Lithuania: Marijampole passport project

Researchers with a family connection to Marijampole, Lithuania or the general area will be interested in this project.

A translator at the Vilnius Central Archive has begun working on the internal passport records for Marijampole.

It is always important to realize that because your direct ancestors left the town, many other relatives may have remained there. The internal passport files have proven valuable for others for just this reason.

According to Howard Margol, who is coordinating the Internal Passport Project:

If your ancestors lived in the vicinity of Marijampole, they probably applied for their internal passport there and not in the village where they lived. Most of the internal passport records include where the person was born. Usually, 30 – 40 percent of the applicants were born somewhere else other than in the town where they applied for their internal passport. Consequently, these lists are very comprehensive in the areas covered.


The Marijampole file contains quite a number of lists organized by year and shtetl. For instance: One shtetl list contains the name, surname, passport number, issuing date and place where the person lived. The applicant’s photograph is usually available by contacting the archive.

These types of projects are not free. For a minimum contribution of $100, earmarked for the “Marijampole Internal Passport Project,” researchers will receive all the records as they are translated and the records translated in the future.

Read more about the project here. Contribute to the project here. When your contribution has been made, contact Howard so he can send you the records as they are translated.

DNA: Numerous Cohanim lineages?

According to Dr. Michael Hammer, new research indicates that Cohanim descend from several lineages, that the “bloodline comes from more than one source.”

Recent research on the Cohen Y chromosome indicates the Jewish priesthood, the Cohanim, was established by several unrelated male lines rather than a single male lineage dating to ancient Hebrew times.

The new research builds on a decade-old study of the Jewish priesthood that traced its patrilineal dynasty and seemed to substantiate the biblical story that Aaron, the first high priest (and brother of Moses), was one of a number of common male ancestors in the Cohanim lineage who lived some 3,200 years ago in the Near East.

Hammer is a University of Arizona population geneticist in the Arizona Research Laboratory’s Division of Biotechnology. The study includes such collaborators as Dr. Karl Skorecki of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Rambum Medical Center (Haifa); Dr. Doron Behar, population geneticist and senior physician at the Rambam Medical Center Department of Critical Care Medicine (Haifa), who is also FamilyTreeDNA’s Chief mtDNA Scientist and Scientific Advisory Board member, as well as collaborating scientists from Tel Aviv University and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

According to the story, a decade ago Hammer and Skorecki were part of the first research group that found the DNA marker signature of the Cohanim – the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH) – using a much smaller number of markers. Today, they are able to use a much larger battery of DNA markers and are able to develop a more complete CMH, called the Extended Cohen Modal Haplotype.

Hammer says that the findings should motivate renewed interest in historical reconstructions of the Jewish priesthood as well as high resolution DNA marker analyses of other populations and ‘lost tribes’ claiming ancient Hebrew ancestry.

The team was able to pinpoint geographic distribution of a genetically more resolved CMH and “tease apart a multiplicity of male lines” that founded the priesthood in ancient times.

The Extended Cohen Modal Haplotype accounts for nearly 30 percent of Cohanim Y chromosomes from Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Jewish communities and likely traces to a common male ancestor who lived some 3,200 years ago in the Near East. It is virtually absent in non-Jews.

Other lineages that are shared among Cohanim from diverse Jewish communities are distinct from the extended CMH, which reveals, says Hammer, that the priesthood was established by several unrelated male lines.

The Human Genetics journal published the Hammer team’s newest findings in their article entitled “Extended Y chromosome haplotypes resolve multiple and unique lineages of the Jewish priesthood.”

Some statistics: The team used a sample of 215 Cohanim from various Jewish communities; 1,575 Jewish men from across the Jewish Diaspora; and 2,099 non-Jewish men from the Near East, Europe, Central Asia, and India. Here’s a bit of the abstract:

While Cohanim from diverse backgrounds carry a total of 21 Y chromosome haplogroups, 5 haplogroups account for 79.5% of Cohanim Y chromosomes. The most frequent Cohanim lineage (46.1%) is marked by the recently reported P58 T->C mutation, which is prevalent in the Near East.

Based on genotypes at 12 Y-STRs, we identify an extended CMH on the J-P58* background that predominates in both Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Cohanim and is remarkably absent in non-Jews. The estimated divergence time of this lineage based on 17 STRs is 3,190 +/- 1,090 years.

