Am I Jewish?

The short answer? No.

But that wouldn’t necessitate a blog post, now would it?

I was raised Roman Catholic, the faith my mother grew up in. My father was raised Methodist, the faith of both his parents. In fact his great grandfather, John Augustine Moray was a fairly prominent Methodist Protestant minister in Michigan. So then you might ask why would I even consider the fact I might be Jewish? If you happened to read my last post about Israel Morey (John’s father, my 3rd Great Grandfather, and my last known paternal ancestor) then you know I (or technically my dad, but because the results apply to me as well, I will use “I” for the rest of the post) recently learned that my Y-DNA haplogroup is J1 or J-M267 (two terms for the same group). Specifically, a subclade of this group that has strong Jewish orientation. In fact, one of the J1 project administrators believes my particular subclade (J-PF7263/64 for those of you who are interested) was a Jewish group originating in France around 800 AD, which then spread out to different parts of Europe including Germany, Spain, and the Ukraine. So, I may have paternal Jewish ancestry dating back to over a thousand years ago.

But does this make me Jewish? According to traditional Jewish law, Halakha, one’s status as a Jew descends through the maternal line, not the paternal (though special status is often inherited paternally), so even if my 50th great grandfather was a Jew…once one of the males in the line between him and I changed religions…that’s the end of the line.

My closest Y-DNA matches are descended from a Pierre Morin dit Boucher, and it is likely I am also a direct descendant. Pierre was born in France and immigrated to Acadia and then New France in what is now Canada. He is the last known paternal ancestor of the Morin line to which I likely belong, he was born in the early 1600s, and he was Catholic. So if my ancestors really were Jewish, at what point in the 800 years between my subclade appearing in France, and the birth of Pierre Morin dit Boucher did they change their faith? Will I ever get closer to figuring out why? Possibly. The paper trail could push back from Pierre, with the possibility of finding Jewish ancestors. Or as more people are taking DNA tests for genealogy, and as those tests become more sophisticated I may be able to push the knowledge of my DNA closer to the present.

Now…who knows if there’s any Jewish ancestry on my Mom’s side…maybe I’m Jewish after all. 

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