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DNA testing can be useful and applied in various cases to assist in legal processes or establish relationships. Here are a few examples:

Establishing Relationships: DNA testing can be used to confirm biological relationships between individuals. For example, in legal cases involving child support or paternity determination, DNA testing can be presented as evidence to establish familial connections.

Inheritance Issues: In cases of disputes over inheritance, DNA testing can help determine the presence or absence of familial connections between individuals and identify their degree of relationship. This can be crucial evidence in resolving inheritance claims.

Migration Cases: Sometimes, DNA testing can be a real asset in immigration procedures to confirm familial ties and acquire citizenship. If you are aware of your Jewish roots but, for various reasons, cannot documentary prove the right to repatriation, sometimes the key to solving the problem lies in DNA testing.

In court, DNA testing can serve as important evidence confirming or refuting familial connections, identity, or other facts related to genetic information. However, the final decision on the admissibility and weight of such evidence is made by the court, taking into account the rules and laws applicable in the respective jurisdiction.

DNA and Israeli Citizenship

To obtain Israeli citizenship, you need to prove your Jewish roots. You must be at least a grandchild of a Jew to fall under the Law of Return and obtain the status of a new immigrant.

Jewish status, according to the law and Halakha, is passed down only through the maternal line. Therefore, the search for Jewish roots should begin with maternal guiding stars.

It is important to note that individuals eligible for immigration to Israel and obtaining Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return include:

  • People of Jewish descent born to a Jewish mother.
  • Children of Jews born to a Jewish father (“Jewish father” refers to a person whose mother is Jewish).
  • Grandchildren of Jews who have a Jewish grandfather.
  • Spouses of Jews repatriating to Israel with their husbands/wives.
  • Spouses of children of Jews repatriating to Israel with their husbands/wives.
  • Spouses of grandchildren of Jews repatriating to Israel with their spouses who are grandchildren of Jews.
  • Widows of Jews if they did not remarry after the spouse’s death (related article here).
  • Widowers of Jewish women if they did not remarry after the wife’s death.
  • Widows of children of Jews if they did not remarry (in this case, according to the new rules of the state, the widow can only obtain an A5 residency status).
  • Widowers of children of Jews if they did not remarry (in this case, the state is ready to provide only an A5 residency status).

Widows and widowers of grandchildren of Jews—according to Nativ’s new regulation, in such cases, a person will be denied Israeli citizenship and any other st

However, if there are issues with the documents, if your relatives went to great lengths to obscure the biography, and for quite understandable reasons concealed their Jewish roots during the Soviet era, proving the right to repatriation and obtaining Israeli citizenship based on documents becomes a serious quest.

But here, DNA testing can come to the rescue.

This procedure may not help everyone and not always, but if the stars align and you have relatively close relatives who have already confirmed their right to repatriation (and obtained Israeli citizenship) or can easily document this right, the task is simple—just prove that you are related to them.

Science is not standing still, and genetics is no exception. Convenient platforms are constantly emerging, allowing interaction with potential relatives.

It is important to understand that not all DNA tests are equal. Secular Israeli authorities do not recognize the results of genetic testing on platforms like 23andMe, Ancestry, and the like.

Secular Israeli authorities do not recognize tests for the presence of mitochondrial DNA. For reference, mitochondrial DNA can be linked to the study of family relationships and the origin of populations, including Jewish ones. This is because mitochondrial DNA is passed down through the maternal line and can serve as a tool for studying genetic heritage and evolution. Research on the mitochondrial DNA of the Jewish population has allowed scientists to make some conclusions about the origin of the Jewish people and their migration routes. One early study of mitochondrial DNA in Jews, conducted in 2000, showed that most Jews in Europe and the Middle East share a common ancestry with women who lived in the Middle East about 2000 years ago.

