my family members who have told me don't remember enough details and my grandparents and great aunts/uncles are all gone).


Re: AncestryDNA test results: European Jewish and so far no matches

Posted: 17 Nov 2012 5:20PM GMT
Classification: Query
When pursuing your more distant matches, remember that many Jewish families did not have surnames until some time in the 19th century. See:
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