Shalom Life | July 31, 2014

According to Medical Geneticist, Jews are an Actual Race

Book sheds light on just who is a Jew

By: David Shear

Published: May 7th, 2012 in News » World

According to Medical Geneticist, Jews are an Actual Race
While many Jews continue to surmise, pontificate and argue just “who is a Jew,” it seems that a new book may finally be shedding some light on this age-old issue.

Harry Ostrer, a medical geneticist and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, argues that Jews are different – as we’ve always known – but, in a deeper, more profound way with a distinctive genetic code unique to them.

In his new book, “Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People,” Oster has weaved a new thread into the rich tapestry that is Judaism, all thanks to a factor that never lies, Deoxyribonucleic acid, more commonly known as DNA.

And, while we’ve all known that various illnesses and diseases, most notably, Tay-Sachs, affects Jews more than any other race, Ostrer, also the director of genetic and genomic testing at Montefiore Medical Center, says that Jews are a homogeneous group with all the necessary factors needed to constitute an actual “race.”

Ironically, many sociologists, a number of whom are Jewish, do not accept the word “race,” claiming, instead that Judaism has slowly changed into a religion from a tribal cult. One reason why the word “race” still carries a negative perception with many Jews is due to its association with Nazism.

Call it what you will, but to break down such a complex subject as much as possible, Ostrer divides his book into six chapters, each one representing a different aspect of Jewishness: Looking Jewish, Founders, Genealogies, Tribes, Traits and Identity. Each chapter features a prominent scientist or historical figure that dramatically advanced our understanding of Jewishness.

The ancestry of 80 percent of Jewish males and half of Jewish females trace their ancestry back to the Middle East, with the others becoming Jewish through intermarriage or conversion.

Meanwhile, on the “Proud to be Jewish list,” Ostrer notes that despite the fact that Members of the Tribe comprise less than 3% of the population, they have won more than 25% of the Nobel Prizes awarded to American scientists since 1950. Jews also account for 20% of America’s chief executives and make up 22% of Ivy League students. Psychologists and educational researchers have pegged their average IQ at 107.5 to 115, with their verbal IQ at more than 120, a stunning standard deviation above the average of 100 found in those of European ancestry.

So, why do so many Jews become successful lawyers, doctors and, yes, geneticists? Is it because of the homes we are brought up in? Is it because mom and dad pressured us to “do something” with our lives? Or, is it because of our DNA and we were destined for greatness regardless of how much we did – or didn’t study.

The answer, my friends, is in our genetic code, a code which, like it or not, says we are all cut from the same cloth.
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