More Remarkable Results with DNA Testing
In recent issues I have talked about the brick wall that exists
in tracing Eastern European Jewish ancestry because of the
paucity of documents prior to 1800 and the fact that Jews of that
region did not have hereditary surnames before that date. There
is one area where the brick wall does not exist: rabbinic
genealogy. If you are descended from a famous rabbi, there is a
good chance you can trace your ancestry back for centuries, and
some claim, even millennia.
Many Jewish genealogists can trace a portion of their ancestry
back to the 11th century because they can demonstrate descendancy
from the great rabbi Shlomo ben Isaac, known as Rashi, who lived
in France from 1040-1105. An example of such a genealogy can be
found at http://www.nodabyehuda.com/. There is even an alleged
ascent from Rashi to King David, but it is likely flawed with
missing generations. I found one site,
where the author demonstrates his ancestry back to Adam–132
generations. Note that on this tree the time span from King David
(#34) to Rav Khai (Hai) Gaon (#97) is 2,050 years, 64 generations
for an average of 32 years per generation–possible but unlikely.
A remarkable incident occurred recently involving two
distinguished rabbinic families: the Charlaps and the Shealtiels.
Both families have trees that describe descent from the last
exilarch, King Hezekiah (#47 on the above-mentioned tree) who
lived 727-698 BCE. Each family claims to be descended from a
different son of the king, implying the only kinship between the
two families is a common ancestor 2,700 years ago!
The two families decided to test the theory of kinship by using
the services of Dr. Neil Bradman of London, England, who was one
of the scientists responsible for demonstrating that there is a
Cohanic DNA trait among Jewish men who claim to be the direct
descendants of the first Jewish priest, Aaron. They submitted
many DNA samples from both the Charlap and Shealtiel families–
men who claim to be direct paternal descendants of King Hezekiah.
The results? They all have common Y-chromosomes. They all have a
common ancestor in their direct paternal line thus proving they
are one family genetically.
There is an description of the pre-DNA Shealtiel family research
claiming descent from King David at
http://www.shealtiel.org/david.html. There is a fascinating
history of the Shealtiel family at
The Charlaps have a site at http://www.charlap.org. Arthur
Menton, a member of the Charlap family, has published two volumes
on his family’s history, titled “Book of Destiny: Toledot
Charlap” and “Ancilla to Toledot Charlap.” The first book is a
narrative description of the family’s history. The Ancilla is
primarily the family tree. Avotaynu sells both books. Additional
information can be found at