Tuesday, June 18, 2019

You've Got Matjes DNA!

Herring and The Jews: Yes, Abq Jew promises you (Billy Nader) that we will get back to talking about DNA and family trees and all that stuff. But first, we've gotta talk about Jews and herring.

And Shabbos. Jews and herring and Shabbos.

Herring fish is loaded with ample amounts of nutrients. It provides minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium which help to maintain the bone or teeth health.
It is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which help to maintain the function of brains

You may (or, then again, may not) wonder:

What is the connection between
Jews, herring, and Shabbos?

Abq Jew has the answer for you. Of course it is not Abq Jew's answer - he got it from someplace else! In this case, from the website for The Rebbe's Choice, purveyor of fine kosher herring products.
The B’nei Yissaschar, Rav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, taught that when HaShem created the world He only blessed three creations. 
First up is when God blessed the fish; “God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters of the seas…” (Breishis 1:22). 
 The second blessing was bestowed upon mankind; “God blessed them (Adam and Chava). God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth!”(Breishis 1:28) 
The third blessing was conferred on the worlds first Shabbos, with the words, “God blessed the seventh day and He declared it holy…” (Breishis 2:3) 
So, says the B’nei Yissaschar, by you (blessing 2) eating fish (blessing 1) on Shabbos (blessing 3) you merit that all three blessings of creation are being actualized and fulfilled through you. 
Furthermore, The Arizal wrote in the famous Azamer B’Shvochin sang customarily on Friday night, that fish are a delicacy on shabbos. 
Basing himself on this, The Baal Shem Tov would serve fish at every Shabbos meal. Especially Shalosh Seudos.

And how, Abq Jew hears you, his loyal readers, ask, did Abq Jew discover said website for The Rebbe's Choice?

Abq Jew doesn't (big surprise) remember exactly, but at some point he passed through Larry Yudelson's May 2018 article in the Jewish Standard, Tales of the Chasidic Matjes. In which Mr Yudelson states:
There’s something fishy going on in the kosher herring business. 
Two different herring companies are branding their gourmet delicacies with the names and visages of such rabbis as Menachem Mendel of Kotzk.
Of which
Yes, you can order the Honey Mustard Sriracha Herring from the Rebbe’s Choice line of premium certified kosher herring. “This sharp and fiery herring is inspired” by the “fiery truth and sharp wit of the rebbe of Kotzk,” according to the Rebbe’s Choice website. 
Kotzk is only one of six herring flavors in the Rebbe’s Choice product line, which also includes such favorite chasidic masters as Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and Reb Zusha, available at kosher supermarkets, including Teaneck’s Cedar Market.
Want to eat herring and learn more? Let's start with -

The Rebbe's Choice

The first rebbe-herring company is (see above) The Rebbe's Choice.

Who says of its Jalapeno Matjes Herring, inspired by Lelov:
This flavorful herring was inspired by Lelov (Leh-Love). Rav Dovid of Lelov (1746-1814) was the first Rebbe of this holy Chassidus. 
He was born in Biala, Poland and was a student of the great Chozeh M’Lublin. The Chozeh said about Rav Dovid: 
“He is the foundation of all the tzaddikim and all the leaders of the Chasidic movement.” 
Rav Dovid was famous for his love of all Jews, even the wicked ones, always finding ways of defending them. He used to say to his followers, “How can you claim that I am righteous, when I know that I still love my children and grandchildren more than I love my other fellow Jews?” 
It once happened that his son fell seriously ill. Anxious for his welfare, the townsfolk assembled to pray for his recovery,  and spared no expense in hiring the most expert physicians. When in due time he recovered, they expected to see Their Rebbe, R’ Dovid, rejoicing, instead they found him weeping bitterly. 
Rav Dovid said to them: “When my son fell ill, everyone was concerned; praying, and doing whatever was necessary until he was well. But if any other person is sick, no one makes a stir about it – people do not pay nearly that much attention to him. Now is that not something to weep over?”  
Rav Dovid was well versed in the mystical aspects of the Torah and maintained a strong connection with his Rebbe regardless of the distance. Lelover Chassidus soon migrated from Poland to The Holy city Yerushalaim when Rav Dovids son, Rav Moshe of Lelov, moved there shortly before he himself passed away in 1851. 
Even with the great esteem many had for Rav Dovid, others considered him an ignoramus. 
But they only saw him on the surface, if they were to have truly appreciated the depth of Rav Dovid they would understand his great breadth of Torah knowledge. 
Similarly, this herring has a deep flavorful presence that takes a discerning palette to truly grasp.
Want to eat more herring and learn even more? Let's continue with -


The second rebbe-herring company is (see above) Flaum.

