First Ever Worldwide Bacharach Gathering

On July 7, 2015, Bacharach descendants gathered in Jerusalem to meet each other and reconnect branches that have been separated for 500 years or more. Descendants of several of the lines for which we have Y-DNA represented in the project and a couple of lines for which we don’t have DNA were in attendance. Everyone was eager to figure out how they were related to each other, but we had only one new set of close cousins, two descendants of Jacob Bachrach of Hattenbach, Hesse, Germany (1775) met for the first time and discovered they are 3rd cousins once removed!

We had attendees whose oldest known Bacharach ancestors lived in: Hattenbach, Hesse, Germany; Mansbach, Hesse, Germany; Fellheim, Bavarian Swabia, Germany; Ruzhany, Belarus; Slonim, Belarus; and Borisov, Belarus, as far back as the 17th or 18th centuries.

We will try again another time, another place. Stay tuned!

Click on the photos below for the slide show.

From Kansas to the Rhine: A DNA Journey Through Europe’s Rabbinic Capitals

AvotaynuCoverSMallFor the Winter 2014 issue of Avotaynu Magazine, I wrote an article explaining the Bacharach DNA project. You can download a PDF copy of the article here.


Phylogenetic Trees: A Snapshot of the Genetic Relationships

I recently discovered a very helpful utility at that helps interpretation of Y-DNA data. I’ve created a couple of trees and posted them to a new page here.

Chart Your Place in a Big Family Tree

The WIRTH project, which is a group of researchers and their relatives whose Y-DNA belongs to the J2a4 haplogroup, is about to construct a phylogenetic tree of all the men in the project, showing how they are related to each other, and more important, when the different branches of the tree split off.

We know that all the men in the Bacharach and WIRTH projects are related to each other. We think their shared common male ancestor lived some time in the middle ages. However, some people are more closely related. Their common ancestor might have lived in the 1600s or even more recently. This is what the tree will show in a graphic representation.

We all know that DNA mutates from time to time. The mutations occur randomly, but there are statistical models for how frequently this happens, so a geneticist can take a large group of data and construct a model showing the likely times of the various mutations. This helps show who is most closely related to whom.

Here’s a super-simplified example: If your great-great-grandfather had four sons, they all inherited his Y-DNA. Because of random mutations, one or more of them could have a slight difference from their father and their brothers. Let’s use colors to illustrate this. Suppose one’s Y-DNA consisted of four colors, and your great-great-grandfather had a pattern of REDREDGREENGREENBLUEPURPLE (not exactly how this works, but just a simple analogy). All four of his sons would inherit the same pattern, unless, randomly, one changed (not a frequent occurrence, but random). Suppose Son#1 had a mutation so that his pattern was REDREDGREENBLUEBLUEPURPLE but the other three sons had the original pattern. From that point forward, all male descendants of Son#1 would have the new pattern, with 2 blues instead of 2 greens. They’re all still descendants of the great-great-grandfather, but their DNA has a slight difference. Because of where the difference occurs and how great the difference is, a geneticist can make an estimate of which generation that mutation occurred in. If we compare two descendants from two different branches in a later generation, even if we have no paper trail, we can look at which mutations they share and which mutations they don’t share and estimate how long ago their most recent common ancestor (MRCA) lived. This is especially useful for those who don’t have a very long paper trail.

To summarize:

  1. All the men in the Bacharach/Bachrach project share a common male ancestor with all the men in the WIRTH project
  2. A geneticist is about to create a chart of all the members of the WIRTH project and how they are related
  3. Any Bacharach/Bachrach project member who wants to be part of this chart should join the WIRTH project ASAP
  4. Any Bacharach/Bachrach descendant, with the surname, who has not been tested should order a test while FamilyTree DNA is running a special (get 67 markers and then we’ll need an upgrade to 111). If you need financial help to afford the test, please contact us.


Bacharachs and the Early Frankfurt Jewish Communities

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies Conference 2012 is in Paris in July. I’ll be there, along with co-researcher Janet Akaha who will be making a presentation about the Frankfurt Jewish DNA project. The project traces the paper trail of the Jewish families of Frankfurt from the middle ages and connects the DNA connections between these families.

