What it means to be Jewish and J-M241

This article was initially written May 31, 2019. I don't have time to do a complete rewrite but made some important edits in bold on 7/14/2022. I leave the original text so people can see the state of my research in 2019 and how I made conclusions on the basis of the self-reported paper trails I assumed credible at the time.

I'm not Jewish or an expert in Jewish genetic genealogy. However I am a haplogroup administrator of J-M241 and J-M172 which do contain some predominantly Jewish lineages, so I have some experience with these lineages.

Genetics does not equal a religion, in the same way it does not equal a language or ethnicity. These things can change from one generation to another quite easily.

However there are three lineages within J-M241 that appear to have, for the most part, passed down the Jewish tradition along with their Y chromosome for several hundreds of years.


All men in this lineage descend from a man who lived most likely in Portugal [EDIT 7/14/2022 - the ancestor is most likely not from Portugal because two of the Portuguese flag men under J-Y36166 actually are more closely related to English men with surname Bowles], though Italy is a second possibility, about 1200 BC years ago according to YFull estimate. At least two of this man's lineages are today Jewish [EDIT 7/14/2022 - as indicated above, only one of the younger, Roman Era lines has a reliable tradition of Judaism tracing back to common ancestor. As such the MRCA of J-CTS6190 or now more properly, child J-Z34473, was not likely to have practiced Judaism or come from a population from the Levant that later practiced Judaism. Notwithstanding ancient sample R474 from Etruria dating to 600-700 BCE roots that particular child lineage J-CTS473 to Iron Age Etruria.], which makes the ancestor himself a possible if not likely candidate for having been Jewish himself. Of course 1200 BC is too early for a Jew to have been living in Portugal, I will discuss this later.

YFull YTree v7.04.00

One of the lineages, J-Y36166, claims descent from Yahia Ben Yahi III, also known as "El Negro", a Sephardi Jew who was advisor to Alfonso I of Portugal. [EDIT 7/14/2022 - Discredited by Y-DNA evidence above.]

The tradition is that his father, Yahia Ben Rabbi, descends from the Exilarchs of Babylon. However, given that no near sibling or cousin lineages of L283 are found in the Middle East, and that ancient DNA of a related lineage was found in Croatia 1600 BC, it is more likely that the ancestor of these lineages was already living in Europe, and Portugal is the best guess based on 3 of 5 separate lineages being found in Portugal today. [EDIT 7/14/2022 - Data upon which analysis was based discredited by Y-DNA evidence above.]

Note that if the YFull estimate that the most recent common ancestor of all CTS6190 lived in 1200 BC is correct, then this man couldn't have been a Jew as Judaism did not yet exist in Europe. So either this estimated date is wrong or at least two lineages of CTS6190 independently converted to Judaism at a later date. The early estimate of CTS6190 TMRCA does not reconcile the lack of geographic support for an origin in the Middle East.


The men in this lineage descend from a man who lived 800 AD. Almost all have a history of Ashkenazi tradition. It is not yet clear where the ancestor of this lineage, Z8429, was living in 600 BC, as he sired geographically diverse siblings Y12007 (England, Germany, Czech, Russia, Tatar, Chechen), CTS11760 (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, Slovakia), and additional Norwegian and English lineages.

Research is ongoing for J-Z39653 and parent Z8429. This map was generated using YFull v7.04.00 so only Baltic branches of Z39653 are currently depicted.

Z39653 appears to have originated in Eastern Europe though research is still ongoing. Because none of the siblings from 600 BC have a Jewish tradition it makes more sense that this ancestor was not a Jew and that at some later time, a man in the Z39653 bottleneck from 600 BC to 800 AD converted somewhere in Eastern Europe, perhaps Ukraine or Poland.

Romaniote J-Z600

A third cluster is represented by a single man in the J-M241 project. He traces descent to Istanbul, Turkey and his paternal line is of Romaniote Jewish origin.

On the YFull tree he is YF14253. He's negative for Z615 meaning his ancestors parted ways from the ancestors of most J-L283 before 3400 BC. Z585 and Z600 are no-calls but Z627 is positive.

