Nu? What's New?
The E-zine of Jewish Genealogy From Avotaynu

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 14 | April 6, 2014

Every government puts value on preserving its history. That is why we have national archives. Genealogy preserves history; the history of a family. It cannot be done without access to records, just as historians cannot preserve a nation's history without access to records. It is a greater good than the right to privacy. It is a greater good than the risk of identity theft.

Past issues of Nu? What's New? are archived at
More About Origin of Jews Through DNA Analysis
Jeff Wexler of Los Angeles notes that on January 30, Anatole Klyosov posted an article, in Russian, entitled “Thoughts About Jewish DNA Genealogy.” With Professor Klyosov's permission,, a website devoted to the R1a1a Ashkenazi Levite Y-DNA cluster, has posted an English translation of his article at

Wexler’s comments about the Klyosov article follows.

Professor Klyosov concluded that the ancestors of R1a Jews appeared in the Middle East between 4,000 and 5,500 years ago. He determined that R1a Jews and R1a Arabs share a common ancestor who lived about 4,000 years ago. He also found that there are parallel branches between Jews and Arabs in haplogroups J1 and J2, with Jewish and Arab branches splitting off about 4,000 years ago. (Haplogroups J1 and J2 are two of the most prevalent Y-DNA haplogroups among Jews; a significant percentage of Cohanim belong to each of haplogroups J1 and J2.)

Thus, Professor Klyosov concluded that three major Jewish Y-DNA haplogroups—R1a, J1, and J2—are each descended from ancestors who lived about 4,000 years ago—the time when Abraham founded Judaism. He, therefore, postulated that the ancestors of R1a1a Ashkenazi Levites, like the ancestors of J1 and J2 Jews (who include many Cohanim), have been part of the Jewish population since the religion was founded.

Professor Klyosov found that the progenitors of four other major Jewish Y-DNA haplogroups—E1b, G1, G2, and R1b—also lived in the Middle East before Judaism was founded. He identified other Jewish haplogroups—I1, I2, Q, R2, X, and T and subclades—that entered the Jewish population more recently, during the Diaspora. (Bennett Greenspan, president and CEO of Family Tree DNA, notes that: about half of R1b Jews have an ancient Middle Eastern variant of R1b while the remaining R1b Jews have a variant that is typical among Western European Gentile men; and haplogroup T is of Middle Eastern origins. (It is found in its greatest frequencies in Lebanon.)

Professor Klyosov also provided insight into the deeper origins of the R1a1a Ashkenazi Levite progenitor. (Some researchers have speculated that R1a1a Ashkenazi Levites are descended from Khazars who converted to Judaism about 1,000 years ago.) According to Professor Klyosov, the R1a Jews and the R1a Arabs are descended from Aryans who swept out of the Russian plains about 4,900 years ago, traveling through the Caucasus to Mesopotamia (Abraham's birthplace) and to the Saudi peninsula. Professor Klyosov notes that the Slavs are also descended from the Aryans. (Because of the racist connotations that the term “Aryan” has acquired as a result of the Nazis and white supremacists, today many scholars use the terms “Indo- Iranian” or “Indo-European” to refer to the historic Aryans; “Iran” means “land of the Aryans.”)

Professor Klyosov's methodology for dating the age of haplotype clusters and the time to a most recent common ancestor shared by two haplotype clusters (1) determines the number of deviations in STR marker values between two haplotype clusters and (2) uses known mutation rates for STR markers to calculate the range of time in which the most recent common ancestor of men belonging to those two haplotype clusters lived.

As discussed in Klyosov's article his methodology differs from that of population geneticists who have reached different conclusions as to the ages of Y-DNA subclusters and the time at which the shared ancestors of such men lived. Klyosov's article asserted that population geneticists have identified known historical events and manipulated their methodology to tie genetic evidence to those events; some population geneticists have leveled the same criticism at Klyosov.

Professor Klyosov's article includes a broad-ranging discussion of scientific and historical issues relating to Jewish genealogy. His article, and the comments thereto, should provide insight to anyone with an interest in Jewish Y-DNA genealogy and in understanding some of the issues now being debated in the scientific community.