Notably, the second most frequent Cohanim lineage (J-M410*, 14.4%) contains an extended modal haplotype that is also limited to Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Cohanim and is estimated to be 4,200 +/- 1,300 years old.

These results support the hypothesis of a common origin of the CMH in the Near East well before the dispersion of the Jewish people into separate communities, and indicate that the majority of contemporary Jewish priests descend from a limited number of paternal lineages.

Hammer says that the findings should motivate renewed interest in historical reconstructions of the Jewish priesthood as well as additional high resolution DNA marker analyses of other populations and ‘lost tribes’ claiming ancient Hebrew ancestry.”

Read the complete University of Arizona article here and the Human Genetics article here.

Talk like a Jewish pirate – in Ladino!

Geneablogger colleague John Newmark in St. Louis, Missouri, has noted that in addition to being Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, it is also International Talk Like a Pirate Day, which gives Tracing the Tribe another opportunity to talk about Sephardic Jewish pirates.

While John covers Jean Lafitte and Moses Cohen Henriques, there are others

Tracing the Tribe has always been interested in this topic and has written numerous posts covering this in some way. Here are some:

http://tracingthetribe.blogspot.com/2009/02/israel-jewish-pirates-on-parade-feb-24.html
Dr. Steven Plaut’s talk for the Jewish Family Research Association (Israel)

http://tracingthetribe.blogspot.com/2008/10/jewish-pirates-of-caribbean.html
Putting the Oy back in Ahoy … Haifa University professor Steven Plaut’s article … Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean…Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of Manischewitz!

http://tracingthetribe.blogspot.com/2008/07/jamaica-sephardim-pirates-and.html
Jamaica’s pirate history.

http://tracingthetribe.blogspot.com/2006/09/for-fun-swashbuckling-sephardic.html
Samuel Pallache and Ladino-speaking pirates.

http://tracingthetribe.blogspot.com/2006/10/yo-ho-ho-oy-update.html
Singing Jewish Pirates … in the Yiddish version of the “Pirates of Penzance”

Even Chris Dunham got into the act:

genealogue.blogspot.com/2006/09/oy-vay-i-mean-arrrgh.html

Read John’s post above which focuses on Jean Lafitte.

While John wonders if the above Jewish pirates recited the Al Chet (confession of sins) yearly on Yom Kippur, what has been established is that the rabbi on a Caribbean island strongly chastised the Jewish pirates for attacking a fellow Jew’s ship. The pirates were believed to have established a community on an island where they observed Jewish laws and holidays. There is a South American marine museum that preserves pirates’ letters written in Ladino.

Thanks, John, for providing this reminder about Talk Like a Pirate Day. But we’ll need to learn Ladino!

Ohio: Cleveland Jewish News digital archive

Genealogists with a connection to Cleveland, Ohio, will find 2010 a very good year.

The Cleveland Jewish News will launch a digital archive of 45 years of publications, expected to be online in 2010, according to publisher and editor Michael E. Bennett.

I’ll be looking for my TALALAY and TAYLOR connections!

Family historians and genealogists will be able to learn about their families who lived in Cleveland; access lifecycle birth, wedding, anniversary, bnai mitzvah, and obituaries; and the community’s history and reactions to world events; as well as what’s happening in contemporary Cleveland.

Past issues are currently available for public access only in oversize bound volumes; only parts of CJN publications for the past eight years are online. The CJN Foundation, headed by Barry R. Chesler, contracted with Olive Software to convert more than 200,000 pages on microfilm or in electronic PDF files into XML files. This method enables data to be used in a number of digital formats, including a searchable database.

“This is an exciting stage in the newspaper’s history,” says Barry R. Chesler, president of the CJN Foundation. “Imagine being able to have at your fingertips, no matter where you are, information about family simchahs, news events and anything else that’s been important to you or the community for half a century.”

Chesler is grateful the community responded so generously to the request for support, and says that they understood the important of preserving the past and making it accessible online.

According to Olive Software, the CJN archive is a great example of how a community paper coupled with state-of-the-art digitization techniques can make historical preservation and worldwide access to formerly offline content possible.

Funding was provided by the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland’s Endowment Fund, the CJN and other sources. This current funding will cover the cost of creating and hosting the archive for two years. Additional long-term funding is sought from advertisers, sponsors and community members.

For more information, click on the link above.