News of the WeekHuman Genetics

Who Are the Jews? Genetic Studies Spark Identity Debate

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Science  11 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5984, pp. 1342
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5984.1342

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Two new studies conclude that most members of the far-flung Jewish Diaspora can trace their roots to ancestors who lived in the Middle East more than 2000 years ago. The new research, based on recent advances in genome technology, apparently refutes controversial claims that most of today's Jews descend from more recent converts. And it finds that Jews in Ethiopia and India who also claim origins in ancient Israel are more distantly related to other Jewish groups. Yet some researchers argue that although science can track Jewish ancestry, it has little to say about who is a Jew today.