Category Archives: Jewish Ancestry

Genealogy… Why Are People Shocked When They Discover Jewish Ancestry?

Standard

I got a kick out of the latest review for my book, Secret Genealogy II: The Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors. “I have WHAT?” was the title of the review. Here is the rest: “A recent DNA test for my husband found he had Jewish ancestors that he, nor anyone else in the family knew anything about. When I told him the results of the DNA test, he said, “I have WHAT, but HOW?” So that’s why we bought this book. It just arrived a few days ago, so we will use this book to try and see what we need to do to find his Jewish heritage.”

Why is Jewish ancestry so hard to believe? Probably because the family did not breathe a word of it. But what’s interesting is that although it was a secret, they continued with Jewish names for their children. Benjamin, Rachel, Abraham, Jacob and Deborah are all Old Testament Hebrew names. And if you look hard enough, you might find other clues to your true origins. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry and Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors and Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:

Secret Genealogy:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0965114082

Secret Genealogy II:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484053222

Secret Genealogy III:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/148407579X

Advertisements

Those Elusive Jewish Ancestors, Let the Iberian Truth Prevail

Standard

Those of you who’ve read my books, know that I write about uncovering ancient Jewish ancestry. You’ve read about my researching my father-in-law’s Jewish ancestry and how I stumbled onto clues that my ancestors were also Jews. But I could not prove it. There were so many clues but nothing was concrete. Even though seeing their surname on a list of Jews asked to leave Spain during the Spanish Inquisition was more proof, it didn’t mean it was my ancestors. They could have shared the same name. But today, when I decided to look at my 23andMe composition chart and see what changes they’d made, I saw this:

“You most likely had a fourth-great-grandparent, fifth-great-grandparent, sixth-great-grandparent, or seventh-great- (or greater) grandparent who was 100% Spanish & Portuguese. This person was likely born between 1680 and 1770.”

The descendants of the former Jews of Spain and Portugal are called Sephardim. The DNA testing companies are getting better at finding not just Ashkenazic Jewish ancestry but Sephardic too. Finding Spanish & Portuguese ancestry does not prove 100% that my ancestors were Jews. But their surname, Bonte is on the list of Jews asked to leave Spain. Maybe the next time that I check, there will be more DNA discoveries. Keep digging away at those Iberian clues. Sooner or later, the truth will prevail.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors, Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:

Secret Genealogy:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0965114082

Secret Genealogy II:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484053222

Secret Genealogy III:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/148407579X

Genealogy… Jewish, Jewish, Jewish… and Our Christian Ancestors Never Knew?

Standard

It wasn’t until I was researching Jewish genealogy for my father-in-law that I began to see a pattern in my matriarchal line. Never had I suspected that my Banta/Bonte ancestors were Jewish, there was never any reason to. We weren’t Jewish. It was never brought up. I should have suspected something. Growing up with only a Southern and Mid-Western identity, should have been a red flag. But when you’re sixteen, who cares? Except for the occasional What are we Mommy? so that I could chime in when my friends recited their ethnic backgrounds, it didn’t matter.

Once I was on the trail to uncover the truth about my ancient ancestry, I was pleased to see the surname Bonte on the list of Jews asked to leave Spain. Great lead. These same ancestors changed their surname to Jacobse and were known to use Jacobs. Jacobse, Jacobs and Jacobi are all Hebrew names. Even Epke, which my very ancient ancestor went by, I believe means Jacob. And the surname Leeuw was used as well. Leeuw and all its variations are Dutch for “Lion,” which is what medieval Jews were required to use when they signed documents. I was so astonished by these findings, I became obsessed with uncovering the truth behind many an American surname.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors, Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians, Available here:

Secret Genealogy:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0965114082

Secret Genealogy II:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484053222

Secret Genealogy III:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/148407579X

Genealogy… Ancestors Concealed Jewish Origins

Standard

I don’t know what it says about me that I was blown away when I saw evidence of ancient Jewish ancestry. Or what it reveals that after nine years, I still have trouble believing it. It all started with a book that I was writing about a romance between a Christian and a Jew during the Crusades. I brought home oversized books by the pound, giving myself a crash course on European history. Then I merged onto the Internet and found a plethora of ancient documents. I saw names of Portuguese merchants during the Middle Ages that were similar to names I’d uncovered in my “Dutch” family tree. Then I read “Rembrandt’s Jews” by Steven Nadler, (University of Chicago Press). Nadler paints a portrait of Inquisitional Jews hiding in plain sight in old Amsterdam. The more I studied these colorful people, the more I became convinced that my ancestors were Jews who’d fled north to escape the Inquisition. Yesterday, I received an updated DNA report from 23andMe, informing that, six to eight generations ago, my ancestors were from Spain/Portugal. The Inquisition was more than eight generations ago but these people married within their group so would maintain the same genetic make-up as their ancestors. Having seen their surname on a list of Jews kicked out of Spain during the Inquisition, I should not be surprised but I am. That’s what happens when your family has… Secret Genealogy.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry. Available here: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-Volume-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114082

Genealogy… What Do Names Tell Us? That They’re Jews?

