January 18, 2006

I'm a Cohen!

One of the Kohanim, the priests of ancient Israel, the sons of Aaron.

As I reported a few weeks ago, I had my DNA tested by Family Tree DNA, and I just got the results by email. I'm a bearer of Haplotype J, the series of mutations that distinguish the Kohanim and that apparently evolved about 3,000 years ago. So are my sons and my brothers.

Approximately 3% of Jews carry the Kohanim marker. Family Tree DNA gave me the names and email addresses of a couple of dozen people in their database who match my profile most closely. (One was at the University of Wisconsin, oddly enough, where I hung around for a dozen years.) It also provided a breakdown of the countries of origin of a larger number of people who had matches with me at varying degrees of distance. Not surprisingly, the vast majority were Ashkenazi Jews from Poland, Russia, and Romania -- the homelands of my immediate ancestors -- with a few from Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Germany, Czechoslovakia, etc. There were a handful of matches from Syria, a couple of which were Arabs. And there were one or two from Sicily and one Sephardi from -- get this, Tamar -- the Isle of Rhodes.

So what happens now? Uh, well, I guess I get to go around giving people the Vulcan salute. And I get to strut around feeling superior... Wait, I already did that. So I guess nothing has really changed.