Do you have, or think you have, Jewish Roots?

+18 votes

We Welcome You to join the conversations of all of us who know we have them and those who don’t quite know if we have Jewish Roots! 

Our chief goal is to support research into Jewish ancestors (known and rumored) of WikiTree members to clarify a person’s line into a solidly accurate family tree. 

Simply select "Answer" to this G2G Question and indicate your desire to join and introduce yourself including your focus of interest in Jewish Roots - surnames, locations.   

We have good links to resources that may help in your search on our Jewish Roots Project Page:

Of course, if you have ideas we haven't come up with (or ideas for a sub project you would like to undertake), we'd like to hear them.

And don't forget to follow the Jewish Roots G2G tag!

in Requests for Project Volunteers by Robert Hvitfeldt G2G6 Pilot (132k points)
retagged by Abby Glann

Thanks, Sharon.  It is an intriguing idea, but as you note, it’s massive. We’d also need Poland, Russia, Czech, Romania, Hungary, etc., and we just don’t have the manpower to tackle this. has separate resources for these various entities and has searchable databases for Latvia and Lithuania. If you haven’t looked there yet, there are good links on the Jewish Roots Project page.


Daniel, this explains why my maternal ancestors are from Flanders.

Thank you for this.

My name is Aranzazu de Jesus and I'm loocking for my roots, my haplogroup is j1b1b1 wich is not common...I would like to now if you have a gedmatch and we can compare, mine is AT947340
Shalom Aranzazu. Can you tell me more about your DNA test? Was it the Y-DNA or Autosomal DNA? My J1b1b1 haplogroup was reported as a result of my mtDNA test, which is inherited along the maternal line. I'm not sure how to check for GED matches, but this is something we should look into.
Is my mtDNA too...I woul like to talk to you about that...I can help you with gedmatch.
Todah Ari. Tell me what you need from me to get started. I will try to find more information about GEDmatch and the mtDNA specifics on my profile, but now it is harder to find with the new format. I am open to explore. HRV1 ad HRV2 were tested. The sample number was 775971. Is this information of any use?
Hi! In FtDNA I have 5% sephardic and 3% ashkenazi, and with my haplogroup j1b1b1, is all I know about my ancestors...I'm very happy to find somebody with my haplogroup...maybe we are relatives..I have no idea about my maternal side and I would love to see if I can find some informatio
Shalom Ari. I think that our maternal ancestors were from the same Semitic tribe, which dates back 8,000 years to Iraq, Yemen, and Morocco well before the time of Avraham Avinu. Percentages Sephardic, Ashkenazi, and Mizrahi are interesting but according to  Halacha (Jewish Law) there are two ways to be Jewish. Either your mother was Jewish, you converted to Judaism, (or both). Percentages don't matter from a Halachic point of view. Genetic analysis may help to rule out or include hypotheses regarding lineage, but mtDNA determines whether your mother was Jewish. My mtDNA shows multiple Sephardic, Ashkenazi, and Mizrahi markers. I can go back about 10 generations to the Netherlands using genealogy. They were Huguenots, or at least they presented to the public this way to avoid persecution. To go back father than that requires an examination of history. Many B'nay Anusim (children of Jews who were forcibly converted from Judaism to the religion of their oppressors) took Huguenot names. We are very fortunate that we live in an era of technology when we can probe our past beyond where we can go with genealogy.

Whereas you don't know about your maternal side, I have lots of questions about my paternal side. Our family has an Italian last name but Y-DNA shows English ancestry and a descent from Sir John Field, the noted British astronomer.
Marion, thanks for adding your comment. (And more important, I must say I wish I had a notable in my family history. But even that is really silly when I think again of all our millions of notations on this site who have given us all such strength, imagination, and rational perceptions.) We all need basically a rallying cry for perseverance and a feeling for what's accurate. And the will and insight to fix what mistakes we make.
My mothers brother was raised by Jewish father, both buried in Jewish cemetery in west vancouver.

Aser and Vernon rothstein

83 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer
Adoptee raised Jewish. My DNA test came back with 44.5% Ashkenazi Jewish.
by Lisa Alon-Hilleli G2G1 (2k points)
selected ago by Marie Hart
You’re certainly welcome to join our Jewish Roots Project.  Let me know if that is your wish.  Have you been able to discover anything about your biological ancestry—other than  DNA percentage?
yes most certainly looking to join Jewish Roots Project.

In answer to your second question, no biological ancestry discovered to date. Close to 14,000 matches but no clue as to actual biological identification.

14,000 matches? Yikes! 

