FamilyTreeDNA.com: New Family Finder test officially launched

As of today, FamilyTreeDNA.com’s new Family Finder test has been officially launched.

The new test connects family members across all ancestral lines, not only paternal or maternal. It represents a major advancement over earlier genetic genealogy tests. Everyone, regardless of gender, can now look for connections including grandparents, aunts and uncles, half siblings, and first, second, third and fourth cousins.

The company’s database numbers more than 290,000 individual records – the largest DNA database in genetic genealogy. This makes FamilyTreeDNA the prime source for anyone researching recent and distant family ties.

Importantly, for Tracing the Tribe readers, that database also includes the largest Jewish DNA database. This means that if you’re looking for genetic matches sharing your genetic heritage, you should test against the largest Jewish DNA database. The same holds true for everyone interested in genetic genealogy. One should to test against the largest database available for the best probability of finding matches.

According to today’s official press release:

The test utilizes Affymetrix’ recently launched Axiom™ genotyping technology and the GeneTitan® System to confidently match a wide range of family relationships within five generations.

Said FamilyTreeDNA founder/CEO Bennett Greenspan, in Houston, Texas:

“This is the most exciting genetic genealogy breakthrough since 2000, when FamilyTreeDNA launched its Y-DNA test to uncover relatives in the direct paternal line.” 

“The comprehensive, genome-wide coverage of Axiom Arrays enables us to offer consumers the most advanced genealogical test available at a price that is attractive to our customers. In addition, the automated GeneTitan System allows us to process hundreds of samples at a time with minimal hands-on time for maximum efficiency.”

Said Affymetrix president/CEO Kevin King, in Santa Clara, California:

“The Family Finder test represents a huge step forward for the direct-to-consumer genetic genealogy market and the application of microarray technology, Now anyone can utilize the power of the Axiom Genotyping Solution and the GeneTitan System to find and connect with a broader range of family members than ever before.”

How does it work?

The test analyzes the DNA of two individuals using Axiom Array Plates containing nearly 570,000 genetic markers, including many that are relevant to genealogy. Family Tree DNA then analyzes the resulting data with internally developed algorithms to determine the closeness of the relationship. The complete Axiom Genotyping Solution includes array plates, complete reagent kits, and an automated workflow that enables scientists to process more than 760 samples per week.

FamilyTreeDNA.com offers counseling services, tutorials and other helpful tools to assist in the genealogy and matching process. Importantly, it provides names and email addresses of matched individuals whenever possible for easy communication.

For more information about the new Family Finder test, click here; for Affymetrix, click here.

New Resource: SCIRUS finds people!

Are there academics or scientists in your family? Would you like to know? Do you want to cast a wider family search net? Here’s a new resource to help you.

SCIRUS.com is considered the most comprehensive science-specific search engine on the Internet, it searches more than 380 million science-specific Web pages. Researchers can pinpoint scientific, scholarly, technical and medical data; find the newest reports, articles, patents, journals, websites, homepages, courseware and repository information that other search engines might miss; and help scientists and researchers.

Importantly, it is also great for genealogists and family researchers looking to cast a wider net.

My search centered on our TALALAY and DARDASHTI families, and I was very pleased with the results.

There are quite a few academics and scientists in our TALALAY family, and this search engine found them. From Dr. Paul Talalay of Johns Hopkins Medical School, to Dr. Mikhail Talalai (a Russian historian who lives in Italy), Dr. Pavel Talalai (Misha’s brother in Saint Petersburg, a specialist in deep-sea ice), Dr. Alexander Talalai (communications) and many others, including Dr. Boris Talalai (originally of Saint Petersburg, now Beersheva University). Paul’s daughter Rachel, a film/documentary producer, even got a mention.

Results: For TALALAY, there were 9,835 hits;  for TALALAI, 58 hits (this is the Russian spelling and also for a family of Polish Catholics in New Jersey and elsewhere). There were even 261 hits for TALALLA (sometimes the Spanish spelling as LL=LY, which can also be Talalya). A search for TALALAJ (a variant Polish spelling) produced 274 hits for people in Poland, the US and elsewhere. TALLALAY produced 13 hits, seemingly with TALALAY misspelled (I knew the people referred to, such as cousin Paul).

Our DARDASHTI family is also well-represented: Cardiologists Drs. Iraj Dardashti and Omid Dardashti; musician/anthropologist Dr. Galeet Dardashti; some in Iran (although I have no way of figuring out how they might be related at this point in time); some in Germany, Sweden, Norway; Dr. Kambiz Dardashti, our Philadelphia cousin Ephi Dardashti, and more. Tracing the Tribe even got a mention on a posting on the Sephardi Studies Caucus. There were 1,055 hits, with just one for DARDASHTY (a variant rare spelling).

Areas represented cover medicine, research, patents, culture, technology, anthropology and much more. It is well worth a visit and a search, particularly if you are dealing with an uncommon name.

Tracing the Tribe is not sure if a search for COHEN will turn up useful information for a particular family. Non-family names, such as my old New York pediatrician, Isaac Newton Kugelmass – who was in his 90s when I last knew him – got six mentions.

It is so successful at locating these types of results that it was voted Best Specialty Search Engine (2001. 2002) and Best Director or Search Engine Website (2004-2007).

