"The Origins of East European Jews" in Russian History 30
- I would like to call your attention to my recent article "The Origins of
East European Jews". It is contained in the Spring-Summer 2003 issue
(volume 30, numbers 1-2) of the academic journal Russian History/Histoire
Russe, on pages 1 to 22. This fully-sourced, comprehensive, and
up-to-date article is essential reading for anyone interested in the
subject of Ashkenazi Jewish origins, whether for personal interest or
research or teaching purposes.
The structure of the article is as follows:
I. Introduction of the problem
II. Documentary evidence -- covers issues like the extent of the
conversion of Khazars to Judaism according to surviving chronicles and
written evidence for the resettlement of German and Czech Jews in Poland
III. Onomastic evidence -- evaluates the names of Jews on the Kievan
Letter, Slavic and Germanic names of early Jews in Lithuania and Belarus,
and surnames of East Ashkenazi Jews
IV. Genetic evidence -- presents the latest data from studies of Jews'
Y DNA, mtDNA, and genetic diseases
V. Linguistic evidence -- discusses the origins of the Yiddish language
and reasons for its eventual dominance among East European Jewish
VI. Archaeological evidence -- provides data on known artifacts of
Khazarian Jews and tombstones of East European Jews
VII. Architectural evidence -- provides examples of synagogue
architectural designs in Eastern Europe that derived from Germany and
Spain and debunks the claim that Polish wooden synagogues were
VIII. Conclusions -- I'll quote this section, since it summarizes the
findings in the article: "When the existing evidence is considered in its
entirety, it becomes clear that East European Jews are descended both
from the Jews of the ancient Middle East and from non-Jewish peoples, with
the Israelite component predominating. The story of the Russian Jews,
according to the most current data, is that of Central European Jews who
migrated eastward and joined with the existing (and apparently smaller)
Jewish communities of the east, including the East Slavic-speaking Jews.
The major periods of immigration included the 13th-15th centuries for mass
migration from Central Europe into Poland and the 15th-17th centuries for
the movement of western Jews further east into today's Belarus and
Lithuania. The composition of the Central European Jewish component is
not entirely Rhenish, as had been alleged in most 20th-century
scholarship; although many Rhenish Jews did in fact eventually settle in
Eastern Europe, Russian Jewry also includes very substantial origins in
Bohemia, Moravia, southeastern Germany (including Bavaria), Austria, and
eastern Germany. As for the Khazarian Jews, Iraqi Jews, and Byzantine
Jews, the degree of their impact, if any, upon the demography of Russian
Jews is still uncertain. Finally, over the past two thousand years, it
appears that more non-Jewish women than men converted to Judaism and
joined Jewish communities in Europe."
If anyone wants a photocopy, they can purchase it (copying and U.S.A.
postage costs total $1.49) from me by writing to me at kbrook@...
It is also available through the interlibrary loan service at your local
public or college library.
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Kevin Brook <kbrook@p...>
> I would like to call your attention to my recent article "TheOrigins of
> East European Jews". It is contained in the Spring-Summer 2003issue
> (volume 30, numbers 1-2) of the academic journal RussianHistory/Histoire
> Russe, on pages 1 to 22.Congratulations!
I guess the problem that you face is that some people who are
interested in the Khazars are interested in them mainly as means for
proving that modern Jews somehow aren't really Jewish.
But people should just try to get more genetic and archaeological
evidence and let the facts live their own lives.
Example: if you go back into my maternal grandmother's family tree,
you find that she descends from a bunch of heavily intramarried people
who lived in southeastern Belarus.
I went and got an mtDNA test, and my matrilineal genes might have come
from Central Asia. It's not an open and shut case, and maybe my
earliest "mom line" Jewish female ancestor lived somewhere like Turkey
or Yemen, rather than Khazaria or Mongolia, but it's interesting that
a man who matched my mtDNA and got a Y chromosome test has a pattern
that's common in Central Asia.
Who knows. Maybe we inherited Central Asian genes from people who were
already living in Jerusalem before our first Jewish ancestors became
Jewish. But maybe we're descended from Khazars or Silk Road traders.
It's a big universe, and many interesting things can happen here.
- --- On 12 September 2003, Alice Bell wrote:
> I went and got an mtDNA test, and my matrilineal genes might haveAnd in some cases the mtDNA results show a connection even further
> come from Central Asia.
than Central Asia. The company Trace Genetics of Davis, California
recently tested the mtDNA of an Ashkenazi woman with maternal-line
ancestors from Moldova and the results came up with matches with some
Han Chinese, Mongolians, and Bukharan Jews. The origin of the line
("the marker of the transversion at np16257") is believed to be
A China line is pretty rare, but there are probably many Ashkenazi
Jews who have mtDNA from Central Asia and Eastern Europe and, yes,
among those some from Khazar people. I'd like to see more individual
case studies. Actually, I didn't get my own mtDNA tested yet. BTW a
geneticist stated that almost everyone in the Old World is descended
from Confucius, while almost every Jew and Muslim is descended from
Muhammad and almost every European descends from Charlemagne.
Yes, Family Tree DNA is an excellent company. I've corresponded with
Bennett Greenspan since before the company opened and I had my Y DNA
tested through them (as have some friends of mine, one of whom
matched with me on 12 markers on the 12-marker test). I was having
discussions with Greenspan about DNA testing in November 1999
(immediately following the issue of Khazaria News that mentioned how
some Russians wanted to extract DNA from Khazar skeletons), a few
months before he founded it, and discussions about ancestry in
general way before that. Basically, as he told me, I gave him some
of the inspiration that drove him to found his company. I also gave
him info that apparently helped him hook up with Dr. Michael Hammer.
He's interested in testing Khazar DNA if we can obtain and verify
any. And his own Y DNA is Crimean Tatar. Now we want to test to see
if Crimean & Lithuanian Karaites are related to Tatars and/or Jews.