Monday, October 9, 2017

Conversion, Genetics, and my 23andMe Story

This might be my longest posting gap ... ever. I haven't posted in two months. The excuse? Honestly, I don't know. I have three days a week to myself, where I drown myself in the part-time work I have and running errands against the clock before kids come home and my level of energy for the day crashes at crazy fast rates.


But here I am. Inspired, just a little, to say something. I got a notification from, where I got some genetic testing done a few months back, to participate in a storytelling mission. Although they didn't accept my story, I thought y'all might want to read the short story I wrote about why I sprang for the 23andMe adventure.

The greatest impetus for me to do 23andMe was to find out if I had any Jewish ancestry, because I chose more than 10 years ago to journey into becoming a Jew. I converted to Judaism, and like many converts, I was immensely curious whether there was a hidden and lost thread of Jewish history in my family background that was trying to peek out through me. For many converts, finding that thread validates their choice to take the complicated and emotional path into conversion. I had done my family's genealogy and found lineage back to the 1700s on both sides thanks to my uncle being Mormon and there being massive research already done on my family. But despite my deepest digging, I only found one mysterious relative who was Polish, and I thought "maybe this is the connection to Ashkenazic Jewry I'm looking for.

Then I got my test results back. Not a lick of Jewish ancestry! As I suspected from my research, lots of British, French, and German in my background, but that's about it. I am, through and through, European, but not Ashkenazic in my genetic background.

In one sense, I was disappointed. I had hoped to find that thread, to know that I had picked up the thread. In another sense, I was proud to know that my compulsion to convert to Judaism and become a member of the Jewish people was truly authentic, completely my own. That it arose out of a place hidden for thousands and thousands of years, as the Jewish tradition says that every soul that converts stood at Sinai and accepted Torah. So, it appears my soul was there. But my ancestors were not. 

And that, friends, is my 23andMe story.


Additionally, although I didn't say it above, my secondary reason for doing 23andMe was because I was hoping to find maybe some weird genetic marker for an illness or disease, something with insight into what my father has been dealing with for the past several years that remains undiagnosed. Alas, no major markers for any of the diseases or illnesses they catalog. Aside from being prone to being overweight, my genes are pretty good to go.

So, if you'd like to hop on the 23andMe bandwagon and see what your genetics have in store, click here and get a kit (referral link). Then, let me know what you find out!