Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ruth: Our Mothers, Our Fathers, Our Cousins

DNA results are in for my cousin Ruth.

I think this is the one!
Our late mothers are first cousins and and both are named for their great-grandmother Basya Gordon. Though Ruth is quite close to me in age, I am not sure we ever met more than twice. Once was when we spent my sixth birthday in New York - an event made memorable because Cousin Bessie gave me a Mr. Potato Head. The other was the bar mitzvah nearly sixty years ago of Ruth's first cousin Mickey in DC.

Ruth's grandmother is the older sister of my grandfather.

I have just begun testing on my mother's side and Ruth is one of three to test, aside from two of my sisters and me. The other two are my first cousin Kay (our mothers are sisters) and Ruth's first cousin Judy. We have one more test being processed - that one is on my grandmother's side and should help divide the matches between my mother's two sides.

Ruth's Family Finder results have given us information of interest in several different directions.

Everyone in the bottom row has done a Family Finder test.

In addition to the Family Finder, which I'll talk about below, Ruth also did an MtDNA test. That would be the line leading up through Gershon Kugel's wife Zelda. We received the results a month ago. Her haplogroup is R0a4.

Ruth has nine exact MtDNA matches and four more that are one step away. Now that we have her Family Finder results, I looked to see if any of those are close matches. (Three of the nine exact matches have not done Family Finder tests.)

Of the ones who have, most do not match Ruth at all and a few are remote matches. One of the "one-step-away" group is a "third cousin - fifth cousin." As it happens, this is someone I know as a researcher and who is a Facebook friend as well. There is nothing obvious between these two women that would account for a good Family Finder match, but we'll exchange information and see if anything turns up. Of course, the closeness in the Family Finder match me be unrelated to the MtDNA match.

When Judy's results came in about six weeks ago, I was surprised to see that her first match after my sister Sarajoy and me, even before my first cousin Kay, was Cyndi Norwitz. Cyndi is a known fifth cousin of mine on my father's maternal side (Zelinka, from Slovakia) and has no known connections to my mother's side. (For instance, she does not match Kay at all.)

Normally, I do not get involved in matches with peoples' other sides, but this was most unusual so I introduced the women and they began a lively conversation, mostly about Judy's mother's family. I think Judy is hooked. Since we knew we would be getting results from Ruth soon, I suggested we wait to see whether Ruth matched Cyndi or not. If they have a good match and passed the chromosome browser test, we could proceed assuming that Cyndi is connected to the grandfather of Judy and Ruth. If not, we would assume the connection to Cyndi goes through Judy's mother.

Cyndi and Ruth are "third cousin - fifth cousin." Not as close as Cyndi to Judy, but not bad either. There are partial answers in the chromosomes.

Judy and Cyndi match Ruth twice
Here on the left, we see that Judy and Cyndi match on chromosomes 14 and 18

Ruth and Cyndi match Judy five times!

But here on the right, there are three additional matches - on chromosomes 7, 8 and 22.

This appears to be a contradiction, but in fact it is not. Remember we have two of each chromosome, one from the father and one from the mother. FTDNA's results do not differentiate between them. What these results are telling us is that on one hand, the matches on chromosomes 14 and 18 are mutual and come therefore from Eliyahu DovBer, the grandfather of Ruth and Judy.

The matches on chromosomes 7, 8 and 22 are on Judy's two sides. The matches with Ruth (orange) are on Judy's father's side and the ones with Cyndi (blue) are probably on Judy's mother's side. In addition, Cyndi matches Judy on chromosomes 3, 6, 11, 13, 15, 16 and 17 for a total of over 50 cM. These may be on Judy's mother's side as well - or they may be from someplace else entirely. Or they may be matches that Ruth could share, but she simply didn't get those particular bits of DNA.

Oh and to complicate it further - Ruth and Cyndi have some matches that they do not share with Judy. Those are about 25 cM on chromosomes 5, 8, 10 and 16. Here too, they could be from someplace else (Ruth's father?) or they could be part of the match with Judy that Judy just didn't receive.

Unpredictability of DNA
Ruth's match with her second cousin Kay is only about 155 cM, which looks more like a third cousin than a second. That probably has to do with the fact that the adjusting algorithm that FTDNA uses does not know that Kay has no Jewish DNA from her father's side.

On the other hand, we might think that Ruth's matches with my sisters and me should be about the same. We would be wrong. Ruth and I share 496 cM, while neither of my sisters shares as much as 350 cM with Ruth. That's a difference of over forty percent. I am also significantly closer than my sisters to Judy, about 28% closer than Amy but over 50% closer than Sarajoy. I seem to be very much a Gordon!

I must touch on my obsession with finding my connection to Adam Brown.

Adam and I have a strong DNA match. We both have Kugels from Pleshchenitsy, we both have Gordons and we both have connections to Borisov where my maternal grandmother's Rosenblooms come from. When Kay's results came in a few months ago, we saw that she, Adam and I share a segment of chromosome 6 of almost 11 cM, plus two segnments on chromosome 12 of nearly 13 cM.

I was sure that this was largely on the Gordon/Kugel side and was curious to see what was on the Rosenbloom side.

To my surprise, Judy and Adam are not a match. Ruth and Adam are defined as "fourth cousin - remote cousin" and have a couple of segments in common with me. Kay matches me on segments adjacent to those, but I don't think that is significant.

So maybe we have something with Adam on the Gordon/Kugel side, but for now the Rosenbloom side looks much more promising. We'll know more about that when we see the results for our Rosenbloom cousin.

I found it odd, to say the least, that my sisters and I have more that twice as much DNA in common with Ruth than we do with her first cousin Judy. That must come from somewhere.

Then I saw that Ruth is estimated to be a "second cousin - fourth cousin" to my father's brother and sister. And although she is a remote cousin to my father's first cousin Herb, she is not a match at all to my three second cousins on my father's side.

This almost has to come from my grandmother's side. Cyndi has no match with both Ruth and A. Betty/U.Bob, so it's not Zelinka side. I would expect my double second cousin Lee to have something matching, but no.

And even so, where is all this coming from on Ruth's end? From her father, I suppose.

Well, it also turns out that Ruth is a match with twenty-two Pikholz tests! Other than the five in my own personal family, there are only three who are not labelled "remote," two of those are from Rozdol and the third is a Pikholz by adoption, but like us, is from Skalat.

Before I start checking chromosomes for that, I want to find out a bit more about Ruth's father's family. I know his parents' names but not so much as his mother's maiden name. Ruth's parents were married in Brooklyn in 1936, so I have ordered the marriage record which should have his mother's birth name and perhaps where they came from. I have asked Ruth what she knows.

Asking is not always the way to go. Some years ago, one of the cousins sent out a genealogy questionnaire to that branch of the family. Both Ruth's older sister and her father himself reported that her parents were married in 1937 and here the database of the Italian genealogists lists the certificate in June 1936.