Bacharach is one of those early families. So far in our Frankfurt or Bacharach projects we don’t have any participants who can trace their ancestry to medieval Frankfurt. Janet and I are actively seeking males with that DNA (last name Bacharach/Bachrach or variants with a family tree back to Frankfurt). If we can find someone, we can establish whether the other Bacharach families from all over Europe have a common ancestor with the documented families from Frankfurt. This would be a very exciting development.

After the conference, I’ll post more here about the Frankfurt project and what it means to the modern-day Bacharachs and their possible connection to very old rabbinic dynasties.

Sale Prices on DNA Tests Until the End of December

FTDNA is offering tests at a sale price until the end of the year. Y-37 for $119 (regularly $169) and Y-67 at $199 (regularly $268). If you or anyone you know is male and has a surname similar to Bacharach, please join our project by clicking this link. If you’ve already been tested for the National Geographic project, we can transfer your results.

Linking up with the WIRTH Project

Several of our Bacharach participants are in the process of being added to a larger DNA project, called the WIRTH project after the first initials of the first five members’ surnames. The reason we’ve joined forces is that the men in the WIRTH project share two anomalies with the Bacharach participants that are statistically highly unlikely to happen by chance. The hypothesis is that these Bacharach participants share a common ancestor, perhaps in the 1400s or earlier, with the WIRTH project participants. We will be comparing the shared data to try to determine how long ago this common ancestor lived.

For more on the WIRTH project, take a look at this TV interview with Herb. It was three years ago, so the numbers are old, but it will help you understand more about how these two projects fit together.

Herb Huebscher on the WIRTH Project

June Special on DNA Testing Prices

I just got a notification from FTDNA–from June 5-June 25, the prices for Y-DNA tests ordered through a project are Y-DNA67 for $199 (Regular price would be $239) or Y-DNA37 for $119 (Regular price would be $149), so now’s the time to do it if you’ve been thinking about it. If you want to do the test but can’t afford it, get in touch with us. We’ll try to get others to chip in for the cost. And if you don’t have the right DNA for the test, but want to sponsor someone else’s test (especially if you have a close relative who can be your “surrogate”) you can make a contribution to the testing fund. Don’t wait. The prices will go back up at the end of June.

Puzzlement and Unexpected Results

While we’re still waiting for a couple of groups markers to come back from a 67-marker test (we have 50/67 completed now), we have some surprising results. We had expected the two participants from Fellheim to be a closer match to each other than to the participants from other towns. That’s not how it appears, at least from what we have now. This last participant from Fellheim has a whopping six differences from the other participant from Fellheim. He has a total of seven differences from the mode, which makes him the outlier of the entire group. He does share the extra copies at DYS464, which is an important connection. This is a surprising set of results. Now we really need more participants from the Fellheim/Osterberg area to see if this is an anomaly or the norm for that area.


New DNA Comparison Chart

We’re still waiting for additional testing results, but in the meantime I’ve created a chart to show a simplified version of the matches.

The colored squares show the markers that don’t match. The computer looks at all the samples, and for each marker it figures out what the most common value is. If most of the samples have a 12 in the first spot (which all the Bacharachs do), then that is the most common value or “Modal” value. The “Mode” is listed across the top. Any place where an individual differs from the mode will show up as a color. This is the easiest way to see where participants vary from each other. If one individual has all white squares, he matches the mode 100%. If another has one colored square, he has a genetic difference of one from both the mode and the individual who matches the mode. By looking at where the colored squares are, it’s possible to see how closely the individuals within the group match each other. The chart below shows ONLY the markers where all Bacharach participants don’t match. The additional columns have been stripped away to simplify the chart.

Download the chart as a PDF


1. Kestrich and Hattenbach, which are geographically close to each other, share a value of 34 on CDYa. The others have 33 in that location.

2. Slonim and Rhuzany, in Belarus, match 100%. They are also close to each other geographically.

If we can get more data, there will be more patterns showing the geographical relationships and how the family migrated across Europe.