Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

Egg Donor Request: “Must be Jewish, but White”

Posted by Oyster on September 19, 2007

egg farmingAn odd posting on BayJews caught my eye. A woman was writing about her and her partner’s infertility problem, which they believe stems from her age. So they are seeking out a willing egg donor. Now that’s all fine and good, nothing that I haven’t seen before. But then this part caught my eye:

Ethnicity: Western European (Caucasian)

Now, most American Jews are either of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazim, at least within the past 400 years), or Sephardim, which come from the Mediterranean / North Africa. So what is this person doing on a Jewish bulletin board, putting those kind of restrictions on their target donor? If they’re posting it on BayJews, then they might want the baby to be Halakhicly Jewish (though, I’m not up-to-speed on what is the Halakha on egg donors and Jewishness; the egg donor or the birth-mother decides?). Further hinting at their Jewishness is their use of the phrase “ACT OF LOVING KINDNESS” in the title, which is a staple in Jewish ethics.

So what’s going on here?


18 Responses to “Egg Donor Request: “Must be Jewish, but White””

  1. AaronfromWG said

    Jewish Eugenics?

  2. Eva said

    so… what’s wrong? I think it’s accepting that there are Jews from other ethnicities (I met Mandarinian/Asian Jews, you see a black Jew, people who converted, etc), and choosing caucasian.
    Maybe it’s technically politically incorrect, I suppose…

  3. Oyster said


    Eek, I hope not! A lot of eugenics ( a creepily mainstream pseudo-science for much of the late 1800’s, early 20th century ) had to do with getting icky Jewish zygotes out of the gene pool.


    Yes, you could interpret it as them being *VERY* aware about the multi-ethnic identity of the Jewish people, and therefore they’re asking for a caucasian Jew. But I think they’re just ignorant, and don’t realize that 99% of the people who read that post on BayJews won’t fit the bill.

  4. minsky said

    Major genetic studies put Sephardim into the Northern Mediterranean camp, not Southern, they are not North African. They are of Italianate, Iberian, Balkan origin. In as much as Italians and Spaniards are West European, the term Caucasian is accurate for most Sephardim, which is easily said of most Ashkenazim. There isn’t, in any genetic sense, a big difference between Ashkenaz and Sepharad. Both blend easily in a “Caucasian” setting.

  5. minsky said

    Anyway, how much are they paying?

  6. minsky2 said

    Anyway, how much are they paying?

  7. AaronfromWG said

    Actually the genetic studies I’ve seen show that Sephardim and Ashkanazim are nearly Identical. Mizrahim are also remarkable closely related. Jews closest relatives are other types are Jews genetically speaking. There are exceptions such as Yemenite and Ethiopian Jews who are more closely related to their immediate neighbors. Sephardim’s(including Mizrahim) closest relatives outside of other Jewish groups are Syrians while Ashkenazim’s closest relatives outside of other Jewish groups are the Kurds and Armenians.

    As far as Caucasian, this includes people from North Africa, Middle East, and some people in south and central Asia.

  8. Oyster said

    Ah, finally, some people who can discuss genetics! 🙂

    Yes, in truth, the Jews are a semitic people with Middle Eastern roots. No matter if they came from Eastern Europe in the past 200 years, the truth is that we are from Israel, originally. And the genetic studies back this up.

  9. Oyster said

    Minsky, and Minsky2:

    You’ll have to follow-up to the BayJews post to figure that one out. :-p

  10. minsky said

    Sephardim, are of Northern Mediterrenean ancestry, not North African, because North Africa has a significant Berber DNA, in as much as we leave out Arab/Levantine drift. For Sephardim closest relatives are Italians, Turks, Greeks, and surprise surprise Caucasians. The Ashkenaz genome is heavily European, with about 1/3 mixture of Levantine, Anatolian (near Middle East), with the closest relations coming from Eastern Anatolian peoples. Both Sephardim and Ashkenazim are thus closer to European than North African. In fact, they ethnically cluster with Southern Europeans.


    In this sense, looking for someone from Western European may be technically incorrect, but culturally, it is an allusion to the anticipated, albeit potentially erroneus, genetic payoff expected in a scenario with successful integration by Southern European DNA carriers.

  11. AaronfromWG said

    “Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level. The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora.”

    – M.F. Hammer, Proc. Nat’l Academy of Science, May 9, 2000

  12. AaronfromWG said

    Hammer MF, Redd AJ, Wood ET, Bonner MR, Jarjanazi H, Karafet T, Santachiara-Benerecetti S, Oppenheim A, Jobling MA, Jenkins T, Ostrer H, Bonne-Tamir B

    Laboratory of Molecular Systematics and Evolution, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721; Department of Genetics, Universita degli Studi di Pavia, Pavia 27100, Italy; Hadassah Medical School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91120, Israel.

