Monday, October 10, 2011

Chinese and Jewish

This past July I met Xiaoming Jiao, who was a surprise attendee at a San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogy Society meeting.  She is Chinese, so of course she immediately attracted attention and queries.  She told us her great-great-grandfather was Jewish and she wanted to learn about that part of her ancestry.  We welcomed her to the meeting, and several people suggested resources for her research.  Since then she has been exploring some of those resources and has jumped head-first into Chinese-Jewish relations, and we have been communicating regularly.

Recently she suggested her mother have a DNA test done.  The results were not what she expected, and while we were discussing them she asked if I would be a guest on her blog and talk about some possible reasons.  I was happy to do so, and she has posted my initial thoughts on the situation.

Xiaoming's discoveries highlight a basic truth of genealogy:  You can't guarantee what you're going to find when you start looking, but you need to know where to start.  Groups (like SFBAJGS), organizations (like Family History Centers), and people (like me) can give you ideas on where to start digging.   Xiaoming's puzzle is far from complete, and she isn't sure what the full picture will look like, but piece by piece it will come into focus.


  1. Thanks for these links - and for doing them as "open in a new tab" sort of link, so I can come back to your blog and read the rest of your article. I look forward to reading about Xiaoming's search in the future.

    This is an amazing story that I never even thought about before, but why not? Why do we expect to find that our ancestors are exactly the same as ourselves - and why do we expect to find that others who research those similar to our own ancestors will be exactly like us? This is a good reminder that serendipity and surprise are all a part of genealogy.

  2. To me the fact that people have very different stories has always been one of the best parts of genealogy. I learn something from each person I work with, and every new thing I learn broadens my view of the world.

  3. Have you written more about Xiaoming, Janice? I'm very
    curious now!

  4. I have not written more about Xiaoming because she is not currently working on her family history. She decided to go to graduate school in Hong Kong. Once things settle down, she plans to get back to research, but she's had an interesting time adjusting. You can keep up with her recent experiences on her blog, When she does get back to family history, I'll be happy to update everyone!


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