Diaspora Jews world-wide genetically close, study finds
(WJC)–A genetic study by scientists, published in the journal ‘Nature’, has found that most Jewish populations in the Diaspora are “genetically closer” to each other than to their non-Jewish neighbors. It also revealed genetic ties between globally dispersed Jews and non-Jewish populations in the Middle East. The researchers analyzed genetic samples from 14 Jewish communities across the world and compared them with those from 69 non-Jewish populations.
The findings support the view that most contemporary Jews are descendents of ancient Hebrew and Israelite residents in the Levant. Doron Behar from Haifa, Israel, who led an international team of scientists, described this as a form of “genetic archaeology”.
“It seems that most Jewish populations and therefore most Jewish individuals are closer to each other [at the genetic level], and closer to the Middle Eastern populations, than to their traditional host population in the Diaspora,” he was quoted as saying by ‘BBC News’.
There were exceptions to this key finding, though, Behar explained. For example, Ethiopian and Indian Jewish communities were genetically closer to their neighboring non-Jewish populations, which might be partly because a greater degree of genetic, religious and cultural crossover took place when the Jewish communities in these areas became established.
Novel analytical techniques allowed the scientists to examine the genetic samples they took in unprecedented detail. Behar said the data from this study could aid future research into the genetic basis of diseases that are more prevalent in the Jewish population.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.