Archive for the ‘Ashkenazi’ Category

Learning from Laughter this Father’s Day – My Jewish Learning

A Father’s Day tribute to the white grandfather who raised me to be a proud biracial Jewish man.

Growing up, while others went to baseball games or played catch with their dads, I never really did.

At an early age, my sisters and I went to live with our maternal grandparents, who later adopted us. Every time Fathers Day would come around, it was spent with my grandfather. So Fathers Day was always about the man who raised me, my grandfather Norman DeYoung.

Now, I am sure my grandpa never expected to raise his grandchildren, but he did so with a smile on his face. Raising kids is hard at any age, so Ive heard, but when they are of a different background than you are it brings up complications that would exist otherwise; see, I am bi-racial but my grandfather was white. One day when he was taking my sisters and me for a walk, a crossing guard asked, What beautiful grandchildren, what are they? Without skipping a beat my grandfather said, Well, Im pretty sure this ones a boy and the other two are girls. While some perceive that comment as casual sarcasm, this situation held a lot of significance to me. We were never his Black grandchildren, we were just his grandchildren.

Norman was no stranger to being outside of the box. His Jewish heritage was a little vague. According to him, he was neither Ashkenazi or Sephardi and maybe a bit of both. As a result, we would mix rituals in the house. On Passover, we would have Ashkenazi gefilte fish with Sephardi rice. Most tefillin follow either a Sephardi or Ashkenazi pattern of knots, but his fathers tefillin (which I still wrap today) were made in a non-distinctive way again a little bit of both and neither! Instead of watching sports like most of my friends dads, he would often be found gallivanting around New Jersey with us kids in tow or quietly sitting at home teaching me to play chess.

In truth, playing baseball was never really in the cards with my grandfather, and not just because of his age. Growing up in Britain during World War II, baseball was not popular. It was completely unfamiliar to him. After he retired, my grandfather continued teaching at my Jewish day school. One spring, the high school was playing softball, teachers v. students; my grandfather played for the teachers. Mind you, I had never seen him play a sportever. Let alone baseball. The first I heard of his foray into the sport came when I passed by the nurses office and saw him there getting patched up. I was worried, but he held a smug grin. He said he made a hit and slid to first base. We were both proud of his athletic achievement.

He couldnt model for me how to be a person of color. And in a perfect world, one shouldnt have to teach that. But he taught me how to be a good person, and that is all that should matter. I learned about being a man from how he behaved throughout his life, with lots of humor and respect; thats how he treated all people, regardless of race or religion. He taught me to be comfortable with my perception of myself, and not to worry about what others thought. Today, in no small part because of my grandfather, I am able to comfortable traverse the terrain of walking into a Jewish space, even when people are surprised to find a biracial man who can pray easily in Hebrew. Today, in no small part because of my grandfather, I am able to acclimate myself to new or uncomfortable situations with light humor.

This Fathers Day will be the hardest one I have ever had. My grandfather passed away on November 3, 2016. There will never be another game of chess, story of wartime London, baseball game with students, or a witty comeback. But there will always be love and gratitude for Norman DeYoung.

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June 14, 2017   Posted in: Ashkenazi  Comments Closed

The Sisterhood – Forward

Warner Brothers

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman

As an Ashkenazi Jewish journalist from New York, I havent lacked representation in American media. But Ive never identified as much with any of Hollywoods portrayals of Jewish women quite the way I felt a strong sense of kinship with Gal Gadots Wonder Woman.

Whatever you think about the film, the discussion about representation, and the discourse about Jewish identity that grew out of it, was very important. But this discourse ignored that many Jewish women, particularly Ashkenazi Jewish women, saw ourselves in Dianas actress. The conversation barely touched on the idea that there may be women who find solace in Gadots warrior because of the very racial quandary that had spurred the debate.

Gal Gadot is as white, as I am. That level of whiteness is (sometimes) disputed as Ashkenazi Jews have, at least in recent American history, become the Schrodingers cat of racism. Which was why when someone erroneously claimed that Gadot is a person of color, it raised a lot of hackles, particularly because Wonder Woman had no lead characters of color.

But with each think-piece on the topic, it seemed like one very vital bit of information was never touched on: Gal Gadot may not be everybodys Wonder Woman, but she sure as hell is mine.

Gadot isnt just another white woman on screen, and its dismissive to say so. We wouldnt be having debates about Ashkenazi heritage in 2017 if that were true. Gadot (and myself) are privileged in this day and age based on the color of our skin. But that doesnt mean that we dont have the result of thousand of years of racism raging through our bloodstreams, and minds, filled with suffering and not being allowed to participate in mainstream society.

Getty Images

Gal Gadot, then-Miss Israel, posing with Miss Norway

Judaism isnt only about the present and the future; so much of Ashkenazi Jewish identity is based on a shared ethno-religious past. So of course I had schepped with nachas (to quote my Baba) when a Jewish woman with my background was chosen to portray one of the most iconic figures in all of pop culture.

That is why I cried the first time I watched a trailer for Wonder Woman and heard Gadots Israeli-accented English. Here was a real-life kick-ass Jew Gadot served as a combat trainer in the IDF while fulfilling her national service playing a kick-ass superheroine. And she looked a lot like, well, my sister.

For the first time that I can recall, I was watching a visibly Jewish woman, speaking with an accent audibly tinged with Hebrew, aka the sound of Judaism for thousands of years, depicting a warrior who fights not just for herself, but for the greater good. It didnt matter that Gadot was playing a fictional demigoddess built on Greek mythology. Every time I looked at her, every time she spoke, the thought, Wonder Woman is Jewish! raced through my mind.

After seeing the movie, I read the Times of Israel review by Jordan Hoffman and it helped explain my odd attachment to Wonder Woman as a Jewish feminist symbol: Dianas actions were propelled by a desire to make the world a better place. Or, as its known in Judaism, tikkun olam, the idea of fixing the world by doing good. So I fell in love with Gadots Diana all over again. Not only because she was portrayed by an actual Jewish woman overflowing with female empowerment in a way that Jewish women rarely, if ever, are allowed to be seen in film or TV were more often Holocaust victims or anxious New Yorkers but also because she was motivated by something that looks a lot like a tenet of Jewish philosophy.

To put it lightly, seeing Gal Gadot, a Jewish woman with an accent that screams SHALOM, be allowed to Exist and Fight, was one of the most impactful moments of my life.

Wonder Woman wasnt perfect. Diana wasnt the feminist icon every woman around the world needed. But Gal was the Diana that I, as an Ashkenazi Jewish woman, have waited my whole life for and I wasnt disappointed.

Tamar Herman is a NYC-based pop culture writer who has work featured in Billboard, NBC News, the Village Voice, and numerous other outlets. Follow her on Twitter, @TamarWrites

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June 13, 2017   Posted in: Ashkenazi  Comments Closed

Exceptional Public Safety Insight: Reporty Announces New Board Members – PR Newswire (press release)

TEL AVIV, Israel, June 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Reporty, creators of the game-changing platform which redefines public safety, announced several new board members today. Reporty’s board, which already sees global luminaries such as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, welcomed Richard M. Daley, Andy Rooke, and Prof. Isaac Ashkenazi to their ranks.

Richard M. Daley, Chicago’s longest-serving mayor and vocal proponent of innovative technologies to improve city lifestyles, spoke excitedly about Reporty and how it can help revolutionize 9-1-1 and event reporting.

“As a former Mayor, I know firsthand how important it is not only to keep your residents safe, but to do so in innovative ways and manage costs,” Daley said. “Reporty brings together existing infrastructure and innovative technology to save lives and keep city services accessible. Their global presence ensures cities that they’re getting a world-class team to stand behind the technology, one that has seen best practices around the world and applied them to their solution. I’m proud to join Reporty’s board and to help make cities safer.”

Reporty also welcomed the Vice-President of the British Association of Public Safety Communication Officials (BAPCO), Andy Rooke. Rooke, as an internationally acclaimed expert on eCall, is helping position Reporty as one of the premier companies integrating into connected cars. His membership on the board reflects Reporty’s embrace of technologies beyond the smartphone and integration into wearables, cars, homes, and cities.

“I am delighted to have been invited to join the advisory board of Reporty Homeland Security,” Rooke said. “There are significant changes taking place on how the citizen contacts emergency services. The provision of additional data is key to ensuring that any emergency response is to the right location at the right time with the right resource. Reporty is at the forefront of the advancement in technology, and I am delighted to be associated with this innovative organisation.”

Prof. Isaac Ashkenazi, one of the world’s foremost authorities on complex emergencies and disasters, praised Reporty’s advanced location technology as well as their video capabilities. “The amalgamation of video, location, and chat empowers bystanders to save countless lives. By removing all of the obstacles of communication between bystanders and first responders, Reporty can dramatically save time and lives by giving emergency services accurate situational awareness and a greater understanding of what resource allocation. By saving time, Reporty is saving lives.”

Ashkenazi, a Colonel (Res) in the Israel Defense Force, has spent the better part of two decades involved in mass casualty and response preparedness. During his time with the IDF, Ashkenazi led humanitarian missions to Nairobi, Turkey, and Greece in the wake of major incidents such as terror attacks and earthquakes.

Reporty CEO Amir Elichai praised the three new members of the board. “Each of these new board members bring with them unrivaled experience in emergency response and public safety. We are lucky to have them, and their guidance, as Reporty expands throughout the globe. Richard, Andy, and Isaac represent the very best of their fields and are crucial in bringing Reporty to new countries across the world.”

Reporty also announced a partnership with RapidDeploy, a South-African based start-up aimed at improving dispatch times through advanced technology. RapidDeploy’s co-founder Steven Raucher said, “RapidDeploy is proud to announce integration and partnership with Reporty. Our combined solution provides a complete ecosystem, taking public safety into the 21st century.”

The presence of Daley, Rooke, and Ashkenazi on the Reporty board further strengthens the start-up’s role in utilizing innovative and advanced technologies to solve some of public safety’s critical issues. The Reporty application is available on both the Apple App Store and Android Play Store.

Media Contact: Raffe Gold 163957@email4pr.com 2123801159

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/exceptional-public-safety-insight-reporty-announces-new-board-members-300472944.html

SOURCE Reporty Homeland Security

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Exceptional Public Safety Insight: Reporty Announces New Board Members – PR Newswire (press release)

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Should Ashkenazi Jews like Wonder Woman star Gal Godot be considered white? – Genetic Literacy Project

When Matthew Mueller [published an article] entitled, Wonder Woman: There IS A Person Of Color In The Lead Role, arguing that Israeli actress Gal Gadot was the first woman of color to appear in the superhero genre, the question of whether or not Ashkenazi Jews are persons of color became a topic of discussion around Jewish tables and chat-rooms across the country.

