Tag Archives: Were my ancestors Jewish?

Genealogy… Ancestors Concealed Jewish Origins

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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

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To DNA or Not to DNA… That is the Question

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I recently had my DNA tested and it moved me forward in my knowledge of where my ancestors hailed from. Like everyone else, our earliest ancestors came from Africa and the Middle East. The science is still young, so you are likely to only receive a little information about your family genetics. And you will lose some privacy if you agree to sharing your results. The fun part of sharing is that you meet “cousins.” But they, like most everyone else participating, are wondering “now what?” Our lives are so busy, most of us don’t have the time to dig deeper into the DNA website and see what it has to offer us. I only took one test, with one company and they keep in touch, basically trying to sell me on more opportunities, but I think in the future I’ll try another company and start with them, from scratch. Just to see what they say. It seems easier that way. And it sounds like fun.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy VII – DNA, Jumping Into the Gene Pool. A High Tech Gathering of the Tribes, Available here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078X5F7YP

Genealogy… Why Do We Hit a Brick Wall and Where Else Can I Look?

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It’s easy to explain away the end of our ancestral trail by saying things like, “Well, it was a long time ago,” or “People didn’t write things down,” or “People didn’t keep records like they do today,” and those statements may be true. However, there is another aspect to searching for ancestors and that is Schem Hakodesch. What is Schem Hadodesch? It is the sacred Hebrew name given to babies and the name used in Hebrew documents and in the synagogue. But you’re not Jewish, you say. No, maybe you’re not, but that doesn’t mean that your great-great-great-grandfather wasn’t. Starting in the 1100’s Jewish custom was to have two names. One was the above-mentioned Hebrew name, the holy name, the other was a kinouy, also spelled kinnui or kinui, and it was a name that related to that person’s immediate environment, their secular name. Even if the kinouy was similar to the holy name, which they often are, important documents were signed with the holy name, the Schem Hadodesch, which is why you may have lost the trail to your beloved ancestors.

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

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Genealogy: Contempt Between English Royals and Jews; Jews Seek Safety Under Muslim Rule

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Sir Walter Scott wrote a book called Ivanhoe. Rebecca and Isaac are Jewish characters who in the end, leave England to start a new life in Granada (Spain) where they hope to live in peace and find safety under Moslem law. That sounds strange, because today the western world has developed a fear of the Muslim world. However, it’s true that Jews were treated much better in Spain under Muslim rule than under Christian rule. During the time Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe” takes place, the Jews were the moneylenders who charged interest (Christians were forbidden to partake in this occupation) and made grand loans to royals. Then in return, the royals grew to hate the Jews because they owed them so much money. The Jews were treated horribly, including tortured. This set up a distrust between the Anglos and the Jews and violence came about between the two. In an encyclopedia entry, about the book “Ivanhoe”, it is written, “The Jewish people were the most wretched, for they were at the mercy of both Saxon and Norman.”

Throughout history we find much contempt between different ethnic groups. Through ignorance and a lack of understanding history, that contempt continued through generations. This is why many of us have Jewish ancestry and it is hidden. Like Rebecca and Isaac in the story “Ivanhoe,” our Jewish ancestors wanted to find peace and safety. Unfortunately, they believed hiding their Jewish ancestry was the way to accomplish this.

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

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Genealogy & History: What’s a Judahite?

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A Judahite is an inhabitant of Judah or a member of the tribe of Judah. In other words, a Judahite is a Jew. (Jew is a nickname that came later.) Those who study the bible know that one of Jacob’s sons was Judah and that is where the name of the tribe came from. Jacob is also referred to as “Israel,” which is where the name of the Middle Eastern country came from. To the ancient Judahites, Judah was synonymous with “lion.” A Jewish man could sign documents as either “Judah” or “Lion.” If you have an ancestor who was signing his name as Jacob, he was probably following the Jewish custom.

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

Genealogy: Have the Name Jonathan In Your Family Tree?

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Jonathan pronounced, “Yawn-a-tahn” in Hebrew means, “the Lord has given.” There are many historical Jonathans portrayed in the bible but probably the one most remembered is Jonathan, the eldest son of King Saul the first king of Israel. Jonathan is also remembered by his close friendship with biblical David. The name Jonathan is one of the most popular names in the western world. It has made its way into surnames in the form of Johnson and it’s many versions. Millions of people have a Jonathan in their family tree. This does not mean the family was Jewish. One might though, take a look at the other names in the tree and see if they too have Hebrew origins.

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

Crypto-Jewish Ancestors In Your Family Tree?

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Many of the Jews that were forced to leave Spain had previously (for their safety and security) converted to Christianity. Many knew quite a bit about how to pose as a Christian and probably even more knew how to keep their mouths shut. Perhaps it was during such trying times that the old saying, “don’t ever argue religion or politics,” became popular. For a Jew residing in a medieval Christian kingdom … good advice.

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