Welcome to the Jewish Roots Project. Check out our Project page. I’ll get a badge to you.

+12 votes
My girlfriend had Jewish roots, but we were never able to marry before she died.  I don't know the name of her infant son that died either.
by David Hughey G2G6 Pilot (936k points)
I’m truly sorry for your loss.
Such sadness stays with us for years. My heart is with you, too, David. Through genealogy you should be able to find some facts. Have you tried that for this important woman in your life? (No need for an answer here--unless you think that someone may indirectly be helped in their own search.)
+8 votes
Yes I have Jewish roots. I'd love to participate in the project. Cari
by Cari Starosta G2G1 (1.6k points)

Welcome, Cari!  We’re pleased to have you.  I’ll make sure you get a Jewish Roots Project Badge.  Visit the resources on our Jewish Roots Project page to help in your research.

Cari, please let our group know what your research interests are within your Jewish Roots. We are all kin indirectly but more directly within our compact group. My Jewish roots came from my father, born in Germany and immigrated here when he was four. Those roots had to have come from his anonymous father. I so regret that people post "anonymous" when they don't know anything more. There's never an actually closed family line, and we need to know how to research more for our closed doors ancestors, not less.  It's just that the later post-ers didn't know how to research more information.

Hi Roberta.  My mother's family was Jewish, primarily from Germany but also from England and Austria.  Many relatives were lost in the Holocaust.
Cari, I've just now (!!argh!) found your note above. My father Rudolf Berg (his mom was Anna Elisabeth Berg) had to have been the source of my Jewish roots. HIs family was also from Germany, and by extension his ancestors (recent or past) had Jewish members.

I haven't tried to research them because I don't know how to connect with his family's Jewish lines. I'm guessing doing that work will/would be easier than I think it will. Can you or/and some others here give me a few sure steps to start that research?

I simply do not know how to start.
+9 votes
Hello  My name is Lynn Cremona.  My  DNA results from "My Heritage" indicates that I have Sephardic and  Ashkenazi DNA as well as North African, Iberian, Italian,Greek Middle Eastern, North and West European DNA.   My Father's side of the family is Italian and Czech, my Mother's side is Sicilian.  I am interested in researching my Jewish Roots.
by Lynn Cremona G2G Crew (650 points)

Welcome, Lynn

You’ll find good research links on our Jewish Roots Project Page.  I’ll get a badge to you.

+7 votes
I do not have Jewish roots but my wife did.

I am interested in the name Weismann

I  am certain about Wilelm Weismann born in Mainz 27th July 1854

died London 27th February1905,

I am less sure about  Moses Weismann born 1783

If you do not already have the information I fll info. I can snd to you


by Anonymous Beaton G2G Crew (720 points)
Thanks, Peter
You should add what you have, with sources, to Wikitree.  You could add your wife, and keep her anonymous, and then add her ancestry as much as you can.  The collaborative nature of Wikitree will let others work on your Weismanns.
+7 votes
My family has always believed that we had Jewish roots.  My paternal Grandfather was adopted, so until very recently we knew very little other than 'family lore' about his birth mother or father.  Through DNA I now have a path that leads back to a rich Jewish ancestry (It it is correct) so I'm doing extensive research to try and verify the connections.  On my mothers side, the Davidson line is well documented to ancient Scotland and I'm attempting to verify the "When Scotland was Jewish" book and lineage.

I have several specific links that I would love to verify.  In particular, the "Theuderic" line from 720 to 805.  If my current research proves out, a connection to the Exilarchs would be beyond thrilling to me.  I'm a near professional researcher, so just being pointed to the right sources would be deeply appreciated.

Would be very happy to be a part of this project.  Bob Sullivan
by Robert Sullivan G2G Crew (410 points)

From one Bob to another, welcome!  I’m afraid we don’t have reliable records as far back as the 8th century, but you may find useful info on our Jewish Roots Project page.  I’ll get a badge to you.

+7 votes
According to 23andMe, I have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.  Nobody in my family was aware of this, however my mother was adopted.  I'm also a carrier for one of the genes for Tay-Sachs Disease.  I'm very interested in learning anything I can.
by Angie Carter G2G Crew (440 points)

Hi Angie, 

Without information about your mother’s biological ancestry, it will be a very difficult line to trace, but we’re happy to welcome anyone who is interested. Visit our Jewish Roots Project  page, if you haven’t already.  I’ll get a badge to you.

+7 votes
I think I may have Jewish roots because of my surnames RUIZ and ALVAREZ
by Jose Ruiz-Alvarez G2G Crew (540 points)

Hello Jose

Last names alone don’t necessarily indicate Jewish origin. Check out the Sephardic.gen website  for the Spanish-Jewish connections.