    [Medline record in process]

    Haplotypes constructed from Y-chromosome markers were used to trace the paternal origins of the Jewish Diaspora. A set of 18 biallelic polymorphisms was genotyped in 1,371 males from 29 populations, including 7 Jewish (Ashkenazi, Roman, North African, Kurdish, Near Eastern, Yemenite, and Ethiopian) and 16 non-Jewish groups from similar geographic locations. The Jewish populations were characterized by a diverse set of 13 haplotypes that were also present in non-Jewish populations from Africa, Asia, and Europe. A series of analyses was performed to address whether modern Jewish Y-chromosome diversity derives mainly from a common Middle Eastern source population or from admixture with neighboring non-Jewish populations during and after the Diaspora. Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level. Admixture estimates suggested low levels of European Y-chromosome gene flow into Ashkenazi and Roman Jewish communities. A multidimensional scaling plot placed six of the seven Jewish populations in a relatively tight cluster that was interspersed with Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations, including Palestinians and Syrians. Pairwise differentiation tests further indicated that these Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations were not statistically different. The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora.

  13. AaronfromWG said

    Dipartimento di Biologia Cellulare, Universita della Calabria, Cosenza, Italy.

    About 80 Sephardim, 80 Ashkenazim and 100 Czechoslovaks were examined for the Y-specific RFLPs revealed by the probes p12f2 and p49a,f on TaqI DNA digests. The aim of the study was to investigate the origin of the Ashkenazi gene pool through the analysis of markers which, having an exclusively holoandric transmission, are useful to estimate paternal gene flow. The comparison of the two groups of Jews with each other and with Czechoslovaks (which have been taken as a representative source of foreign Y-chromosomes for Ashkenazim) shows a great similarity between Sephardim and Ashkenazim who are very different from Czechoslovaks. On the other hand both groups of Jews appear to be closely related to Lebanese. A preliminary evaluation suggests that the contribution of foreign males to the Ashkenazi gene pool has been very low (1% or less per generation).

  14. AaronfromWG said

    I’ve got more.

  15. minsky said

    Wait, before you share it all, we have to agree on some basics.

    There are 500 studies on Jewish DNA, each one only as good as the groups compared for. It doesn’t matter what Czechoslovaks in isolation are in relation to Jews. Why?

    Take the Bulgarian genome, compare it with the Czech, you get the same results as for the Jews. The Bulgarian national DNA profile will also include genes from the Levant, and North Africa. Why?

    Because of genetic drift associated with neolithic and Bronze age migrations to Southern Eastern Europe (not Eastern or Central Europe). On the other hand, Levantine and Anatolian genes are NOT, Middle Eastern or North African. Rather very much the opposite – North Africa boasts inflows from the Levant and Anatolia, the reverse being nearly insignificant.

    You have to select studies which are comprehensive. The one you cite above, is not. Find something with a comprehensive set of populations, and distance markers.

    The paper above that I linked to, I combined with genetic distance markers from one I did not link. We should consult Cavalli-Sforza, who is the authority on this, but is not online. The Jewish genome belongs to the north-eastern part of the Mediterranean basin- our closest relatives are Italians, Turks, Greeks, Cypriots, Syriac, (not the Arab, but the pre-Arab set), Lebanese – followed by Caucasians.

    Regarding Eastern Europe, the closest genetic affinity is with subset populations among the southern balkans, sometimes sparsely appearing in Romania and Bulgaria.

    BTW, I never suggested Ashkenazim being defined by their Eastern European DNA, I said what I am saying here from the start.

    Eastern European DNA is most curiously found highest among Chasidim.

  16. minsky said

    You have to compare not to a single group, but among groups. As a whole, Jewish DNA clusters closest with populations in the North-eastern Mediterrenean, Italian/Turkish, Greek. Second closest come Caucasians.

    In as much as north africans have Levantine/Anatolian drift, they are bound to share commonality with just about anyone in the Mediterrenean.

    North Africans branch off in instances of Berber DNA, because of its above average Sahel-African content. Algerians do cluster rather closely with Iberians and French, but not as closely as Sephardim or Ashkenazim.

    From the North African and Middle Eastern point Jews comprise a peripheral European pool (i.e. Anatolian/Levantine)

  17. Oyster said


    The Anatolians get your drift.

  18. Kneidalach said

    Poor people… they just wanted a good Jewish kid… and now they’re involved in a massive genetic research discussion…

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