On May 17, 2019 I contacted the Avotaynu Project on FTDNA to join four kits they manage, which are 12 markers matches to our Romaniote, to the J-M241 project. They have not responded or joined the project so J-M241 research into this interesting basal lineage is at a standstill.

EDIT 7/14/2022 - The manager of a 2nd sample of the J-Z585* Jewish line has uploaded the sample to YFull, the lineage is known as J-BY100002 on YFull

I wrote about the discovery here:

Newly Discovered Jewish Lineage J-BY100002

These posts are the opinion of Hunter Provyn, a haplogroup researcher in J-M241 and J-M102.

21 thoughts on “What it means to be Jewish and J-M241”

  1. Definitely interesting especially the Tatars. I am assisting a friend whom has some matches from there and Ukraine

  2. Hi, 23andMe says I’m j-m241. Are there other markers that narrow this down? How would I find them from 23andMe?

    Thanks, M

    1. Hi Michael,

      23andMe’s test doesn’t yield enough information to further narrow down your haplogroup.
      The cheapest alternatives are Alpha + Beta STR test from YSEQ ($85) or the J-M12 Panel on YSEQ ($88).

      There are two goals from a test – 1) determine your genealogical time frame living male line relatives and 2) determine where your ancestors lived thousands of years ago.

      STR test accomplishes goal 1 and possibly 2 if any of your matches have tested SNPs.
      The panel accomplishes goal 2.

      For this reason I recommend the STR test first because for the same price it has the potential to accomplish both goals.


    2. Hi, I am the same. J-M241. Do you know some more literature or details?
      What further tests are recommended?
      Marcus Franz

        1. But if you have already tested STRs, if you share your raw data with me I can make a prediction that you could test for just $18 per SNP at YSEQ.

    1. Yes, I really need to update this article. I no longer believe the claimed descent to Ben Yahya el Negro on the basis of STR matches to Bowles clan of England.

  3. I thought to note that as L283 is largely concentrated in Southeastern Europe there has been made an archeological discovery in Saranda, Albania (2005) of a Jewish synagogue with various dates from the 2nd century AD to the 4th or 5th century AD. Many speculate Roman ships landing in Albania intended for Italy. I understand that this paternal y-DNA predates Jewish influence to the region, but highlighting historical Jewish influence is significant nonetheless.

    1. Hi Arben,
      Yes, it’s important to understand all the different possibilities. So given this knowledge, and knowing many of the lineages appear to have originated in SW Balkans, indigenous converts to Judaism who were living around Saranda, Albania is one possible vector of J-L283 becoming Jews. Three lineages of J-L283 that may have been Jews since around this time are J-BY100002, J-Y33795, J-Z39653, based on continuity of religious practice down to living male line descendants. Though since J-L283 was likely already living in most of Europe by that time (and some in Levant), alternative geographic origins are also possible.


  4. Hi!,My Paternal Haplogroup is also J-M241 (as per 23 and me test done) i from a place called Coorg in South India.Do you think Jewish lineage is a possible answer

    1. Hi Subbiah,

      It is possible but if you have no tradition of Judaism it’s probably much more likely that you are positive for the child of J-M241 that is more common in South Asia, known as J-Z2432.


      Whatever your exact lineage of J2b-M241 is, you could order a SNP pack at YSEQ to determine what it is.


      To advance the research the most I would recommend their WGS400 test, it tests all of your DNA and you can submit your male and female line results to YFull to determine who your closest male and female line relatives are and to advance the research into their ancestral origins.

  5. I’m a Bangladeshi male with J-M241 and J-M172 haplogroup – does this mean I could have Jewish ancestors? If so, does J-M241 and J-M172 appear among ashkenazi or sephardim Jews?

    1. I wrote this article not to contribute to the common misconception that all J2 lines descend from Jews, but simply to describe what we know about the three Jewish lines of J2b-M241.

      There are no South Asian Jews in J2b-M241 that I know of except one man positive for one child branch of prolific J2b-Z1043 known as J2b-Z39653. Most of these guys stayed in Europe but one of them migrated relatively recently from Europe to India.

      If you are J2b-M241 positive and from South Asia you are likely positive for the prolific J2b-Z2432 branch that appears to have migrated there in the Neolithic likely from the direction of Iran.

