- I got DNA testing through Family Tree DNA.
It turns out that I and about 2 percent to 3 percent of people
descended matrilineally from Jewish women who lived in Belarus (and
about 0.5 percent of other Ashkenazic Jews) have an mtDNA (mom line)
pattern that might possibly come form India or Central Asia.
Our pattern is: differences from the standard sequence at positions
16111, 16223, 16235 and 16362. (If you have been tested, understand
what I'm talking about and want more details, let me know and I'll
give you the details.)
One problem is that, so far, it doesn't seem as if there are any
somewhat similar sequences in databases that come from people other
than Ashkenazic Jews. The sequence seems to be an "Asian" type that
split away from the root African type around the same time that modern
human beings were leaving Africa, about 50,000 years ago. But the type
is so weird that it's also been separated for at least about 45,000 to
50,000 years from all other Asian mtDNA sequences. So, it could even
be a type that originated in the Middle East while the first modern
people to leave Africa were heading to Asia.
If we could find some other, non-Jewish peoples in the world, or
Sephardic or Mizrahi Jewish peoples, who had a sequence that was more
similar, then maybe it would be easier to figure out the sequence got
into the Jewish gene pool.
One interesting discovery is that there's a document from about 900 CE
stored in the Cairo genizah that shows that an Egyptian Jewish man
brought an Indian woman to be his bride in Egypt around that time. So,
it seems as if there are written documents supporting the idea that
some of us Jewish people might be descended from Indian woman (or, I
guess, Central Asian women) who entered the Jewish people many
Of course, we all know that there are Jewish people in India who have
deep roots in India, but I think it's pretty amazing to think of
Indian women converting to Judaism and entering the Mizrahi, Sephardic
or Ashkenazic Jewish populations a thousand years ago or more.