Thursday, March 10, 2016

Could I be Jewish?

Indoor garden: I get one hibiscus a week versus 10 at a time during summer

kalachoe : I know this is the wrong spelling but am too lazy to look it up

Recently my brother has been reviewing our family tree and has noticed that our mother's mother's parents both had very Jewish last names. I had assumed that this great-grandfather's name was Polish but  all research points to it being a Jewish name. They were both born in Poland with the great-grandfather born near Gdansk but emigrated around 1890 from a Prussian town called Bergfriedj. In censuses, they identified themselves as "German" and gave their 8 children very Teutonic names. Were they trying to pass? This great-grandfather was buried in a Lutheran cemetery and took his kids to Lutheran churches, not Polish or Jewish.
The mystery could be solved easily with a DNA test. I have not done this before as I assumed that I would show up mostly Western European with one eighth Irish. Scottish, English, French, German, Austrian, and even Northern Italian show up as such. Irish is a separate category, which surprises me as I thought Celtic would be its own category (I'm at least quarter Scottish). But they do distinguish Eastern European (aka Polish or Slavic) from Western And Ashkenazi Jews are another category.
Why would this possibly matter? For one thing, a BRAC1 test was not suggested unless I was Jewish or had a family history though there seems to no smoking gun among my grandmother and her sisters dying at an early age. Another is the guilt I occasionally feel about breaking a 5000 year old chain of an ethnic group struggling to stay together against all odds only to have the chain broken by Steve marrying a shiksa as Jews need to have a Jewish mother to be considered Jewish. Not sure when the matrilineal descent replaced the patrilineal descent spoken of in the Old Testament. When in Brooklyn, I see the accusatory stares of old ladies on the elevators or maybe staring is more socially acceptable there than in the Midwest. I do look like a shiksa. Steve never seemed to have a problem with this but I suspect his family did. At most, I would be a quarter Jewish but as it is all from my mother and her mother, that's what presumably counts. And it would be such sweet irony as my racist father always said such nasty things about my marriage and my 'half-breed' children that he himself, married a Jew. But he is dead and not around to appreciate his very ethnically diverse great-grandchildren. He would have something unpleasant to say about every ethnicity now in our gene pool, even Julie's.
One thing that a $100 DNA test probably does not tell is if Steve has retained the Cohan gene on his Y chromosome. One tenth of Jews have this gene originating 3000 years ago with Aaron, brother of Moses. More than 100 generations have gone by. Just one rapist or intermarriage or philandering (can women do that?) would break the chain.
With this warm weather comes  rain. Yesterday I at least got half of my run in on the country road before it started to drizzle. But the redwing blackbirds were trilling. Soon the peepers will be out. Spring, spring, spring!
Then on to my Cooking for Wellness. Subject: Healthy oils. Food was prepared with grape seed, sesame, peanut, avocado and coconut. . Since when has coconut fat become such a darling?
I dread next week and its battles and possible bad news. Trying not to think about it much.

1 comment:

Elephant's Child said...

Good luck next week.
Isn't it scary how many of us have out and out racists in the family. My jewish father definitely qualified. As did my mother.


Blog Archive