New York Public Library Permits Access to More Than 20,000 Maps
The New York Public Library has announced the release of more than 20,000 cartographic works (maps) as high resolution downloads. All are believed to be out of copyright. The collection can be searched at Most are of the United States, but there is an extensive collection of more than 700 topographic maps of the Austro-Hungarian Empire created between 1877 and 1914. There are maps of other countries. The maps can be downloaded through the Library’s Map Warper function located at The announcement is at

Conference Keynote Speaker Announced
IAJGS has announced that David Laskin will be the keynote speaker at the 34th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. It is being held from July 27 to August 1 at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center. Laskin’s award-winning books are especially relevant to family experiences and to the WWI era. Laskin's book, "The Family," tells the story of the three paths taken by his family. Descended from a Torah scribe in the Pale, some came to America where they lived the American dream, some to Palestine as pioneer farmers and some remained in Europe to face to horrors of the Shoah. In his previous book, "The Long Way Home," he describes the experiences of a dozen European immigrants who returned to Europe as part of the American expeditionary forces in WWI.

Information about the conference is at

IAJGS Issues Request for Stern Grant Nominations
Stern Grants. The 2014 IAJGS Stern Grant committee invites nominations for this important grant that memorializes the late Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern and his efforts to increase the availability of resources for Jewish genealogical research.

The intention of the Rabbi Malcolm Stern Grant is to encourage institutions to pursue projects, activities and acquisitions that provide new or enhanced resources to benefit Jewish genealogists. The grant is given to non-profit institutions, not to individuals. For 2014 there is possibility of two awards (including the John Stedman Memorial Grant) of up to $3,000 each.

Nominations for the Stern Grant are usually made by IAJGS Member organizations—not by individuals. IAJGS encourages individuals, however, to participate in the process by contacting their local or most relevant IAJGS member organization to suggest worthy recipients for the grant. For a list of organizations, see

Information about the grant (and past grantees), can be found at

In Their Words–Russian Shipments This Week
Shipments of the reprinted book In Their Words, A Genealogists Translation Guide–Russian will go out this week. The response was so overwhelming that we ordered additional copies from the publisher.

The 520-page book assists researchers in translating documents written in the Cyrillic alphabet. There are more than 88 Russian-language documents and extracts from American and European sources analyzed and translated. They include extracts from birth, death, and marriage records of various formats; gazetteer entries; revision lists; obituaries; population registers; military service records; passports; etc. There is a section oriented toward of the needs of genealogists with Jewish family history regarding transliteration of Jewish names from the Cyrillic Alphabet

The cost is $35.00 plus shipping. Ordering information plus the complete Table of Contents can be found at

1.3 Million Quebec Obituaries Now Online  
The Drouin Institute has put online 1.3 million Quebec obituaries from 250 different Internet sites dating from 1999 to the present. The records can be searched by name and date of death. Women are listed under their maiden name. Access is free. The collection is at

Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1841–1955) Online
The Brooklyn Public Library has placed pages of the Brooklyn Eagle 1841–1955 online at The pages, through 1902, also exist at The Fulton site has more search options. A more detailed description of this announcement is at

British Newspaper Archives Has Discount Offer
British Newspaper Archives, a fee-for-service site, is offering a 30-day subscription to its database for £8 rather than the usual price of £29.95. The offer ends on April 13. Go the site at, enter the promotion code AMAZINGAPRIL, click the “Apply Code” button and choose the 30-day package. British Newspaper Archives states it has 7,719,099 pages from 244 titles online.

Some Colorado Indians Have Jewish Genes
It is somewhat old news, but it has been discovered that a group of Colorado Indians have DNA similar to the Jews of ancient Spain. Specifically, these native Americans have the BRCA1 gene which has been linked to breast and ovarian cancer. It is known that during/after Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 (or forced to convert to Catholicism), many fled to Spanish colonies including Mexico. These colonists then travelled north and settled in today’s Arizona and New Mexico. It is likely they cohabitated with the native Indian population. An article on the topic appears at

Contribute to the Success of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy
Help support a dynamic institution that in its brief existence already has been the catalyst for such benefits to Jewish genealogy as the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System,  Sephardic DNA and Migration project, inventorying the Paul Jacobi Collection of 400 prominent Ashkenazic lineages, the Proposed Standard for Names, Dates and Places in a Genealogical Database, and a system for Integrating Genealogical Datasets.

Visit the IIJG website at and read about these developments, as well as  ongoing and proposed projects.

Make your tax-deductible contribution by credit card or PayPal at Click the Donate link. If you prefer, mail a check to Avotaynu Foundation,  794 Edgewood Ave., New Haven, CT 06515, USA. Make the check payable to “Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.” Donations are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
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