Oh how I love endogamy!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ilan Stern, Ilan Pikholz

The eighteenth of Elul, which falls this week, is the thirty-eighth anniversary of the death of Ilan Pikholz, of Netanya. He was nearly forty.

Ilan is the older brother of Dalia, whom I have mentioned from time to time, generally in the context of DNA matches and analysis.

The younger of Ilan's two sons was the first person in our family DNA project, but I have rarely mentioned him because his test was a Y-37 (male line) rather than the autosomal (Family Finder) that everyone else is doing. That Y-37 test has been of critical importance as it is a perfect match both for my own Y test and for the Y-37 of the only male-line descendant of Nachman Pikholz (1795-1865).

But today's story is about Ilan's birth record, as seen through his Mandatory Citizenship file.

The card with the twelve Pikholz files
When the British Mandate mercifully ended with the establishment of the State of Israel, they turned over the files of those who had become citizens during the time of the Mandatory Government. Not all of them, only those from some time in 1933. And only about seventy percent of those.The existing files are held by the Israel National Archives here in Jerusalem. The whole set of files from 1933 are indexed on cards, arranged by surname. The fourteen thousand plus files from before 1933 are not even indexed.

The fourth line on the card shown Ilan, born 1936 in Hadera in file number 43356, with a note that his name was changed from Ilan Stern. What's that all about - and why, if he was born here in Hadera, was there a citizenship file at all?

The title page of the citizenship file is clear that the child is Ilan Stern whose name was changed to Pikholz  during the citizenship process.

But we know that Ilan and Dalia's parents are Zvi and Sarah Pikholz. Sarah's name was Kaner and Zvi's mother was a Leiter, so where does Stern come from?

There is nothing unusual about the birth certificate, shown below. Ilan was born in Hadera, 27 October 1936 to Zvi Pikholz age 30 and Sarah Pikholz age 26. The birth was registered on 14 November.

The Government of Palestine issued birh certificate number 102223, with everything recorded in both Hebrew and English. What could be simpler?

The file contains a letter dated 17 May 1938 from Salah (Sarah) Pikholz saying:

I hereby request to change the name of the child Ilan Stern to Ilan Pikholz, born 27 October 1936 in Hadera. At that time, I was married to Stern and he was a Polish citizen. At the same time, I request that you grant citizenship of Eretz Israel to the child, under the name Ilan Pikholz.

So this Stern is the father and he was not a citizen, so Ilan needed citizenship of his own? But we have the real-time birth certificate and the parents are identified as Zvi and Sarah Pikholz. Not Sarah Stern.

Another document in the file - dated 17 May 1938, the same day as Sarah's request for a name change - tells us more.
This "minute sheet" cited four additional documents which were presented in support of the request, but which are not themselves in the citizenship file.

1. Certificate of Naturalization for Berisch Stern, dated 12 August 1937. [This was after Ilan was born - IP].

2. Certificate of Naturalization for Hermann [Zvi - IP] Pikholz dated 13 November 1930.

3. A divorce certificate issued in Petah Tiqva on 7 February 1938.

4. A marriage certificate issued in Petah Tiqva on 9 February 1938.

Ilan, in the citizenship file
This was all very odd, to say the least. Sarah was married to Berisch Stern when Ilan was born, but the birth certificate identified her as Pikholz. If Zvi Pikholz was indeed Ilan's father, as indicated by the birth certificate, then why did Ilan need to undergo naturalization - Zvi had been a citizen since 1930!

And what was I to do with this? I couldn't just make a copy and send it off to Dalia without knowing what she knew of all this.

I phoned her husband, whom I have known since we both lived in Arad. He laughed.

The story, he told me, was typical of many from the days of the British Mandate. Jews could only immigrate if they had certificates and the British had severely limited those, despite the terms of the mandate granted them by the League of Nations to facilitate Jewish immigration.

Berisch Stern had a certificate and Hermann (Zvi) Pikholz did not. So the only way Sarah could enter the country was to present herself as the wife of Berisch Stern. It was a sham marriage, of course, and she was actually married to Zvi all along. Ilan's birth certificate reflected exactly that. But the naturalization authorites had to deal with the marriage to Berisch and the implied Stern surname for Ilan.

Everyone was party to the fiction and from mid-1938 it was all above board. And we know all this was a sham - because Ilan's son's Y-DNA is a perfect match for mine.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
This week is also the anniversary of the bar mitzvah of my friend Dov Gadot. Dov was my first long-term Israeli friend. We started working for Dead Sea Bromine Co. on the same day, thirty-seven years ago and we knew each other slightly before hand. Our jobs brought us into frequent contact, even though we were in different parts of the company. I left the job after five years.

We had nothing at all in common, but we were fast friends. The first three years, I lived in Yeroham and he in Arad. Then for the next eleven we both lived in Arad. We no longer worked together but we arranged to do civil patrols together. Arad became history for both of us and we spoke less frequently. But I would always call or send an email the week of his bar mitzvah.

I knew his wife and kids a bit. He and his wife were a couple from fifth or sixth grade.

This year, I wrote to Dov's widow, just to say that I am thinking of them. He would have been seventy-two. He was my friend.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Uncle Selig's DNA

Uncle Selig - again
One of the linchpins in my Pikholz research has always been a note from father that his grandfather had had an uncle, Selig Pickholz. I discussed Uncle Selig at some length here, here, in my Avotaynu article about Geni and at 31:57 in the recording of the panel discussion about online collaboration at our recent conference.

Here is our starting point, based on the records we have and the the fact that the only mentions of any Selig Pickholz in records are the births of Markus and Fischel Zeiler, the marriage of Fischel, the death on Marcus Pickholz and the birth of Izak Josef Pickholz.

There is one Uscher (=Asher, the Hebrew counterpart of the Yiddish Selig) Pikholz born 1885 but he is in a different corner of the family.

I have shown elsewhere that Selig cannot be the brother of Isak Fischel, so must be the brother of Rivka Feige

Uncle Selig's putative brother Berl had many children, and a number of his descendants are called Isak Josef. Like my grandfather's brother and the "original" Isak Josef, these are known as Josef, without the Isak. I am in contact with a very few descendants of Berl.

But Uncle Selig's line pretty much ends here. The two Zeiler sons both married and Markus had a daughter Bertha in 1896, but that's all we know. Then they disapper.

There is one other nagging question I have always had about Uncle Selig. Why did my father know that he existed? Why did he know that his grandfather - who died when my father was eight years old - have this particular relative? What was so significant about Uncle Selig that my father would have picked up this bit of information?  His one older living cousin never heard of Uncle Selig and the grandfather lived for a time in his parents' house.

Perhaps grasping at straws, I considered that the similarity between Uncle Selig's wife name - Kaczka - and my great-grandmother's name - Kwoczka - hinted at a relationship that would have made Uncle Selig doubly connected to my great-grandfather, but that was never really convincing.

