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Who are the Jews? Where did they come from? What is the connection between an ancient Jewish priest in Jerusalem and today’s Israeli sunbather on the beaches of Tel Aviv? These questions stand at the heart of this engaging book. Geneticist David Goldstein analyzes modern DNA studies of Jewish populations and examines the intersections of these scientific findings with the history (both biblical and modern) and oral tradition of the Jews. With a special gift for translating complex scientific concepts into language understandable to all, Goldstein delivers an accessible, personal, and fascinating book that tells the history of a group of people through the lens of genetics.
In a series of detective-style stories, Goldstein explores the priestly lineage of Jewish males as manifested by Y chromosomes; the Jewish lineage claims of the Lemba, an obscure black South African tribe; the differences in maternal and paternal genetic heritage among Jewish populations; and much more. The author also grapples with the medical and ethical implications of our rapidly growing command of the human genomic landscape. The study of genetics has not only changed the study of Jewish history, Goldstein shows, it has altered notions of Jewish identity and even our understanding of what makes a people a people.
Duke University geneticist Goldstein was part of a team that did groundbreaking, headline-making research on Jewish genetic history. Goldberg clearly and succinctly explains such concepts as "haplotypes" and "genetic drift" as he reviews such findings as that more than half of contemporary Cohanim, or priests—traditionally believed to descend from the biblical Aaron—actually share a genetic marker called the Cohen Modal Haplotype. Among other subjects, he also explores evidence consistent with the claim of the obscure Lemba tribe of southern Africa to be descendants of ancient Israel. Lastly, in taking on a 2005 study of a group of so-called Jewish genetic diseases—such as Tay-Sachs—and their putative evolutionary connection to high intelligence among Jews, Goldberg notes that this hypothesis is easily testable but firmly rejects "pseudoscientific genetic determinism." Goldberg's role in much of the research into Jewish genetic history, his sober, unsensationalist tone and his emphasis on the limited conclusions that can be drawn from such work lend credibility to his account of his stunning results. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Ch. 1 Keeping God's house : Y chromosomes and Old Testament priests 8
Ch. 2 Lost tribe no more? : the black Jews of South Africa 40
Ch. 3 Looking out for number two : the case of the Ashkenazi Levites 61
Ch. 4 Those Jewish mothers : the development of female-defined ethnicity in the Jewish diaspora 75
Ch. 5 Look on mine affliction : genetic diseases and Jewish history 100
Ch. 6 Jews, genes, and the future 115