Are Jews a genetic ‘race’ or ‘population’? 12 examples of Jewish genetic distinctiveness

| | July 9, 2015

Jewish communities around the word share certain genetic traits with each other — some of which they also share with surrounding populations. These similarities have enabled scientists to trace the origins of Jewish communities around the world. Analysis of mutations that arose in specific communities – Ashkenazi, Sephardi and others – have aided our understanding of our ancestors’ journeys, not to mention hereditary diseases. Here are 12 facts about Jewish genetics.

Jewish communities across the globe share a common “genetic thread”, according to a 2010 study led by geneticist Harry Ostrer of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in  New York. Genetic analysis of seven Jewish groups (Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek and Ashkenazi) identified two distinct clusters that split about 2,500 years ago: European/Syrian Jews and Middle Eastern Iraqi and Iranian Jews.

Curiously, a 2013 study of the maternal origins of Ashkenazi Jews suggests that their ancestors were prehistoric European women from the Northern Mediterranean—and not the Middle East or the Caucasus, as other research has posited. The study analyzed mitochondrial DNA (loops of genetic material passed down from mother to child in tiny organelles carried by their eggs).

Led by Martin B. Richards of the University of Leeds in the UK, the research suggests that 40 percent of the variation in Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA can be traced to prehistoric Europe, indicating that the maternal ancestors of most modern Ashkenazi Jews converted to Judaism some 2,000 years ago.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Jewish genetics: 75% of Jews are lactose intolerant and 11 other facts

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.

50 thoughts on “Are Jews a genetic ‘race’ or ‘population’? 12 examples of Jewish genetic distinctiveness”

  1. Rather exclusive aren’t we?

    Israeli Jews and other Jews visiting Israel have discussed rigid color barriers in Israel with Ashkenazi Jews at the apex of power. Seems to this faithless person there are few people on earth who should fear such segregation more. Very hopeful is the fact of Jews, from what absurdly little I observe, who are most critical of the conundrum.

    Best, Terry

    • Ashkenazi Jews and Sefaradi Jews are most often the same color. Both groups descend from the same ancestors. Both groups have equal admixture of near eastern genes and mediterranean genes,

      The majority of Ashkenazi and Sefaradi dna is middle eastern. Less than half is european, but from italy and greece.

      Rigid color barriers in Israel? Hardly. How can there be color or race barriers between two groups that are genetically identical?

      I am Sefaradi with ancestors from Morocco. There are ashkenazi jews darker than me.

      You seem to have strong bias against Israel. Intermarriage rates between the two cultural groups/religious denominations are very high.

      Many ashkenazi jews pass for arabic or persian.

      I know this must upset you.

      A recent study says that 75% of the genetic makeup of Ashkenazi and Sefaradi Jews is Middle Eastern. This confirms many other studies that have been done in the past.

      The Richards study done in 2013 was shown to be flawed by later studies.

      And plenty of palestinians are lighter than ashkenazi jews. Palestinians can be mixed as well.

      • “Ashkenazi Jews and Sefaradi Jews are most often the same color. Both groups descend from the same ancestors.”

        Neither statement is true, of course, but don’t let that bother you when pushing fact-free nonsense.

        Ashkenazi Jews can be most easily distinguished by relative prevalence of inherited diseases as with most all such groupings.

        “Genetics and Gaucher

        “Genetic counselors, health professionals who are trained to help families understand genetic disorders such as Gaucher disease, help determine if one is a carrier of the “Gaucher gene” and can provide valuable information…

        “The Ashkenazi connection

        “Among individuals of Eastern European (or Ashkenazi) Jewish descent, the incidence of Type 1 Gaucher disease is considerably higher (as many as 1 in 850 people) than in the general population…”

        https://www.gauchercare.com/patient/genetics/InheritingGaucher.aspx?gclid=CjwKEAjwv8iwBRC35-_e8aPqwCESJAB8khP9MGsdH-Z3Bq8Vu7-5Ltd_n3IX2-32e7WYl7w3OatsxxoCDKjw_wcB&ef_id=VcCqcQAAAV0s7zX5:20151005102653:s

        “I know this must upset you.”

        Why would I be upset? I haven’t the slightest interest in your or anyone else’s ancestry or pigmentation except as it relates to disease and racist and religious bias.

