08 March 2017

Today is International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day 2017

If you go to this link, Google has set up an animated collage of famous women honoring special women in history
Google’s Tribute to International Women’s Day March 8 2017

However, there are four women who created a nation that continues to this day. I would say that, not being scientists, astronauts, aviators, etc., nevertheless these Four Matriarchs partnered to create the Nation of Yehudim, i.e. the Jews of today. 

 According to our Holy Torah, Sarah, Rivka, Rochel, and Leah were the Matriarchs of the Jewish Nation.

The following is an interesting article from the Jerusalem Post 
by Judy Siegel, January 13, 2006:

[. . .] four Jewish "founding mothers" who lived in Europe 1,000 years ago have been credited with being the ancestors of nearly half of all Ashkenazi Jews, who constitute the majority of the current Jewish population. About 3.5 million people - or 40 percent of Ashkenazi Jews currently alive - are descended from these matriarchs, who were among a small group, probably after migrating from the Middle East, according to the Israeli researchers, who also provide evidence of shared maternal ancestry between Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi (Sephardi and Oriental) Jews.

The studies that led to these findings were performed by Dr. Doron Behar as part of his doctoral thesis, and were done under the supervision of Prof. Karl Skorecki of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and Research Institute at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. Skorecki is best known for his 1997 discovery of genetic evidence indicating that the majority of modern-day Jewish men of the priestly tribe (kohanim) are descendants of a single common male ancestor, consistent with the biblical high priest, Aaron. Researchers from universities in Italy, Estonia, Portugal, France, the US and Russia contributed to the important study, which was published on-line by the prestigious American Journal of Human Genetics on Thursday and will appear in print in the March.

The Technion team's discoveries have significant implications beyond their inherent interest and relevance to human history; they are vital to understanding the mechanisms of genetic health and disease in human populations. The researchers' conclusions are based on detailed comparative analysis of DNA sequence variation in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) region of the human genome. This type of DNA is transmitted to descendants solely by the mother. The researchers found that the mtDNA of some 3.5 million of the 8 million Ashkenazi Jews currently living throughout the world can be traced back to only four women carrying distinct mtDNA of a type virtually absent in other populations. Non-Ashkenazi Jews also carry low frequencies of these distinct mtDNA types, thus providing evidence of shared maternal ancestry of Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Jews. This is consistent with previous findings based on studies of the Y-chromosome, pointing to a similar pattern of shared paternal ancestry of global Jewish populations, originating in the Middle East.

The researchers concluded that the four founding mtDNA - likely of Middle Eastern origin - underwent a major overall expansion in Europe during the last millennium. The Ashkenazi Jewish population has often been studied by experts in human genetics because of the accumulation of some 20 recessive hereditary disorders that are concentrated in this population, the authors wrote. The human genome project for mapping human DNA sequence variation has not only made it possible to predict certain genetic diseases, but also the identification of family and genealogical relationships (shared ancestries) among individuals.

The human genome includes some three billion chemical letters (known as nucleotides), which comprise the sequence of nucleic acids in DNA in almost every cell of the human body. Most of the human genome is diploid, meaning that it has genetic material representing both parents. However, the Y-chromosome carried only by males is haploid (without maternal input), as is mitochondrial DNA, which has no paternal input. Thus geneticists can learn about paternal ancestry from the Y chromosome and material ancestry from mtDNA. As a result, DNA sequence analysis of these two regions of the human genome are important tools in phylogenetics - the study of global populations through genetic analysis.

The Sephardim

Sefarad is a Hebrew word meaning Spain. So, in the strictest sense of the word the Sephardim (plural of Sephardi) are the Jews who came from the Iberian peninsula. Today however the word Sephardim has taken a much wider meaning and includes Jewish Communities in North Africa, Iraq (Babylon), Syria, Greece, Turkey and most Jews who are not Ashkenazim. 

The word Ashkenazi has had a similar broadening of its definition. Arising from a Hebrew word meaning "german" it has taken on a broader definition that includes not only German Jews but those of Eastern Europe and Russia as well.

Today the distinction between Sephardim and Ashkenazim is primarily one of differing traditions due to their backgrounds. Differing languages (ladino and arabic vs yiddish and polish), religious melodies during the services, festival traditions, Hebrew pronunciation are among the things that differ between Sephardim and Ashkenazim.

While Ashkenazim can be religiously subdivided into Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, etc, the Sephardim have remained largely homogeneous and more traditionally religious in what, for lack of a better term, is called Orthodox. 

However it is an Orthodoxy that encompasses the entire spectrum of Sephardim, with obviously some Sephardim more religious than others, and possibly due to its Moorish exposure and free thinking Jewish philosophers such as Maimonides (see later) it is usually, in practice if not in dogma, often less rigid than one would expect.

For more on this, visit JewishGen


Neshama said...

Anonymous who wrote BOYCOTT AMERICAN WOMEN!
I am not posting your comment as I find it derogatory and in bad taste. Sorry.

Neshama said...

Here is an interesting addendum:
Real Jerusalem Streets and 5 Special Israeli Women