Ashkenazi Genetic Testing

April 10, 2017

The recent development of DNA tests available to the general public has also brought us a number of testing solutions related to Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. Since there are several excellent DNA testing providers on the market (JScreen, Dor Yeshorim, etc.), choosing the best company for your needs definitely requires some research.

The term Ashkenazi is used to denote the Jewish population from Eastern and Northern Europe. The Jewish regions in Europe are not as geographically defined as most other ethnic regions. The historical dispersal of the population from its Levantine origin resulted in segregated communities scattered throughout North Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Ashkenazi Jews mostly settled in Germany around the river Rhine but were victims of constant persecution and discrimination. Finally, they moved from Germany, France, and England to Eastern Europe where Lithuania and Poland encouraged their settlements.

In this blog, we’ll go over the types of DNA testing available to the Ashkenazi community and recommend some of the best Ancestry DNA tests and screening panels offered by renowned companies like JScreen and Family Tree DNA.

Ashkenazi Genetic Testing

Types Of Ashkenazi Genetic Testing

Before browsing the companies, you’ll need to define your specific needs and expectations. What are you trying to achieve by performing the test and what kind of information are you looking to get in the final report?

Based on the results you’re after, we can divide all Jewish genetic testing into two categories:

  • Ethnicity testing  This form of testing should be your choice if you’re wondering whether you have Jewish genetic origins in the first place. You might expect a Jewish genetic line in your family, but ancestry DNA tests have taught us never to presume our origins before actually doing the test. So, if you suspect having Jewish origins, an ancestry DNA test will be the right confirmation tool.
  • Screening for Jewish genetic diseases  If you’re absolutely certain of your Jewish lineage or have already performed an ancestry DNA test, screening for potential carrier genes for numerous genetic diseases spread across the Jewish genetic signature is definitely the right thing to do. The results will allow you to improve the overall quality of your life and even run a compatibility check with your future partner. This, in turn, brings the Jewish community one step closer to eradicating the most life-threatening and debilitating genetic conditions.
Ashkenazi Testing

So, whether you’re seeking to identify your potential Ashkenazi ancestry or want to determine your carrier status for hazardous genetic mutations, DNA testing is definitely the right way to go. Note that Ashkenazi Jews are prone to more genetic diseases than their Sephardic and Mizrahi counterparts.

Best Companies For Ashkenazi Genetic Testing

If you’re still looking to uncover your Jewish origins, we recommend the following DNA testing providers:  

  • Family Tree DNA  The “Family Finder” autosomal ancestry DNA test and Y and mitochondrial genetic material exploration make Family Tree DNA one of the best tools for obtaining all the answers you’ll ever need about your origins. The autosomal test checks 690,000 genetic markers and covers 22 world regions.
  • 23andMe  One of the most popular DNA testing services, this company will provide you with an accurate ancestry composition and paternal/maternal haplogroups. Its “Ancestry Service” examines 570,000 SNPs but covers 31 world regions. 23andMe also provides a comprehensive health-related report for an extra fee, giving you exhaustive information about your genetic health risks and personal behavioral traits.
  • AncestryDNA  Apart from its relatively young genetic test, Ancestry.com can offer an overwhelming number of historical documents, photos, personal stories, and other genealogical sources. AncestryDNA test checks 700,000 SNPs and covers 26 geographic regions.

If you’ve already confirmed your Jewish heritage and want to identify potential genetic health risks, we have only one company to recommend:

  • JScreen  Genetic screening panels are the path to exterminating Jewish genetic diseases once and for all. JScreen is one of the best platforms for identifying genetic predispositions for certain illnesses and conditions. DNA sequencing performed by their team of experts guarantees 94-99% accuracy and the panel includes more than 200 diseases, including those exclusive to the Ashkenazi population. On top of that, JScreen offers additional testing for Fragile X Syndrome completely free of charge. The average turnaround time is between 3 and 4 weeks. JScreen is a nonprofit organization that has partnered with Emory University in its goal to put a stop to reproductive genetic disorders. It also offers limited financial assistance if you can’t afford the testing.
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