Noah Berlatsky denounced Muellers characterization of Gadot as absurd, arguing that whiteness itself is a fuzzy racial concept and that Gadot certainly would enjoy white privilege in Israel (relative to her darker Mizrahi and Ethiopian cousins).

[On the other hand, blogger Dani Ishai Behan argued that] characterizing Jews as whiteerases Jewish experience across every pogrom, torture table, oven and ghetto that has decorated our painful past. The people who persecuted Jews never thought of Jews as either white or European

So, is Gal Gadot white?

The ambiguity of Jewish ethnicity serves as a perverse weapon in hands hostile to Jewish identity. It leaves Jews historically vulnerable to anti-Semitism from extreme ideologies on both sides of the political spectrum

The authoritarian right, as recent studies suggest, couples Jewish privilege to themes of parasitism and conspiratorial, outside powerOn the extreme left, Jews assume the mantle of ultimate insider, excluded from persecution.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post:Are Gal Gadot And Other Ashkenazi Jews White? The Answer Is ComplicatedAnd Insidious.

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Palestinians are the glue that holds Ashkenazim and Mizrahim together – +972 Magazine

Sixty-nine years after the founding of the state, the hatred between Mizrahim and Ashkenazim is the greatest threat to Israeli society. Instead of properly dealing with it, all our energy is spent on sowing a collective hatred toward Palestinians.

By Iris Hefets (Translated by Philip Podolsky)

Israeli Border Police search a Palestinian man near Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, October 23, 2015. Many new checkpoints have been set up in East Jerusalems Palestinian neighborhoods in the wake of a spate of stabbings in the city. Jerusalem, October 23, 2015. (Anne Paq/Activestills)

Whenever the occupation is mentioned, someone will ask aboutdifference between the Ariel University Center, in the West Bank, and Tel Aviv University, builton the remainsof the destroyed Palestinian village, Al-Shaykh Muwannis. This subversive question indeed touches on an uncomfortable truth. The narrative of the settlers is that they are no differentfrom those who fought and drew the borders in 1948. From their point of view, the Ashkenazi Jews who came to Israel in the 1930s built Jewish settlements in the dead of the night, establishing facts on the ground in central Israelwhile partaking in the libertine pleasures of free love and intellectual discourse. In the 1970s, other Ashkenazi Jews did all of the above, only in the West Bank.

There are, however, many differences between 1948 and the aftermath of 1967, and one of them is the role of Mizrahi Jews. While the vast majority of Mizrahim arrived to Israel after 1948 after the expulsion of the Palestinian people, the razing of Palestinians homes, and the rape of Palestinian women by Israeli fighters they became active participants in the crimes of 1967.

After the leadership of the Jewish settlement in Palestine and Israel acted on the program to drive out some 700,000 Palestinians since they were native to the land the Zionists wanted to settle, there was a demographic problem that could only be settledthrough bringing in Jews from Arab countries. Thus was launched a highly controlled and selective transfer of population groups from Arab and Muslim countries.

Israels Ashkenazi immigration institutions enacted a policy of population dispersion, in which new immigrants were sent to far-flung areas of the country, withMizrahim held much promise for the young state. They mostly came from countries with colonial past or present, either benefitting or suffering from colonial oppression and collaborating with the colonizer. They arrived in a steady and slow trickle(with the exception of Iraqi Jews, who encountereda different fate), which ensured that communities could no longer function as such and were broken up in the very beginning of the absorption process.

These communities came from a culture that was vastly different from that of the host country and its institutions, a fact that Israel exploited in order to break their spirit and subjugate them to its will. To that end they were resettled in isolated settlements governed by Ashkenazi, classified as needing cultivation on the basis of their extraction and humiliated no end.

If after the Nakba, many Mizrahim were put up in homes of Palestinians exiled in 1948, post-1967 they were settled in new homes.

The pretext to settle Mizrahim in the homes of displaced Palestinians was that Moroccan Jews, for example, would feel at home in Haifas Wadi Salib neighborhood, since the architecture should be familiar to them. In practice it dressed up the fight for resources as one between Palestinians and Mizrahim, while Ashkenazim got to preside from above.

As Mizrahim discovered that their properties back home has been plundered, they were sent to live in homes that were looted by those who robbed them. In short, it turns out that the founding fathers of the nation, who are supposed to take care of us, have committedpogroms, thefts,and rapes, and they now were inviting the new arrivals to feel at home and treat themselves to a share of the spoils.

It was no coincidence that arevolt broke out in Wadi Salib in 1959 under the leadership of David Ben Harush, who saw through this tradeoff and demanded, among other things, the lifting of the military regime over IsraelsArab citizens. Similarly, Mizrahimwere resettled in other areas of the West Bank and in Palestinian neighborhoods. The Black Panthers, a movement of Mizrahim that sprung out of the depopulated Palestinian neighborhood Musrara, identified this pattern and came out against it by demanding equal rights for both Mizrahim and Palestinians.

However, after 1967, when Musrara and the neighborhood of Yemin Moshe became valuable real estate property in Jerusalem, the Mizrahim who lived in there were transferred to neighborhoods such as Gilo for the benefit of Ashkenazim, who preferred living in Arab houses in Jerusalem.

Israeli Black Panthers, including Charlie Biton, protesting on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, May 1, 1973. (Moshe Milner/GPO)

This way, Mizrahim have become the invaders of the Palestinian homes, the supposedly pioneering conquerors actively enjoying the fruits of the occupation and robbery. In other words, after 1967, Mizrahim get a carrot from the government with the explicit recognition that they are entitled to compensation for their treatment at the hands of the Zionist founding fathers. If once they were put into a house that had recently been occupied by a Palestinian family, now the houses were built specifically for them. Only at a closer glance does it become apparent that it is located on occupied land.

Thus the Mizrahim become more loyal allies of the government, because they actually have something to lose. If in the 1950s and 1960s the Mizrahim were not unlike those who unwittingly found themselves entangled in the statesorganized crime, after 1967 they become part of the racket and ultimately graduate to positions too senior for them to be able to quit.

The Mizrahi immigrant who arrived after 1948 did not realize she or he was drafted by the state as a double agent. The few who were alive to the ruse left, rebelled, or became internal exiles. Those who remained began to gradually identify with their handlers and in turn became the handlers of other unwitting agents. Once you become part of the mafia you cannot speak about the crimes it is committing, so you yourself are now implicated in the,. Mizrahim now had families enjoying the spoils of the occupation and have become integrated into the military apparatus. Feminist Mizrachi women were busy cleaningtheir sons IDF uniforms.

In other words, the idea of the Israeli melting pot turned out to be a greater success than was ever envisaged, putting an end to the separation betweenMizrahim and Ashkenazim. Everyone in that pot was boiled in the fear of the fall of the Jewish State and the revenge by those victimized by its rise.

This isthe glue that holds together Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, in spite of the profound hatred between them. Mizrahim can enjoy their Mizrahi music all they like so long as their sons report to the Golani Brigade. Thats the deal, and both parties have good reasons to playtheir respective parts. If the Black Panthers said either the cake is for all of us, or there is no cake, the Mizrahim of the following generations said either the cake will be an oriental one, or there will be no cake at all.

Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who shot dead a disarmed and injured Palestinian attacker in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016, is surrounded by family and friends as he awaits to hear his sentence in a courtroom at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, on February 21, 2017. (Jim Hollander/POOL)

And its a compromise Ashkenazim can live with. Want some marzipan on that cake, dear Mizrahim? Go for it. As long as you also enlist in all the elite units and spill blood in the name of the land your children are buried in, and which you can not longer just leave. Its not something easily done. Just ask us, the Ashkenazim.

For what truly unites the two aforementioned situations is grief. Lets take a look at two case studies gleaned from the recent headlines.

The Knesset hearing on the State Comptrollers report on the 2014 Gaza War can be seen through the prism of the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi divide. During the war the entire country is united and everyone is extending hospitality to each other: when the bombing is in the north, its the south playing host and vice versa. Yet once the dust settles down and the promised end of the world never arrives, everyone comes to realize that the generals lied, quite brazenly, and Jewish soldiers werekilled sometimes by their brothers in arms. Haaretzthen runs some anti-war editorial and the next thing you know there is a committee investigating the wars shortcomings with a view to learning the right lessons and drawing the proper conclusions.

A Palestinian man looking on a destroyed house in Beit Hanoun following bombardment by Israeli forces, North Gaza Strip, August 11, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills)

This time around, after Netanyahu delivered his usual spiel, the mother of Hadar Goldin, who was killed in Gaza, lashed out at him with a sentence any Tel Aviv leftist would agree with: You made us out into the enemies of the people. When MKMiki Zohar told her she had gonetoo far, Goldinordered him to shut up, saying she doesnt know who the hell he is in the first place. One can be forgiven for making the conjecture that had Miki Zohar not been Mizrahi, he would never have risen to Netanyahus defense. Were his name Benny Begin, he would most likely never done this in the first place; if he had, Goldin would not have spoken to him this way. For Netanyahu, the Ashkenazi architect of this horror, Goldinfeels helpless rage. For MK Zohar she has nothing but contempt after all, who is he to even say anything?

Goldinwas backed byStav Shafir, who chided the Mizrahi MK, reminding him this is not way to speakto a grieving mother (of course, the fact Hadar Goldin was killed when the IDF usedthe infamous Hannibal Protocol is never mentioned; neither is the fact it left some 150 Palestinians dead, the same ones who were told that area was safe and they could return there). Goldin and Zohar, revealing the truth about the social divide in Israel in a moment of fury, eventually come to their senses and the former extends the olive branch saying we all send our kids to the army.

Order is thus restored and everyone is now mad at the Palestinians, represented this time by Joint ListMK Jamal Zahalka. The holy fury directed at him acts as the social glue holding the people together. Till the next time.

Another uniting moment can be observed in the violent scenes unleashed by the minions of right-wing rapper The Shadow against the predominantly Ashkenazi attendees of the leftist Alternative Memorial Day rally this past April. The buildup was already rife with incitement: the event was framed as an existential threat to Israel, and Palestinians were prevented from attending it. Filmmaker and photographer Ayelet Heller, who attended the ceremony, filmed the moment thepublic leaves the event, documenting the violent attacks by some of those who momentarily forgot that were all one people.

The right-wing protesters hate for Ashkenazim isdressed up as patriotism, making it all rightto beat them up in the name of the law and turn the racial hierarchy on its head: in one fell swoop, the violent outburst achieves revenge, does awaywith internalized inferiority, and creates anecstatic illusion the underdogs are now in charge.