        Sure I would love to sweep racism and religious intolerance away but no one will ever have such a broom I daresay.

        Police and the military cured the meowing disease of nuns by beating it out of them but I suspect your problem is far, far too widespread and the method far too crude.

        http://www.csicop.org/si/show/mass_delusions_and_hysterias_highlights_from_the_past_millennium/

        Best, Terry

        • Genetic studies prove both groups are nearly identical. The latest round of Autosomal studies confirms that Moroccan Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, Turkish Jews, etc. cluster right next to or on top of each other.

          And as far as color goes, I have hundreds of photos, many which I have posted which prove what I said correct. That many ashkenazim are just as dark as sefaradim, and that plenty of sefaradim can be white skinned.

          ” but don’t let that bother you when pushing fact-free nonsense.”

          You are the only one doing that. All autosomal studies, as well as maternal mt-dna, and paternal y-dna show that a significant amount of ashkenazi jews share the same genetics as sefaradim. Which is not surprising, since both groups are middle eastern jews that developed right next to each other in europe. Ashkenaz was germany and some of northern France. Sefarad is right next to France, in Spain.

          Jeff Goldblum is Ashkenazi is the same color as most sefaradim, even darker than some.

          You are the only racist here, pushing a racist, false agenda against ashkenazi jews. My in laws are ashkenazi and the same color as my family from Morocco.

          Get over yourself and give up your hatred of ashkenazi jews, stop spreading lies about the jews.

          • “You are the only one doing that. All autosomal studies, as well as maternal mt-dna, and paternal y-dna show that a significant amount of ashkenazi jews share the same genetics as sefaradim.”

            Do huh?

            How much DNA do both share with chimpanzees?

            “Humans share 99% of genes with chimps? Can DNA explain differences?”

            https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/03/03/humans-share-99-of-genes-with-chimps-can-dna-explain-differences/

            It’s not what’s the same that matters but what is different in categorization.

            I have no great interest in skin color, the premier focus of racists, which only suggests the latitude of origin.

            “Ashkenazi Jewish genetic diseases are a group of rare disorders that occur more often in people of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish heritage than in the general population. Even though most of these diseases are severe and can cause early death, some can be treated to reduce symptoms and prolong life. ”

            http://www.webmd.com/children/tc/ashkenazi-jewish-genetic-panel-ajgp-what-are-ashkenazi-jewish-genetic-diseases

            The hate you see is only in your mirror.

            Best, Terry

          • You Terry are the hateful racist calling others racists simply for showing facts that contradict your unfounded claims. You ignore the majority of studies (including most recent ones) and then you go on to chimps? Classic misdirection. And then you start going on about genetic diseases that are the result of a particular branch of jews intermarrying for centuries with each other?

            An no, pointing out the two groups (who are genetically closest to each other anyway) often have the same phenotype is not racist…at all.

            And btw, Ashkenazi Jews are 1/5 carriers of Mediterranean Fever, which Sefaradim are 1/3 carriers of. Some Ashkenazi Jews are higher carriers than some Mizrahi Jews. Funny how you left out that Jews also share many diseases in common as well. Way to distort the facts.

            Again,

            Genetic studies prove both groups are nearly identical. The latest round of Autosomal studies confirms that Moroccan Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, Turkish Jews, etc. cluster right next to or on top of each other.

            And as far as color goes, I have hundreds of photos, many which I have posted which prove what I said correct. That many ashkenazim are just as dark as sefaradim, and that plenty of sefaradim can be white skinned.

            ” but don’t let that bother you when pushing fact-free nonsense.”

            You are the only one doing that. All autosomal studies, as well as maternal mt-dna, and paternal y-dna show that a significant amount of ashkenazi jews share the same genetics as sefaradim. Which is not surprising, since both groups are middle eastern jews that developed right next to each other in europe. Ashkenaz was germany and some of northern France. Sefarad is right next to France, in Spain.

            Jeff Goldblum is Ashkenazi is the same color as most sefaradim, even darker than some.

            You are the only racist here, pushing a racist, false agenda against ashkenazi jews. My in laws are ashkenazi and the same color as my family from Morocco.

            Get over yourself and give up your hatred of ashkenazi jews, stop spreading lies about the jews.

