Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Sharing Your Information

We in the genealogy community often have discussions about how much of our information we share and how frustrating it is when people do not include basic information such as ancestral surnames and geography in their profiles.

Steve Pickholtz asked to share his thoughts on the subject.

So far, I've taken the Family Tree DNA Family Finder test and the 23andMe test. (I also did FTDNA's Y-37 but that is another matter entirely.) My wife took the MyHeritage test and the 23andMe test.  Our daughter took only the 23andMe test. The tests we all took were for different reasons as explained below.

I took the FTDNA test because I am a member of the Pickholtz group and tere is an advantage when all group members use the same testing company.  The 23andMe test will be explained later.  My wife took the MyHeritage DNA test because her family has lived in the same town in New Jersey since before the Civil War.  As a matter of fact, her line can be traced back to Betsy Ross of American flag fame.   My daughter took the 23andMe test for medical reasons only.  She leaves the genealogy part up to me.  Because of a life threatening medical problem my wife has, as does a cousin on my side of the family, we wanted to know if either of us was a carrier to better help my daughter if she were to have children.

All three of these test come with a list of possible relatives, and their ranking DNA-wise to the tester.  That is great.  I know nothing about DNA, so with FTDNA results, I leave it to Israel Pickholtz to sort it out and make sense out of it.  (Israel, has a great understanding of this, and has done a great job interpreting their meanings).

So what is the problem!!!!!!!!!!!  Let me use 23andMe for the example.  This program asks if it can use your name or something else to identify you to the rest of the list members.  Initials or a made up name don't help me when I check the results.  Family names, what's so hard about giving these if you know them?  I look at these always to see if they match any of my known relatives.  Where did your relative come from?  This may not always be known, but if it is, why not give it.  If again, using 23andMe with my wife,  the closest relative based on her DNA came from Ireland.   Guess what, without knowing anyone's family names, nor where those relatives came from, the information didn't help me at all.

These problems can all be found to some extent in the three above programs and I am sure in others.  If you are really interested in learning your roots,  you must give some information.   For those interest in why I wrote this,  in using 23andMe, I found three relatives (not from the Pickholtz line), but from my mother's line.  Three of them gave their real last names which are in my family.  Family stories pay off if you remember the names and places.  They also mentioned family members who live in Philadelphia, where I was born.  What did I do, yes I contacted them and found out they are related.  Two were on my mother's side and one on my father's mother's side.

In closing------- help your self and other researchers by giving out some information.  Why hide it?

Housekeeping notes 
Order here.
European Jews have always married mainly within the tribe. Whether our numbers five hundred years ago in Europe were four hundred or four hundred thousand, the pool was limited. As a result, the members of the tribe today are all related to one another, multiple times.  This phenomenon, known as endogamy, makes Jewish genetic genealogy very difficult, often impossible. There is a similar phenomenon in some other population groups.

I was convinced that this brick wall is not as impenetrable as it seems, at least in some circumstances.

I believe that this book demonstrates that I was correct.

When I decided I wanted to write a book, I was not sure if I wanted to write a “How to” book or a “How I did it” book. The decision was dictated by the facts in the field. Different family structures, widely different numbers of living family members, and other similar factors dictated that writing “How to” would be irrelevant for most researchers.

“How I did it” is more likely to be helpful to the research community and more likely to instill the confidence necessary for such a project.

It is my hope that this book will encourage and inspire other researchers of their European Jewish families and other endogamous populations to say “I can do this!”

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