I also have 1% Ashkenazi Jewish in my DNA according to 23&Me.
And I’m afraid 1% simply isn’t enough to trace.  Even if it’s not a statistical error, ot would be so far back in history to be nearl untraceable.

Thanks for the tip about Sephardic.gen, Robert, and also for your service to the Jewish Roots project.
+8 votes
Yes I am jewish, I was born in Israel to my jewish parents.

My name is Hanna Freeman
by Hanna Freeman G2G Crew (500 points)

Welcome, Hanna

We’re pleased to have you join the Jewish Roots Project.  Your ancestry will be a valuable asset to Wikitree and the Jewish Roots family.  I’ll get a badge to you.

+7 votes

I have been searching for a Jewish connection in the Schaeffer line...the earliest family lore says they were German and immigrated (possibly via Prussia) to PA, moved to OH and ended up in IA.  John A. Schaeffer (b.abt 1766 GER - d. 1851 IA).  His son George A. Schaeffer (b. 1791 PA - d. 1875 IA). His son Henry Israel Schaeffer (b.1828 OH - d. 1902 OR) was my G-G Grandfather...His middle name is what started me on this search.

I have not done the DNA testing, but am hoping to do it soon...that might be the next step to confirm or deny the connection.
by David Schaeffer G2G5 (5.2k points)
Yes, David, I’d suggest you do the DNA testing to confirm or deny your connection.  The name Israel doesn’t mean much by itself.  I have a 100% Swedish ancestor with that name.  I believe many Christians used it.
Learned some time ago and likely it's still accurate:  The DNA TEST is the same one used between one site and another, or put differently don't hope for much if anything NEW between sites. (Not sure how to check that out!except to watch what happens.) So carefully choose the site you want to be tested on. is a business and always wants money. FTDNA is a website that exists for testing purposes; it did NOT charge (the last time I looked) for most of what they give us (details forgotten, sorry). So please keep this in mind while you continue searching, and LET US KNOW if the situation has changed. Go slowly, as part of being smart.
+7 votes
Yes on my Mother's side. From the Grodno region of Poland/Belarus and Iasi and Berlad, Romania. My Father's side is from Naples and Toritto, Italy
You might find some help, if you need it, in the Research section of the Jewish Roots Project page.(  If you wish to join the Project, you’ll need to log on to Wikitree..
Yes, I'd love to join, thank you!
But once again, you’ve signed on anonymously. I can’t add you to the group without a Wikitree ID, because I don’t know who you are.
+6 votes
Happy to join
by Andrew Hillman G2G Crew (380 points)
And happy to have you.  I’ll get a badge to you.  Please add a bit about your interests/Jewish ancestry, etc. on our Project page, or here.
+7 votes
I have a suspicion that I have Jewish ancestors. My ancestor, Abraham Baum, came to America sometime before 1730. Although his descendants married British-American women, obscure Old Testament names appear everywhere in the family. So, if they were Jews, they were obviously a bit secular.
by Brendan O'Loughlin G2G1 (1.2k points)
And don’t forget that Old Testament Biblical names were, and are, very common in Christian families as well. Look at all the Sarahs, Rachaels, and Hannahs around today.
True. It's just that some names like Lemuel and Hiram don't seem to be very common in American families. Do you suppose there is a chance of Jewish origins at all?
Of course, there’s a chance, but there are already 11,521 Wikitree profiles with Hiram as the first name—just as an example.  Try some of the other old names in tne Wikitree search box  I live in southern Appalachia, and believe me, those old Biblical names are alive and well—in 7th generation Baptist families!
Thank you!
These Old Testament names were very common in non-Jewish families, particularly revived after the Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s. Names like Lemuel and Hiram should not be taken as evidence of Jewish ancestry. I don't think I've ever encountered a Jewish person with either name -- much more common to meet Itzhaks, Cheskis, and Moises.
+6 votes
I would like to join the Jewish Roots project. Yes I have Jewish ancestry which has been confirmed on my paternal side by DNA testing at 23andMe, Family Tree DNA and Ancestry.  Paternal line names: Wolf, Adler, Halpern,Schwartz and others.  From Germany and Romaina.  Trying to break through the brick wall for the Wolf line
by Ken Wolf G2G Crew (560 points)
Welcome, Ken

You’ll find good research links on our Jewish Roots Project Page.  I’ll get a badge to you.
Ken Wolf, Please let us know what you find. I too have Jews in my father's side, which he didn't seem to know. (I never thought of asking him, all those years, no, decades, ago.) That generation (b. about 1907) was not talkative, especially about the "personal" past. I once asked him a leading question while he was driving me somewhere (nothing like privacy!) and he very definitely avoided my question (a crying face goes here!).
+6 votes

I am a descendant of the 5th generation of Helena Harpart who was listed as Jewish, according to the grandma 6 Mennonite genealogy database. 


