I am a melting pot: my 23andMe results

by Bella

I still remember the first time that someone asked me if I was Jewish. I was only about 8 years old, and didn’t really know wha they meant. I went home and asked my mother. She explained it and said that, “No, we’re not Jewish we were British,”

It turns out that I was asked that question because of the way I look primarily because of my prominent nose. As it turns out, that nose is a more reliable indicator of my ethnicity than even my mother knew.

In recent history, previously isolated ethnic groups have spread throughout the globe and spread their genes in the process. The United States, an immigrant nation, became a melting pot long ago, and I am the result of that melting pot.

My mother and nearly all 12 of her siblings have dark hair, eyes and “tan” skin, so I have always been a bit dubious about their supposed British ancestry until one of my aunts went to tremendous lengths to track and record the family tree. Virtually every line led to England, Ireland and Scotland, so I put my questions to rest and focused my curiosity on my father’s side which held its own mysteries. That was until I got my 23andMe results.

Now that I’ve had my genetic ancestry tested, I know that my questions about my mother’s family origins were justified. According to the results, she is ethnically 1/4 Ashkenazi.

Bella’s ancestry composition. I blocked out my legal name, but it really is mine.

This knowledge has brought the “family tree” into question. Was someone adopted? Undocumented illegitimacy is another possible explanation.  We may never really know, but at least now I understand why I look a bit Jewish. This knowledge has unexpectedly made me proud of my prominent feature and has aroused a new found curiosity in that side of the family.

I had my father tested and 23andMe combined our results and refined my numbers. They also were able to split the results between my maternal and paternal lineages. For women having the autosomal DNA test done, this is very advantageous as we don’t carry a Y chromosome, so testing a male member of the family reveals much more.

In this case, it verified that the Ashkenazi was definitely inherited from mother’s line.

In my next post, I’ll share more about the split results and what I learned about my father’s side. I also ran the raw data through Genetic Genie. This revealed my genetic weaknesses so that I can take proactive steps to counter them. I’ll share that experience as well.

If you have questions about genetic testing, please view my other related posts for helpful links.


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