His name is not really George, but I'll call him that because some of his family members have privacy issues that might be considered extreme. George is a Pikholz descendant whose family is described in the chart below. he did a DNA test last year and although he had a few fairly close matches - including with my father's sister and first cousin - I was not able to get a sense of his place in the overall family. He had relatively few matches altogether but that was due in part to the fact that his mother is not Jewish, so does not bring endogamy into play from her side.
Henryk, Meir, David, Anna's husband and at least two others were physicians

A few weeks ago, in the course of an inquiry George was making into the life of his Aunt Anna, he came across a handwritten Polish document dated 8 July 1929, which was labeled "birth certificate equivalent." Attached to it was a typewritten version. He sent it along to me for comment. He felt it must have had something to do with his father's schooling as he would have been eighteen at the time.

Polish records are harder to work with than Galician records, because they are generally formatted as straight text rather than the columns mandated by the Austrian government in Galicia.

But once I saw the typewritten version, it was simple.

This was the Polish version of the original Galician document, complete with the numbers and Polish-language headings at the top of each column.

It was pretty much standard information, nothing I didn't know. Except column 8. The "sandek or witness" was Selig Pickholz. One of the ancients had suddenly appeared in a 1929 document, that was essentially a transcription of David's 1911 birth record.

I mean, this was hardly likely to be some other Selig. We know of no other Selig. In 1911 he would have been in his eighties, not unheard of, but not where I would ever have expected to see him.

Is David's grandfather - George's great-grandfather - Uncle Selig's son Isak Josef, the one born in 1862? Dropping the Isak to become Josef would be no surprise - that's what they all did. His first son Maurycy was born in 1881, when Selig's Isak Josef would have been just past his nineteenth birthday - but his wife was born about 1864, so 1862 would be perfectly reasonable.

Josef has a granddaughter Chana and another Anna - perhaps named for Uncle Selig's wife, their great-grandmother.

So George would be my fourth cousin and Uncle Selig has living descendants. Maybe. And we have his DNA. Maybe.

Is there a way to be sure?

George's DNA - another look
George and I are not a DNA match. And he does not have a large number of Pikholz matches. But Aunt Betty, my father's sister, is estimated to be his "2nd Cousin - 4th Cousin." My father's first cousin Herb is estimated to be his "3rd Cousin - 5th Cousin." But no match at all to me or my cousin Terry.

The truth is, it's been awhile since I took a close look at George's matches and we have had new results in the last few months.

George is estimated to be a "2nd Cousin- 4th Cousin" to my double second cousin Lee, whose grandfather was Uncle Joe. And a "3rd Cousin - 5th Cousin" to my sister Amy and my father's brother Uncle Bob. On the other hand, he is remote to my sister Sarajoy and no match at all to my second cousin Rhoda and my third cousin once removed Ralph.

I guess that's about what we should expect from a fourth cousin.

I truly think this is right. But we do not quite have the documentation. Uncle Selig could have been the sandak for David without having been his great-grandfather. He could have simply been an esteemed, very old relative. But I don't think so. I think we have it right. I'd like to see one more bit of evidence. I cannot imagine where it might come from.

Why my father knew - revisited
This gives a new direction for the question why anyone ever told my father that his grandfather had an uncle Selig.

Uncle Selig was probably in his early eighties when David was born in 1911. My father was born twelve years later.  If he died in his mid-late nineties when my father was young and it was mentioned at home, my father might well have remembered. That kind of event makes an impression even on a child of four or five. Perhaps he even reached a hundred and that generated some talk in earshot of the young child.

I do not know that a death record for Uncle Selig would fill in the blanks, but it seems to be the next document to look for.

I am also interested in some additional DNA support and have asked several people close to George's side to consider testing. One has agreed thusfar, though has not actually done it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

He Should Be Turning Forty In A Month

Friday, 3 Elul 5774                     

Yochanan was born the third of Tishrei, the day after Rosh Hashanah. He should be turning forty a month from today.

I have known Sammy Hilberg for nearly fifty years and his wife Bryna almost that long. We made aliyah as part of the same gar'in (=settlement group) to Kibbutz Alumim, adjacent to the Gaza fence. Yochanan and his older brother Meir were born while we were all still living on the kibbutz.

We left the kibbutz about the same time - they to Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hevron, and we to the desert town of Yeroham. We stayed in touch during those first years, which included the birth of their first daughter. Then they moved to Netzer Hazani in the unpopulated southwest corner of the Gaza Strip, not far from the ocean . One of the communities that constituted Gush Katif. Sammy, a mechanic by training, learned to grow hothouse tomatoes.

The first time I saw them in Netzer Hazani was when I was stationed there during a stint in the reserves. Their second daughter was born while I was stationed there. Later they had a third son and a third daughter.

Seventeen years ago, on a Thursday night, the third of Elul, Yochanan and eleven of his comrades in the naval commandos were killed on a mission in Lebanon. He was buried Friday in the Neve Dekalim cemetery in southern Gush Katif.. A month later was his twenty-third birthday.

Bryna spoke every year at the graveside memorial. A military service, with a naval contingent led by officers in white. She spoke as a mother telling us - and Yochanan - how she felt that day and in the days and years since, talking about her inability to fulfill her basic maternal role of protecting her son.

I was able to attend most of those memorial services and some of the weddings as one after another married and began building their own families.

Nine years ago, the Hilbergs, like all the residents of Netzer Hazani and the rest of the Gush Katif communities, became refugees, thrown out of their homes by their own government. The homes were destroyed so as not to turn them over to the Arabs. And the youth center that had been built in Yochanan's memory.

The Arabs destroyed the hothouses for reasons that made some kind of sense to them. It wasn't to build something for their own people.

It was supposed to bring peace with Gaza, as the Arabs were expected to take responsibility for their own welfare. We were no longer to be there and they would have no further excuse to attack us.

Sammy and Bryna and some of the others from Netzer Hazani were resettled on Kibbutz Ein Zurim, with a vague semi-refugee status.

And after eight years less one week, the army dug up Yochanan's body - together with the others buried in Neve Dekalim. Nearly fifty altogether. Many, including Yochanan and another soldier, were reburied in Nitzan, a refugee community on the coast between Ashkelon and Ashdod.

The second full-blown funeral was very difficult, perhaps moreso for the older brother Meir who had been abroad at the time of the first. The navy sent its people, as always; the younger ones no longer having any personal memory of Yochanan and his comrades in arms. 

Sammy announced that this second burial place was to be considered temporary.

A week later, we went back to Nitzan for the annual memorial. There are no words, but Bryna found them then anyway.

In the ensuing years, the silence of the memorial service has been punctuated by the grandchildren. Mostly the same people come. And Bryna speaks. Her mother has a walker now, but is alert and seems well.

