Throughout the centuries, the Jewish people have always prided themselves on their yichus (lineage, distinguished birth, or pedigree). Yichus was especially important for rabbinical families, and many of them have created genealogy charts or family trees in which they have traced their lineage to King David, Maimonides, and other great Jews of the past.

If, as professed by Arthur Kurzweil, the “royal families” of the Jewish people have been those of the illustrious rabbis, then the Twersky Chassidic dynasty of Chernobyl surely merits an exalted place on the royal throne. It is known as a family with an unblemished yichus, as the Twersky Grand Rabbis married only within their immediate family for almost 200 years. Within the rabbinical Chassidic world, a Chernobyler Ainikle, a descendant of the Twersky Chassidic dynasty, is highly sought after for marriage, due to the purity of the blood line. Leaders of virtually every major Chassidic dynasty today (e.g., Belz, Bobov, Lubavitch, Ruzhin, Satmar, Savran-Bendery, Stolin, and Vishnitz) are blood descendants of Grand Rabbi Menachem Nachum Twersky of Chernobyl.

For centuries, Jewish men and women have sought to connect themselves and their descendants to this renowned family, either through marriage, or by paper trail. With recent advances in genetic genealogy, this is now possible to do for more individuals of Jewish descent than ever before, as demonstrated by the authors’ identification of the Y-DNA genetic signatures of some of the world’s most prominent rabbinical lineages. In this study, we identify the Y-DNA genetic signature and ethnic origin of the Twersky Chassidic dynasty. Continue Reading…