Secular Israeli authorities do not yet recognize the results of tests for the presence of mitochondrial DNA as incontrovertible proof of Jewishness. However, if you have assembled a mosaic of indirect evidence, a test for the presence of mitochondrial DNA can serve as an additional argument, and we believe that in some cases, it should not be neglected.

Proving kinship between distant relatives

Proving kinship between second cousins or third cousins (i.e., people whose parents are second cousins or second cousins) through DNA testing can be challenging and may require additional analysis.

Usually, tests for polymorphic DNA markers, such as microsatellites or single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), are used to determine the degree of kinship. They allow for comparing genetic characteristics between two or more individuals and determining the degree of similarity or differences in their DNA.

However, when considering third-degree kinship, the likelihood of detecting genetic similarity may be significantly reduced compared to closer degrees of kinship—parents, siblings. This is because the inheritance of genetic characteristics from ancestors becomes diluted with each generation.

For a more accurate assessment of the kinship between second or third cousins, additional DNA analysis may be required, such as genome sequencing or high-density genetic marker analysis. Comparative genome analysis is applied in such situations. With genomic data from other family members, such as siblings, parents, or grandparents, a comparative genome analysis can be conducted. This can help identify common genetic segments inherited from shared ancestors, indicating the degree of kinship between third cousins.

In complex DNA tests in Israel, various statistical methods are used for data analysis and assessing the degree of kinship or genetic similarity. Here are some common statistical methodologies applied in genetic tests:

Genetic Marker Analysis: Genetic tests often rely on the analysis of genetic markers, such as microsatellites (also known as SSR) or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). Statistical methods are used to compare genetic profiles between individuals and determine the degree of match or differences in their genetic composition.

Probability of Kinship Calculation: Statistical methods can be used to calculate the probability of kinship based on genetic data. This may involve estimating the likelihood that two individuals are related to a specific degree, such as parents, siblings, or third-degree relatives.

Statistical Models: In some cases, statistical models are applied to analyze genetic data. For instance, models may be used to identify common genetic segments between individuals and assess the degree of kinship based on these segments.

Genetic Association Analysis: Statistical methods can also be employed for genetic association analysis, i.e., connections between specific genetic variants and particular phenotypic characteristics or diseases. This can aid in identifying genetic factors related to hereditary conditions or the risk of developing specific diseases.

DNA Testing Outside Israel

If your relatives reside in Israel and you are abroad, or if all “proven and potential” Jews are not in Israel, we can assist with remote genetic analysis through a special consular procedure. Following the established procedure, on the appointed day, you will visit the consular department of the Israeli embassy in your country of residence and provide a sample of your DNA.

Simultaneously, your relative will undergo analysis in an Israeli laboratory. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will send the genetic material samples by special diplomatic mail to the Israeli laboratory for analysis.

DNA Test Only with Permission from the Israeli Court

The entire procedure is possible only with a special court decision from the Israeli family court. In this process, it is necessary to coordinate the actions of several authorities simultaneously: family courts, the prosecution (which does nothing in such processes without the knowledge of the Ministry of the Interior), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, external representation, and others. Experienced lawyers know how to save time and energy in such multi-stage processes, avoid mistakes, and simplify the task for the individual as much as possible.

Confirmation of Paternity through DNA

Genetic analysis may also be required for obtaining Israeli citizenship for a child whose parents are Israeli citizens. The state may conditionally grant citizenship to a son or daughter if the child was born out of wedlock, or if less than 300 days passed between marriage and the child’s birth.

The potential father and the child must participate in the paternity establishment procedure. The mother’s participation in DNA analysis is usually not mandatory, as comparing the child’s genetic material with the potential father’s genetic material is sufficient to establish paternity.

However, in some cases, including the mother’s genetic material can help reinforce the reliability of the results. This can be useful if there are any special circumstances that may influence the analysis, such as close kinship or complex genetic variants. The mother’s participation can also help eliminate possible errors or issues in the sample collection or processing of genetic data.

Author: Attorney Arthur Blaer

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