This year was different. It wasn't so much Bryna the mother, but Bryna the citizen, speaking for all the residents of the area who have endured the last months of shelling and rockets. She recalled that people who worked side by side with them in the hothouses were now shooting at them. She recalled that some of those same Arabs came to console them when Yochanan was killed. And she recalled that they had been expelled from their homes and their lives in what was supposed to be a move for peace.

Yochanan Avraham ben Bryna and Shemaryahu Shemuel should be turning forty in a month. He has been in his temporary grave in Nitzan for nine years, a year longer than in Neve Dekalim.

May his soul be bound in life,
may G-d avenge his blood
and may his family and all of Israel find peace.
The cover of the memorial book, produced by family and friends

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Breakfast at Poale Zedeck

Last year, my son concluded thirteen years as rabbi of a small congregation in suburban Chicago. During a number of those years, he and his family - his wife and six sons - would vacation at the yeshiva in Lakewood New Jersey, driving both ways. It is a long drive and usually they would stop overnight in Pittsburgh at Aunt Betty and Uncle Ken's.

This is the story of one of those stopovers.

The year Avrohom turned thirteen.

Before the big event
I went to Washington DC for the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, after a few days in Baltimore (another story for another time). The Conference ended Friday and Elliot Greene dropped me at the airport in Philadelphia where I picked up a rental car and drove to spend Shabbat with the kids. (I told a story mentioning that Lakewood visit here.)

I spent a very pleasant day with the family, my son his wife and five of their six boys. Their second son, Avrohom, was in camp in Cleveland. The plan was that Abrohom would meet up with the family in Pittsburgh, getting a ride from Cleveland with one of the Pittsburgh boys at camp. But that wasn't going to work out, so I became the back-up plan.

Avrohom's thirteenth birthday fell while he was at camp, and they made a bit of a thing about his becoming a bar mitzvah. The bigger,family celebration was to be the Shabbat immediately after returning to Chicago, with a Sunday evening planned at Skokie Yeshiva for more family, classmates etc.

The kids' trip back to Chicago from Lakewood included Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Wednesday night, meaning Thursday morning. I saw an opportunity and everyone signed off on it.

 From my great-grandfather down to my grandson. That's six generations.

It was not meant to be something big. The invitation went out to family members in Pittsburgh, including some we barely knew, as well as to a few old classmates of mine.

Pittsburgh Week - the first days
Sunday I returned the rental car in Philadelphia and flew to Pittsburgh where I picked up another. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I did alot of visiting with Aunt Betty and Uncle Ken and Monday I did a round of cemeteries on the north side of Pittsburgh. Probably a dozen of them.

Sig Rosenzweig - Zelig ben Moshe
Tuesday morning my wife arrived from Israel, to join the party.

Wednesday I drove to Cleveland to pick up Avrohom from camp. On my way up I stopped at the Ridge Road Cemetery where I photographed nine family graves. On the way back to Pittsburgh, Avrohom and I went to the Kinsman Road cemetery and visited the grave of my grandmother's brother Sig Rosenzweig who had died in1918 of influenza. He was twenty-seven.

The inscription is very difficult to read and finding the grave took quite a long time. I am guessing that we were the first family members to visit in decades.

Once in Pittsburgh, we made a stop at the Old Poale Zedeck Cemetery in Sheraden, where we visited the graves of my great-grandparents Regina and Moritz Rosenzweig (he of the shul building committee), my grandparents, Uncle Joe and Aunt Helen and some other family members. Avrohom appeared interested.

By the time we got back to the house, my son and family were there.

Everyone was up early Thursday. How could we not be.

There had been some serious flooding earlier in the week, with deaths, and there would be more in another month, but this night was wind. And fallen trees. Rain as well.

We were only five houses away from the shul, but even that was something of a project. A number of our local guests did not make it, much as many had missed my own bar mitzvah years before due to an eighteen-inch snowfall the day before.

But we had out-of-town guests, despite the fact that we had only invited locals. Uncle Bob and his wife drove in by trailer from Baltimore ("Why go to a party in Chicago where there is an actual Torah-reading in Pittsburgh?") His daughter Linda - never one to miss a family occasion - came up from West Virginia. Three Kwoczka cousins - two of whom I had met less than two weeks previous - drove up from Baltimore. And a "new" third cousin from the South Hills and a classmate from Fox Chapel came despite the weather.

And sometime along the way, we heard that my great-grandfather, Moritz Rosenzweig, had made an appearance. He was on the building committee, but died in 1928, weeks after the first High Holiday services in the new building, but while they were still holding services in the old building in the Hill District. His wife had a stained glass window installed in his memory, at the top of the front wall of the main sanctuary, to the right of the Aron Kodesh. There was a heavy glass plaque.

During Shabbat services, less that two weeks previous, the plaque fell and shattered. They say it nearly hit the shul's executive director on the head.

It was as though Great-Grandfather was saying that we shouldn't forget him on this occasion.

We had the regular Thursday morning service. Avrohom read the Torah. I was saying kaddish for my mother that year, so there was that.
Afterwards we adjourned to the social hall downstairs, a room that had seen many family celebrations over the years. A buffet breakfast with enough left over that the kids made sandwiches for the drive to Chicago.

I spoke. My son spoke.

On the occasion of my father's bar-mitzvah seventy-five years previous, his grandmother, the wife of Moritz Rosenzweig, had given him a set of five machzorim, with the prayer services for the holidays.. Those came to me after my father died and I had them rebound a couple of months earlier. There - in the same place where my father had celebrated his own bar mitzvah - I turned them over to my grandson.

Then everyone went home.

And because I have just spent a full week with Aunt Betty and Uncle Ken while in town for my DNA course. After having spent three days with Uncle Bob and Ro in Maryland.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What DNA Came From Which Ancestors

As I have gotten older, I have become more hesitant just diving into new technology. Invariably, once I get into it, I get used to it fairly easily, especially when I really need what it has to offer.

A few days ago, I finally got into mapping chromosomes with the help of two graphic tools from Kitty Munson Cooper, whom I met in Salt Lake City.

The object of this exercise is to see which bits of my own DNA can be traced to specific ancestors, or more correctly to which ancestral couple. (An extension of that would be to reconstruct the DNA of those ancestors, but that is another story.)

I am going to present here only my paternal side. I expect to see test results from two second cousins from my mother's side and I'd rather wait on those before drawing conclusions there.

Segment Mapper
I have ten known relatives on my father's side who have tested. Seven are descendants of my great-grandparents Hersch Pickholz and Jutte Lea Kwoczka. One - Ralph - is a great-great-grandson of one on my great-grandfather's sisters and the other two are the grandson (Bruce) and great-grandson (Pinchas) of my great-grandmother's two brothers.

The other seven are my sisters Amy and Sarajoy, my father's sister Aunt Betty, my father's first cousin Herb, my double second cousin Lee and two other second cousins Terry and Rhoda.

