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Sephardic DNA and Migration
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy is collaborating with Les Fleurs d’Orient (http://www.farhi.org) in a Sephardic Migration study seeking to use DNA to track the movements of Sephardim from the former Ottoman Empire, Italy and Greece and ultimately to trace their origins back to pre-Expulsion Spain. The project is also cooperating with by Mr. Bennett Greenspan, President of Family Tree DNA, in conjunction with Dr. Doron Behar MD, Dr. Michael Hammer PhD and Dr. Harry Ostrer MD of the Universities of Haifa, Arizona and New York respectively.
To date, most DNA work among Jews has been done on Ashkenazim but having discovered significant differences in the presence of the J (Middle Eastern Jewish) haplotype between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, the group is now engaged in developing a meaningful DNA database of Jews of Spanish origin. They are concentrating primarily on selected families from Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. North African Jewry is more complicated, as it comprises significant local elements besides Jews who departed the Iberian Peninsula in 1492.
Secondary interests of the group are comparative and demographic. Hence they are also sampling people from modern-day Spain with a view to establishing what percentage possesses the J haplotype. This finding may throw light on the numbers of Jews who converted at the time of the Expulsion and were then absorbed into the general Spanish population.
Mr Alain Farhi, the founder and webmaster of Les Fleurs d’Orient, is the Project Director on behalf of the Institute.
Click here for an article with preliminary results of this project by Alain Farhi, from AVOTAYNU, XXIII, 2, pp. 9-12