Biterman Family of Lublin Province, Poland

[Biterman Family Tree] [Photos of Biterman Relatives]

Related: Haplogroup E: An Overview


Our most distant ancestor is Mordechai Bitterman, born around 1765. He lived in the Lublin province of Poland: the towns of Krylow and Hrubieszow.

The family had yichus in the community. Yichus translates from Yiddish and means distinguished birth/pedigree. It means much more in Yiddish culture, demonstrating good blood and cherished genes. Biterman family members were trained in the Jewish traditions of our ancestors. Prior to the Holocaust, our entire family was religiously orthodox.


EARLY ORIGINS: There is an oral tradition that the Biterman family is Sephardic. According to Y-DNA testing results, my Biterman line has Iberian ancestry and is a Sephardic offshoot of the E1b1b1c1a Ashkenazi line. My Y-DNA results indicate our haplotype group is E1b1b1c1a cluster B (E-M35 and E-M123), whose ancestor was e1b1b1c1 (M34).

E1b1b1 (M.35) - The Land of Israel: According to Coffman-Levy (2005), "The best candidate for possible E3b Israelite ancestry among Jews is E-M123." Haplotype E arose in the eastern part of Africa about 20,000 years ago. Since then, migrants carried it throughout the continent and into neighboring regions of Europe and the Near East. E1b1b and is more than 15,000 years old and from the Near East, northeastern Africa, and southern Europe. It includes varied populations of Ethiopians, Jordanians, and Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews. Four subclades of e1b1b1 (M35) have Jewish origins: e1b1b1a3 (V22), e1b1b1c1 (M34), e1b1b1 (unclassified), and e1b1b1c1a (M84). Members of this cluster have a very similar 12-marker haplotype to those in E1b1b1a2 (V13).

According to Cruciani (2004), E-M123 probably originated in the Middle East, since it is found in a large majority of the populations from that area, and then back-migrated to Ethiopia. He further notes that this sub-clade may have been spread to Europe during the Neolithic agricultural expansion out of the Middle East.

Tartakovsky concludes that E1b1b1c1a (M84) were part of the Jewish community during the conquest of Canaan and are therefore descendants of ancient Canaanites. The greatest contribution to world civilization of the Canaanites is the invention of alphabetic writing. Today this land corresponds to Israel, Jordan, and Syria ("The Near East"). Subclade e1b1b1c1 (M34) likely originated in the late period of the Upper Paleolithic (7,000 to 10,000 years ago).

Archaeological and textual evidence supports the idea that the early Israelites were in fact themselves Canaanites. Coffman-Levy outlines different sub-sects of the Canaanites in her article. My family's oral tradition is that the family was a descendant of one of the tribes of Israel -- the tribe of Judah. My grandfather told this to my father, and I assume my grandfather had this told to him by his father. The ancient Israelites themselves were formed from a heterogeneous mix of tribal and ethnic groups, both Semite and non-Semitic in origin, according to Coffman-Levy. Thus, heterogeneity was there from the very beginning.

E1b1b1c1a (M.84) - Migration to Spain: Judy Simon with the Y-DNA project believes that my family is descended from a line that migrated to Iberia ~700 years ago and then escaped east to Europe to escape persecution in Spain. E1b1b1c1 is found in Iberia, especially the northern part of the peninsula, where it reaches levels of 4% among Portuguese and Galicians. It could have spread there with farmers who migrated from the Near East not long after the Ice Age, or with Sephardic Jews who settled in Spain before the Inquisition. But the haplogroup's absence among Moroccan men indicates that it did not flow across the Strait of Gibraltar.

A study from The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy concludes that e1b1b1c1 cluster B began to settle in Europe (and elsewhere) due to the end of the period of Geonim in the Middle East, which may have led to dispersion.

Coffman-Levy's research yields these results: "As for E-M35, Semino (2004) did not find this group in either the Lebanese or Iraqi samples. Nor did Cruciani (2004) find it in any of his Middle Eastern samples. It is present, however, in East and North African samples; for example, it occurs in about 7.9% of Berber tribesmen from north-central Morocco (Semino et al. 2004). It also occurs in 2.7% of Andalusians in Spain, 5.5% of Sardinians and 1.5% Italian populations (Semino et al. 2004). It appears that the most likely explanation for Jewish E-M35* is that it represents gene flow from North African populations into Spain, Italy, and Sardinia, and hence, gene flow from these European populations into Jewish groups."

