No, it’s not THAT big news, but it is BIG!
A cousin of mine has a son with a genetic illness. As part of working through his treatment, she and her parents recently had to have genetic testing. She knew that her mother is part Ashkenazi, but the surprising news…is that her father is too. Her father is my grandfather’s nephew. So…what this all means is that there is a good chance that I’m at least part Ashkenazi as well!
Ever since we began conversion, I have met people that seemed determined to find some kind of Jewish ancestry for me. I think it fits in well with the idea that converts might be the descendants of lost Jews and everyone loves stories of people who come back to Judaism after generations of their family being lost. I’ve always had to smile and say, “No, I’m pretty sure there isn’t any Jewish ancestor in my family tree.” Or is there? My mother has done our genealogy pretty thoroughly and the percentage that the genetic test came up with was small, so it could be that somewhere, back in time, a Jewish person joined our family. Who knows…it could be that tiny spark that skipped generations to land within me.
I’m still kind of processing this information that she very casually gave me.
I know it doesn’t change our halakhic status or our process from a practical standpoint, but it does bring a new dimension into how I see myself as a (G-d willing) soon to be Jew. It’s another connection to the traditions, religion, and culture I love.
I wonder who they were and why they left their own culture to join my family. Would they be proud that I’m converting or would they shake their head? Were they madly in love? How did their family handle it and how did my family welcome them? Did they regret it or did they live a long, happy life with us?
Perhaps one day, in the world to come, I’ll get to ask them all about it.