Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Day of Memory, A Day of Joy

This Thursday the sixth of Nisan is the 119th yahrzeit of my great-grandmother Etta Bryna Rosenbloom. (I have discussed her here, here, here and here.)

In brief, my great-grandmother died probably in her late thirties and we nothing about her except that her father was Yehudah and that he was a Levi. In particular, we do not know her maiden name or where she came from.

One of those links above discusses a fairly close conection I made with Deborah Sirotkin Butler via MtDNA, which looks at the maternal line. But nothing came of it.

Then this:
 and in particular his most distant maternal-line ancestor:

Yenta Bryna. Sounds an awful lot like Etta Bryna.

So how close is this man? He is zero genetic distance from me, but mitochondrial DNA mutates very slowly, so our common ancestor could be five hundred years ago.

Well, it says "FF," so he has done a Family Finder. Let's do that search.
Third cousin - Fifth cousin. 91.81 cM in common, longest block is 12.72 cM. Well fourth cousins means that my Etta Bryna and his Yenta Bryna could be first cousins. That would be fabulous.

I looked at the chromosomes. There were some matches between this new fellow B and us - us being my sisters and me, my first cousins Kay and Leonard and our second cousins Sam and Beth, all of whom I discussed about a month ago. The matches did not triangulate well - not on FTDNA and not on GEDmatch.

I also compared chromosomes with B and Deborah Sirotkin Butler. She too shows up as a perfect MtDNA match and a third-fifth cousin Family Finder match. But I do not have any matches with both of then, save a few very small segments.

I spoke to Leonid, the cousin of B who manages his family kits. He refers to his ancestor alternately as Yetta Bryna and Yenta Bryna and tells me she was born in 1868 in Lodz and died in 1928 in New York. That would make her about ten years younger than our Etta Bryna. We have no way to bridge the gap between Lodz and Borisov. Leonid has five kits that match B, so perhaps I can learn something by looking at all five compared to ours.

In any case, without some documents to take us back another generation, the DNA is not going to get us very far.

So all we can do today is remember great-grandmother Etta Bryna bat Yehudah HaLevi.

Actually, that is not quite all we can do. We can rejoice with cousin Baer, Sam's son, who is to be married to Dina, Wednesday evening, 6 Nisan, on the anniversary of his great-great--grandmother Etta Bryna's death. The wedding is in far off Australia, but the couple will be living just outside Jerusalem where Baer is studying in yeshiva. Dina's birthday is also 6 Nisan.

Mazal tov to the couple and the families.

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