The video shows a groupof wannabe tough guys, mostly Mizrahi, chanting death to Arabs, death to leftists, and other standards aimed at the traitors. The bellowing is briefly punctured by the Memorial Day siren. As it begins to fade out, the calls for death resume.

This scene perfectly exemplifieswhy Israel needs wars against the bad Arabs, morethan any words ever could. Such moments place inhibitions on the hatred between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim that is ready to burst throughthe veneer of social unity. And since that hatredposes the greatest threat to the state, it is also the one most studiously swept under the rug. Instead of trying to solve it, leaderstry to sublimate it into fear, hatred, and violence against Palestinians.

The state built on the ruins of Palestinian homes in 1948 can try to disavow its fundaments, yet such attempts come crashing down when faced with reality. Having locked up the previous homeowner in the attic, youarenow trying to get along with your rowdy neighbor who hates your guts. The memorial sirens help, but only just enough.

Iris Hefetz is an Israeli psychoanalyst based in Berlin, and the former editor of the Kedma website.This post was originally published in Hebrew on Local Call.

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June 11, 2017   Posted in: Ashkenazi  Comments Closed

Who Were the Ashkenazi Jewish People, and Are You Related to …

If you ever get your DNA tested, you might be surprised to discover a certain percentage of Ashkenazi Jewish DNA. Many people with European ancestry who are not practicing Jews and know of no Jewish ancestors do discover some Ashkenazi in them. There is a lengthy discussion on the topic on 23andme.com, a popular DNA testing site. People are using the discussion to try to determine their Jewish ancestors and their origins after discovering they are descended from some of the Ashkenazi population. Heres what you need to know about the Ashkenazi Jewish people, and how they are different genetically from the general Jewish community.

The name Ashkenazi comes from a Biblical person named Ashkenaz. He was the eldest son of Gomer. Gomer was a grandson of Noah through Noahs son Khaphet. This makes Ashkenaz a great-grandson of Noah. The Jewish population in eastern and central Europe began being distinguished from the Holy Land Jewish people by the use of the name Ashkenazi in the early Medieval period of history. There was a Christian custom at this time of calling areas of Jewish settlement in Europe with Biblical names, which is how the Ashkenzazis received their name. By the later Medieval period, the term Ashkenazi was used for the German and French Jewish populations alone and was even adopted by the Jewish people and scholars of the area themselves.

How the Ashkenazis got up into Germany and France is a matter of speculation. There are historical records that talk of Jewish settlements in the southern part of Europe during the pre-Christian era. Most of these Jewish people were living in Roman communities. Jewish people were granted full Roman citizenship and all the privileges and rights that came with it in 212 A.D., but began to be pushed to the outskirts of society and shunned when Christianity became the dominant religion of Rome in 380 A.D.

There is also evidence of Jewish people living in ancient Greece. The Greek historian Herodutus knew Jewish people and called them Palestinian Syrians. The Jewish people in ancient Greece were included in the lists of the naval forces who fought for Greece against the invasion parties of Persians. Though the Jewish people practiced monotheism, while the ancient Greeks practiced polytheism, there was no mixing of their religions and no persecution that was recorded. Both communities appear to have lived in harmony with one another. In fact, the lifestyle of ancient Greece was attractive to wealthy Jewish people. There are at least three known ancient Jewish synagogue ruins in ancient Greece, which shows the Jewish people were there, practicing their religion, and allowed to do so.

While there were definitely Jewish people in ancient Greece, no trace of them exists above or east of Germany before the age of the Romans. Through the Roman period and into the Middle Ages, the Jewish people in Europe migrated into eastern Europe and France, and some of them became assimilated into the local cultures. Some converted to Christianity, while others, like the Ashkenazis, maintained their Jewish customs and religious practices.

It was only with the rise of emperor Charlemagne, who joined the mini-kingdoms of France into one country in 800 A.D. that the history of the Ashkenazi Jewish people in Europe becomes well documented. Charlemagne gave them the same freedoms they once enjoyed under the Romans, and they began opening businesses in finance and commerce. They also got into banking, as Christians were prohibited from charging interest by their religion. By the 11th century A.D., the Ashkenazi Jewish people were well known for their Talmudic studies and halakhic learning. They were also criticized by Jewish people in the Holy Land for their lack of knowledge in traditional Jewish law and the Hebrew language. They spoke Yiddish instead, which was a combination of traditional Hebrew and various German dialects from the communities in which they lived. The Yiddish language was still written with Hebrew letters, however, while also being influenced with Aramaic.

If you have Ashkenazi Jewish DNA, you come from a line that goes into antiquity. The Ashkenazi Jews moved away from the Jews of the Holy Land so early on that their DNA is now distinct from other Jewish people. If you discover Ashkenazi Jewish DNA in your DNA profile, explore it and see where it leads. You may be surprised by what you discover.

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List of Jewish Genetic Diseases – Moment

Many recessive diseases caused by genetic mutations among Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe are disabling and fatal. They occur when a fetus inherits two mutations in the same gene, one from each parent. Tests can determine if people carry the common mutations, and prenatal testing is possible for all the diseases included on the list below. Cystic Fibrosis and Spinal Muscular Atrophy, while slightly more prevalent among Jewish Caucasian populations than among other Caucasian populations, are not primarily considered Jewish diseases. If both parents are carriers of the same disease there is a one in four chance with each pregnancy of having an affected fetus. This is the autosomal recessive pattern of inheritance where both individuals must carry the same disease in order to be at risk of having an affected child.

Recent research also indicates Crohns disease, Ulcertative Colitis, and a mutation which increases the chance of developing Parkinsons disease are all more commonly found in Ashkenazi Jews. Bloom Syndrome Bloom Syndrome hinders normal growth. Children typically reach a maximum of five feet at maturity. Other symptoms include increased respiratory and ear infections, redness of the face, infertility in males and an increased risk of cancer.

Apparently normal at birth, babies with Canavan Disease develop an enlarged head, mental retardation, feeding difficulties and seizures. Although many die in the first year of life, some live into their teens.

Familial Dysautonomia This dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system has been found only in Ashkenazi Jews. Occurring in infancy, symptoms include the inability to produce tears when crying, poor weight gain, indifference to pain, excessive sweating, gastrointestinal problems and incorrect perceptions of heat and taste. Before 1960, approximately 50 percent of patients died before age five, but today that same percentage reaches age 30.

All five types of Fanconi Anemia, a red and white blood cell and platelet deficiency, are inherited, but Type C is the most common in Ashkenazi Jews. Although symptoms are highly variable, physical abnormalities such as limb defects, bone marrow failure, and increased cancer risks are common. Many children who are diagnosed with Type C do not survive beyond young adulthood.

Caused by an enzyme deficiency, the symptoms of Gaucher Disease are variable and can present any time from early childhood to adulthood. Gaucher disease type 1 causes orthopedic problems and blood abnormalities. Gaucher disease is treatable with enzyme replacement therapy.

Its first symptoms are severe developmental delays and clouding of the cornea of the eye during early infancy. As it progresses, ML IV cripples the central nervous system. Most afflicted children never walk and some become severely retarded by age three.

Among its five variations, only Type A is more frequent among Ashkenazi Jews. By six months, infants with Type A experience difficulty feeding and recurrent vomiting, and develop enlarged spleens and livers. Children with Niemann-Pick disease type A usually die by age three.

A severe neurodegenerative disease, the most common symptom is the development of a cherry-red spot on the back of the eye, which occurs when a child is four to eight months old. Most children are totally debilitated with seizures, blindness, and spasticity by age three and die by age five.

Other diseases of connection to Ashkenazi Jews are Glycogen Storage Disease type 1A, Maple Syrup Urine Disease, Familial Hyperinsulinism, Joubert Syndrome Type 2, Lipoamide Dehydrogenase Deficiency (E3), Nemaline Myopathy, Usher Syndrome Type 3, Usher Syndrom Type I, and Walker Warburg Syndrome.

NOTE: There are also diseases which are more prevalent in people with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. They are autosomal dominant, where an individual carrying a mutation is affected, and then has a 50% chance to pass on the mutation to his/her children, including:

Torsion Dystonia Affecting movement control, Torsion Dystonia generally shows up between the ages of six and 16 and affects the muscular development of limbs. Approximately one in 3,000 Ashkenazis is likely to develop it, and symptoms sometimes develop when there is no family history.

5-10% of breast and ovarian cancers are hereditary. Of those, ~85% are due to mutations in the BRCA genes, which cause hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews carry a mutation in the BRCA genes. There are three specific mutations (two in the BRCA1 gene and one in the BRCA2 gene) in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. If an Ashkenazi Jewish woman carries a BRCA mutation, most of the time it is one of the three founder mutations previously discussed.

Sephardi Jews, whose ancestry can be traced to North African and Mediterranean countries, including Spain and Greece, suffer from the same genetic diseases as other populations in these countries. Jews of Sephardi ancestry also have their own set of distinct carrier screening tests based on their country of origin.

This disorder reducing the amount of hemoglobin can result in severe anemia in the first two years of life or in a milder case later in life. Roughly one in 30 people of Mediterranean descent carries the gene; one in 3,600 develops it.

As many as one in 200 North African and Iraqi Jews, Armenians and Turks has the disease, distinguished by 12 to 72-hour bouts of fever. Symptoms usually start between ages five and 15.

This common human enzyme deficiency affects an estimated 400 million people worldwide, and is transmitted from a carrier mother to her male infant. The disease can manifest itself as life-long hemolytic anemia or bouts of it. Some experience no symptoms at all, although certain oxidative drugs and infections as well as fava beans can induce it.

This disease prevents the liver and muscle from breaking down stored glycogen to glucose. Some develop hypoglycemia, an enlarged liver and weak muscles. Roughly one in 5,400 North African Jews has the disease.

Other diseases of connection to Sephardi origin include: Alpha-Thalassemia, Ataxia Telangiectasia, Corticosterone Methyloxidase Type II Deficiency, Costeff Optical Atrophy, Cystic Fibrosis (CF), Familial Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Familial Tumoral Calcinosis (Normophosphatemic Type), Inclusion Body Myophy Type 2B, Metachromic Leukodystrophy, Polyglandular Deficiency Syndrome, Pseudocholinesterase Deficiency, Spinal Muscular Athrophy (SMA) and Wolman Disease.

Mizrahi, the term for Eastern, in Hebrew, generally refers to Jews of Persian (Iranian) and Middle Eastern heritage. Jews of Mizrahi ancestry also have their own set of carrier screening tests based on their country of origin.

