Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Skalat Memorial Service - Year Seventy-Two

We met yesterday, Monday the seventh of Sivan, what is the second day of Shavuot for those Jews in Exile. This was the day of the major aktzia after which Skalat was declared Judenrein - free of Jews. Seventy-two years ago.

We met at the memorial for the Skalat community, "the holy Skalat Martyrs," at the Holon Cemetery in south suburban Tel-Aviv. Along that stretch are maybe thirty or forty (maybe more) such monuments. Some are for other towns in the area - Zbarazh, Husiatyn, Trembowla. Others are towns scattered across eastern Europe, including Pleshchenitsy where my mother's paternal grandmother Chana Kugel came from.

We were probably twenty-five people, exactly enough men for a minyan. There were four survivors from Skalat, all women. The rest were second generation Skalaters and even third generation.

Zvika Sarid led the service, as he has done since the late Chaim Braunstein was no longer able to do so. Chaim's son was there. He read the inscription that his father had written on the left side of the monument. Zvi Segal - Shammai's son - was there and his son spoke. Bronia spoke - she seems to have more energy every year. I read Psalm 130. Zvika said the memorial prayer. Everyone said kaddish together.

Yocheved, Zvika's mother, thanked everyone for coming. We hope we will see everyone again next year.

Shammai's family went off to nearby Rehovoth where their personal memorial is held for Shammai - who, appropriately, died on Shavuot. Must be five or six years now.

I asked Zvika if anyone is organizing a trip to Skalat in the coming year. He said not that he knows of. I was there fifteen years ago. It's time to go again.

To the suffering people of the Skalat community 
to the fathers who took their lives in their hands,
in desparate attempt to save their children,
to the mothers who hair blanched
from pain and fear for their dear ones,
for those tortured and shot in the town streets,
in the ancient citadels
and on the banks of the river,
to the thousands taken in the death cars,
to Belzec, on the road of blood and suffering
and were ground to dust., to the few who dared
to jump from the speeding trains,
because they never quit or gave up hope,
even at the edge of destruction,
for the thousands at the pts of death,
fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers
brothers and sisters, counting the
last grains of sand in the hourglass,
their eyes desparate and no one comes to rescue,
to the brave, the daring, the fortunate,
who in that night of storm and unrest,
of hope and desparation, joined the fighters of
Kobpak and whose blood filled the path
of the Resistance in the Carpathian Mountains,
to the thousands of the community who were killed
with the cry of SHEMA YISRAEL on their lips,
to the few who remained, by miracle or by chance,
fewer every year, and during these many years
they carry the cries of the entire community,
and the greatest and heaviest cry of them all,
the cry of the dead and of the living, echoing
throughout the world, from then until the end of time:

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Some Oddish Results

I know that once you get to third and fourth cousins, autosomal matches get really iffy. According to the ISOGG wiki, third cousins share 0,781% of their DNA on average and fourth cousins share 0.195% on average. In terms of centiMorgans, that's 53.13 and 13.28 respectively. "On average" means of course that it can be more - or less.

Add to that mix the fact that Family Tree DNA's cut-off for acknowledging a match at all is nontrivial. You can have a small match but they don't count it. (I think their cut-off is 20 cM.)

Over the last couple of years, I have gotten used to Family Finder results that make some kind of sense and I have succeeded not badly at coming to conclusions that I did not think likely going in. This despite the vagaries of genetic inheritance that can show two fourth cousins who do not match at all, while their siblings match wonderfully and convincingly.

Another way of saying that is that I have gotten spoiled. That is why the newest compilation of Family Finder results feels so weird, though it really is not. For the most part.

Below is a table showing relationships among seven family members, identified by initials.

Here is the level of certainty of the relationships.
  • J, M and S are fully documented. 
  • F's relationship is based on a family tradition, confirmned by DNA testing (autosomal and Y).
  • G and R are fully documented. Their relationship with the others is based on strong naming patterns, supported by autosomal DNA.
  • D is related to the others based on naming patterns, supported by autosomal DNA.
The new results are for S and M.

The relationships on the top right are the suggested relationships according to the FTDNA matches. The bottom left are the actual relationships. Most of them are not bad.

D, the weakest of our assumptions, shows his first four suggested relationships as correct. F looks good, at least on the first three. G and R are great with each other and with J.

S's matches are generally is not as good as I'd like, though the matches with G, R and particularly D are important.

But the three fully documented relationships among J, M and S (marked in yellow) do not show up on FTDNA at all. This will undoubtedly raise credibility issues for the whole study, among some of the participants.

According to GEDmatch, the match between M and S is indeed very small, just 12.6 cM altogether with none of the three segments larger than 5 cM.

But the matches that J has with M and S on GEDmatch are not so simple.

Both are over 50 cM, so should certainly show up as matches on FTDNA. I asked the folks there to have a look at this and will add their findings at the end of this post when they become available.
The GEDmatch results are pretty much in line with the results predicted by ISOGG.