Many home genetic tests can help identify ancestry origins. These tests need just a cheek swab or saliva sample to start analyzing.
The Jewish DNA test is a test that may help identify if a person has Jewish roots.
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How Can DNA Tests Help Identify Religious Or Cultural Identity?
DNA tests look for Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in people’s genomes and compare them with similar genomes in their database. Based on the similarities. They can guess the person’s ethnic background.
If so, how can these tests identify Jewish ancestry, which is a religious identity?
According to history, Jewish communities started settling down in Europe during the Roman rule of Judea.
They remained an independent community for a long time, mixing and marrying within their own communities.
As a result, Jews of European descent have certain distinct genetic variations that can be identified with these tests!
What Are The Different Jewish Ancestries?
The following are some of the significant Jewish ancestries or communities identified.
- Ashkenazi Jews
- Sephardi Jews
- Mizrahi (Oriental) jews
- Marrano (Crypto) jews
- Levi jews
- Cohen jews
Most of the DNA tests right now can only identify Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. This is because the other sub-groups have spread out wider and have mixed ethnicities.
How To Take A Jewish DNA Test?
A Jewish DNA test is similar to any home DNA test. You can order any ancestry DNA test kit and provide your sample (cheek swab or saliva).
The lab will then proceed with the analysis and email the results.
How Do Jewish DNA Test Kits Work?
There are three ways in which Jewish DNA test kits can identify your ancestry.
- Ancestry Composition Report
Your ancestry composition report will tell the region your DNA originated from out of thousands of regions from its database.
Since it is believed that the original Ashkenazi Jews originated from a particular location, the ancestry composition report may pick this detail up.
- Y-DNA Test
Y-DNA tests are done in males to know their paternal ethnic origins. Since the Y chromosome is passed on from the father to the son, this can help trace back the ancestors from the paternal side.
Women cannot get their paternal line tested with their DNA samples because they don’t carry the Y chromosome.
They may need to provide samples of their male relatives to run the test.
mtDNA or mitochondrial DNA is passed on from the mothers to their children. These reports generate something called the mitochondrial haplogroup using mtDNA.
According to 23AndMe, four mitochondrial haplogroups were found in high frequency in people with Ashkenazi ancestry - N1b, K1a1b1a, K1a9, and K2a2a.
Europeans who carry these four haplotypes may have a higher chance of having Jewish ancestry.
What Does It Mean To Be Genetically Jewish?
Being genetically Jewish means that some or all of your ancestors were Jewish.
You may carry the same gene mutations and traits that have been passed on across generations within the Jewish community.
Benefits of Identifying Your Ancestry
Millions of people worldwide take home DNA tests to find their ancestral origins.
While curiosity is one reason they do it, many want to understand their lineage and connect with possible relatives they don’t know exist.
Knowing your ancestry may also give a clearer idea about some of your traits and behavior.
Jewish DNA tests may also help understand the person’s risk for certain health conditions.
A 2010 study mentions that people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are at higher risk for developing conditions like cystic fibrosis.
The offsprings of these individuals are at higher risk for certain genetic conditions compared to non-Jewish individuals.
Some studies recommend that Ashkenazi Jewish partners get tested for carrier status for the following diseases to know the risk their offsprings carry.
- Gaucher disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Familial dysautonomia
- Alpha 1 antitrypsin
- Mucolipidosis type 4
- Fanconi anemia type C
- Canavan disease
- Niemann-Pick type 4
- Bloom syndrome
Companies That Offer Jewish DNA Test
- AncestryDNA - AncestryDNA specializes in ethnicity estimates and helps trace your ancestors' migratory paths and build family trees. If you want to explore your possible Jewish roots, this company's Ancestry DNA test kits can help.
- 23andMe - 23andMe’s Ancestry+Traits DNA kits help trace back ancestry origins across 2,000 regions. Even though Jewish ancestry is not a specific focus here, the overall ancestral breakdown will include Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. This company also offers DNA Relative Finder and family tree-building tools.
- FamilyTree DNA - ‘MyOrigins’ report from FamilyTree DNA helps you get a breakdown of your origin, including Jewish ancestry details. You can find your ethnic and geographical background in these report results.
Summary: Jewish DNA Test
While most of these DNA testing companies don’t have a specific Jewish DNA test kit, their ancestry test kits may help you understand if you are of Jewish ancestry.
As of 2020, there are 15 million Jews in the world. If you think you have Jewish roots and want to connect with possible extended families, these Jewish DNA tests could be the starting point.
It is to be noted that most of these DNA tests only look for Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. You could belong to some of the smaller sub-groups, which may not be identified in these tests.
Since the Ashkenazi Jewish population and their offspring are at a slightly higher risk for developing certain conditions, testing yourself will help you stay aware of the risks.