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List of Jewish Genetic Diseases – Moment

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Three cancers to worry about, and how to reduce the risks | AZ … – Jewish Post

As if Jews dont have enough to worry about.

Geopolitical threats to the Jewish people may wax and wane, but theres another lethal danger particular to the Jewish people that shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon: cancer.

Specifically, Jews are at elevated risk for three types of the disease: melanoma, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The perils are particularly acute for Jewish women.

The higher prevalence of these illnesses isnt spread evenly among all Jews. The genetic mutations that result in higher incidence of cancer are concentrated among Ashkenazim Jews of European descent.

Ashkenazim are a more homogenous population from a genetic point of view, whereas the Sephardim are much more diverse, said Dr. Ephrat Levy-Lahad, director of the Medical Genetics Institute at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

But there is some hope. Susceptible populations can take certain precautions to reduce their risks. Recent medical advances have made early detection easier, significantly lowering the fatality rates from some cancers. Cheaper genetic testing is making it much easier for researchers to discover the risk factors associated with certain cancers. And scientists are working on new approaches to fight these pernicious diseases especially in Israel, where Ashkenazi Jews make up a larger proportion of the population than in any other country.

Understanding risk factors and learning about preventative measures are key to improving cancer survival rates. Heres what you need to know.

Melanoma

Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, representing some 80 percent of skin cancer deaths, and U.S. melanoma rates are on the rise. Its also one of the most common forms of cancer in younger people, especially among women.

Just a decade ago, Israel had the second-highest rate of skin cancer in the world, behind Australia. One reason is that Israel has a lot of sun. Some credit better education about the dangers of sun exposure for helping reduce Israels per capita skin cancer rate, now 18th in the world.

But the sun isnt the whole story. Jews in Israel have a higher incidence of melanoma than the countrys Arab, non-Jewish citizens.

What makes Jews more likely to get skin cancer than others?

Its a combination of genetics and behavior, according to Dr. Harriet Kluger, a cancer researcher at Yale University. On the genetics side, Ashkenazi Jews who comprise about half of Israels Jewish population are significantly more likely to have the BRCA-2 genetic mutation that some studies have linked to higher rates of melanoma.

The other factor, Israels abundant sunshine, exacerbates the problems for sun-sensitive Jews of European origin. Thats why Arabs and Israeli Orthodox Jews, whose more conservative dress leaves less skin exposed than does typical secular attire, have a lower incidence of the cancer.

There are epidemiological studies from Israel showing that secular Jews have more melanoma than Orthodox Jews, Kluger said.

So whats to be done?

Other than staying out of the sun, people should get their skin screened once a year, Kluger said. In Australia, getting your skin screened is part of the culture, like getting your teeth cleaned in America.

You can spot worrisome moles on your own using an alphabetic mnemonic device for letters A-F: See a doctor if you spot moles that exhibit Asymmetry, Border irregularities, dark or multiple Colors, have a large Diameter, are Evolving (e.g. changing), or are just plain Funny looking. Light-skinned people and redheads should be most vigilant, as well as those who live in sunny locales like Arizona, California and Florida.

If you insist on being in the sun, sunscreen can help mitigate the risk, but only up to a point.

It decreases the chances of getting melanoma, but it doesnt eliminate the chances, Kluger warned.

As with other cancers, early detection can dramatically increase survival rates.

In the meantime, scientists in Israel a world leader in melanoma research hold high hopes for immunotherapy, which corrals the bodys immune mechanisms to attack or disable cancer. At Bar-Ilan University, Dr. Cyrille Cohen is using a research grant from the Israel Cancer Research Fund to implant human melanoma cells in mice to study whether human white blood cells can be genetically modified to act as a switch that turns on the human immune systems cancerfighting properties.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer is already more common in developed, Western countries than elsewhere likely because women who delay childbirth until later in life and have fewer children do not enjoy as much of the positive, cancer risk-reducing effects of the hormonal changes associated with childbirth.

Ashkenazi Jews in particular have a significantly higher risk for breast cancer: They are about three times as likely as non-Ashkenazim to carry mutations in the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes that lead to a very high chance of developing cancer. One of the BRCA-1 mutations is associated with a 65 percent chance of developing breast cancer. Based on family history, including on the fathers side, the chances could be even higher.

Every Ashkenazi Jewish woman should be tested for these mutations, said Levy-Lahad, who has done significant research work on the genetics of both breast and ovarian cancer. Iraqi Jews also have increased prevalence of one of the BRCA mutations, she said.

Levy-Lahad is collaborating on a long-term project with the University of Washingtons Dr. Mary-Claire King the breast cancer research pioneer who discovered the BCRA-1 gene mutation that causes cancer on a genome sequencing study of Israeli women with inherited breast and ovarian cancer genes. The two women are using a grant from the Israel Cancer Research Fund to apply genomic technology to study BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 mutations and their implications for breast cancer risk in non-Ashkenazi women in Israel, who are similar to populations in Europe and the United States.

In a project that is testing thousands of women for deadly cancer mutations, they are also studying how mutations in genes other than BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 impact inherited breast cancer in non-Ashkenazi Jews.

The earlier breast cancer mutations are discovered, the sooner women can decide on a course of action. Some choose to have bilateral mastectomies, which reduce the chances of breast cancer by 90-95 percent. Actress Angelina Jolie famously put a Hollywood spotlight on the issue when she wrote a 2013 op-ed in The New York Times about her decision to have the procedure.

But mastectomies are not the only option. Some women instead choose a very rigorous screening regimen, including more frequent mammograms and breast MRIs.

Early detection is the cornerstone of improving breast cancer survival rates.

Breast cancer is not nearly as deadly as it once was, Levy-Lahad said.

Ovarian cancer

Of the three Jewish cancers, ovarian cancer is the deadliest.

Linked to the two BRCA mutations common among Jews, ovarian cancer is both stubbornly difficult to detect early and has a very high late-stage mortality rate. Women should be screened for the mutations by age 30, so they know their risks.

In its early stages, ovarian cancer usually has no obvious symptoms, or appears as bloating, abdominal pain or frequent urination that can be explained away by less serious causes. By the time its discovered, ovarian cancer is usually much more advanced than most other cancers and may have spread to surrounding organs. If that has occurred, the five-year survival rate drops considerably.

Women with the BRCA mutations have about a 50 percent chance of getting ovarian cancer. The best option is usually to remove the ovaries.

We put a lot of pressure on women to have their ovaries removed because its a life-saving procedure, Levy-Lahad said.

That doesnt mean these women cant have children. The recommendation is that women wait to have the procedure until after they complete child-bearing, usually around the age of 35-40.

Much work still needs to be done on prevention, early detection and treatment of ovarian cancer, but new research shows some promise.

The exciting thing is that we live in a genomic age, and we have unprecedented abilities to understand the causes of cancer, Levy-Lahad said. Theres a whole field that, if you become affected, can look at the genetic makeup of the tumor you have.

The study of these three Jewish cancers are a major component of the work of the Israel Cancer Research Fund, which raises money in North America for cancer research in Israel. Of the $3.85 million in grants distributed in Israel last year by the fund, roughly one-quarter were focused on breast cancer, ovarian cancer or melanoma, according to Ellen T. Rubin, the ICRFs director of research grants. The organizations Rachels Society focuses specifically on supporting womens cancer awareness and research.

A significant amount of the organizations grants is focused on basic research that may be applicable to a broad spectrum of cancers. For example, the group is supporting research by Dr. Varda Rotter of the Weizmann Institute of Science into the role played by the p53 gene in ovarian cancer. P53 is a tumor suppressor that when mutated is involved in the majority of human cancers.

Likewise, Dr. Yehudit Bergman of the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School is using an ICRF grant to study how the biological mechanisms that switch genes on and off called epigenetic regulation operate in stem cells and cancer.

Only through basic research at the molecular level will cancer be conquered, said Dr. Howard Cedar of the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School.

Hopefully, one day there will be easier and better ways to detect and destroy the cancerous cells that lead to these diseases. But until those research breakthroughs, medical experts say that Jews, as members of a special high-risk category, should make sure they get genetic screenings and regular testing necessary for early detection and prevention.

This article was sponsored by and produced in partnership with the Israel Cancer Research Fund, which is committed to finding and funding breakthrough treatments and cures for all forms of cancer, leveraging the unique talent, expertise and benefits that Israel and its scientists have to offer.

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First Latina Komen Quad Cities honorary chair raises awareness about BRCA gene and gene mutation – Quad-Cities Online

After battling breast cancer, Rita Vargas has a deeper appreciation for her ancestry.

The 58-year-old Davenport woman whois the first Latina to be named Honorary Survivor Chair of Komen Quad Cities Race for the Cure was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 after finding a small lump. She was eating peanuts on a November night, she said, andI dropped one down my shirt. When I went to grab it, it felt like a bug bite.

Ms. Vargas didn’t go to a doctor right away. I was sick of having to see another doctor after a long year of gallbladder issues, and thought I could just wait until February when Id see my regular doctor, she said.

A mammogram showed several lumps, which led to a single mastectomy, the removal of 18 lymph nodes, chemotherapy and 32 radiation treatments.

After treatment and more tests, Ms. Vargas was shocked that she tested positive for the BRCA gene mutation. We had no history of breast cancer, she said. It just seemed too bizarre. Doctors told me at the time that I had the same breast cancer gene as Jewish women.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, everyone has BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. When there are changes in the genes, it is called a mutation, which raises the risk of developing breast and other cancers, such as ovarian.

Studies have shown that Ashkenazi Jewish women have a higher risk of breast cancer if there is a history of a gene mutation. If a parent has the BRCA gene mutation, there is a 50 percent chance of passing it to their children.

Ms. Vargas researched the BRCA gene as well as her ancestry. She discovered that she indeed was of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. It was important to find out, she said.

Her Jewish ancestry dates back to when the Spaniards first entered Mexico in the 1500s. The Jewish population was forced to become practicing Catholics, and were a part of those fleeing to Mexico, Ms. Vargas said. My family was as stunned as I was because we always believed we were Mexicans with a bit of Native American blood.

Ms. Vargas, who is the Scott County Recorder, will be joined by her family, friends and co-workers this Saturday as she walks with the Scott County Cancer Kickers in the 28th annual Komen Quad Cities Race for the Cure downtown Moline.

I want people to know just because you dont have a history of the disease in your family, doesnt mean that you cant be the first one to have breast cancer, she said.

Uniquely, I found out about a gene that saved my life and the rest of my family.

