Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Endogamy in Practice: Updated

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about how endogamy makes my known relatives share a lot more DNA with me than would be expected--and showed how much DNA they actually share, to help those with endogamous ancestry understand their own matches better.

It is more difficult (but not impossible!) to use genetic genealogy to find relatives when you are from an endogamous background, and how Ashkenazi Jews (AJs) are a typical example.  AJs married within the small pool of AJs for centuries, so we are all related to one another in multiple ways.  I see many people, adoptees in particular, using ISOGG's table with average amounts of shared autosomal DNA for various relationships to determine a match's actual connection.  While that table is a great help for the general population, if you're descended from an endogamous group, the relationships are generally vastly overstated.

Now that I've had even more cousins (with known relationships) test, I figured it was time for an update to give additional insight into how endogamy impacts shared DNA between relatives.  (And if you're a relative of mine who hasn't tested, please do--and you'll likely be featured in some upcoming follow-up!)
Some of my known relatives who have tested, displayed in FamilyTreeDNA

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Paul & Sonia Diamond at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Opening

My grandparents were Holocaust survivors; you can read about their experiences here (for my grandmother) and here (for my grandfather).  When the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) opened, Fox45 in Baltimore brought them to the museum to hear a reaction from the perspective of survivors.
Paul & Sonia Diamond with Jennifer Gilbert of Fox45 at the USHMM (screenshot)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Mysterious Uncle Leibish

My grandfather's uncle, Leibish Diamond, is a man of mystery.  He seems to have vanished into thin air once he came to America--at least as far as documents tell us.  I'd love some ideas of how I can figure out where he ended up.  (Please, please help me!)
Leib Dimend Ship Manifest, 1905

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sol Goldstein, 1923-2017

Sol Goldstein passed away this evening; he was a huge part of my family and my start in genealogy.  His wife was Jean Turk Goldstein, my grandfather's half first cousin; they had their grandfather Yechiel Suttleman in common.

When I was about 14 and was asking about how everyone was related, my father brought me over to Cousin Sol's house.  He had put together a family tree of the Suttleman family on long snakes of dot matrix printer paper, and that's how I learned about Yechiel Suttleman, his three wives, and how a lot of the cousins were related to me.  This was the first time my father realized he'd had a great grandfather in America; my grandfather's mother never came to America and was killed in the Holocaust.  It explained why my grandparents had accents but their (American-born) cousins did not.

(I also learned that I'd babysat for two of his grandkids--my half third cousins--when I saw their photos on his wall!)
Sol Goldstein

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Technique for Endogamous DNA Using GedMatch

I've written many times about how much more difficult genetic genealogy is when you're from an endogamous population, such as Ashkenazic Jewish as am I.  Since Ashkenazim are all descended from a relatively small group of people whose descendants all married within that group of descendants, we tend to share a lot of DNA--and the various genetic genealogy programs tend to predict matches are much more closely related than we actually are.  But there are ways to deal with that--and I'll discuss one below using my uncle's DNA.
My uncle's DNA Matches on GedMatch

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

First 23AndMe DNA Success--Take That, Endogamy!

Last night, I had my first DNA success on 23AndMe.  (I won't say it's my first 23AndMe success because of this.)  In the past, my proven connections have mostly been with FamilyTreeDNA matches, with a few successes on Ancestry.  But I figured I should take a look at new matches on 23AndMe to see who else has tested.

23AndMe doesn't allow for sorting by largest segment, but it did allow me to sort by how much DNA I shared with other users.
My Top 23AndMe Matches, Sorted by Shared Percentage of DNA

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Book of Sorrows & My Great Grandmother's Possible Sibling

Within the past few years, many parts of Ukraine have published volumes of "The Book of Sorrows" (Книга Скорботи), in which they catalogue civilians who were killed during WWII.  Each volume seems to cover a district, and within the district, individuals from each village/town/city are catalogued separately.
Some of the Rutners from Kolodne listed in the Book of Sorrows