      Refer to this article for more info on J2b-M102 in South Asia – https://phylogeographer.com/j-m102-lineages-of-south-asia/

  6. Hello how are you?

    – I uploaded my data from myheritage… What can I conclude with this data? I don’t know much about raw data…

    Thank you for the informations


    Most specific position on the YFull YTree is J-M241 Link to J-M241 on YFull View heatmap on Y Heatmap View theoretical migration on PhyloGeographer

    J-M241 M241+ Y6167/FGC31632(?) Z2390/CTS4412(?) Z2399/CTS5787($) Z2402/CTS8907(?) Z2403($) Z2441/S23466(?) Z2445/CTS6496(?) Z2526/CTS8251(?) Z2527/CTS9389(?) Z2528($) Z578(?) Z579(?) Z581(?) Z583(?) Z586($) Z591/SK1406($) Z598/Z2446(?) Z599/M8769(?) Z601(?) Z606(?) Z608($) Z610(?) Z611(?) Z613(?) Z614(?) Z618($) Z619(?) Z620($) Z623(?) Z624(?) Z629/SK1407($) Z8254(?) Z8255(?) Z8257(?) Z8260(?) Z8261(?) Z8263($)

    ┣━J-L283 +1 CTS10153($) CTS6272($) FGC78489(?) FGC78490(?) L283($) Y1276(?) Y1277/Z8407(?) Y1278_1/Z8410_1/Z8410(?) Y2734(?) Z2398/CTS7378($) Z2401/CTS11773(?) Z2405/CTS174(?) Z2502(?) Z2503(?) Z2506(?) Z2508(?) Z2510/CTS4554($) Z2512/CTS5382(?) Z2513/CTS5649($) Z2514/CTS5683(?) Z2515/CTS7989(?) Z2517/S21185(?) Z2518/CTS9313(?) Z2519/CTS10105(?) Z2520(?) Z2522(?) Z2675/S23664($) Z576(?) Z582(?) Z587(?) Z588($) Z589($) Z590($) Z592(?) Z594(?) Z595(?) Z596($) Z602/PF2523/M5195(?) Z607(?) Z609(?) Z612(?) Z616(?) Z617(?) Z621/A16862($) Z626($) Z630(?) Z8397(?) Z8398(?) Z8399(?) Z8400(?) Z8401(?) Z8402(?) Z8403(?) Z8404(?) Z8405(?) Z8409($) Z8412(?) Z8415(?) Z603/Z603.2($)

    ┗━J-Z2432 +2 ALK671(?) MF636616/Y985(?) Y1002(?) Y949($) Y953(?) Y957(?) Y966($) Y968(?) Y977(?) Z2432($) Z2434($) Z2435(?) Z2436($) Z2444(?) Z2447($) Z8264(?) Z8265(?) Z8266(?) Z8267(?) Z8268(?) Z8269(?) Z8270(?) Z8271(?) Z8272(?) Z8273(?) Z8274(?) Z8275(?) Z8279(?) Z8368(?) ZS308/Y12366(?)

    Available Panels
    YSEQ recommends the J2b-M12 Panel Predicted J-M241 is downstream of the panel root. This panel may be applicable if it tests subclades below J-M241. Please verify and check with YSEQ customer support.

    Next best prediction (scored 24 compared to 25) J2

  7. Hello. Im brazilian and I tryng to comprove Gedalia Yahia ben shlomo in my genealogy. I’m doing a extensive research to prove with concrete documents my genealogy. At the same time my haplogroup is j-m241. Gedalia is in my mother and father genealogy (researching).

    Can you send me a email to maintain contact about updates . Thank you

    1. I cannot help with traditional genealogy. My expertise is to analyze the Y-DNA results (STRs or SNPs) to determine how a group of men are related to one another on the male uniparental line. Depending on the paper trails of each of these men, and if there are contradictions, I can offer my opinion on which deeper origin seems the most likely, i.e. would result in the least overall contradictions.

      I try to avoid clients trying to prove their relationship to a certain individual prior to having done detailed Y-DNA test or analysis. I only take clients interested to learn who they are actually related to, whoever those closest relatives / ancestors may be.

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