Helena Harpart   image


Spouses and children



Individual Note

P1338 Her marriage to Peter Unruh is not listed in her entry in "Church Records". Helena Harpart is reported to have been Jewish.
Church Records of the Old Flemish or Groeningen Mennonisten Societaet in Przechowko, West Prussia.


by John Moyer G2G1 (1.2k points)
edited by John Moyer
Thanks for this, John.  The genealogy you posted seems to have lnks, but I can’t get anything to connect.  Have you entered this in Wikitree?  There seem to be no Harparths or Harparts there.  And I don’t quite understand “reported to have been Jewish”.  Reported when, by whom?  Could you provide a link to that Mennonite Society in West Prussia?  I’m sure other researchers would benefit.
I am sorry for the links that do not work. I copied from the geneweb program that is available only inside my house and did not realize that the links would copy too.

I saw this Jewish connection to my family tree as an interesting curiosity. The Mennonites were a religious minority and were often expelled from the places where they lived. They sometimes ended up in the same locations as Jews because those were the locations that had some degree of religious toleration for a time. My understanding, although I have not seen it myself, was that the Mennonite church book mentioned that my ancestor was a Jew. Sometimes non-Mennonites were removed from the church book. The church book, if it still exists, is likely to be in a Mennonite archives at Bethel College in North Newton, KS, US.

The grandma database is for sale at and I only have an old version I purchased years ago. I converted the GEDCOM of the database  into a geneweb database.

I hope some of this is interesting even if not useful.

John Moyer


Ancestry of Helena Harpart

Up to the 8th generation.

  • Generation 1
    • 1 - Helena Harpart 1792-1834
  • Generation 2
    • 2 - Michael Harrpath 1758-1795
    • 3 - Ancke Dircksen 1758-1796
  • Generation 3
    • 4 - Michael Harrpart 1720-1777
    • 5 - Ancke Schmidten 1731-
    • 6 - David Dircks ca 1738-
    • 7 - Elscke Ratzlaff
  • Generation 4
    • 8 - _____ Harparth
    • 9 - ? ?
    • 10 - Michael Schmidt 1694-1751
    • 11 - Trudcke Bullers 1702-1746
    • 12 - David Dircks ca 1699-
    • 13 - Sarcke Schmidt 1701-
    • 14 - Peter Ratzlaff 1689-1775
    • 15 - Sarcke Schmidten 1701-
  • Generation 5
    • 20 - Kasper Schmidt 1664-/1719
    • 21 - Ester Thoms ca 1669-
    • 22 - _____ Buller
    • 23 - Dina Thoms
    • 26 => 20
    • 27 => 21
    • 28 - Hans Ratzlaff 1661-
    • 29 - _____ _____
    • 30 - Ehrenst Schmidt
    • 31 - _____ _____
  • Generation 6
    • 40 - _____ Schmidt ca 1640-
    • 41 - _____ _____
    • 42 - Jacob Thoms
    • 43 - _____ _____
    • 44 - Heinrich Buller ca 1580-1615/
    • 45 - _____ _____ ca 1580-1615/
    • 46 => 42
    • 47 => 43
    • 56 - Hans Ratzlaff ca 1630-ca 1689
    • 57 - _____ _____
    • 60 => 40
    • 61 => 41
  • Generation 7
    • 84 - _____ Thoms
    • 85 - ? ?
    • 112 - Hans Ratzlaff ca 1590-ca 1704
    • 113 - _____ Voth ca 1611-
  • Generation 8
    • 226 - _____ Voht ca 1586-
    • 227 - _____ _____

Total: 37 individuals


It is also possible that her Jewishness was through her first husband. 

The links will not work.

Jacob Pankratz   image





On 's side Sarcke Unrau 1762-1815


Individual Note

P736 "Church Records" p. 53 gives a death date of 26 Feb. and age of 29 years, 6 months, 17 days. "Church Records" p. 56 says he married while resident at Przechowko.

Thanks, John, for all the work you’ve put in to researching your family.  I hope you can add this to Wikitree.

I feel it's necessary to comment on the gigantic font size of your posts, John. You must know how overbearing that size type can be. So a suggestion: why don't you Select all the oversize type and tell it to slim down to a 12 point.  It would be a relief and I'll give you thanks in advance.

