A few weeks ago, I ordered a genealogical DNA kit from Family Tree DNA, which works with the Jewish genealogy site JewishGen. I picked the Family Finder package, which uses autosomal DNA to look at five generations of genetic information and matches it to other people in the database, even though it was beaucoup dollars. I figured that this was the best way to find potential missing relatives, although I debated having my dad take the test since I was most interested in finding relatives on his side of the family since I know my mother's side. The kit arrived within a week and the directions were easy enough. As I scraped the inside of my cheek with the paper wand-scraper thing, I reminded myself not to expect much. The odds of finding missing relatives from my father's father's family were pretty much zero in general, plus I would only find out about other people who used Family Tree DNA. I sent the test tubes back and waited.

Last night I received my results. The test located a batch of 3rd and 4th cousins, which was interesting. I'd never heard any of their names or their family names. The test also pointed to one person as a potential 2nd cousin.

At first, I didn't think too much of it. The whole cousin relationship issue has long confused me (what's the difference between a first cousin once removed and a second cousin?), so the implications of a second cousin escaped me. But when I looked up a "cousins chart," I learned that second cousins share a great grandparent.

Again, I was initially not too excited. Then, as I was going to bed, I thought about it. If this person shares a great grandparent with me, then it must mean that their grandparent is a sibling of one of my grandparents. I am 99% sure that I know all of my grandma and grandpa's (my mom's parents) nieces and nephews (they are my mom's first cousins), and I know all of my Bubbe's nieces and nephews (my dad's first cousins). The only people I don't know are my grandfather's (my dad's father) nieces and nephews. It seems that this person, then, would be one of them.

If the DNA test is right and that is true - and I have goosebumps while I am writing this - then it means that one of my grandfather's sister's children managed to survive the Holocaust. It that is true, and this person replies to my email, then I might not only have one relative from my grandfather, but I might also find out more about his family.

I hate speculating about this because it is too much to think about. I have wanted to find someone from my grandfather's side ever since I was a girl. Maybe the test is inaccurate. (Jews have a lot of genes in common since we tended to intermarry all the time; a New York Times article that came out a few months ago said that basically all Jews are 5th cousins at worst. The test also indicated that 100% of my genes are from Jews who came out of the Middle East at some point.) Maybe I am not fully understanding the "cousins chart." Maybe this person will not reply to my email, which would devastate me. Maybe a lack of response would devastate me even more than hearing from the person and learning that we are not really related after all. Maybe, depending on whether or not I get a response and what it is, I should throw down another $300 and see if my dad matches this person as a first cousin. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

It's the closest I've come to finding an answer since I learned through Yad Vashem in 2004 that my grandfather's sister's husband Icchak (whose name I had never known) survived the Holocaust. When I tracked down his surviving relatives, I was very happy to meet them, but unbearably disappointed when they told me that he tried to tell them about his family killed in the Holocaust but that they didn't want to hear it, so they knew nothing about my great aunt. I have to tell myself that this is probably what will happen again, but in the meantime, all the maybes are boosting my hopes.

My fingers are crossed.

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