KosherToday.com says of Flaum's The Herring of Breslov (et al):
Brooklyn…Herring is one of the comeback kosher foods of the 2000’s. Once thought to have been discarded into the dustbin of history, herring has emerged as a strong seller in the modern kosher food world, increasing annually by as much as 40%, according to some retailers. 
Celebrating its 100th year, the famed Flaum’s brand which began as an appetizing store on Lee Avenue in Williamsburg has rolled out a series of herring products that are named after several legendary Eastern European Chasidic and Yeshiva movements such as Kotzk, Volozhin and Breslev, each known for their respective traits of sharpness, wit, and sweetness with the herring mimicking these virtues. 
“Naming our herring products after the legendary movements of Chasidus and the Yeshiva movement puts these foods in a context of continuity and heritage.” 
said Hershey Grunhut of Flaum’s. Indeed, historians point out that 
Herring was a basic staple in the courtyards of the Chasidic movements. 

Abq Jew is, of course, thrilled that a kosher herring product has been named for Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Want proof? See Abq Jew's blog posts

Rabbi Nachman said: 
The world has yet to taste what I have to offer. 
Were they to hear just one of my teachings together with its proper melody and dance, 
the incredible delight would bring everyone to a state of sheer ecstacy and total transcendence of self.
At the end of his life, as Rabbi Nachman was leaving Breslov for Uman where he knew he would soon die, he told his closest followers,
My fire will burn until the coming of the Messiah.

Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman (Hebrew: נ נח נחמ נחמן מאומן‎) is a Hebrew language name and song used by a subgroup of Breslover Hasidim colloquially known as the Na Nachs. The complete phrase is Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me'uman. It is a kabbalistic formula based on the four Hebrew letters of the name Nachman, referring to the founder of the Breslov movement, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, along with a reference to his burial place in Uman, Ukraine.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

You've Got DNA Matches!

Morgans By the HundredthsPeople often ask Abq Jew how he manages to use DNA to find so many long-lost relatives on his Family Tree. 

Captain Morgan rum is named after the 17th-century Welsh privateer
of the Caribbean, Sir Henry Morgan, who has nothing at all to do
with the centiMorgans (cMs) of your DNA genealogy quest. 

Actually, almost nobody asks. That's because Abq Jew has (so far) only used DNA genealogy to confirm the identities of long-lost relatives who already appear on his Family Tree. 

This is very different from using DNA genealogy to find long-lost relatives who do not appear on Abq Jew's Family Tree

But just in case someone should ask sometime, Abq Jew offers this wonderfully interesting and entertaining Not Strictly DNA Genealogy Methodology.

Who Are Those Guys?
A Not Strictly DNA Genealogy Methodology
You've Got DNA Matches!

Which, as it turns out, seems to involve Four Questions.

1. What are we looking for?

This one is easy. What we're looking for is shared DNA. That is, snippets of our own DNA that match snippets of a prospective relative's DNA, which we both probably inherited from a Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).

2. How do we find it?

This one is also easy. Just spit or swab, then send in the kit. To MyHeritage, to FamilyTree DNA, to Ancestry, to 23andMe, or to any appropriate, efficient, and trustworthy DNA testing service out there in the world.

3. How do we interpret it?

Let the fun begin! After some period of time (potentially weeks), you will receive your results from your DNA testing service.

Chances are, the results will begin with the DNA testing service's best estimate of your ethnic ancestry.

And chances are your results will look a lot like Abq Jew's. Maybe not 100% Ashkenazi Jewish, but a lot. That's going to create a problem down the road.

But then, the results will turn to what you're really after - DNA matches. Here's where centiMorgans and percentages come in.

Here is what the first group of Abq Jew's DNA matches looks like. We've got

  1. A photo (only Barry S uploaded one); 
  2. Abq Jew's match's name (as much as said match uploaded); and
  3. 23andMe's estimate of our relationship - based upon the percentage of DNA and number of DNA segments that we share.
The percentage of DNA is based upon centiMorgans, which is a much more complicated and technical measure of how close a relative is this?

But the rule is:

The more centiMorgans, the higher the percentage,
the closer the relationship.

You will be thrilled to learn that you can convert centiMorgans into percentages simply by dividing the total number of centiMorgans by 68. And conversely: You can convert percentages into centiMorgans by multiplying the percentage by 68. Why 68? Don't ask; it's complicated.

You will also be thrilled to learn that the term ‘centiMorgan’ was coined by Alfred Henry Sturtevant in honor of his teacher, Thomas Hunt Morgan, a famous American geneticist. The original unit was called a Morgan, but is rarely used today.

