Useful Information About Mitochondrial DNA And Jewish Ancestry

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Jewish identity tails the maternal line, therefore if your mother is a Jew, you are Jewish. However, there is not something like a Jewish gene; thus, genetic testing can’t convincingly state whether someone is Jewish or not. There is, however, a way in which genetics can be utilized to help determine if a person is Jewish. This entails using what is referred to as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that is passed solely from the mother via the female lineage. In an intriguing study which was published in 2006, it was revealed that forty percent of all Ashkenazi Jews descend from merely four Jewish women who lived more than a thousand years ago. The study showed that if someone has particular mitochondrial DNA markers, there is a 90-99% probability that they could be descendants of either one of these women. However, there is the other sixty percent of Ashkenazi Jews who are not descendant from the four women, and also Sephardic Jews and converts. Yet, even though still under debate, some individuals hold that in a case where some evidence exists of Jewishness but not concrete proof, having this marker together with other supporting evidence can be utilized in concluding that a person is indeed Jewish.

Family Tree DNA

Your lineages left clues in your DNA that can be utilized in determining your deep ancestral origins as well as linking you with others in the present time. Your results can be compared with the databases and reveal whether these clues designate probable Jewish ancestry and if you match others who are Jewish. The Jewish comparative databases are among the most significant in the world, containing records for Sephardim and Ashkenazim, as well as Cohanim and Levites. For more information, see suggestions about the best DNA testing for ancestry.


Males can have their Y-DNA tested to establish the origin of their paternal lineage, including the probability of Cohanim and Jewish ancestry. Y-DNA is only applicable for the paternal line, with no influence from the females along the line. Females can’t be tested for the paternal line. They must have a brother or male relative from the direct line tested.


Both females and males alike can have their mtDNA tested to establish the origin of a maternal line. MtDNA only checks the maternal lineage, with no influence from males along the line. Both females and males receive their mtDNA from their mother.

Family finder

Males and females can opt for the family finder test that assists with finding family members across all lineages, up to six generations back. This is done by checking the hundreds of thousands of points in your autosomal DNA and matching the results with others that are in the family finder database.

DNA Testing Can Reveal:

  • Whether two people are related to each other.
  • A person’s indicated geographic origins.
  • If a person could be of Jewish ancestry.
  • If a person might be of Cohanim ancestry.
  • A person’s deep ancestral ethnic origins.

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