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"The Origins of East European Jews" in Russian History 30

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  • Kevin Brook
    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,
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 10, 2003
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      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
      communities

      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
      Khazar-styled

      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.

      Kevin Brook
    • allbell
      ... Origins of ... issue ... History/Histoire ... Congratulations! I guess the problem that you face is that some people who are interested in the Khazars are
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 11, 2003
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        --- In jewishgenealogy2000@yahoogroups.com, Kevin Brook <kbrook@p...>
        wrote:
        > 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.

        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.
      • liberty1975
        ... And in some cases the mtDNA results show a connection even further than Central Asia. The company Trace Genetics of Davis, California recently tested the
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 12, 2003
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          --- On 12 September 2003, Alice Bell wrote:
          > I went and got an mtDNA test, and my matrilineal genes might have
          > come from Central Asia.

          And in some cases the mtDNA results show a connection even further
          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
          eastern China.

          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.

          Kevin Brook
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