Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois

“Jewish Genetic Genealogy - A Study in Endogamy” by Israel Pickholtz

  • 14 Feb 2016
  • 12:30 PM
  • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Rd, Northbrook
Program: Sunday, February 14, 2016

Program starts 2:00 p.m. at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook.

Israel Pickholtz, a resident of Jerusalem and author of “ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People,” will speak on “Jewish Genetic Genealogy - A Study in Endogamy” at the Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois.

His presentation will begin at 2 p.m. at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill.

The JGSI meeting facilities at Temple Beth-El will open at 12:30 p.m. to accommodate those who want to use or borrow genealogy library materials, get help with genealogy websites or ask genealogical questions before the main program begins at 2 p.m. For more information phone 312-666-0100.

“The hottest topic in genealogy in the last few years has been genetics, and tens of thousands of genealogists and their family members have ordered DNA tests. Most of those haven’t a clue what to do with their test results,” Israel Pickholtz says.

“The situation is more complicated among Jews, who have by and large married ‘within the tribe’ for hundreds of years, thus ensuring that everyone is related to everyone else multiple times,” Pickholtz says. “Marrying within a fairly closed community is known as ‘endogamy’ and it is typical not only of Jews. The non-Jewish genetic genealogists have not yet succeeded in addressing the problem of endogamous communities.”

His book, “ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People,” tackles this challenge head-on.

In his presentation—as in his book—Pickholtz does not bring a “how to” approach, as every family is different. He prefers a “how I did it” approach, demonstrating the successes he has had in his own families and the general lessons that are applicable to all research of this sort.

His goal is to inspire his listeners and readers to say “I can do this!”

Israel Pickholtz is a native of Pittsburgh and lived in Chicago for four years before making Aliyah in 1973. He began working on his families’ genealogies in 1994 after many years of talking about it. Since 2008, when he took early retirement from his drudge job, he has been accepting genealogy clients from Israel and abroad.

His flagship work is the single-surname Pikholz Project, which serves to identify and reconnect all Pikholz descendants.

He has been involved in genetic genealogy since 2012 and participated in the inaugural Practical Genetic Genealogy course at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. Last summer, Colonial Roots published his book, “ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People,” on using DNA for Jewish genealogy.

He is a member of the Israel Genealogical Society and has spoken at their meetings in Israel and at IAJGS conferences in the United States. He is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and its Writers SIG, the Guild of One-Name Studies and various research groups. Over the years, he has written for the APG Quarterly as well as for the IGS quarterly Sharsheret Hadorot, where he served briefly as editor; and for Avotaynu, The Galicianer and other genealogy publications.

His paternal haplogroup is R-M269, and his maternal haplogroup is U1b1.

He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and the youngest of his six children.

After his talk, Pickholtz will sell and sign copies of his book, which is also available at, together with genetic genealogy T-shirts.

Prior to Pickholtz’s presentation, the JGSI “help desk” will operated from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m., as it does at each regular monthly meeting. Member volunteers at the help desk will access online databases and answer genealogical questions one-on-one for members and visitors as time allows.

The JGSI library has more than 800 volumes of interest to Jewish family historians. Many are available for borrowing by JGSI members for a limited time. All are available for perusing from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. at each regular monthly meeting.

For more information about the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois or the JGSI schedule of future events, visit or phone 312-666-0100.

While this program is free, those who join the society have access to several valuable members-only resources on the JGSI website. They include video recordings of more than a dozen presentations from past JGSI events, valuable informational handouts from past speakers, access to past Morasha newsletters containing informative articles about Jewish genealogy, the syllabus from the 2015 JGSI conference, and more. To learn more about the benefits of joining the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, go to




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