And, since Tracing the Tribe often brings readers more than esoteric bits of information, here’s the background on how the organizers selected the name SCIRUS:

“To the Eleusinians who were warring against Erechtheus, came a man, Scirus by name, who was a seer from Dodona, and who also established at Phalerum the ancient temple of Athena Sciras. After he had fallen in the battle, the Eleusinians buried him near a winter-flowing river and the name of the region and the river is from that of the hero.”

We chose the name Scirus because seers and prophets are said to judge the signs of what is to come. And science is a visionary discipline in which you are continuously working on new ideas and developments. The Scirus search engine will pro-actively support your role as a seer.

*Excerpt from “The Description of Greece” by Pausanias, translated by August A. Imholtz, Jr., CIS Executive Editor

Check it out and see if Scirus can help you. See what you can find.

Romania: Jewish Museum genealogy resources

There is a Jewish museum in Bucharest, detailed as part of a website devoted to the country’s past and present Jewish life.

If your research includes this once-large Jewish presence in many population centers, Tracing the Tribe highly recommends this website. The museum section of the site details the displays of community history and how it preserves the past. Read below for more details of the exhibits.

According to the site, it is sponsored by B’nai B’rith International (Washington DC), The Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania, Embassy of Romania (Washington DC) and the US Agency for International Development.

Genealogical Treasures

Genealogically, the website and the museum are useful for those searching for details about Romanian Jewish families. Numerous names of individuals and families appear in every section. As one example, in the section on Jewish financiers, viewers can read about the families of Bercovitz, Manoah, Halfon, Daniel, Marmorosh and Blank.

The history details the country’s political and geographical history through the Holocaust and today’s community. The sections – each contain many names – are literature (Romanian, Yiddish), science, press, music, Judaica (silversmiths, objects, architecture, textiles and gold/silver embroidery), fine art, theater (posters, costumes, photos), religious life (personalities, institutions, buildings, synagogue models).

The Community Archive offers Micro-monographies (also accessible through the Jewish Reality section), providing numerous detailed articles on Romanian communities, with history, names and more; and Genealogy research (currently under construction and looking for donors).
There is – click here for the Romanian-only collection – a list of Jewish entrepreneurs in Moldavia (register of documents for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the National Archives, Iasi county division, 1879-1950). See below.

Also, only in Romanian, is the list of Jews in Romania’s first university 1860-1950. See below.
There is also a Family Roots section with information on surnames taken from various records, including Holocaust records held at the USHMM in Washington, DC.

For an interesting overview of what you might discover, choose letter C and click on Cohn for a long list of individuals from various record groups. Be aware that data for each person varies:

Choose ACTION (far right column), and see all the information for a person (address, job, marital status and more), and click at the bottom to see other family members. When we click on Moise Cohn (second in the list above) we see:

And, when we “click here to view all family members,” we see:

The Romanian community included both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, who arrived in the 16th century. By 1715, there was a synagogue and by the 20th century, synagogues and ritual baths were common. When the Nazis came to power, the community was decimated, many Jewish buildings and institutions were destroyed.

The museum – established on January 15, 1978 – is located in one of the few surviving synagogue buildings. Built in 1850, the building was the Holy Union synagogue, known also as the Tailors’ Synagogue, on Mamulari Street in the Vacaresti neighborhood.

Originally called the Museum of Romanian Jewish communities, today it is the Museum of Romanian Jewish History, named for the prominent Chief Rabbi Dr. Moses Rosen, who served from 1948-1994. He founded the magazine Revista Cultului Mozaic (Mosaic Cult Magazine) in 1956, served as leader of the Federation of Jewish Communities from 1964, and a documentation center on the history of the Romanian Jews was established in 1977.

Rosen’s activities were meant to counter the trend of forcing the remaining Jews to forget their ethnic and religious identity and disappear as an ethnic group. The museum demonstrated the creative Jewish presence in every sector of Romanian culture and society.

In its current form, the museum offers a systematic outline of Jewish history in Romanian lands.

Thousands of exhibits reflect the communal, cultural life of the Jews; their economic, social, and political integration with Romanian society; their scientific, literary, and artistic creations-indicating a rich multi-centennial Jewish activity within the circumstances of Romanian history.

The ground floor traces the political, cultural, and eco­nomic evolution of Romanian Jewry from the 14th-20th centuries, along with information on historical roots to ancient Judea and the Roman conquest in the 1st century CE.

A replica of a bas relief from Emperor Titus’ triumphal arch in Rome shows how the Romans chased the Jews from Judea leading to their dispersion around the world, mainly into Europe. A number of archeological findings prove that the wandering sons of Israel, particularly those who served in the Roman troops, occasionally arrived as far as the territory of Roman Dacia.

Medieval Sephardic Jewish world traveler, Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, wrote that he found Jews among the Wlachs, south of the Danube River, and the community was on the map.

Sections of the site include the museum exhibits on Jewish history in Romania, 14th-19th centuries, Jewish life in the early 20th century and contributions to culture and science. Included are maps, portraits, documents, edicts, and economic life.

There are models of old synagogues from the three Danube-Carpathian principali­ties. They include the 500-year-old timber synagogue in Piatra Neamt, the fortress-synagogue in Iasi cited in late 17th-century chronicles, the Sephardic synagogue in Bucharest, and more.

Sections of the website include: Jewish Heritage Trail (a map of community locations), Jewish history chronology, Bucharest’s Jewish community, the Tailor’s Synagogue history, sections on community leaders, rabbis and the work of community institutions, such as the Federation.

This site is well worth a look for readers looking for information on the Romanian Jewish community, past and present.