Jews Share Genetic Roots

A new genetic study, the largest of its kind, has found a genetic link between seven distinct groups of Jews, confirming a communal origin in the Middle East. The study, which was led by Harry Ostrer, a geneticist at New York University School of Medicine, and published yesterday in The American Journal of Human Genetics, proved that while Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek and Ashkenazi Jews all have their own genetic signature, they show some overlap.

Researchers discovered that 2,500 years ago Iranian and Iraqi Jews separated from European and Syrian Jews and formed distinct groups, but with a common origin. They also learned that any two Ashkenazi Jews are likely to share as much DNA as fourth or fifth cousins.

The findings of the study will help researchers to better understand disease genes present in ethnic groups, including the breast cancer gene common in Ashkenazi Jews.

To read an editorial on the subject, click here.

Author

Elissa Strauss

Elissa Strauss

Elissa Strauss has written for the Forward over a number of years. She is a regular contributor to CNN, whose work has been published in a number of publications including The New York Times, Glamour, ELLE, and Longreads.

Jews Share Genetic Roots

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Jews Share Genetic Roots

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close