THE SAGA OF SEPHARDA
by Debra Katz
Working Theory in Progress of How Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, Blacks and Whites the “Caribbean”, Roma Gypsies, and
African Americans all Sprung from the Same Well !
~180,000 years ago
A woman [womb-man] walked through Olduvai Gorge
(in present day East Africa Tanzania)
with her small tribe of fellow Homo Sapiens. Her people were destined to be the only species of hominids that would survive, but right now they’re not the only “people” by far…Neanderthals and Homo Erectus still dominate most of the planet. But this lady is special because of all the women walking with her, she alone will be the direct maternal line ancestor of every person alive on the planet today. You may have read about her…“Mitochondrial Eve” and her haplogroup designation is “L”.
~75,000 years ago
In the heart of Central Africa a baby girl is born into Eve’s tribe …she is just like her mom, except that one letter in her mtDNA mutated.
She didn’t know it, but she was the beginning of a new haplogroup branch—L2—that would become the most common haplogroup in Africa. About this time a small band from another branch of “mtDNA mutants”—L3—decided to seek better weather and food by bravely crossing the Gate of Tears off the horn of Africa. They entered the Arabian peninsula—-and from there, this band of 200 or less people would go on to populate the rest of the World.
But their story is not ours…for the L2 baby girl and her descendants all stay in Africa.
~ 55,000 years ago
Among an L2 tribe living in West/Central Africa, another baby girl is born with a new mtDNA mutation…making her the start of a new haplogroup branch L2a.
Her descendant daughters remain without much mtDNA change for over 50,000 years!
Over that time, some of her people start to migrate across Central Africa to the East area now called EThiOpiA.
Others of her people started heading North along the nile coast, settling in North Africa and EgYpt and even reached the Levant
(now Israel, Syria, Jordan, Turkey).
~2,500 years ago (500 BCE)
Somewhere in North Africa, EgYpt or the Levant, a baby girl is born with yet another mtDNA mutation…starting the haplogroup line known as L2a1.
Some of her tribes people intermarry with the newly forming Hebrew tribes in the Levant and become Hebrews/Jews.
~ 2,200 years ago (~200 BCE)
It is among this group of African Jews that our common ancestress was born! For fun I’m going to call her Sepharda Fulanivich—a name that hints at our group’s main strains.
Sepharda had no special mutation that would create a new haplogroup,
but she was unique in the way we are all unique…and special because all our maternal lines would lead back to her.
Given how many of us have similar eye color, Sepharda may well have had green/blue eyes. This trait would have been recessive in her daughter descendants, dominated by their brown-eyed mates.…
but always ready to appear again if and when a blue-eyed spouse came along.
~1900 years ago (~100 CE)
One of Sepharda’s descendant daughters was part of a group of Jews who fled the Roman invasions of Judea and headed back into North Africa. They formed a tribe that came to be known as the Fulani.
As they migrated across North Africa, they first settled in the Morocco/Mauritania area and over the next few centuries slowly spread throughout West Africa, converting to Islam, but retaining both the appearance and some traditional memories of their Hebrew origin in the Levant. (Their DNA held the memory as well.)
At about this very same time—give or take 100 years or so!—another of Sepharda’s descendant daughters also fled Judea, heading with her family to Spain (Sepharad, in Hebrew). They may have gone up through Italy first or directly to Spain…we can’t know as yet.
But one way or another, they became Sephardic Jews.
~600 years ago (~1400 CE)
For many centuries, Spain was a place where Jews/hebrews flourished, but things started deteriorating after the Moors left and the Pope’s intolerant minions came to power. Many Jews left the country, heading for France and then Bavaria (Germany), where they mingled with the Ashkenazi Jewish populations already living there.
One of Sepharda’s descendants was among them and she is the common ancestor of all the
Ashkenazi Jewsin our group—the set of 13 families who match HVR1&2 exactly.
More on their story in a couple of centuries…(-:)
~300 years ago (~1700 CE)
This was a lousy time period for almost all of Sepharda’s descendants.
First we go back to West Africa and find that some of her Fulani daughters are among the ones being captured by the British and sent to the Caribbean and the new colonies in America.
Indeed, because we know most of these enslaved daughters of Sepharda were sent to North Carolina originally, we can predict that their common ancestress lived when the trade to that area was peaking—1720 to 1760.
These daughters are the ancestors of almost all of our African-American matches.
Then, over in Spain, things had gone from bad to worse, with a complete expulsion of Jews in 1492. As noted above, some fled into Europe. Many more went farther south into the Turkish (Ottoman) Empire and North Africa. However—-drum roll—a fair number headed for the
British West Indies and by ~1650 CE there was a whole bunch of Sephardic Jews settled in Jamaica and the Bahamas. In 1691 another “auto de fe” (more “burning of Jews”) in Toledo Spain sent another wave of Spanish Jews to Jamaica.
Many of these Jews came as “singles” and ended up intermarrying with the population from the British Isles that had settled there. And among those migrating Spanish women were Sepharda’s daughters, many of whom married non-Jewish Brits and lost the memory of their Jewish past.
Their lines led to our West Indies matches.
And I believe it also explains some “not-Jewish white” folks who trace themselves back to the 17th century in Rhode Island and New Jersey
By ironic coincidence, Jamaica was also a drop for slave traders and it looks very possible that some of our Jamaican matches are from the African slave branch of our line rather than the Sephardic Jewish branch!
~250-400 years ago (1600-1750 CE)
Getting back to those Ashkenazi Jews, we can spell out their story a little more.
Some stayed in Germany …but as the centuries passed and German anti-Semitism increased, other descendant daughters started moving east into Poland and then south towards Romania (where the ancestors of some of us joined up with other Jewish Romas (gypsies)…
interestingly, a very recent study found what was to them a startling level of “L2a” haplotypes among Roma gypsies in Slovakia!
About 1700 or so, some of the Polish daughters migrated north, where some lines settled in Belarus and others went up farther into Lithuania and Latvia .
Back in West Africa, right now, some of Sepharda’s daughters are living and don’t even realize all of us cousins elsewhere in the world are thinking of them. That is also true no doubt in Spain…and all the other places our lines have passed through. Some women moved on, but not all of them.
And imagine if Sepharda could come back to life and meet each of us and realize that without her existence….none of us would be here.
That’s the power of one.
Updated October 2008
Author’s Note: This working theory will soon be greatly enhanced by new information as nine of the descendants above (including slave descendants and Caribbeans) get their currently pending Full Genome Sequence results…
Updated info on L2a1 Saga of Sepharda by Debra Katz on link below:
http://www.billipilli.com/sepharda/ (SOURCE FOUND ONLINE >
The Matrilineal Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jewry:
Portrait of a Recent Founder Event