D.N.A. = (Do Not Ask)

I had for a long time hesitated to check my D.N.A, in order to learn of my origins. Finally, I surrendered to my doubts, submitted the saliva sample and awaited the results.

When I received them, I was somewhat surprised. I knew of my family’s roots in Eastern Europe, but was literally confused when I glared at the others.

For the record, I am 84.4% Ashkenazi Jewish with origins in Poland and Russia. I am 4.4% West Asian (Palestine/Israel), 7.0% Iberian (Spain) and 4.2% Sephardic Jewish (North Africa).

The puzzle begins with knowing which came first. Historically, I presume it began in 4.4% Palestine/Israel, migrated to 7.0% Spain, from there to 4.2% North Africa, and somehow ended up in 84.4% Poland and Russia. Quo Vadis? Where to next?

Adding up all lands of origin, what am I? An Ashkenazi Jew, yes . But am I Palestinian/Israeli, Spanish, Moroccan, Polish or Russian?

I chose to follow my instinct to DNA (DO NOT ASK). It is quite enough for me to know that I am basically an Ashkenazi Jew and in modern times, a citizen of the Jewish State of Israel.

It is fascinating to find hidden results through the bit of saliva swabbed from my cheeks. History and modern science are wonders of our new world.

Following up with the DNA report, I continued to pursue my genealogy and found the names of my parents, grandparents and even great grandparents. I was able to find my maternal family tree from the year 1727 to 1927.

Heaven help me ! During that 200 year period, each male grandfather had been rabbis in Poland, all disciples of the Rebbe of Belz.

Oy vey !!! I am descended from haredim?? Please…. Don’t tell anyone. Thankfully, my immediate past generation from 1927 to the present have been orthodox and modern orthodox and liberal Jews, quite distant from ultra-orthodoxy. And no desire to be close to it.

My late mother had always been proud of her family tree and boasted that I was the 9th generation of Belzer Hassidim. My poor mother never understood the difference between haredim and non-haredi Jews. Had she known the historic truth, I suspect she would have boasted less.

My son is the 10th generation which means little to him. But his son, my grandson, is the 11th generation and wears it with immense pride. He is a follower of Chabad hassidut with his tzitzit hanging to his knees, a short beard and hidden payot, praying three times daily.

For him, being a great x 11 offspring of devoutly observant (to an extreme) Jews is a badge of honor which he proudly wears.

Maybe my affinity to Sephardim is derived from the 4.2% of my North African DNA. It has always been a source of pride for me that every single one of my closest and dearest friends in Israel have all been Sephardim. Must be something in my blood. I cannot recall ever having a close Ashkenazi friend.

The DNA report asked me if I wished to find other persons who are related to me. Their search produced 16 names, 9 of whom I know from my lifetime and 7 whose names I had never known.

But I have no interest in pursuing names of lost or never-known relations. It is sufficient for me to remember the births and deaths of family members in my lifetime. So I do not return to DNA.


Still, I regard their scientific sources with immense respect.

Do you know who you are?

Do you know from whence you came? Do you know the history of your family origins?

If not, you may be interested in contacting DNA. com. The results may be a pleasant surprise.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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