Standard

Names are becoming my favorite genealogy tell-all. Yes, they can and do change through the years but even the changes are telling. In today’s modern world, about once a week I hear of Jewish names that were Anglicized. Usually, it’s a radio talk show host, TV personality or otherwise famous person in the public eye. It happened a thousand years ago, and it still happens today. It’s not uncommon for people to dislike their name but it is unfortunate that when culture meets culture, a cherished surname can become one that’s continually laughed at.

One of my Dutch ancestors had the word “Jow” written after his name, and no one knows what that means. I think the Early American Dutch clerk thought he was writing “Jew.” Jood is Dutch for Jew. My husband’s great-great-grandfather was named Gedeon. In parentheses, is the word “Jeddi.” And speaking of nicknames, the word “Jew” is sort of an English nickname. Jehudi is the ancient Hebrew word for Jew. I wonder… Jehudi… Jeddi. I’m sure it was his nickname. Like Robert to Bobby or James to Jimmy. But it’s still fun to explore these things. And wonder…

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry. Available here: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-Volume-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114082

The Ghosts of Christians Passed

Standard

Last Saturday I looked up museums and ran across an historic cemetery. My husband and I took the dog and meandered through the flowering magnolia trees and profuse blooms of orange poppies. It was a huge cemetery so it turned out to be a great place to get exercise and with all the flowering trees, wild flowers and rose bushes, it was actually a cheerful place. A lot can be learned from visiting a cemetery. There were sections for various wars and sections where victims of a cholera epidemic in 1850 claimed almost 1,000 lives. There was a security guard walking around and I visited with him. “Is there a Jewish section?” I asked. He seemed confused and thought about it for a minute and said, “No, I don’t believe there is.” I suspect though, that there’s a cryptic Jewish section and I look forward to returning to see if I can find it. I might have luck looking through the Masonic and Oddfellows sections because many California Jewish Pioneers’ proudly display the symbols of these secret societies on their tombstones. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors and Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:

Secret Genealogy: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-Volume-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114082

Secret Genealogy II:   http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-II-Christian-Ancestors/dp/1484053222

Secret Genealogy III:   http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-III-Jewish-Anglo-Saxon-Acadians/dp/148407579X

eBooks and computer downloads available through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ocean

eBooks at Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Secret-Genealogy-by-Suellen-Ocean

Secret Genealogy    SecretGenealogyIIFrontCover    Hand Painted Roses Cover Sec Gen III

Ancestry & Genealogy: Time to Know Who You Really Come From

Standard

No more secrets. It’s not necessary. No more lies. DNA can shed light on it. Our ancestors may have “pretended” to be of an ethnicity they weren’t born with but let’s check it out. Why do so many Americans have Old Testament Hebrew names? Hosea… first king of the Jews? Why would an ancestor have that name if he wasn’t from a Jewish family? Rebecca, Rachel… Old Testament names… maybe the ancients were from Judah. The habit of persecuting Jews was rampant during the Middle Ages and still practiced into the 18th century… Jews were expelled from the Louisiana area. Check it out… do you have Southern ancestry? Did they the leave Louisiana area between 1724-1803 and move into the adjoining territory? Maybe they were Jewish and they didn’t want to be persecuted. Maybe they were just done with it. But guess what… we’re just gettin’ started. We want to know who we really are!

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors and Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:

Paperback:

Secret Genealogy:  https://www.createspace.com/4234160

Secret Genealogy II:  https://www.createspace.com/4235650

Secret Genealogy III:  https://www.createspace.com/4239009

eBooks and computer downloads available through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ocean

eBooks at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Suellen+Ocean&x=3&y=12

eBooks at Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Secret-Genealogy-by-Suellen-Ocean?store=ebook&keyword=Secret+Genealogy+by+Suellen+Ocean

Secret Genealogy    SecretGenealogyIIFrontCover    Hand Painted Roses Cover Sec Gen III