Migration to Poland: My grandfather told my father our family had origins in Spain, left around Jewish expulsion in 1492, and re-settled in the Lublin area of Poland around 1550. Another family from Hrubieszow which intermarried with mine, the family Cymet, has a similar oral tradition. According to their history, three Cymet brothers arrived in Hrubieszow in the 1500s from Spain.

EVIDENCE OF SEPHARDIC ORIGIN: One important piece of evidence is that my grandfather told this to my father, and I assume he his father told it to him.

Evidence that the family was Sephardic includes:

1. There is an oral tradition of arrival in the Lublin district in Poland in the mid-1500s.
2. Lublin had a Sephardic synagogue beginning in the 1600s.
3. Our family concludes Shabbat prayers with Ein Kelahaynu instead of Adan Olom, a Sephardic practice.
4. The family was religiously observant but not Hasidic even though the town they lived in (Hrubieszow) was a mostly Hasidic town.
5. The meaning of Biterman could be Sephardic in origin. For example, in Spanish, the surname Biterman translates to Amargo or Amargura. Additionally, Amargon (dandelion flower) translates to Biterman in Yiddish. Near Seville, Spain is a city called Amargura. Seville was known to have a Jewish population. Because Spain was Moorish before the Expulsion, there could also be an Arabic/Turkish meaning for the surname.

MORE ON HAPLOGROUP 1EB1B: Within Africa, haplogroup E is extremely common and widespread, reaching levels of 75% or more among Arabs and Berbers in Morocco, Senegalese in western Africa and Bantu-speaking groups in South Africa and Kenya. E1b1b1c1 is unlike most other branches of haplogroup E1b1b1 in that it appears to have originated in the Near East rather than northeastern Africa. After arising about 15,000 years ago, E1b1b1c1 began expanding a few thousand years later, as the first people to subsist through agriculture and pastoralism (raising livestock) began growing in both number and range. Today E1b1b1c1 is found throughout the Near East at levels of about 5%. It is extremely common among some Jordanian men living along the Dead Sea, but that concentration may be due to random effects; among more urban Jordanians it is present at the same low levels.

E1b1b1c1 is found at low levels among Egyptians, Algerians, Tunisians and other populations in northeastern Africa. It probably entered the region from the Near East, either with expanding pastoralists in ancient times, or more recently (in relative terms) with the Arab conquest of 7th century AD. The haplogroup is more common among Ethiopian Jews and Semitic-speaking (related to Arabic and Hebrew) Amhara. Both groups trace their presence in the region to migrations from the Near East over the past few thousand years.

The gateway for most human migrations into Europe has been through Anatolia, or present-day Turkey, where E1b1b1c1 averages about 5%. It is more diverse in southern Anatolia, which indicates that men with E1b1b1c1 Y-chromosomes probably entered the region from the Near East. But the details of the haplogroup's movement into Europe remain somewhat mysterious. The diversity of E1b1b1c1 in Turkey suggests it expanded there about 3,500 years ago -- but it could have entered the region as early as the dawn of agriculture, about 12,000 years ago. Though generally rare in Europe, E1b1b1c1 can be found among populations bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It is at its most common in Sicily, where it reaches 7%, and Sardinia, where it reaches 4%. It is also found at low levels on Corsica.

Although haplogroup E1b1b1c1 is common throughout the Near East, reaching levels of 5% among populations such as the Bedouin, Omanis and Druze, it appears particularly elevated in Jewish populations. E1b1b1c1 averages 10% among both Ashkenazi from eastern Europe and Sephardic Jews from Iberia. About 15% of Ethiopian Jews also carry the haplogroup, although it is not known if they are more closely related to other Jews bearing the E1b1b1c1 or to the other Ethiopian populations that also exhibit it. Jews from Yemen carry E1b1b1c1 at levels of about 10%, and about 20% of Libyan Jewish men belong to the haplogroup. Given the clearly elevated frequency in all Jewish populations, E1b1b1c1 was very likely present in the ancestral Jewish population from the Levant that dispersed throughout the Old World about 2,000 years ago.


- Albert Einstein (E1b1b1-M35)
- William Harvey (E1b1b1c1-M34)
- Napolean Bonaparte (E1b1b1c1-M34)


Biterman Family Tree