Sorry. I did a copy and paste and did not realize that it specified a font size.
+6 votes
I have Jewish roots. My paternal 3X Great Grandfather, John Phillip Nelson, was Jewish. He was born in Emmendingen, Germany  in 1800. He is listed in the Nelson family line on the Jewish Geneology website. He owned a soap and tallow factory in Hagenow until 1850 when he sailed with his family on the Helena Sloman for the USA. He drowned at sea but the family all survived. Family lived briefly in New York, Cincinnati, Kentucky, and then Nashville, Tenn. My 2X Great Uncle Charles Nelson became a millionaire from his Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery. My 2X Great Grandmother traveled with her family to Kansas and farmed land there throughout the dust bowl days. Descendants have included engineers, musicians, scientists, lawyers, social workers, authors, pilots, and livestock specialists....
Good work, Karen!
I hope you’ve added all this to your Wikitree profiles.  You weren’t signed on to Wikitree when you sent this, so I can’t get you a badge until you do.  If you don’t yet have an account, it’s free forever to everyone.  Please let me know
I have an account so, hopefully, this response is adequate to have the badge added. I need to do more work on my tree to have all my information recorded on this site.
That will do it.  You’ve got the badge.  And welcome to the group!
+7 votes
Another site helped me trace one of my family lines all the way back to 400 and something B.C. to the Jewish Tribe of Levi, so I have Jewish roots, but they are VERY deep, back before there were last names.
Be very wary of any ‘data’ that old. If there ever were records, they’re long gone, leaving unverifiable stories, mythology, and rumour.  Theoretically, all people are related, but Wikitree is interested in sourceable data.
Yeah, there's no really verified genealogies that crack the BCs. A couple of the Irish kingly genealogies go back about that far with some degree of certainty, and maybe also some of the Chinese Imperial clans? Even Charlemagne's ancestry can only reasonably be traced back to the middle of the 6th century. Of course, that doesn't stop people from concocting fanciful genealogies with Romans and Alexander the Great and all that...
+5 votes
My grandfather Clifford H. Paulk was said to be English Jew. My sister did an Ancestry dna study and it showed 1 percent Jewish ancestry.
by Janet Pope G2G Crew (870 points)

If your grandfather was indeed Jewish, you and your sister would have much more than 1%.  And I’m afraid 1% simply isn’t enough to trace.  Even if it’s not a statistical error, ot would be so far back in history to be nearly untraceable.

+5 votes
The DNA results from "My Heritage" indicates that I have 2.9% Ashkenazi DNA. I am curious to find out where my Jewish roots originated from.  Hendrik Graham
by Hendrik Graham G2G Crew (350 points)
At 2.9%, you’re looking for a great great great grandparent or older—a formidable task even if you have some idea which branch to follow.  Start with what you know and work steadily backward.  You might get lucky.
+5 votes

According to information passed down by one of my family members, my 3rd great grandfater, Jacobus Berning ( )was of Jewish descent.

According to information passed down in the family, he was "of Polish-Jewish descent and from a region bordering Russia".

Apparently they also spoke Yiddish and Afrikaans (one of the official languages in South Africa ) in their home.

I've been trying to search for information to verify all of this, but have yet to find any information on him.  He definitely isn't part of the Berning family who came to South Africa early on.  What also makes it difficult is, that if he was indeed Jewish, he might have had another name.

I've been doing my own research, trying to create a timeline to see if this would be possible and during the time I estimate he came to South Africa, there was a influx of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania (which borders Poland and the Kaliningrad area of Russia)

Kaliningrad was formerly know as Konigsberg and had a large Jewish population.

A lot of the Jews came to the diamond fields of Griekwaland-Wes (the area where my grandfather lived).   He was a diamond prospector.

As you can see, it seems like the information fits (but it's easy to make a story fit if you want it to.)  

I'm still searching for evidence of our Jewish heritage and hope to someday find it.  I don't think I'll ever be able to stop looking.  Until I find it, I'm enjoying the abundance of new things I'm learning with regards to Jewish history in South Africa.

by An-Mari Basson G2G1 (1.7k points)
An interesting story for sure. It seems unlikely, to me at least, that your 3G grandfather’s family spoke Afrikaans in eastern Europe. It only became a named language distinct from Dutch in the late 1700s and then only on South Africa.
You might check  They have databases for Poland and Russia, among others.  The Yiddish version of Jacobus is Yaakov.
If you’d like to join the Jewish Roots Project, let me know.
You are truly knowledgable, Robert. Thanks!

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