Thomas Hunt Morgan
for whom the Morgan and the centiMorgan are named

But back to the drawing board. 23andMe compared Abq Jew's DNA to the DNA of others in its database, and came up with 1,121 possible relatives - of whom, six are shown.

Let's look more closely at these six.
  1. Abq Jew knows who Alex M is. He is on Abq Jew's Tree, and he is actually the son of Abq Jew's First Cousin.
  2. Abq Jew knows who Michael R is. He is on Abq Jew's Tree, and he is indeed a Second Cousin. 
  3. Abq Jew knows who Tuvy G is. He is on Abq Jew's Tree, and he is indeed a Second Cousin. 
  4. Abq Jew knows who Ivan K is. He is on Abq Jew's Tree, and he is indeed a Second Cousin. 
  5. Abq Jew has no idea who Barry S is. The only Barry S (see Blood, Spit & Years) on Abq Jew's Tree is related by marriage - not by blood. 
  6. Abq Jew has no idea who Eric M is. The only Erics on Abq Jew's Tree are related by marriage - not by blood. 
So let's talk about Barry S (1.41% DNA shared) and Eric M (1.39% DNA shared). 

Abq Jew's other Second Cousins share 5.20%, 4.47%, and 2.71% DNA - roughly twice as much. Are Barry S and Eric M really Abq Jew's Second Cousins?

Let's go to the videotape! Here is a standard chart that shows how %DNA shared and #centiMorgans correlate with real-life relationships.

This chart, you might say, puts Barry S and Eric M in (approximately, of course) Abq Jew's Second Cousin Once Removed (2C1R) or First Cousin Twice Removed (1C2R) range. Except for one thing (see above):

We're all Jews. Or descended from Jews.

Which, of course, raises the question that Jews have been asking each other since time immemorial.

4. Why is this harder for Jews?

You would think it would be easy, right? Just spit or swab, send in the kit, wait a few weeks, and viola (or other stringed instrument)! You've got mishpocha!

Well, Abq Jew must tell you: It ain't that easy.

To answer this ageless question more fully, please allow Abq Jew to introduce you to 

Jennifer Mendelsohn

Who in May 2017 published the seminal (no pun intended) article -

No, You Don't Really Have 7,900 4th
Cousins: Some DNA Basics for Those
With Jewish Heritage

In which she clearly explains the reasons why Jewish DNA genealogy is so hard, among which is

You're not as close as you think you are

It's not as bad as it sounds.

But, says Ms Mendelsohn -
If you are expecting that your DNA test will create a clear-cut breadcrumb trail taking your family tree back to the days of King David, think again. 
For genetic purposes, Jews are what’s known as an “endogamous” population. 
We stayed in a relatively limited geographical area and typically married only within our own culture — and not infrequently within our own families. (A 2014 study suggested that all Ashkenazi Jews alive today trace back to the same 330 people. Try fitting all those “relatives” at your seder table.) 
Endogamy means that Jews share much more DNA with each other than average, which grossly inflates our relationship predictions. 
You might quite literally have thousands and thousands of people listed as being “4th cousins or closer;” my first cousin has almost 8,000 Ancestry DNA matches. But that doesn’t mean those people are actually related to you in the way we typically think of relatives. 
Virtually every Jewish person of the dozen or so I’ve DNA tested shares enough DNA to suggest that they are a “cousin” to every other Jewish person I’ve tested, regardless of whether those people are actually supposed to be blood related. 
All of which means that
Jews can’t really go by the charts when it comes to anything past second cousins or so. 

OTOH - try to avoid the 'last name' trap.

Ms Mendelsohn tells us:
I hear all too often that people look at their DNA matches and are disappointed. “I don’t think it really works,” they say with a shrug. “I don’t recognize a single name on that list.” 
Wrong answer. 
Think about it. Full third cousins share two out of 16 great-great-grandparents: your grandparents’ grandparents. 
For you to recognize the name of a possible third cousin, that means you would need to potentially recognize the surnames of all 16 of your great-great-grandparents, including, for instance, the maiden name of your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother. 
For the vast majority of American Jews, that’s exceedingly rare. 
Put another way: A third cousin is the grandchild of one of your grandparents’ first cousins. Do you know the names of all of your grandparents’ first cousins? Do you know their daughters’ married names? And all the last names of their grandchildren? 
All you actually need is a single woman in your tree whose maiden or married name you don’t know, or a single man whose mother’s maiden name you don’t know and boom — any of those matches with an unfamiliar name could suddenly make sense.

So where were we?

Ah, yes. Barry S (1.41% DNA shared) and Eric M (1.39% DNA shared). Are Barry S and Eric M really Abq Jew's Second Cousins?