The chromosome browser provided by Family Tree DNA, allows a comparison to only five people at a time. Kitty's Segment Mapper allows comparison to as many as forty people at once.  Soon enough I'll try more comparisons, but for now all I need is ten.
I left out the X chromosome since that is only from my mother's side.

Ralph has two bright green segments in chromosome 1 and another in chromosome 19, all of them overlapping several descendants of my grandparents. Since Ralph is on my great-grandfather's side, these segments must be from his parents Izak Fischel and Rivka Feige.

Pinchas has the same kinds of matches on chromosomes 1 and 7 and Bruce has one each on chromosomes 1 and 16, so those segments would be from my great-grandmother's parents Mordecai Meir and Bassie.

Chromosomes 4 and 20 have matches only from the four people who come from my grandmother's side - my sisters, Aunt Betty and Lee. None of the other Pikholz appear there. That indicates that the entire length of those two chromosomes are from either my grandmother's Rosenzweig side or my mother's side.

There is a nice match involving Ralph, my sisters and me on chromosome 3, but no one else among my father's relatives. I have not included that because it is quite possible - prehaps even probable - that this represents a connection between Ralph and our mother's side.

Many of the remaining segments are pretty clearly from my great-grandparents, but we don't know enough to say which of them. Yet.

I should be able to add additional segments to my specific ancestors by using someone other than me as the base. That would be the case if Ralph or Pinchas or Bruce matched a handful of my father's family members, but not me. I am not sure there is a tool for this.

Chromosome Mapper
So what does it look like? I ran it through the second of Kitty's tools, the Chromosome Mapper.

As I say, I am trying to be conservative here, so I did not label any of the sections of the middle chromosomes, even though the first figure shows a high likelihood that there are segments on my Pikholz/Kwoczka side.  I'd like a bit more proof there.

I am also aware that all of this is tentative because the chromosomes come in pairs and it is possible that when I have a match with two people at the same place, one might actually be from my mother's chromosome and the other from my father's. I need to figure out an efficient way to check this. (See my remark about chromosome 3 above.)

But thanks to Kitty, the process wasn't hard. I think I am getting the hang of it. I should be able to add some other Pikholz descendants to the segment mapper and we'll see what shows up. But not this week.

Housekeeping notes
We are away for a few days, so I may not be as responsive as usual.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Family Finder Illumina OmniExpress Matrix

Filtering Family Finder matches by project
For some months now, I have been complaining that Family Tree DNA has not been responding to my pleas to add a "by project" filter to the Family Finder match page.

This is what the results page looks like for my sister Sarajoy, showing her six closest matches. I have access to this page because I am a group administrator and she is a member of my group.
I removed the surnames here. Note that all have known relationships entered.

Among the tools offered on this page are filters by name and ancestral surname. If for instance, I want to see whom she matches who has listed the ancestral surname Gordon (our mother's name), I can enter "Gordon" in the window to the left of the red arrow (which I added for convenience) and press "Apply." then all we will see is matches that Sarajoy has with people who have Gordon among their ancestral surnames.

I can do the same thing for the "Name" window - I can see whom she matches among people actually named Gordon. And I can use both filters at the same time.

What I cannot do is see whom she matches among members of a project. I solved that problem originally by having all my Pikholz descendants list "Pikholz" (that specific spelling) among their ancestral names and using the "ancestral surnames" filter. But some two dozen non-Pikholz who match many of the Pikholz descendants would not make it through that filter, since they do not know of any actual Pikholz in their families.

So I have been lobbying for an additional filter based on membership in a project and have been complaining to whomever will listen that my pleas are getting no response.

Along comes Roberta Estes
Last week in her blog "DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy," Roberta Estes published what she calls "the second in a series about DNA projects, how they work and how they can benefit testers and others," which you can read here.

About halfway through this long post, Roberta dedicates five short paragraphs and one screenshot to an FTDNA tool called "Illumina OnmiExpress Matrix" which I had not seen before. This matrix is a tool available to project administrators and the link to it appears at the top of the second column of the group administrators home page.

It looked to me like this might be a way to work around the filter problem that has had me so troubled.

Now, I try to keep up with developments, whether by reading blogs, following groups on Facebook, listening to podcasts or following FTDNA on Twitter and either this is the best kept secret in autosomal analysis or I have been sleeping though the presentations.

Here is FTDNA's FAQ for the matrix.
I had a look at the matrix and found that while Rebekah Canada is quite good at explaining the various parts of the FTDNA site, this October 2013 FAQ is just not right.

First of all, it does not allow you "up to" twenty people. I entered forty-five and it has yet to stop me.

Second, there is a fourth option for display of data.

Third ... well let's just have a look.

But why talk about it when I can show you
I started with my Kwoczka project which has a manageable nine members, just to see how the matrix works. (We have results for a tenth but she hasn't joined the project yet.) All the relationships among the nine are known.

All nine names originally appeared in the "Group Members" box and I had to move them one by one into the "Selected Members" box. If I wanted to rearrnge them after selections, I had to move them up or down one at a time and one row at a time. No drag and drop.

The four data-display options appear in the small window towards the center and I chose "Relationship." Note that these are not the known relationships I entered into the system, but the suggested relationships as calculated by FTDNA. But with anomalies.

One that I like is that it omits the remote cousins, as you can see with Pinchas and my two sisters.

Actually I have no trouble with their listing my sister Amy as a bit closer to our Aunt Betty and our father's cousin Herb. Such is the randomness of DNA. But I was very surprised to see the relationships listed next to my red arrow. FTDNA thinks Amy is Aunt Betty's grandparent, grandchild or half-sibling, while it thinks that Sarajoy and I are her "Aunt/Uncle, Niece/Nephew." But ever since we began looking at autosmal relationship charts, we have been told that all these show matches of about 25%. No one has ever made a distinction between the relationships suggested for Amy and those suggested for Sarajoy and me! Did I sleep through that too?

I switched the data display to "Relationship Range" and got what the FTDNA match page shows, including the remotes. And it continues to ignore the known relationships.

When I set the display to "Total Centimorgans," it gave those to the tenth decimal point, even though the last four-to-six digits were zero in every case. I cannot imagine whom is served by that supposed degree of accuracy, especially since in larger matricies, it makes it impossibly wide.

The fourth data display - the one that does not appear in the FAQ - is "In Common With Members." As best I can tell, it lists everyone who matches all nine of us (about 125 people), with the relationship to each. Again, the remotes are counted but left blank.

The Pickholtz Surname project has about sixty members, about half of whom are actual Pikholz descendants. In order to test the limits of the matrix, I selected forty-five members and displayed by relationship. Here is the result. I had to shrink the page substantially in order to present it here, but you really are not supposed to look at so many all at once.
There is no significance to the two shades of grey. The left side is normal page width and the "extra" is on the right. The names along the top and the left side are not frozen in place, so once you begin scrolling, you lose them.

A bigger problem is that there does not seem to be any way to save a matrix other than as a screen shot. So if I want to make a modification tomorrow or next week, I have to rebuild the entire matrix from scratch, a very cumbersome process.

