Through its efforts to advance the status of Jewish genealogy by research and teaching, the Institute has attracted the attentions of other academic researchers who, in some cases, have requested that their independent work be sponsored by IIJG. The Institute agreed to do so in 2011, provided that the research was of an acceptable standard.
Thus far (2013) the Institute has lent its sponsorship to 2 works, of quite different kinds:
- The Wirth Project – an ongoing study in DNA and genealogy (accepted in January 2012).
- A collection of research papers, edited by Prof. Daniel Wagner of the Weizmann Institute (and a member of the IIJG Executive), entitled Selected Lectures On Genealogy: An Introduction To Scientific Tools (accepted in April 2013)
1. WIRTH DNA Project
This project originated in 2003 when two apparently unrelated persons found out that they matched each other exactly in 12-marker Y-DNA tests carried out by Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), and that they did not match any other persons in the then existing FTDNA database. They were Herbert Huebscher of Long Island, NY, and Dr. Saul Issroff of London. Further tests revealed that they still were close matches at 37 marker level (1 point apart).
In addition to being close matches, Issroff and Huebscher as well as other males in the database exhibited two anomalies in their Y-DNA, at the DYS464 a, b, c, d loci of their Y-DNA (markers 22-25). These anomalies are independent of each other and each has a chance of random occurrence in the order of 1 in 100 – making the chance of a double or mutual random occurrence 1 in 10,000. Those odds made it virtually certain that at some point in the last several centuries the persons tested had a common paternal ancestor
A group was thereupon started by Huebscher and Issroff, adopting an acronym based on the first letters of the surnames of the initial five matching families, namely WIRTH (for Wolinsky, Issroff, Rossoff, Tenenbaum, and Huebscher). The number of tested males in the FTDNA Y-DNA database has increased, so that by 2012 the group had grown from the original five to over one hundred families from widely dispersed locations in Eastern and Central Europe. Subsequent research suggests the Group’s most recent common ancestor (MRCA) was a Sephardic Jew, who lived in the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century. In addition, genetic and documentary evidence has also be produced suggesting a probable link between the Group and a famous rabbinic lineage, also going back to the 15th century, again with possible origins in the Iberian Peninsula.
Click here for a status report on the Group’s research to date (December 2014).
2. WAGNER Scientific Studies
Genealogy — and Jewish genealogy in particular — is in the midst of a major transition. In the last 40 years, the number of studies on genealogy in the exact sciences has vertaken those in fields more traditionally associated with genealogy. The impact of the rapidly growing number of intricate scientific facets in this field requires that genealogists be offered a basic set of introductory tools in the relevant aspects of the hard sciences.
This booklet is primarily designed as an introductory guide in the form of a collection of basic articles. It can be used by genealogists and family historians as a reference to find scientific methods suitable to their genealogical pursuit. The aim is to give the reader for a basic understanding of the scientific operations appropriate to certain genealogical problems and to enable him/her to communicate successfully with scientists in cases where help is needed. In this respect, this booklet is the first of its kind.
Click here for a fuller description of the booklet and its “Table of Contents”.
Click here to purchase the booklet through PayPal (at the cost of US $30).