Martha Garcia is a writer, communications instructor and bilingual marketing professional who lives in Bettendorf. She can be contacted at marthagarciawriter@yahoo.com.

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First Latina Komen Quad Cities honorary chair raises awareness about BRCA gene and gene mutation – Quad-Cities Online

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Learning from Laughter this Father’s Day – My Jewish Learning

A Father’s Day tribute to the white grandfather who raised me to be a proud biracial Jewish man. Growing up, while others went to baseball games or played catch with their dads, I never really did. At an early age, my sisters and I went to live with our maternal grandparents, who later adopted us. Every time Fathers Day would come around, it was spent with my grandfather. So Fathers Day was always about the man who raised me, my grandfather Norman DeYoung. Now, I am sure my grandpa never expected to raise his grandchildren, but he did so with a smile on his face. Raising kids is hard at any age, so Ive heard, but when they are of a different background than you are it brings up complications that would exist otherwise; see, I am bi-racial but my grandfather was white. One day when he was taking my sisters and me for a walk, a crossing guard asked, What beautiful grandchildren, what are they? Without skipping a beat my grandfather said, Well, Im pretty sure this ones a boy and the other two are girls. While some perceive that comment as casual sarcasm, this situation held a lot of significance to me. We were never his Black grandchildren, we were just his grandchildren. Norman was no stranger to being outside of the box. His Jewish heritage was a little vague. According to him, he was neither Ashkenazi or Sephardi and maybe a bit of both. As a result, we would mix rituals in the house. On Passover, we would have Ashkenazi gefilte fish with Sephardi rice. Most tefillin follow either a Sephardi or Ashkenazi pattern of knots, but his fathers tefillin (which I still wrap today) were made in a non-distinctive way again a little bit of both and neither! Instead of watching sports like most of my friends dads, he would often be found gallivanting around New Jersey with us kids in tow or quietly sitting at home teaching me to play chess. In truth, playing baseball was never really in the cards with my grandfather, and not just because of his age. Growing up in Britain during World War II, baseball was not popular. It was completely unfamiliar to him. After he retired, my grandfather continued teaching at my Jewish day school. One spring, the high school was playing softball, teachers v. students; my grandfather played for the teachers. Mind you, I had never seen him play a sportever. Let alone baseball. The first I heard of his foray into the sport came when I passed by the nurses office and saw him there getting patched up. I was worried, but he held a smug grin. He said he made a hit and slid to first base. We were both proud of his athletic achievement. He couldnt model for me how to be a person of color. And in a perfect world, one shouldnt have to teach that. But he taught me how to be a good person, and that is all that should matter. I learned about being a man from how he behaved throughout his life, with lots of humor and respect; thats how he treated all people, regardless of race or religion. He taught me to be comfortable with my perception of myself, and not to worry about what others thought. Today, in no small part because of my grandfather, I am able to comfortable traverse the terrain of walking into a Jewish space, even when people are surprised to find a biracial man who can pray easily in Hebrew. Today, in no small part because of my grandfather, I am able to acclimate myself to new or uncomfortable situations with light humor. This Fathers Day will be the hardest one I have ever had. My grandfather passed away on November 3, 2016. There will never be another game of chess, story of wartime London, baseball game with students, or a witty comeback. But there will always be love and gratitude for Norman DeYoung. Empower your Jewish discovery, daily

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The Sisterhood – Forward

Warner Brothers Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman As an Ashkenazi Jewish journalist from New York, I havent lacked representation in American media. But Ive never identified as much with any of Hollywoods portrayals of Jewish women quite the way I felt a strong sense of kinship with Gal Gadots Wonder Woman. Whatever you think about the film, the discussion about representation, and the discourse about Jewish identity that grew out of it, was very important. But this discourse ignored that many Jewish women, particularly Ashkenazi Jewish women, saw ourselves in Dianas actress. The conversation barely touched on the idea that there may be women who find solace in Gadots warrior because of the very racial quandary that had spurred the debate. Gal Gadot is as white, as I am. That level of whiteness is (sometimes) disputed as Ashkenazi Jews have, at least in recent American history, become the Schrodingers cat of racism. Which was why when someone erroneously claimed that Gadot is a person of color, it raised a lot of hackles, particularly because Wonder Woman had no lead characters of color. But with each think-piece on the topic, it seemed like one very vital bit of information was never touched on: Gal Gadot may not be everybodys Wonder Woman, but she sure as hell is mine. Gadot isnt just another white woman on screen, and its dismissive to say so. We wouldnt be having debates about Ashkenazi heritage in 2017 if that were true. Gadot (and myself) are privileged in this day and age based on the color of our skin. But that doesnt mean that we dont have the result of thousand of years of racism raging through our bloodstreams, and minds, filled with suffering and not being allowed to participate in mainstream society. Getty Images Gal Gadot, then-Miss Israel, posing with Miss Norway Judaism isnt only about the present and the future; so much of Ashkenazi Jewish identity is based on a shared ethno-religious past. So of course I had schepped with nachas (to quote my Baba) when a Jewish woman with my background was chosen to portray one of the most iconic figures in all of pop culture. That is why I cried the first time I watched a trailer for Wonder Woman and heard Gadots Israeli-accented English. Here was a real-life kick-ass Jew Gadot served as a combat trainer in the IDF while fulfilling her national service playing a kick-ass superheroine. And she looked a lot like, well, my sister. For the first time that I can recall, I was watching a visibly Jewish woman, speaking with an accent audibly tinged with Hebrew, aka the sound of Judaism for thousands of years, depicting a warrior who fights not just for herself, but for the greater good. It didnt matter that Gadot was playing a fictional demigoddess built on Greek mythology. Every time I looked at her, every time she spoke, the thought, Wonder Woman is Jewish! raced through my mind. After seeing the movie, I read the Times of Israel review by Jordan Hoffman and it helped explain my odd attachment to Wonder Woman as a Jewish feminist symbol: Dianas actions were propelled by a desire to make the world a better place. Or, as its known in Judaism, tikkun olam, the idea of fixing the world by doing good. So I fell in love with Gadots Diana all over again. Not only because she was portrayed by an actual Jewish woman overflowing with female empowerment in a way that Jewish women rarely, if ever, are allowed to be seen in film or TV were more often Holocaust victims or anxious New Yorkers but also because she was motivated by something that looks a lot like a tenet of Jewish philosophy. To put it lightly, seeing Gal Gadot, a Jewish woman with an accent that screams SHALOM, be allowed to Exist and Fight, was one of the most impactful moments of my life. Wonder Woman wasnt perfect. Diana wasnt the feminist icon every woman around the world needed. But Gal was the Diana that I, as an Ashkenazi Jewish woman, have waited my whole life for and I wasnt disappointed. Tamar Herman is a NYC-based pop culture writer who has work featured in Billboard, NBC News, the Village Voice, and numerous other outlets. Follow her on Twitter, @TamarWrites The Forward’s independent journalism depends on donations from readers like you.

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Exceptional Public Safety Insight: Reporty Announces New Board Members – PR Newswire (press release)

TEL AVIV, Israel, June 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Reporty, creators of the game-changing platform which redefines public safety, announced several new board members today. Reporty’s board, which already sees global luminaries such as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, welcomed Richard M. Daley, Andy Rooke, and Prof. Isaac Ashkenazi to their ranks. Richard M. Daley, Chicago’s longest-serving mayor and vocal proponent of innovative technologies to improve city lifestyles, spoke excitedly about Reporty and how it can help revolutionize 9-1-1 and event reporting. “As a former Mayor, I know firsthand how important it is not only to keep your residents safe, but to do so in innovative ways and manage costs,” Daley said. “Reporty brings together existing infrastructure and innovative technology to save lives and keep city services accessible. Their global presence ensures cities that they’re getting a world-class team to stand behind the technology, one that has seen best practices around the world and applied them to their solution. I’m proud to join Reporty’s board and to help make cities safer.” Reporty also welcomed the Vice-President of the British Association of Public Safety Communication Officials (BAPCO), Andy Rooke. Rooke, as an internationally acclaimed expert on eCall, is helping position Reporty as one of the premier companies integrating into connected cars. His membership on the board reflects Reporty’s embrace of technologies beyond the smartphone and integration into wearables, cars, homes, and cities. “I am delighted to have been invited to join the advisory board of Reporty Homeland Security,” Rooke said. “There are significant changes taking place on how the citizen contacts emergency services. The provision of additional data is key to ensuring that any emergency response is to the right location at the right time with the right resource. Reporty is at the forefront of the advancement in technology, and I am delighted to be associated with this innovative organisation.” Prof. Isaac Ashkenazi, one of the world’s foremost authorities on complex emergencies and disasters, praised Reporty’s advanced location technology as well as their video capabilities. “The amalgamation of video, location, and chat empowers bystanders to save countless lives. By removing all of the obstacles of communication between bystanders and first responders, Reporty can dramatically save time and lives by giving emergency services accurate situational awareness and a greater understanding of what resource allocation. By saving time, Reporty is saving lives.” Ashkenazi, a Colonel (Res) in the Israel Defense Force, has spent the better part of two decades involved in mass casualty and response preparedness. During his time with the IDF, Ashkenazi led humanitarian missions to Nairobi, Turkey, and Greece in the wake of major incidents such as terror attacks and earthquakes. Reporty CEO Amir Elichai praised the three new members of the board. “Each of these new board members bring with them unrivaled experience in emergency response and public safety. We are lucky to have them, and their guidance, as Reporty expands throughout the globe. Richard, Andy, and Isaac represent the very best of their fields and are crucial in bringing Reporty to new countries across the world.” Reporty also announced a partnership with RapidDeploy, a South-African based start-up aimed at improving dispatch times through advanced technology. RapidDeploy’s co-founder Steven Raucher said, “RapidDeploy is proud to announce integration and partnership with Reporty. Our combined solution provides a complete ecosystem, taking public safety into the 21st century.” The presence of Daley, Rooke, and Ashkenazi on the Reporty board further strengthens the start-up’s role in utilizing innovative and advanced technologies to solve some of public safety’s critical issues. The Reporty application is available on both the Apple App Store and Android Play Store. Media Contact: Raffe Gold 163957@email4pr.com 2123801159 To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/exceptional-public-safety-insight-reporty-announces-new-board-members-300472944.html SOURCE Reporty Homeland Security

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Should Ashkenazi Jews like Wonder Woman star Gal Godot be considered white? – Genetic Literacy Project

When Matthew Mueller [published an article] entitled, Wonder Woman: There IS A Person Of Color In The Lead Role, arguing that Israeli actress Gal Gadot was the first woman of color to appear in the superhero genre, the question of whether or not Ashkenazi Jews are persons of color became a topic of discussion around Jewish tables and chat-rooms across the country. Noah Berlatsky denounced Muellers characterization of Gadot as absurd, arguing that whiteness itself is a fuzzy racial concept and that Gadot certainly would enjoy white privilege in Israel (relative to her darker Mizrahi and Ethiopian cousins). [On the other hand, blogger Dani Ishai Behan argued that] characterizing Jews as whiteerases Jewish experience across every pogrom, torture table, oven and ghetto that has decorated our painful past. The people who persecuted Jews never thought of Jews as either white or European So, is Gal Gadot white? The ambiguity of Jewish ethnicity serves as a perverse weapon in hands hostile to Jewish identity. It leaves Jews historically vulnerable to anti-Semitism from extreme ideologies on both sides of the political spectrum The authoritarian right, as recent studies suggest, couples Jewish privilege to themes of parasitism and conspiratorial, outside powerOn the extreme left, Jews assume the mantle of ultimate insider, excluded from persecution. The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post:Are Gal Gadot And Other Ashkenazi Jews White? The Answer Is ComplicatedAnd Insidious.

