Historical evidence suggests that the Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jewish communities emerged at the beginning of the Middle Ages, in different corners of Western Europe. Since the turn of the millennium,and especially since the advent of Big Y and next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology, genetic evidence has made it clear that these two communities share significant common origins in the 1st millennium CE, and stayed in contact through modern times. We are interested in better understanding the nature of these links between different Western Jewish communities—especially Sephardim and Ashkenazim, but also North African, Italian, Romaniote, and Syrian Jews. Y-chromosomal DNA has turned out to be one of the best tools for this purpose.
Moreover, there are Ashkenazi families in Eastern, Western, Northern and Central Europe who have Spanish or Portuguese surnames, an oral history of having Sephardic ancestors, or some other indicator of Sephardic heritage such as a particular custom. Often their Sephardic ancestry has not been verifiable through archival records, even though some historic research (http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Sephardim) documents the presence of Sephardic Jews in Eastern Europe. We would like to find out if DNA analysis provides support of a Sephardic ancestry among some Ashkenazi Jews.
In the table of Y-results, sub-categories are labeled "unconfirmed," "possible," "likely" and "confirmed" Sephardic ancestry, as well as "converso" and "possible converso." Please note that use of the term "confirmed" does NOT imply that we have found archival records to support the DNA-based conclusion. For the purposes of this project, "confirmation" means that there is a high probability that the Y-DNA match between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi or converso descendant traces back to a common ancestor who lived in Iberia during the 14th-16th centuries. It does NOT imply that the the ancestral line originated in the Near East, nor does it imply that the common ancestors necessarily lived for many generations in Iberia.
LEARNING ABOUT GENETIC GENEALOGY:
Family Tree DNA learning center: www.familytreedna.com/learn/
Family Tree DNA webinars: www.familytreedna.com/learn/ftdna/webinars/
ISOGG beginner's guide to genetic genealogy: www.isogg.org/wiki/Beginners'_guides_to_genetic_genealogy
A glossary for those unfamiliar with the terminology used by genetic genealogists can be found at: www.isogg.org/course/glossary.htm
Some helpful books: Genetic Genealogy, The Basics and Beyond by Emily D. Aulicino, 2013
Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People by Harry Ostrer, 2012
Some helpful Facebook groups: Tracing the Tribe www.facebook.com/groups/20364215746/
Sephardic Jews in Poland www.facebook.com/groups/PolSephardim/
Helpful websites on Sephardic genealogy: Jeff Malka's www.sephardicgen.com