          • Open your eyes occasionally instead of just your mouth, lose the blinding hate and a beautiful new world will open. Or you can continue with your idiotic rants and remain a bigoted racist as it pleases you.

            Your choice.

            Best, Terry

          • Personal remarks say nothing of the person they target , but a great deal about the one who makes them.

          • Facts are facts. They are not personal.

            Genetics is quite real, not the hateful racist bigotry that keeps humans in chains.

            Best, Terry

          • Quite true – facts are facts. Therefore let’s get them right. A comment like yours that Jews do not share genetic similarities is a scientific impossibility, and therefore a falsehood.

          • You are hilarious in your contrived confusion, Dafydd.

            All humans share genes with yeast but that hardly makes us yeast.

            It is the differences that distinguish humans from each other – and yeast.

            I assume Daffy DD means what implies.

            Try not to play in the street.

            Best, Terry

          • I draw your attention yet again to your statement that “Jews do not share genetic similarities” If all organisms share genes , which , you have grasped, and which is precisely my point, obviously all humanity shares genetic similarities.Thus your comment about the lack of genetic similarities among Jews is , as I have already pointed out, scientifically impossible, and therefore false.Indeed it is the very minor differences that distinguish various populations – something which I already pointed out in the post above , had you bothered to read it.

          • Serious scientific studies of DNA have shown that while Ashkenazi Jews do have some middle eastern DNA on their fathers side it is the mothers DNA which counts and most of that is of Eastern European origin.

          • Wrong, a cliché is a trite or well worn phrase, what you are referring to is a stereotype of which it is said always has a grain of truth in it.

          • A grain of truth which has obviously bypassed you. Besides, show me an example in literature, or even on the Internet when the comment I made was used as a cliche

          • I wouldn’t take ” terry” whoever he or sne is seriously. He is motivated by what psychologists would call ” other centred contempt” not consecutive logic.

          • You are out of your depth, you are peddling snake oil science to justify your racism, the average Palestinian has more middle eastern DNA in his little finger than the average Ashkenazi has in his whole body.
            What does it matter if someone had a distant ancestor who came from the Middle East,if you back far enough we all came from Africa so maybe we should all go to Africa and take some land.

          • Your rants do not particularly interest me ( or anyone else ) BUT…. reference to any scholarly genetic studies that refute me would certainly be of interest. Find some.

          • A lot of Sefardim who aren’t African ones using that name! BUT COMING from Spain…. are admixed Wisigothic Iberic-Celtic-German-Isrelites Phenician people J2 J1 admixtures during near more than a Millennia(Before CE to 1492…(!) and look a bit nordic-europrean of course. Don’t make YOU fancy mess!
            Clear a bit more your knowledges!

          • Every genetic study proves that Sefaradim are overwhelmingly hebrew, with varying levels of mediterranean admixture, just like Ashkenazim. Get over it.

          • These DNA studies are basically snake oil, and can be interpreted in any number of ways,the so called Jewish Gene has been found in 20% of the Spanish population it has also been found in Cherokee indians.
            It also should be pointed out that it has been found in the Palestinian population.

        • RIGHT
          Take Notice that a concentration of Human Common Diseases (Tay Sachs Gaucher
          Breast Cancer and other fortunately rare diseases when spread in a Large Population making more rarely the meeting of TWO same alleles…is not a sign of a Race!!! but SIMPLY the trace of a recent Strong Endogamy.
          That’s all!

      • Right but wrong! messy!
        You don’t catch the topic!
        I look Slavic German, Michael Oren looks Swede as a lot of US ashkenazim..their european recessive phenotypes shouldn’t never be such if admixed so much (!)with Dominant Middle East ones!

  2. You need only look at the incidence of Tay Sachs Disease in Ashkenazi Jews, which was 1 in every 13 people and among Sephardic people, 1 and 300, to understand that Jews do not share similar genetics. My thoughts concern the personal integrity of Ostrer and his regard for rigid protocol and impeccable scientific methodology, which indicate a severe confound in achieving accurate and reliable results. As a Jew, Ostrer is to personally involved with the subject he is investigating and, in accordance with basic scientific method, should have recused himself from participation in the research. It is a sad day for science when it is used for personal reasons, especially when it is used to make race into a means of political and social leverage, when any good scientist knows that race should be meaningless in those forums.