Roberta says she would really like "the ability to simply generate a file that downloads to a spreadsheet with a match matrix for everyone in the project."

As for me, I think there should be a way to associate some of these families together as a way to get a handle on the complexities of the matches.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Yes, Uncle Joe Laughed

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my grandfather's brother Uncle Joe and my grandmother's sister Aunt Helen and in particular posed the question Did Uncle Joe Ever Laugh?

Their grandson, my cousin Marshal, provides  an answer in the guest blog below. (No, he has not done a DNA test, but his brother Lee has.)

Guest blogger Marshal Spector

Recently Richard/Israel wrote a piece with the heading asking if his Uncle Joe ever smiled. It contained recollections and musing about my Nanna and Pa that bothered me a bit. Pa died when I was 5 so I have vague memories of him. Lee found a picture from my parents' wedding with my Grandfather having a smile on his face.

A great smile on a great day
 the wedding of his only daughter
Richard asked where the picture was from. In responding, I added the following:
Pa may not have been outwardly expressive, but he taught by example—he (and his brothers) conducted his business in an honest and fair manner (counting cans during the war), lived within his means (never bought anything on credit) and took good care of his family. I understand your upset at not being invited to their 50th anniversary party—my guess is that it was a generational thing.

My mother told this story many times:
Mom would be at home with her friends when the ice cream man would come down the street. Pa would reach in to his pocket and pull out change. My Mother would only take as much as she needed for the ice cream that she wanted. Her friends asked her why she didn’t take more—there was more change in her Father’s hand and he may never know.
My grandfather showed that he trusted my Mom, my Mom learned to be honest and she taught honesty to her friends.

My guess is that my Grandfather smiled broadly on the inside, knowing that his daughter had all the right (Jewish) values—trustworthiness, righteousness, decency and integrity. My grandfather exemplified the best of “old-fashioned” values that are, at times, sorely lacking in today’s culture.

My Mother smiled much of her life, at times under difficult circumstances, thanks to the home in which she was raised and the extended family that was so much a part of that generation.

I wanted to share that with you given what you wrote a while ago about My Grandparents.
Wishing you and the family well, along with peace and security to the people and land of Israel.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Salt Lake City

I posted Thursday about my week in Pittsburgh, neglecting to mention that this was probably my best ever visit with Aunt Betty and Uncle Ken.

This has been a different kind of conference for me than in years past.

I was surprised to find that most of the people I talked to here had never heard of GRIP, so one day I skipped my new set of "I LOVE ENDOGAMY" T-shirts and wore the shirt we got from GRIP. The rest of the time was the new T-shirts except when I spoke, which was shirt and tie.

I spent very little time with my Galizianer friends, spending more time with the blogger crowd. There were a few meetings that I was invited to - bloggers, media etc - and I saw alot of the same people at each. I also attended the talks of several of them. These included people I have known somewhat over the years but also some younger ones who have become Facebook friends in the past months, including two with Pittsburgh-area ancestors.

At one point in one of those meetings, I was exchanging Facebook direct messages with someone who was sitting three seats away from me, like the modern version of passing notes.It was like I was seeing for the first time how the younger generation works.

I am not going to review all the lectures I attended. The lectures are availble for purchase and enough people blogged talks in real time - here, here, here and here, for instance.

Jim Tanner, not in his usual
 bent-over-the-laptop pose
There was one prominent blogger from the general genealogy community who was here for the whole conference, typing away all day. James Tanner is said to be the most prodigious of the genealogy bloggers and some of his children have followed him into the field. I had not been familiar with his work until now.

Wednesday evening, I had the privilege of spending two and a half hours with Kitty Munson Cooper and Gaye Tannenbaum, talking tools for DNA analysis. Kitty has written a few tools herself and is well thought of in the general DNA genetics world. Kitty will speak to the folks at GEDmatch about creating a tool which would have specific relevance to my own work.

I know Gaye's name because she co-authored one of several articles by Dr. Jeff Paull, for which I served as a pre-publication reviewer. Another in that series is due out in the Fall Avotaynu.

And I spoke with Alex Denysenko about some record sets in Podolia, particularly Nemirow. Unfortunately, those end in 1852, while I want 1865-1880. He will check about census records, which should serve a similar purpose in my Pikholz research.

 I was involved in two presentations - a panel and a lecture.

Gary at the podium while the rest of the panel looks on.*
The panel was on Monday afternoon and was called "Internet Collaboration: How Do We Share Our Family Trees Online?" The concept began as a pro or con debate on and programs like it and took off from a presentation at the conference last year. I discussed this at some length a few months ago. The panel ended up a bit more generic with each of three debaters explaining how he brings his family tree to the attention of the general public.

We were told to write up a full text of a fifteen minute opening, then ask each other questons. I wrote up my fifteen minutes a few weeks ago, but when I looked it over, it seemed more like an article than a talk. Although I speak reasonably well from notes, I have never actually written a speech and this did not sound like one.

I took advantage of being with Uncle Ken in Pittsburgh and we went over it in quite a bit of detail - until 11:30 at night, way past his usual bedtime. I made some changes in the text, but most of the change was in the way I spoke and the way I listened to myself - both thanks to him. Uncle Ken has been mentoring graduate students art Pitt since his retirement twenty-five years ago, so he knows whereof he speaks.

Thanks to Preeva Tramiel for this one

I also spoke Wednesday morning on "Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove," the same title I used for a similar talk at the DC conference three years ago. I was once again introduced by my good friend and colleague Renee Steinig and the talk went well. Turnout was not what I had in the much smaller room in DC, but you can only control so much.

The handout for that talk can be found here.

Following that talk was a bit of unpleasantness. I was scheduled for 9:00-10:15, with the last fifteen minutes for questions. But there were few questions, so we ended ten minutes early. I was still at the podium with ten minutes left on the clock, when the speaker scheduled to follow came up and ordered(!) me off the podium so she could set up. There may be ramifications to this going forward.

I attended three talks on publishing. Tammy Hepps presented her Treelines program, which serves as an online tree, but with a story-telling capability.  Very impressive, but it looks like a lot of work. Perhaps If I had an assistant, I'd have a go at it.  Treelines is not a finished product and we should expect it to become a pay site when it is further along, though Tammy says that those who join now will be grandfathered in free. It is an impressive piece of work, even if it may not be right for me.

Mike Karsen spoke about publishing actual books, but in small bites. One part of the family at a time. He has an actual Pledge Card where people promise him that they will publish something within twelve months, in exchange for various goodies from Mike himself.

Part of the idea here is that once you have done one, it becomes much easier to do others.

This is an excellent idea and a very good way to approach publishing, but here too, I don't think my schedule is up to it.

Finally, Marlis Humphrey, the President of IAJGS, gave a talk about publishing online. Clearly the wave of the future, but just as clearly, too much for me, at least right now.