As Butch Cassidy might have asked (in a slightly different context) -

The answer is: Abq Jew doesn't know. 

The real question is: 

Is it worth Abq Jew's time to try
and find out who 
Barry S and Eric M are?

Or - although they appear close - are Barry S and Eric M actually so far away on Abq Jew's Tree that they may never be discovered?

Oh! You were expecting an answer! OK ... the answer is -

Why not? Here is what Ms Mendelsohn recommends:
For Jewish matches, anyone with whom your total cM shared is close to or over 200–250 cM [2.9-3.7%] is definitely worth contacting; that’s almost certain evidence of a traceable family relationship. (But keep in mind: DNA pulls back the veil on a lot of secrets, so it may not necessarily be a relationship you knew about.) 
But most of the Jewish kits I manage have hundreds if not thousands of people in the 100–150 total cM [1.4-2.2%] range, most of whom are suggested to be second to fourth cousins. So how do you separate the faux cousins from the ones you should invite to your son’s bar mitzvah?  
Well, for starters, look for anyone with a total greater than 100 cM [1.4%] AND a longest block at least 25 to 30 cM; then open the chromosome browser ... to do a one-to-one comparison, which shows a list, by chromosome, of all the segments you share.  
If there are multiple long segments — one or two over 20–30 cM and several others over 10 cM — you just might be in business. If all you see are a handful of smaller segments, none even close to 20, you may not find your connection in this lifetime.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Shavuot! Good News!

Just Because: Now that we have arrived in the month of Sivan, we know that the Festival of Shavuot is only days away.

As we approach the Time of Torah-Giving, we take time to pause for deep reflection. What is The Meaning of Life? How can we connect more completely - with Our Creator, and with our Fellow Man?

And we ask ourselves - Why Does the World Work the Way It Does? Why Does the World Work At All? And - How Come?  Just Everything. How Come?

In our tradition, Shavuot is known by many names - perhaps most importantly in this age of Google and Alexa and quickly-answered questions, זמן מתן תורתינו, the Time of Torah-Giving.

But just how many מצוות ('commandments'), Abq Jew hears you ask, were actually given at Mount Sinai? The short answer (long answer here) is:

So where, Abq Jew hears you ask, did the remaining 603 (give or take) mizvot come from? Along with all the stories? How about the stories?

One of Abq Jew's favorite New Mexico writers (we New MexiJews have more than a few) Mary E Carter (see And Sarah Steinway Laughed, et al) has written a new novel - The Three-Day Departure of Mrs Annette Zinn - which may soon be available! Perhaps this month!

It's hard to tell exactly when Mrs Annette Zinn will be out because it's currently in production. Which, it turns out, is the answer to Abq Jew's question about the extra commandments and the stories. Oh, the stories!

Here's another good story from this week. ICYMI - MoveOn's Karine Jean-Pierre blocked Senator Kamala Harris from a male protester who jumped on the event stage Saturday at a San Francisco forum.

Or, as Stinky The Clown put it on DemocraticUnderground.com:
At a Move-on candidate event a kook jumped on stage and pulled the mic out of the candidate's hand. He started talking about what he "wanted to talk about". The candidate, rightly so, gave up the mic and slowly moved away from the kook.  
Meanwhile, Ms. Jean-Pierre, Move-on's Public face, put herself between the kook and the candidate. Clearly the act was not without risk. But this woman just plain took charge.  
Karine Jean-Pierre is a frequent TV presence, but is now also a genuine Badass Woman. 

You, Abq Jew's loyal readers, may recognize KJP from MSNBC.
Karine Jean-Pierre's professional experience has ranged widely from presidential campaigns to grassroots activism, to local politics, to working in the White House. 
Jean-Pierre is the Chief Public Affairs Officer for MoveOn and an NBC and MSNBC Political Analyst.
Jean-Pierre joined the Columbia University faculty in 2014 where she teaches a course at the[Graduate] School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). 
Where Mr & Mrs Abq Jew's beloved daughter (also a genuine Badass Woman) has gotten an A in a class with her!

Ruth by Charles M Carrillo

But let's get back to the Festival of Shavuot and the Book of Ruth, which we Jews in חו״ל (the Diaspora) read on the second day of Yontif.

Such a nice love story! MyJewishLearning.com tells us:
There are many explanations given for the reading of Ruth on Shavuot. The most quoted reason is that Ruth’s coming to Israel took place around the time of Shavuot, and her acceptance into the Jewish faith was analogous of the acceptance of the Jewish people of God’s Torah.

That's a good way to go into the Holiday, Abq Jew thinks.

With love.

The photos of little kids and their big dogs are by Russian photographer Andy Seliverstoff, from his recent project Little Kids & Their Big Dogs.