DNA: FamilyTreeDNA launches Family Finder

Are you ready for the next revolution in genetic genealogy?

FamilyTreeDNA.com has announced its new Family Finder. The test will be available in mid-March.

“This is the most exciting genetic genealogy breakthrough since the company launched its Y-DNA test, which uncovered relatives in the direct paternal line,” says Bennett Greenspan, FamilyTreeDNA founder and president, in an email to company project administrators today.

The science is simple: linked blocks of DNA across the 22 autosomal chromosomes are matched between two people. The degree of matching yields evidence for the relationship.

A limited number of the company’s current customers are being offered the Family Finder Test during the pre-launch. The company anticipates a general release of the test in mid-March for $249.

For more information, click here.

Here are some features:

While the Y-DNA matches men with a specific paternal line, and the mtDNA finds potential relatives only along the maternal line, Family Finder can look for close relationships along all ancestral lines.

You may now match to male and female cousins from any of your family lines within five generations. The science behind it uses linked blocks of DNA across the 22 autosomal chromosomes and matches them between two people. Based on this concept, our bioinformatics team has worked extensively to develop the calculations that would tell you the closeness of the relationship.

The possibilities include: Aunts and uncles, parent and grandparents, half-siblings and first, second, third and fourth cousins. Possibly even fifth cousins and beyond

When you take the Family Finder test, your results are compared against our Family Finder database. You will be able to: sort your matches by degree of relationship, view their names and e-mail address for immediate communication and download your raw data.

— Match with five generations of family

With the new Family Finder test, discover connections to descendants of all 16 of your great-great-grandparents! As it opens avenues for traditional research, discover hidden connections that could explain a family’s migrations.

— Adoptees discover their heritage

With the power of an autosomal DNA test, confidently match to male and female cousins from any of your family lines, which can provide clues to learn more about your biological parents’ families. Every adopted person, or those who know that one of their parents or grandparents was adopted, will want to order a Family Finder test to help identify close and distant relatives.

— Introducing Family Finder Projects

A new way of looking for cousins means a new type of FamilyTreeDNA.com project:

Family Finder Projects allow for analysis and comparisons between you and all members of a project. Compare all at once with the Family Finder “Viewer” and other genetic analytical tools.

The new test and project tools integrate with an existing Family Tree DNA project to take it to the “next level.”

Surname projects can use Family Finder to better define branches in a family tree. By using Family Finder testing, close Y-chromosome matches without traditional records may be assigned to a pedigree with greater confidence. Even more exciting, surname projects may now bring female cousins into the project as additional evidence.

Regional projects can discover real relationships. Explore lost family connections hidden behind migrations. New clues open avenues for more traditional paper trail research. Those with close or perfect Y-chromosome matches between different surnames can now untangle their relationships.

View a short presentation by FamilyTreeDNA.com founder and president Bennett Greenspan as he explains how the Family Finder test may open doors to the discovery of your close and distant relatives. WATCH NOW.

CAVEAT: For the company’s current customers, the new Family Finder test requires an untouched vial of DNA. If your kit does not have an extra vial on file, FamilyTreeDNA will mail a collection kit for a new FREE DNA extraction. After ordering the test, current customers will be notified by email if a stored vial can be used or a new vial is required.

Spain: Lleida’s 14th-century Jewish community

Does the city Lleida or Lerida, in Catalunya ring a bell for Sephardic researchers?

There were two Jewish neighborhoods in the town – Cuirassa and Cuirassola – some 140km northwest of Barcelona.

The Lleida community was virtually destroyed in the 1391 riots, massacres and mass forced conversions; an attempt to reconstitute it years later never got very far.

There were Jewish communities in nearby villages as well – such as Alfés – which has numerous buildings with six-pointed symbols – una estrella de 6 puntes – above their entrance doors (see photos at left and below right). Some scholars and historians believe that these symbols were substituted for the six-pointed magen david.

In Converso communities elsewhere in the world – such as in New Mexico (according to Dr. Stanley Hordes and other historians), similar images are carved on gravestones.

Lleida’s archives, housed in the Cathedral, are a treasure trove of documents for those who may have a connection to the ancient Jewish community.

On my most recent visit to the archives – a few years ago – with my good friend and excellent researcher Maria Jose Surribas, they had just received a computer and, for the first time, were entering and cataloging thousands of documents.

Maria Jose discovered a TALALAY (TALAYA, TALAY – there are various spellings) document dated 1358 in the archives, and others in towns not far away. Research in Barcelona’s Crown of Aragon archives turned up a few other mentions of the family through 1396.

There is a Jewish cultural society in Lleida – TARBUT Amics Lleidatans de la Cultura Hebrea – providing programming, talks and conferences focused on the Jewish community.

Just a few days go, on February 12, the group held a conference – The Jewish Community of Lleida in the Middle Ages: Between ‘Convivencia’ and Segregation” – announced by Dr. Joan J. Busqueta, Faculty of Letters, University of Lleida.

For more information on Tarbut, visit the site at the link above, although it is mostly in Catalan.