I attended Martin Fischer's lecture "Finding Living Relatives: Techniques for Discovering Previously Unknown Mishpoche." One of the questioners afterward  said that he has overcome reluctant relatives by sending them incorrect data about themselves, which almost forces them to set the record straight. (making a woman older than she is, for instance.) This got lots of laughs and applause as it is clearly one of the more efficient ways to address this phenomenon.

However, I have seen more than one discussion - I don't recall if on JewishGen or on non-Jewish sites - where everyone agreed that this is unethical.

I posted about this on Facebook and got quite a few comments, mosty objectng to the questioner's suggestion. My son, who studies Jewish law on such things, says that is definitely improper.

At the last lecture I attended before leaving the conference, I found myself sitting next to my MtDNA match that I wrote about four months ago.

I am pleased to say that there was a minyan three times a day while I was at the conference. The food, on the other hand, did not give us the idea that there is a vibrant Jewish community in Salt Lake City.

Housekeeping notes
* The photo from the panel debate was taken by Lara Diamond and graced her blog post here.

On either end of the Conference, I got to spend Shabbes with my son and his family in Chicago. (Number two son is away at camp.)

Monday the eighth of Av and we are going into the Tisha beAv day of mourning. May everyone have an easy and meaningful day and may this be the year that this day of national mourning becomes one of rejoicing.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Breaking With Tradition

I was planning to blog my usual Sunday morning about the two programs I have attended these past two weeks, but it is too much, so I am putting this up now and will do the second half probably Monday.

The week before last was the course in Practical Genetic Genealogy at GRIP in Pittsburgh. It was a wonderful course with excellent instructors. I really wish I could bring up the lectures again in podcast form, but that is not an option.

If I had any illusions about there being some simple solution to the endogamy problem - endogamy being the tendency of certain groups to marry within a relatively small tribe - those illusions would be banished. To be sure, our three wonderful lecturers, Debbie Parker Wayne, Blaine Bettinger and CeCe Moore referred to Ashkenazi Jewish endogamy frequently, but it was generally as an example of where the usual rules do not work.

(I sat in the center of the front row and was rather undisciplined when it came to comments and questions, and all three of them were very graceful about it. As were the other students. And everyone was very concerned for me and my family because of the war going on in Israel.)

The course was well-structured and included homework, which we'd go over at the end of the following day.

If I had to name one lesson I took away from the course it is that although the smaller matching segments may indeed be real, they are probably more generations in the past and it is not an efficient use of my time to be looking at them. I should really be concentrating on only the larger matches.

Of course, that and getting more family members to test.

During the course, I received test results for my third cousin once removed, Ralph, and it showed some really nice matches that brought smiles to the lecturers as well. I'll probably discuss those matches in about two weeks.

Wednesday evening, I gave a talk to people from the entire program (the DNA course and the five others) on "Special Challenges of Jewish Genealogy." For the most part, they hadn't a clue about what we have to deal with as researchers, aside from our unusual alphabet. There were probably forty people in attendance and it was well-received.

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that many of the people in the class take clients and want to upgrade their DNA skills in order to better serve their clients or widen their client base. That may work for the general population, but I wonder whether Jewish clients would be patient with all the difficulties and ambiguities. ("This is all I get for my money?") For now, I am sticking to the Pikholz Project and my other families, plus lending a hand elsewhere when I can.

I did not tweet or blog the course, but I did put a few things I learned at on Facebook:
Things I have learned at - everyone but me pronounces it "autozomal" as though it were written with a "z."

Things I learned at CeCe Moore says that the day is coming when we will be able to get DNA from more obscure sources. So Save and label your gf's false teeth, your gm's hair, your father's baseball cap etc etc. But NOT in plastic, which promortes bacteria.
And tell people (us!) you have it so we can create the demand.

Things I learned at Genealogists will stand in line for ten minutes to get M&Ms and bottled water.

Things I learned at The world of genealogy is full of old friends whom I haven't met yet.
The week as a whole was wonderful and I came away with a lot of old friends. I had had some contact with some of the students before the course, as well as exchanges with some of the instructors (from my course and others). Now I consider them my friends. A few have asked me a week later how things are going in Israel.

There should be a class picture here, but they have not been distributed yet.

I had a feeling of swimming with the big fish. I spoke briefly with Judy Russell, Cyndi sat next to me the first evening, Kikmberly Powell of the APG Quarterly was in our course, and more.

My new old friend Pittsburgher Elissa Scalise Powell put together a really nice program.

A bonus for the week was spending time with Aunt Betty and Uncle Ken, as I stayed there during the course and for three days beforehand.

Housekeeping Notes
Although I don't use it myself, I am sad to see the demise of The Master Genealogist. It's another step on the road that leads to only online trees, where we will no longer be able to maintain definitive databases distinct from illustrative websites.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

We're Not From Galicia - We're from Vienna

One of my favorite ancedotes when talking about my Pikholz research is about a fellow who lives across the road from where we lived until six years ago. His surname is Pickholz and he is about eighteen months older than I. He turned me down flat when I asked him years ago about his Pickholz ancestry. His excuse was "We are not from Galicia, we are from Vienna." Fancy people.

I got no further with his two sisters, who live in the Jerusalem area. We have crossed paths with the families of a couple of his kids as well, and no one has any interest in contact.

Fourteen years ago, I had some correspondence with Mrs. Heidrun Weiss of the Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde Wien (the Vienna Jewish community aka IKG) and she wrote, regarding the father of my neighbor:
"...Pickholz was born in 1919, June 1 in [Vienna] (2nd district, Taborstr.96). Mother Brane, father not [identified]. The birth is not official, that means it never was reported by mother or father, just by the nursing home."
I tried to follow up, but no information was available. So for nearly fourteen years I carried around this Brane Pickholz, probably born in the 1890s and nothing else.

I don't remember how many Pikholz descendants we had named Brane or Breine at the time, but even now we have only a dozen - ten from Skalat families and two from Rozdol. The only family where this name had any prominence is the Riss family, which I wrote about just two weeks ago.

Husiatyn - again
Logo for "The G" was designed by Assoc. Ed. Leo Albert
Lately I seem to be coming back to the small Pikholz family from Husiatyn again and again. In March, I wrote a blog post called "The Dead Man in the Zellermayer House" and I decided to expand it into an article for The Galizianer, the quarterly publication of Gesher Galicia. As it happens, the issue with that article came out a few days ago.

That article includes the following family diagram:

(A smaller version of this diagram appeared here when I discussed the Husiatyn Pikholz family back in January.)

As I reviewed the draft of the article, once again bemoaning the fact that we have no decendants of the two married children of Chancie and Joel Halpern, it occurred to me that perhaps their daughter Brane, born 13 January 1893 in Podwolocysk, just might be our mystery woman who gave birth in Vienna. in 1919.