    • And what are your scientific reasons that can reasonably refute him? No-one disputes that TaySachs is more common in the Ashkenazi than the Sephardic population.. Your comment that Jews do not share similar genetics is clearly not a scientific one. All humanity shares similar genetics . It is the differences that tell us something about their recent common ancestry that sheds light on their history.By the way, by negating his right to make a scientific study on the basis of his ethnicity, you yourself are making a politicized racial statement.

      • Ostrer starts his book by ststing thst he always thought that Jews were a race, which by standards set by the scientific community, should prevent him from doing research in this area the same way that a potential juror who says that he always thought the defendant was guilty should be prevented from serving on thst case. I
        Israel was caught in a situation where white Jews were giving black Jews birth control without their knowledge or concent.
        End of story.
        Jews are not a race and were not conceived to be a race. Ostrer is a con man selling bunk science and anybody that points this out has to deal with the most ridiculous nonsense you can imagine. … the media seems to love the bad sxience part (I wonder why?) but seems disinterested in news about white Jews giving black Jews birth control without their knowledge or concent. Bad science and bad journalism…. and now Isrsel has instituted gag orders on news stories that the NewYork Times is honoring…. at lesst they don’t have to lie anymore
        ….

        • No nation is a “race’ The English are not a race ,In fact, they are less of a race than the Jews. Neither are the Germans., or anyone else. It does not exist in genetic language. But the broad consensus of modern geneticists is that Jews share their paternal haplotypes, showing a common Middle Eastern origin . These male ancestors tended to marry female converts.

          • Bullshit (Right just for a MINORITY of Jews, NOT MORE THAN 40%…….
            What my 1st cousin should then think about his Ydna R1b1b2 Dad and H1 Jewish Mother, and I1 I2a Q N1c G2a G2a3b and R1a1 Levis????
            All Pure Jews….with beardy Yarmulked grand-(grand) Parents!!!?

          • You are quoting a tiny number of markers from one family . Read Shai Carmi’s autosomal study that uses millions of markers. As for 40%, would you care to quote, chapter and verse, the study from which you derived this figure?

      • How fo you figure then,
        that a lot of Ashkenazi (purest Jewish faith descent) aren’t Mid Easterner nor Out of Europe at all??? just people from Atlantic Baltic Ural to south european/ Balkans
        That Chinese Jews look Chinese and north Africa Jews don’t look polish! and so on….
        I share also “African Bushmen Pygmees roots” (immunological equipment! Universal! ! So what? I am not African since a couple of millions of years! These are Scientific good reasons!
        Ostrer is a megalomaniac “Professor”! and a Con. (french word!)

        • A few Ashkenazi Jews look European but most do not. They are immediately distinguishable as “looking Jewish” even when walking down a street. Jews from Europe are between 3-5% African ( see the Moorjani study ). North, Central, and Eastern Europeans have none of these lineages. Where do you think they picked it up from? The Middle East of course, which is contiguous with Africa. That is why almost “Afro ” hair is sometimes seem among Ashkenazim . ( known as the Jew from in the US)

          • Do Chinese Jews look like the Lemba Jews of S.Africa,do American Jews look like Yemeni Jews, Do Cochin Jews look like British Jews?

          • The Lemba , in recent studies by Soodyall, descend from Arabs, not Jews, and are largely African.
            Cochin Jews descend largely from Indians.
            British Jews do not look British, but like other Jews. Ashkenazi Jews, Sephardic, and North African Jews often look very similar, with shared paternal ancestry, and different maternal ancestries. Indeed, some Moroccan Jews are lighter skinned than some Ashkenazi Jews.

          • Are you really saying that a British Jew looks more like North African Jew than a Brit. are you serious LOL,
            You sound like some bloke who has been told his father is not really his father but you can’t accept it so you clutch at straws because you can’t face the truth.

  3. R1a R1b1B2 R1b1a G2a G2A3B Q6 N1C1 I1I2a arent neither Semitic Ydna???????!!!! Fathers aren’t neither Israelites for 46% of them; but German Scandinavian Tatar Turk Slavic Baltic who didn’t frequent so much in thse proportions! the Levant before Christ Era!
    Lyssenkist Nazist Politician ideological Jewish-)Racist Agenda behinfd Ostrer’s and Co’s convictions………?!

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