Project allofasuddenpartJew: 2011 Recap

Earlier this year, over a family gathering in San Jose, I learned that I supposedly had an ancestor who was Jewish.  Great-great-grandfather to be exact mentioned by my mother’s cousin in passing to me. I asked why this was not mentioned earlier, and the response was it was not that important.

I have always been fascinated by different cultures, history, and diversity so it wasn’t long before I became completely absorbed, curious, and obsessed in learning the following 3 things:

  • Genealogy and Family History – confirming, validating, and researching my ‘Jewishness’ through traditional family history research and DNA testing
  • Jewish Culture and History (and how it relates to China) – going to many Jewish events, meeting Jewish people, and reading about Jewish history and culture in and outside of China
  • International Relations – furthering cultural and historical understanding between two groups without politics nor religion.

While I understand my story is still a hypothesis awaiting confirmation; records were not kept to today’s standards and difficult to trace in some areas, my curiosity has not waned but only strengthened over time. I have a soft spot for Jewish (and Japanese) people! Since then I have created three items to help further my learning and goals.

  • Blog – allofasuddenpartJew (29 posts in ~3-5 months)
  • Facebook – page under the same title (272 Fans in ~ 3 months)
  • Twitter – account under the same title (153 Followers in ~ 3 months)

With a recent move to Hong Kong, quitting a job I wasn’t passionate about, and starting grad school, I hope to make 2012 great! I want to touch more Jewish/Chinese fans, non-Jewish/Chinese fans, and spread more cultural understanding and diversity awareness.

**Any mention of Jews and Chinese in this blog solely refers to the cultural and historical aspects of both groups.  I am apolitical and agnostic and do not plan to be political nor religious in the future.**

Tiny Roadblock, Have No Fear, Janice Sellers, Professional Genealogist is Here!

I’m at a small roadblock in my journey so I have invited a professional genealogist to shed some light.

Meet Janice,

Janice M. Sellers is a professional genealogist who specializes in newspaper and Jewish research and has experience researching many other ethnic groups. She is the editor of The Galitzianer, the journal focused on Jewish research in the former Austrian province of Galicia, and of ZichronNote, the newsletter of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society. She is also the publicity director for SFBAJGS and a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild, California Genealogical Society, California State Genealogical Alliance, and Gesher Galicia. She has been on the staff of the Oakland Regional Family History Center for eleven years. Before becoming a professional genealogist, Janice worked in publishing for many years as an editor, indexer, translator, and compositor.

Janice will be blogging about traditional research methods vs. DNA testing for ancestral research, how traditional should preceed DNA, and some tips for me on my personal journey.

Is there any topics you would like to hear about in the future?

Look for it soon!

Do DNA Tests Really Work?

Do DNA Tests Really Work?

I recently decided to take a chance and joined 23andme, a DNA testing service.  I provided a spit sample and 2 months later was provided with an analysis of what my heritage supposedly is made off.  It was not as detailed as I would have liked.  23andme groups people of middle east heritage with the Asian population so I came out 100% Asian according to their analysis.  My great-great-grandfather, that is 4 generations back and is probably difficult to test for.

So what did I decide to do?

I tested my mom as well!  Using Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder service. This is a bit different from 23andme, in that, it has the largest database of DNA for Jews. (This was what I was told). Family Tree DNA requested swabs from inside your mouth, not spit, another differentiator.  Now I am just waiting for the results to see if my mom’s DNA has any matches with existing Jews in Family Tree DNA’s database.

So exciting!

Have you had a DNA experience?

The Art and Science of Genealogy.

The merriam-webster dictionary defines genealogy as the study of family pedigrees.

When I was in D.C. 2 weeks ago, I snuck into a few sessions at the Jewish Genealogy Conference 2011. My favorite was “Attracting the Younger Generation”. We had a great speaker named Joshua Taylor, a professional genealogist based on the East Coast.  He outlined the challenges the field of genealogy has with today’s youth and strategies and tactics to overcome them.  A very informative session that I can apply to allofasuddenpartJew. My goal with this project is to attract the younger Jewish and Chinese generations to promote cultural understanding and business opportunities.

I also met Schelly Talalay Dardashti, the proprietor of Tracing the Tribe – The Jewish Genealogy Blog. I asked for her advice on creating and growing a blog and came away with some good tips.

I could hire a professional genealogist to help me in my search, but its not as fun as digging through history myself. What do you think?

Flashback….Growing up in Shanghai

I’ve gotten feedback from some readers that they would like to know more about my family history, where I grew up, and how I found out that I’m part “Jewish”.

Today, I am going to do just that.  I was born in Shanghai in 1981, a huge 30 years ago!  China, or Shanghai, was a much different country and city then.  We lived in the French Concession District, for those who do not know, Shanghai was divided among foreign powers earlier in the 20th century, it was the French piece.

I had a pretty normal childhood in this neighborhood.  My friends were mostly boy neighbors and I used to be such a tomboy.  I remember having bicycle races with the boys, and I used to be one of them.  I walked everywhere as my surroundings were tightly packed.  We lived in a Japanese built building converted into living quarters.  Money was very tight but my joy was our big backyard where I could run around.

Have you been to Shanghai before?