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Jews' Genetics Make Them A 'Distinct Population': NYU/Yeshiva Study

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A comprehensive study of Jews from around the world has revealed that Jewish people are genetically different from other people.

The study, conducted by scientists from Yeshiva University and New York University, used genetic analysis to study and compare 237 Jews and 418 non-Jews.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

The study, which was conducted primarily to further medical knowledge of genetic diseases, rejected a highly controversial idea that Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Khazars in Eastern Europe who converted to Judaism -- an idea that has recently been used in an attempt to discredit the idea that Jews belong in Israel because it is their historic homeland.

The study shows that there is "clearly a shared genetic common ancestry among geographically diverse populations consistent with oral tradition and culture ...and that traces back to the Middle East," said geneticist Sarah A. Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study. "Jews have assimilated to some extent, but they clearly retain their common ancestry."

The study also found that Ashkenazi Jews, who hail from Europe, are "all as closely related as fourth or fifth cousins would be."

The study appeared Thursday in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

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