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Palestinians are the glue that holds Ashkenazim and Mizrahim together – +972 Magazine

Sixty-nine years after the founding of the state, the hatred between Mizrahim and Ashkenazim is the greatest threat to Israeli society. Instead of properly dealing with it, all our energy is spent on sowing a collective hatred toward Palestinians. By Iris Hefets (Translated by Philip Podolsky) Israeli Border Police search a Palestinian man near Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, October 23, 2015. Many new checkpoints have been set up in East Jerusalems Palestinian neighborhoods in the wake of a spate of stabbings in the city. Jerusalem, October 23, 2015. (Anne Paq/Activestills) Whenever the occupation is mentioned, someone will ask aboutdifference between the Ariel University Center, in the West Bank, and Tel Aviv University, builton the remainsof the destroyed Palestinian village, Al-Shaykh Muwannis. This subversive question indeed touches on an uncomfortable truth. The narrative of the settlers is that they are no differentfrom those who fought and drew the borders in 1948. From their point of view, the Ashkenazi Jews who came to Israel in the 1930s built Jewish settlements in the dead of the night, establishing facts on the ground in central Israelwhile partaking in the libertine pleasures of free love and intellectual discourse. In the 1970s, other Ashkenazi Jews did all of the above, only in the West Bank. There are, however, many differences between 1948 and the aftermath of 1967, and one of them is the role of Mizrahi Jews. While the vast majority of Mizrahim arrived to Israel after 1948 after the expulsion of the Palestinian people, the razing of Palestinians homes, and the rape of Palestinian women by Israeli fighters they became active participants in the crimes of 1967. After the leadership of the Jewish settlement in Palestine and Israel acted on the program to drive out some 700,000 Palestinians since they were native to the land the Zionists wanted to settle, there was a demographic problem that could only be settledthrough bringing in Jews from Arab countries. Thus was launched a highly controlled and selective transfer of population groups from Arab and Muslim countries. Israels Ashkenazi immigration institutions enacted a policy of population dispersion, in which new immigrants were sent to far-flung areas of the country, withMizrahim held much promise for the young state. They mostly came from countries with colonial past or present, either benefitting or suffering from colonial oppression and collaborating with the colonizer. They arrived in a steady and slow trickle(with the exception of Iraqi Jews, who encountereda different fate), which ensured that communities could no longer function as such and were broken up in the very beginning of the absorption process. These communities came from a culture that was vastly different from that of the host country and its institutions, a fact that Israel exploited in order to break their spirit and subjugate them to its will. To that end they were resettled in isolated settlements governed by Ashkenazi, classified as needing cultivation on the basis of their extraction and humiliated no end. If after the Nakba, many Mizrahim were put up in homes of Palestinians exiled in 1948, post-1967 they were settled in new homes. The pretext to settle Mizrahim in the homes of displaced Palestinians was that Moroccan Jews, for example, would feel at home in Haifas Wadi Salib neighborhood, since the architecture should be familiar to them. In practice it dressed up the fight for resources as one between Palestinians and Mizrahim, while Ashkenazim got to preside from above. As Mizrahim discovered that their properties back home has been plundered, they were sent to live in homes that were looted by those who robbed them. In short, it turns out that the founding fathers of the nation, who are supposed to take care of us, have committedpogroms, thefts,and rapes, and they now were inviting the new arrivals to feel at home and treat themselves to a share of the spoils. It was no coincidence that arevolt broke out in Wadi Salib in 1959 under the leadership of David Ben Harush, who saw through this tradeoff and demanded, among other things, the lifting of the military regime over IsraelsArab citizens. Similarly, Mizrahimwere resettled in other areas of the West Bank and in Palestinian neighborhoods. The Black Panthers, a movement of Mizrahim that sprung out of the depopulated Palestinian neighborhood Musrara, identified this pattern and came out against it by demanding equal rights for both Mizrahim and Palestinians. However, after 1967, when Musrara and the neighborhood of Yemin Moshe became valuable real estate property in Jerusalem, the Mizrahim who lived in there were transferred to neighborhoods such as Gilo for the benefit of Ashkenazim, who preferred living in Arab houses in Jerusalem. Israeli Black Panthers, including Charlie Biton, protesting on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, May 1, 1973. (Moshe Milner/GPO) This way, Mizrahim have become the invaders of the Palestinian homes, the supposedly pioneering conquerors actively enjoying the fruits of the occupation and robbery. In other words, after 1967, Mizrahim get a carrot from the government with the explicit recognition that they are entitled to compensation for their treatment at the hands of the Zionist founding fathers. If once they were put into a house that had recently been occupied by a Palestinian family, now the houses were built specifically for them. Only at a closer glance does it become apparent that it is located on occupied land. Thus the Mizrahim become more loyal allies of the government, because they actually have something to lose. If in the 1950s and 1960s the Mizrahim were not unlike those who unwittingly found themselves entangled in the statesorganized crime, after 1967 they become part of the racket and ultimately graduate to positions too senior for them to be able to quit. The Mizrahi immigrant who arrived after 1948 did not realize she or he was drafted by the state as a double agent. The few who were alive to the ruse left, rebelled, or became internal exiles. Those who remained began to gradually identify with their handlers and in turn became the handlers of other unwitting agents. Once you become part of the mafia you cannot speak about the crimes it is committing, so you yourself are now implicated in the,. Mizrahim now had families enjoying the spoils of the occupation and have become integrated into the military apparatus. Feminist Mizrachi women were busy cleaningtheir sons IDF uniforms. In other words, the idea of the Israeli melting pot turned out to be a greater success than was ever envisaged, putting an end to the separation betweenMizrahim and Ashkenazim. Everyone in that pot was boiled in the fear of the fall of the Jewish State and the revenge by those victimized by its rise. This isthe glue that holds together Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, in spite of the profound hatred between them. Mizrahim can enjoy their Mizrahi music all they like so long as their sons report to the Golani Brigade. Thats the deal, and both parties have good reasons to playtheir respective parts. If the Black Panthers said either the cake is for all of us, or there is no cake, the Mizrahim of the following generations said either the cake will be an oriental one, or there will be no cake at all. Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who shot dead a disarmed and injured Palestinian attacker in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016, is surrounded by family and friends as he awaits to hear his sentence in a courtroom at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, on February 21, 2017. (Jim Hollander/POOL) And its a compromise Ashkenazim can live with. Want some marzipan on that cake, dear Mizrahim? Go for it. As long as you also enlist in all the elite units and spill blood in the name of the land your children are buried in, and which you can not longer just leave. Its not something easily done. Just ask us, the Ashkenazim. For what truly unites the two aforementioned situations is grief. Lets take a look at two case studies gleaned from the recent headlines. The Knesset hearing on the State Comptrollers report on the 2014 Gaza War can be seen through the prism of the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi divide. During the war the entire country is united and everyone is extending hospitality to each other: when the bombing is in the north, its the south playing host and vice versa. Yet once the dust settles down and the promised end of the world never arrives, everyone comes to realize that the generals lied, quite brazenly, and Jewish soldiers werekilled sometimes by their brothers in arms. Haaretzthen runs some anti-war editorial and the next thing you know there is a committee investigating the wars shortcomings with a view to learning the right lessons and drawing the proper conclusions. A Palestinian man looking on a destroyed house in Beit Hanoun following bombardment by Israeli forces, North Gaza Strip, August 11, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills) This time around, after Netanyahu delivered his usual spiel, the mother of Hadar Goldin, who was killed in Gaza, lashed out at him with a sentence any Tel Aviv leftist would agree with: You made us out into the enemies of the people. When MKMiki Zohar told her she had gonetoo far, Goldinordered him to shut up, saying she doesnt know who the hell he is in the first place. One can be forgiven for making the conjecture that had Miki Zohar not been Mizrahi, he would never have risen to Netanyahus defense. Were his name Benny Begin, he would most likely never done this in the first place; if he had, Goldin would not have spoken to him this way. For Netanyahu, the Ashkenazi architect of this horror, Goldinfeels helpless rage. For MK Zohar she has nothing but contempt after all, who is he to even say anything? Goldinwas backed byStav Shafir, who chided the Mizrahi MK, reminding him this is not way to speakto a grieving mother (of course, the fact Hadar Goldin was killed when the IDF usedthe infamous Hannibal Protocol is never mentioned; neither is the fact it left some 150 Palestinians dead, the same ones who were told that area was safe and they could return there). Goldin and Zohar, revealing the truth about the social divide in Israel in a moment of fury, eventually come to their senses and the former extends the olive branch saying we all send our kids to the army. Order is thus restored and everyone is now mad at the Palestinians, represented this time by Joint ListMK Jamal Zahalka. The holy fury directed at him acts as the social glue holding the people together. Till the next time. Another uniting moment can be observed in the violent scenes unleashed by the minions of right-wing rapper The Shadow against the predominantly Ashkenazi attendees of the leftist Alternative Memorial Day rally this past April. The buildup was already rife with incitement: the event was framed as an existential threat to Israel, and Palestinians were prevented from attending it. Filmmaker and photographer Ayelet Heller, who attended the ceremony, filmed the moment thepublic leaves the event, documenting the violent attacks by some of those who momentarily forgot that were all one people. The right-wing protesters hate for Ashkenazim isdressed up as patriotism, making it all rightto beat them up in the name of the law and turn the racial hierarchy on its head: in one fell swoop, the violent outburst achieves revenge, does awaywith internalized inferiority, and creates anecstatic illusion the underdogs are now in charge. The video shows a groupof wannabe tough guys, mostly Mizrahi, chanting death to Arabs, death to leftists, and other standards aimed at the traitors. The bellowing is briefly punctured by the Memorial Day siren. As it begins to fade out, the calls for death resume. This scene perfectly exemplifieswhy Israel needs wars against the bad Arabs, morethan any words ever could. Such moments place inhibitions on the hatred between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim that is ready to burst throughthe veneer of social unity. And since that hatredposes the greatest threat to the state, it is also the one most studiously swept under the rug. Instead of trying to solve it, leaderstry to sublimate it into fear, hatred, and violence against Palestinians. The state built on the ruins of Palestinian homes in 1948 can try to disavow its fundaments, yet such attempts come crashing down when faced with reality. Having locked up the previous homeowner in the attic, youarenow trying to get along with your rowdy neighbor who hates your guts. The memorial sirens help, but only just enough. Iris Hefetz is an Israeli psychoanalyst based in Berlin, and the former editor of the Kedma website.This post was originally published in Hebrew on Local Call. For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine’s Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week’s events. Sign up here.

