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Gene tests show that two fifths of Ashkenazi Jews are descended from four women

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 19 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:140
  1. Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
  1. Jerusalem

    Four “founding mothers” who lived in Europe a thousand years ago were the ancestors of two fifths of all Ashkenazi (European origin) Jews. This is the conclusion of a team of researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, after they compared DNA sequences from nearly 2000 Jews with those of 11 500 non-Jewish people in 67 different populations around the world.

    The remaining 60% were found to have much more heterogeneous genetic origins.

    The team, led by doctoral student, Doron Behar, and his supervisor, Professor Karl Skorecki of the Technion's medical faculty and Rambam Medical Centre in Haifa, published their findings online ahead of print publication in the American Journal of Human Genetics on 11 January ( The article will appear in print in the March edition.

    Professor Skorecki, a nephrologist who also conducts genetic research, …

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