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Old 14th January 2006, 07:03 AM   #1
JamesM
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Half of Ashkenazi Jews descended from four women

From the BBC:

Quote:
One of the authors said the study shows the importance of Jewish mothers.

"This I could tell you even without the paper," Dr Doron Behar of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology told Reuters news agency.
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Old 14th January 2006, 07:36 AM   #2
Ed
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Very funny comment.
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Old 14th January 2006, 10:01 AM   #3
Loon
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Great!

"But mom, I can't date her- she's Jewish. It would be like dating a cousin. You don't want that..."
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Old 15th January 2006, 12:33 AM   #4
David Swidler
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Originally Posted by Loon View Post
Great!

"But mom, I can't date her- she's Jewish. It would be like dating a cousin. You don't want that..."
"No problem, dearie. Date only Sephardi women. Or converts. Guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt."
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Old 15th January 2006, 03:04 AM   #5
Art Vandelay
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Wow, I'm descended from four women, too. Did they do any attempt to look at male ancestors?
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Old 15th January 2006, 06:01 AM   #6
David Swidler
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Art, I think the significance lies in the fact that according to Jewish tradition one's Jewishness is determined by one's mother.

ETA: In fact the linked article says explicitly:
Quote:
However, they bequeathed genetic signatures to their descendents, which do not appear in non-Jews and are rare in Jews not of Ashkenazi origin.
This also reminds me of the "Kohen" gene.

Last edited by David Swidler; 15th January 2006 at 06:04 AM.
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Old 15th January 2006, 08:37 AM   #7
hgc
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Originally Posted by David Swidler View Post
Art, I think the significance lies in the fact that according to Jewish tradition one's Jewishness is determined by one's mother.

ETA: In fact the linked article says explicitly:


This also reminds me of the "Kohen" gene.
Quite different. Membership in the Kohane caste is passed from the father, and the Kohane gene is on the Y chromosome.

I assume the that this latest marker, descending from the mother, is in the mitochondrial DNA, but I haven't read the article. It's the serendipitous convergence of modern genetics and practical Roman census-taking techniques, where ethnicity was assigned according to the mother. Afterall, you always know who your mother is, but as for your father, well that could be anybody.
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Old 15th January 2006, 11:22 AM   #8
Loon
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Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
Wow, I'm descended from four women, too. Did they do any attempt to look at male ancestors?
That's a lot harder to look for. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from a mother to all of her offspring. It also mutates relatively slowly. The only thing that could really be used to check paternal descent on this scale is (maybe) the Y chromosome, but that's only passed on to half of the offspring. I don't think it's as highly conserved at mitochondrial DNA, either.
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Old 15th January 2006, 11:47 AM   #9
Abdul Alhazred
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Very interesting.

Jews speak of the "three fathers and four mothers", meaning Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their respective wives Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel (Jacob had two wives).

Notionally, the Biblical ancestors of the Jews.

This leaves out the two handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah. The Bible itself is very clear on this detail.
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Old 16th January 2006, 12:18 AM   #10
David Swidler
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Originally Posted by hgc
Quite different. Membership in the Kohane caste is passed from the father, and the Kohane gene is on the Y chromosome.
I didn't say it was the same, just that it reminded me of the earlier study.

Geneticists tend to study genetically isolated populations; it's much easier to track things that way. Since Jews have been mostly separated from the general population over the centuries, they make pretty good subjects of genetic study. Usually, to find a genetically isolated group, researchers must rely on geographic isolation.


Originally Posted by Abdul Alhazred View Post
Very interesting.

Jews speak of the "three fathers and four mothers", meaning Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their respective wives Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel (Jacob had two wives).

Notionally, the Biblical ancestors of the Jews.

This leaves out the two handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah. The Bible itself is very clear on this detail.
Cute. But the article traces the four women to the Middle Ages. And it refers only to Ashkenazi Jews. But you raise an interesting derail.

Notionally, Bilhah and Zilpah's children were associated with the "full" wives to whom they were assigned. While during that generation there was some lack of clarity and some rivalry among the children, that seems to have disappeared by the time they all went to Egypt.

For example, "...Joseph, seventeen years old, would herd the sheep with his brothers, and he was a (pick your translation of "na'ar" in context: apprentice/youth) (to/with) the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives...."

The midrashim are rife with interpretation of the dynamic. Some Talmudic sages understand Reuben's "bedding" Bilhah as a reaction to Jacob's choice of Bilhah's (Rachel's maidservant) company after Rachel's death instead of the perpetual second fiddle Leah - the other "real" wife, Reuben's mother.

Other midrashim explain Joseph's "adoption" of the maidservants' sons as a reaction to his brothers' (from Leah) relegation of them to secondary status.

Interestingly, other midrashic sources say Bilhah and Zilpah were half-sisters to Rachel and Leah from Laban's concubines.

Last edited by David Swidler; 16th January 2006 at 12:22 AM.
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Old 17th January 2006, 02:03 PM   #11
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Half of Ashkenazi Jews descended from four women

"...and they don't call, they don't write, we four women might as well drop dead and they won't notice, I tell you I'm ashamed of them in front of the neighbors, I TOLD all of them to go to law school but did they listen?!..."
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