Back to Vienna
I went back to IKG, asking if perhaps they had anything else on this birth or on the mother of the newborn. I mentioned the possibility that she might be the woman born in Podwoloczysk in 1893, and they came back to me with assorted forms to fill out - who I am, why do I want this information, where will I publish it, etc etc.

The actual birth record arrived some weeks later, and the mother is indeed identified as being born in Podwoloczysk on 14 January 1893. We won't quibble over the one day's difference.

There was no charge, but I sent a donation.

In my database, I added Brane's son, three grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren and the two great-great-grandchildren that I know of. Surely there are more.

I wrote to my former neighbor and his two sisters on 12 June. None of them has replied thusfar. Wait until they find out I want some DNA.

Housekeeping notes
GRIPitt was wonderful. I had car and phone issues which detracted from the total experience, but that was not the fault of the program.

I gave a talk Wednesday evening on Special Challenges of Jewish Genealogy, which was very well received. Maybe thirty-forty people attended.
Earlier in the day, the rental car broke down while I was at the cemetery. Alamo was terrible about service and the only way I was able to get to my lecture was with the help of the eighty-nine year old woman who lived next door to the cemetery. At seven-thirty she drove me back to the college.

With Debbie Parker Wayne

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Some summarizing data on my DNA projects

As we get ready for registration for the GRIPitt course in Practical Genetic Genealogy this
afternoon (Sunday), it seems like a good time to summarize what kind of testing has been done for my family DNA projects. Unless I say otherwise, the test in question is a Family Finder (autosomal) test.

Today will also be the debut of my T-shirts, seen on the right. I have black and yellow, in additioon to the blue.

Thanks to Amy and Larry Kritzman for getting this done on time and Sarajoy for the graphics and some of the design.

My documented family 
First let me mention the close family members who have tested. Some of them are in more than one of my family lines.

Two of my sisters have done tests recently and we don't expect to see results for maybe six weeks. They, of course, are in all the lines that I am in.

My father's sister (aka Aunt Betty) is in all my lines on my father's side. She did both Family Finder and MtDNA. My second cousin Lee is also in all the lines on my father's side, as our grandfahers are brothers and our grandmothers are sisters.I had a few things to say about Lee's excellent DNA soon after his test results came it.

My father's first cousin Herb did both a Family Finder and MtDNA. My father's brother (aka U Bob) ordered a Family Finder test a few days ago, so that covers all but one of the living cousins of my father's generation. The last one is thinking about it.

Terry and Rhoda, daughters of my father's first cousins on the Pikholz side have tested. Rhoda's test is new. This means that of the six children of my great-grandfather Hersch Pickholz who had children, descendants of five have tested.

All those above are descendants of my great-grandparents Hersch Pickholz and Jutte Leah Kwoczka. Jutte Leah had two brothers and Baruch the grandson of one and Pinchas the  great-grandson of the other have also tested. Baruch also did the most basic Y (male line) test.

One other documented cousin on my father's side has tested. That would be Ralph, whose great-great-grandmother Leah was the older sister of Hersch Pickholz. His results are not in yet.

There are also connections on their other sides between Pinchas and Rhoda and between Herb and Ralph. That's endogamy for you - all that marrying within the tribe that makes the DNA very very hard to decipher.

My mother's family
On my mother's side, which I have only begun looking at, four cousins have tested - my first cousin Kay, my second cousin on my grandmother's side, Beth, and two second cousins on my grandfather's side Ruth and Judy. Ruth also did an MtDNA test. We do not yet have results for any of those tests.

Other Pikholz descendants from Skalat
Aside from my personal, documented family, we have eleven Skalaters who have done Family Finder tests. Those include:
  • a pair of third cousins with a Y-37 match to me  
  • two pairs of cousins, apparently part of the same family and also with a Y-37 match to me 
  • a set of two third cousins and a third cousin once removed
  • two individuals - Jane and david, whom we are having trouble connecting to anyone, though they are definitely Pikholz descendants from Skalat
We also have a Pikholz from Skalat who did the most basic Y-12 test, but has declined to do more. We have no one else in his family. the results of his Y-test are consistent with ours, but he only did twelve markers, so we cannot say much else.

Results are in for all of these.

Pikholz descendants from Rozdol
We have eleven Pikholz descendants from Rozdol families who have tested.
  • two second cousins froim a family that we can trace back only to about 1850
  • two third cousins and a second cousin to their parents
  • three descendants of the main Rozdol line - the one that traces back positively to the original Rozdol couple
  • one with a Pikholz maternal line back to his great-grandmother
  • two whose father are Pikholz on both sides. they share one side in common
Ambiguous Pikholz
We have two Pikholz descendants we have no ideaa how to place. I originally thought they were close to one another, that they were traceable to a specific Skalat family and that there would be another Y-37 match. Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Steve Pickholtz is a category of his own. His grandfather was adopted into the same Pikholz family as jane above and the adopting parents included the sister of the mother. Yet Steve also matches enough actual Pikholz descendants that we cannot ignore him.

Other non-Pikholz matches
Although our purpose in doing the DNA testing was to determine relationships withing the Pikholz families, we can hardly ignore someone who is not known to be a pikholz but who matches eighteen or twenty of ours.

We have about two dozen such people, mostly people who came to me. There are no doubt many more that I haven't chased after. Many of these have actually joined our surname project.

I have done chromosome browser analyses for many of these but have not been able to identify anything definitive. Maybe this GRIPitt course will change that. I have discussed a number of these analyses on this blog, over the past six or eight months.

Lines to my great-grandparents
Let me count out my great-grandparents, to see how many baases we have covered in Y and MtDNA tests.

My father's paternal grandparents:
  • I did the Y-37 that leads to Hersch Pickhilz and his father Isak Fischel
  • Herb's MtDNA leads to Jutte Leah Kwoczka and her mother Basie Pollak

My father's maternal grandparents:
  • Moritz Rosenzweig has no male line  descendant
  • Aunt Betty's MtDNA goes through her grandmother Regina bauer to Regina's mother Fani Stern
My mother's paternal grandparents:
  •  We have some people who can test the Gordon line, but no one wants to right now and it is not urgent
  • Ruth's MtDNA goes up through our great-grandmother Anna Kugel's mother Zelda
My mother's maternal grandparents:
  • We have Rosenblooms galore who can test for our great-grandfather Israel David Rosenbloom. No one has agreed to do so. yet.
  • I did the MtDNA for my great-grandmother Etta Bryna.
That's seven out of eight possible and five out of seven done - or in process. Good enough for now.

I don't have much WiFi access right now and there is much to do, so I shall close here. Big two weeks coming up.

While I was writing this, the good folks at GRIPitt accepted my suggegstion to make a brief presentation of the special challenges of Jewish genealogy. Something else to do in the next few days, but something I welcome.

Housekeeping notes
The handouts for my presentation at the IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Salt Lake city is now available. The talk is entitled" Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove."

See the handouts at