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June 11, 2017   Posted in: Ashkenazi  Comments Closed

Who Were the Ashkenazi Jewish People, and Are You Related to …

If you ever get your DNA tested, you might be surprised to discover a certain percentage of Ashkenazi Jewish DNA. Many people with European ancestry who are not practicing Jews and know of no Jewish ancestors do discover some Ashkenazi in them. There is a lengthy discussion on the topic on 23andme.com, a popular DNA testing site. People are using the discussion to try to determine their Jewish ancestors and their origins after discovering they are descended from some of the Ashkenazi population. Heres what you need to know about the Ashkenazi Jewish people, and how they are different genetically from the general Jewish community. The name Ashkenazi comes from a Biblical person named Ashkenaz. He was the eldest son of Gomer. Gomer was a grandson of Noah through Noahs son Khaphet. This makes Ashkenaz a great-grandson of Noah. The Jewish population in eastern and central Europe began being distinguished from the Holy Land Jewish people by the use of the name Ashkenazi in the early Medieval period of history. There was a Christian custom at this time of calling areas of Jewish settlement in Europe with Biblical names, which is how the Ashkenzazis received their name. By the later Medieval period, the term Ashkenazi was used for the German and French Jewish populations alone and was even adopted by the Jewish people and scholars of the area themselves. How the Ashkenazis got up into Germany and France is a matter of speculation. There are historical records that talk of Jewish settlements in the southern part of Europe during the pre-Christian era. Most of these Jewish people were living in Roman communities. Jewish people were granted full Roman citizenship and all the privileges and rights that came with it in 212 A.D., but began to be pushed to the outskirts of society and shunned when Christianity became the dominant religion of Rome in 380 A.D. There is also evidence of Jewish people living in ancient Greece. The Greek historian Herodutus knew Jewish people and called them Palestinian Syrians. The Jewish people in ancient Greece were included in the lists of the naval forces who fought for Greece against the invasion parties of Persians. Though the Jewish people practiced monotheism, while the ancient Greeks practiced polytheism, there was no mixing of their religions and no persecution that was recorded. Both communities appear to have lived in harmony with one another. In fact, the lifestyle of ancient Greece was attractive to wealthy Jewish people. There are at least three known ancient Jewish synagogue ruins in ancient Greece, which shows the Jewish people were there, practicing their religion, and allowed to do so. While there were definitely Jewish people in ancient Greece, no trace of them exists above or east of Germany before the age of the Romans. Through the Roman period and into the Middle Ages, the Jewish people in Europe migrated into eastern Europe and France, and some of them became assimilated into the local cultures. Some converted to Christianity, while others, like the Ashkenazis, maintained their Jewish customs and religious practices. It was only with the rise of emperor Charlemagne, who joined the mini-kingdoms of France into one country in 800 A.D. that the history of the Ashkenazi Jewish people in Europe becomes well documented. Charlemagne gave them the same freedoms they once enjoyed under the Romans, and they began opening businesses in finance and commerce. They also got into banking, as Christians were prohibited from charging interest by their religion. By the 11th century A.D., the Ashkenazi Jewish people were well known for their Talmudic studies and halakhic learning. They were also criticized by Jewish people in the Holy Land for their lack of knowledge in traditional Jewish law and the Hebrew language. They spoke Yiddish instead, which was a combination of traditional Hebrew and various German dialects from the communities in which they lived. The Yiddish language was still written with Hebrew letters, however, while also being influenced with Aramaic. If you have Ashkenazi Jewish DNA, you come from a line that goes into antiquity. The Ashkenazi Jews moved away from the Jews of the Holy Land so early on that their DNA is now distinct from other Jewish people. If you discover Ashkenazi Jewish DNA in your DNA profile, explore it and see where it leads. You may be surprised by what you discover.

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List of Jewish Genetic Diseases – Moment

Many recessive diseases caused by genetic mutations among Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe are disabling and fatal. They occur when a fetus inherits two mutations in the same gene, one from each parent. Tests can determine if people carry the common mutations, and prenatal testing is possible for all the diseases included on the list below. Cystic Fibrosis and Spinal Muscular Atrophy, while slightly more prevalent among Jewish Caucasian populations than among other Caucasian populations, are not primarily considered Jewish diseases. If both parents are carriers of the same disease there is a one in four chance with each pregnancy of having an affected fetus. This is the autosomal recessive pattern of inheritance where both individuals must carry the same disease in order to be at risk of having an affected child. Recent research also indicates Crohns disease, Ulcertative Colitis, and a mutation which increases the chance of developing Parkinsons disease are all more commonly found in Ashkenazi Jews. Bloom Syndrome Bloom Syndrome hinders normal growth. Children typically reach a maximum of five feet at maturity. Other symptoms include increased respiratory and ear infections, redness of the face, infertility in males and an increased risk of cancer. Apparently normal at birth, babies with Canavan Disease develop an enlarged head, mental retardation, feeding difficulties and seizures. Although many die in the first year of life, some live into their teens. Familial Dysautonomia This dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system has been found only in Ashkenazi Jews. Occurring in infancy, symptoms include the inability to produce tears when crying, poor weight gain, indifference to pain, excessive sweating, gastrointestinal problems and incorrect perceptions of heat and taste. Before 1960, approximately 50 percent of patients died before age five, but today that same percentage reaches age 30. All five types of Fanconi Anemia, a red and white blood cell and platelet deficiency, are inherited, but Type C is the most common in Ashkenazi Jews. Although symptoms are highly variable, physical abnormalities such as limb defects, bone marrow failure, and increased cancer risks are common. Many children who are diagnosed with Type C do not survive beyond young adulthood. Caused by an enzyme deficiency, the symptoms of Gaucher Disease are variable and can present any time from early childhood to adulthood. Gaucher disease type 1 causes orthopedic problems and blood abnormalities. Gaucher disease is treatable with enzyme replacement therapy. Its first symptoms are severe developmental delays and clouding of the cornea of the eye during early infancy. As it progresses, ML IV cripples the central nervous system. Most afflicted children never walk and some become severely retarded by age three. Among its five variations, only Type A is more frequent among Ashkenazi Jews. By six months, infants with Type A experience difficulty feeding and recurrent vomiting, and develop enlarged spleens and livers. Children with Niemann-Pick disease type A usually die by age three. A severe neurodegenerative disease, the most common symptom is the development of a cherry-red spot on the back of the eye, which occurs when a child is four to eight months old. Most children are totally debilitated with seizures, blindness, and spasticity by age three and die by age five. Other diseases of connection to Ashkenazi Jews are Glycogen Storage Disease type 1A, Maple Syrup Urine Disease, Familial Hyperinsulinism, Joubert Syndrome Type 2, Lipoamide Dehydrogenase Deficiency (E3), Nemaline Myopathy, Usher Syndrome Type 3, Usher Syndrom Type I, and Walker Warburg Syndrome. NOTE: There are also diseases which are more prevalent in people with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. They are autosomal dominant, where an individual carrying a mutation is affected, and then has a 50% chance to pass on the mutation to his/her children, including: Torsion Dystonia Affecting movement control, Torsion Dystonia generally shows up between the ages of six and 16 and affects the muscular development of limbs. Approximately one in 3,000 Ashkenazis is likely to develop it, and symptoms sometimes develop when there is no family history. 5-10% of breast and ovarian cancers are hereditary. Of those, ~85% are due to mutations in the BRCA genes, which cause hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews carry a mutation in the BRCA genes. There are three specific mutations (two in the BRCA1 gene and one in the BRCA2 gene) in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. If an Ashkenazi Jewish woman carries a BRCA mutation, most of the time it is one of the three founder mutations previously discussed. Sephardi Jews, whose ancestry can be traced to North African and Mediterranean countries, including Spain and Greece, suffer from the same genetic diseases as other populations in these countries. Jews of Sephardi ancestry also have their own set of distinct carrier screening tests based on their country of origin. This disorder reducing the amount of hemoglobin can result in severe anemia in the first two years of life or in a milder case later in life. Roughly one in 30 people of Mediterranean descent carries the gene; one in 3,600 develops it. As many as one in 200 North African and Iraqi Jews, Armenians and Turks has the disease, distinguished by 12 to 72-hour bouts of fever. Symptoms usually start between ages five and 15. This common human enzyme deficiency affects an estimated 400 million people worldwide, and is transmitted from a carrier mother to her male infant. The disease can manifest itself as life-long hemolytic anemia or bouts of it. Some experience no symptoms at all, although certain oxidative drugs and infections as well as fava beans can induce it. This disease prevents the liver and muscle from breaking down stored glycogen to glucose. Some develop hypoglycemia, an enlarged liver and weak muscles. Roughly one in 5,400 North African Jews has the disease. Other diseases of connection to Sephardi origin include: Alpha-Thalassemia, Ataxia Telangiectasia, Corticosterone Methyloxidase Type II Deficiency, Costeff Optical Atrophy, Cystic Fibrosis (CF), Familial Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Familial Tumoral Calcinosis (Normophosphatemic Type), Inclusion Body Myophy Type 2B, Metachromic Leukodystrophy, Polyglandular Deficiency Syndrome, Pseudocholinesterase Deficiency, Spinal Muscular Athrophy (SMA) and Wolman Disease. Mizrahi, the term for Eastern, in Hebrew, generally refers to Jews of Persian (Iranian) and Middle Eastern heritage. Jews of Mizrahi ancestry also have their own set of carrier screening tests based on their country of origin.

