DNA has the potential to be an essential and exciting genealogical tool. But many Eastern European Jewish testers find their DNA results completely overwhelming and unnavigable. In this talk, Jennifer Mendelsohn will help those with Ashkenazi heritage learn how to make sense of their DNA results. She’ll cover the basics of DNA testing, including why our match lists are so large, (hello, endogamy!) why all our matches seem to match each other (endogamy, again!), and how to spot the meaningful matches and separate them from the faux ones. Using real-life examples of DNA success, you’ll learn techniques that will help you work effectively with DNA to expand your Ashkenazi family tree.
Speaker: Jennifer Mendelsohn is a sought-after genealogist who specializes in helping Eastern European Jewish families shattered by the Holocaust reclaim their history. She has worked on scores of cases, solving complex family mysteries using a blend of traditional and genetic genealogy. Her sleuthing was featured in the 2019 bestseller Inheritance by Dani Shapiro. In 2022, she co-founded the DNA Reunion Project at the Center for Jewish History, which seeks to promote DNA testing as a tool for helping Holocaust survivors find family.
Mendelsohn is also known for the innovative use of genealogy as a tool for activism. She created the viral hashtag #resistancegenealogy, which uses genealogical and historical records to fight disinformation and honor America’s immigrant past.