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June 10, 2017   Posted in: Ashkenazi  Comments Closed

Three cancers to worry about, and how to reduce the risks | AZ … – Jewish Post

As if Jews dont have enough to worry about. Geopolitical threats to the Jewish people may wax and wane, but theres another lethal danger particular to the Jewish people that shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon: cancer. Specifically, Jews are at elevated risk for three types of the disease: melanoma, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The perils are particularly acute for Jewish women. The higher prevalence of these illnesses isnt spread evenly among all Jews. The genetic mutations that result in higher incidence of cancer are concentrated among Ashkenazim Jews of European descent. Ashkenazim are a more homogenous population from a genetic point of view, whereas the Sephardim are much more diverse, said Dr. Ephrat Levy-Lahad, director of the Medical Genetics Institute at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. But there is some hope. Susceptible populations can take certain precautions to reduce their risks. Recent medical advances have made early detection easier, significantly lowering the fatality rates from some cancers. Cheaper genetic testing is making it much easier for researchers to discover the risk factors associated with certain cancers. And scientists are working on new approaches to fight these pernicious diseases especially in Israel, where Ashkenazi Jews make up a larger proportion of the population than in any other country. Understanding risk factors and learning about preventative measures are key to improving cancer survival rates. Heres what you need to know. Melanoma Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, representing some 80 percent of skin cancer deaths, and U.S. melanoma rates are on the rise. Its also one of the most common forms of cancer in younger people, especially among women. Just a decade ago, Israel had the second-highest rate of skin cancer in the world, behind Australia. One reason is that Israel has a lot of sun. Some credit better education about the dangers of sun exposure for helping reduce Israels per capita skin cancer rate, now 18th in the world. But the sun isnt the whole story. Jews in Israel have a higher incidence of melanoma than the countrys Arab, non-Jewish citizens. What makes Jews more likely to get skin cancer than others? Its a combination of genetics and behavior, according to Dr. Harriet Kluger, a cancer researcher at Yale University. On the genetics side, Ashkenazi Jews who comprise about half of Israels Jewish population are significantly more likely to have the BRCA-2 genetic mutation that some studies have linked to higher rates of melanoma. The other factor, Israels abundant sunshine, exacerbates the problems for sun-sensitive Jews of European origin. Thats why Arabs and Israeli Orthodox Jews, whose more conservative dress leaves less skin exposed than does typical secular attire, have a lower incidence of the cancer. There are epidemiological studies from Israel showing that secular Jews have more melanoma than Orthodox Jews, Kluger said. So whats to be done? Other than staying out of the sun, people should get their skin screened once a year, Kluger said. In Australia, getting your skin screened is part of the culture, like getting your teeth cleaned in America. You can spot worrisome moles on your own using an alphabetic mnemonic device for letters A-F: See a doctor if you spot moles that exhibit Asymmetry, Border irregularities, dark or multiple Colors, have a large Diameter, are Evolving (e.g. changing), or are just plain Funny looking. Light-skinned people and redheads should be most vigilant, as well as those who live in sunny locales like Arizona, California and Florida. If you insist on being in the sun, sunscreen can help mitigate the risk, but only up to a point. It decreases the chances of getting melanoma, but it doesnt eliminate the chances, Kluger warned. As with other cancers, early detection can dramatically increase survival rates. In the meantime, scientists in Israel a world leader in melanoma research hold high hopes for immunotherapy, which corrals the bodys immune mechanisms to attack or disable cancer. At Bar-Ilan University, Dr. Cyrille Cohen is using a research grant from the Israel Cancer Research Fund to implant human melanoma cells in mice to study whether human white blood cells can be genetically modified to act as a switch that turns on the human immune systems cancerfighting properties. Breast cancer Breast cancer is already more common in developed, Western countries than elsewhere likely because women who delay childbirth until later in life and have fewer children do not enjoy as much of the positive, cancer risk-reducing effects of the hormonal changes associated with childbirth. Ashkenazi Jews in particular have a significantly higher risk for breast cancer: They are about three times as likely as non-Ashkenazim to carry mutations in the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes that lead to a very high chance of developing cancer. One of the BRCA-1 mutations is associated with a 65 percent chance of developing breast cancer. Based on family history, including on the fathers side, the chances could be even higher. Every Ashkenazi Jewish woman should be tested for these mutations, said Levy-Lahad, who has done significant research work on the genetics of both breast and ovarian cancer. Iraqi Jews also have increased prevalence of one of the BRCA mutations, she said. Levy-Lahad is collaborating on a long-term project with the University of Washingtons Dr. Mary-Claire King the breast cancer research pioneer who discovered the BCRA-1 gene mutation that causes cancer on a genome sequencing study of Israeli women with inherited breast and ovarian cancer genes. The two women are using a grant from the Israel Cancer Research Fund to apply genomic technology to study BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 mutations and their implications for breast cancer risk in non-Ashkenazi women in Israel, who are similar to populations in Europe and the United States. In a project that is testing thousands of women for deadly cancer mutations, they are also studying how mutations in genes other than BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 impact inherited breast cancer in non-Ashkenazi Jews. The earlier breast cancer mutations are discovered, the sooner women can decide on a course of action. Some choose to have bilateral mastectomies, which reduce the chances of breast cancer by 90-95 percent. Actress Angelina Jolie famously put a Hollywood spotlight on the issue when she wrote a 2013 op-ed in The New York Times about her decision to have the procedure. But mastectomies are not the only option. Some women instead choose a very rigorous screening regimen, including more frequent mammograms and breast MRIs. Early detection is the cornerstone of improving breast cancer survival rates. Breast cancer is not nearly as deadly as it once was, Levy-Lahad said. Ovarian cancer Of the three Jewish cancers, ovarian cancer is the deadliest. Linked to the two BRCA mutations common among Jews, ovarian cancer is both stubbornly difficult to detect early and has a very high late-stage mortality rate. Women should be screened for the mutations by age 30, so they know their risks. In its early stages, ovarian cancer usually has no obvious symptoms, or appears as bloating, abdominal pain or frequent urination that can be explained away by less serious causes. By the time its discovered, ovarian cancer is usually much more advanced than most other cancers and may have spread to surrounding organs. If that has occurred, the five-year survival rate drops considerably. Women with the BRCA mutations have about a 50 percent chance of getting ovarian cancer. The best option is usually to remove the ovaries. We put a lot of pressure on women to have their ovaries removed because its a life-saving procedure, Levy-Lahad said. That doesnt mean these women cant have children. The recommendation is that women wait to have the procedure until after they complete child-bearing, usually around the age of 35-40. Much work still needs to be done on prevention, early detection and treatment of ovarian cancer, but new research shows some promise. The exciting thing is that we live in a genomic age, and we have unprecedented abilities to understand the causes of cancer, Levy-Lahad said. Theres a whole field that, if you become affected, can look at the genetic makeup of the tumor you have. The study of these three Jewish cancers are a major component of the work of the Israel Cancer Research Fund, which raises money in North America for cancer research in Israel. Of the $3.85 million in grants distributed in Israel last year by the fund, roughly one-quarter were focused on breast cancer, ovarian cancer or melanoma, according to Ellen T. Rubin, the ICRFs director of research grants. The organizations Rachels Society focuses specifically on supporting womens cancer awareness and research. A significant amount of the organizations grants is focused on basic research that may be applicable to a broad spectrum of cancers. For example, the group is supporting research by Dr. Varda Rotter of the Weizmann Institute of Science into the role played by the p53 gene in ovarian cancer. P53 is a tumor suppressor that when mutated is involved in the majority of human cancers. Likewise, Dr. Yehudit Bergman of the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School is using an ICRF grant to study how the biological mechanisms that switch genes on and off called epigenetic regulation operate in stem cells and cancer. Only through basic research at the molecular level will cancer be conquered, said Dr. Howard Cedar of the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School. Hopefully, one day there will be easier and better ways to detect and destroy the cancerous cells that lead to these diseases. But until those research breakthroughs, medical experts say that Jews, as members of a special high-risk category, should make sure they get genetic screenings and regular testing necessary for early detection and prevention. This article was sponsored by and produced in partnership with the Israel Cancer Research Fund, which is committed to finding and funding breakthrough treatments and cures for all forms of cancer, leveraging the unique talent, expertise and benefits that Israel and its scientists have to offer.

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June 8, 2017   Posted in: Ashkenazi  Comments Closed

First Latina Komen Quad Cities honorary chair raises awareness about BRCA gene and gene mutation – Quad-Cities Online

After battling breast cancer, Rita Vargas has a deeper appreciation for her ancestry. The 58-year-old Davenport woman whois the first Latina to be named Honorary Survivor Chair of Komen Quad Cities Race for the Cure was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 after finding a small lump. She was eating peanuts on a November night, she said, andI dropped one down my shirt. When I went to grab it, it felt like a bug bite. Ms. Vargas didn’t go to a doctor right away. I was sick of having to see another doctor after a long year of gallbladder issues, and thought I could just wait until February when Id see my regular doctor, she said. A mammogram showed several lumps, which led to a single mastectomy, the removal of 18 lymph nodes, chemotherapy and 32 radiation treatments. After treatment and more tests, Ms. Vargas was shocked that she tested positive for the BRCA gene mutation. We had no history of breast cancer, she said. It just seemed too bizarre. Doctors told me at the time that I had the same breast cancer gene as Jewish women. According to the Centers for Disease Control, everyone has BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. When there are changes in the genes, it is called a mutation, which raises the risk of developing breast and other cancers, such as ovarian. Studies have shown that Ashkenazi Jewish women have a higher risk of breast cancer if there is a history of a gene mutation. If a parent has the BRCA gene mutation, there is a 50 percent chance of passing it to their children. Ms. Vargas researched the BRCA gene as well as her ancestry. She discovered that she indeed was of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. It was important to find out, she said. Her Jewish ancestry dates back to when the Spaniards first entered Mexico in the 1500s. The Jewish population was forced to become practicing Catholics, and were a part of those fleeing to Mexico, Ms. Vargas said. My family was as stunned as I was because we always believed we were Mexicans with a bit of Native American blood. Ms. Vargas, who is the Scott County Recorder, will be joined by her family, friends and co-workers this Saturday as she walks with the Scott County Cancer Kickers in the 28th annual Komen Quad Cities Race for the Cure downtown Moline. I want people to know just because you dont have a history of the disease in your family, doesnt mean that you cant be the first one to have breast cancer, she said. Uniquely, I found out about a gene that saved my life and the rest of my family. Martha Garcia is a writer, communications instructor and bilingual marketing professional who lives in Bettendorf. She can be contacted at marthagarciawriter@yahoo.com.

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June 6, 2017   Posted in: Ashkenazi  Comments Closed


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