They got 15 Jewish-American celebrities (Ruth Behar, Joshua Bell, Mayim Bialik, David Brooks, Linda Chavez, Alan Derhowitz, Stephen Dubner, Nadine Epstein, Tovah Feldshuh, A.J. Jacobs, Steven Pinker, Robert Siegel, Thaddeus Tobe, Laurel Touby, and Esther Wojcicki) to take a 23andMe DNA test.I noticed Linda Chavez in the list and thought, not that Linda Chavez. But it is:
For the most part, we found zero degrees of separation.
This means that most of the individuals we tested were directly related to one another.
This finding far exceeds the three degrees of separation found among most Americans.
Linda Chavez’s family has lived in the New Mexico area for hundreds of years, and was always Catholic as far as she knew. A simple question she asked about a funny habit her grandmother had where she turned a statue towards the wall led her to discovering her family included conversos, or Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism in 15th and 16th century Spain. Many conversos fled to the new world, ending up in Mexico and the nearby US states, including New Mexico. Albuquerque, the capital of New Mexico, even has a page on the city’s web site explaining conversos and their history in the city.I hadn't heard that one before.
There is even evidence that Chistopher Columbus himself, who sailed on behalf of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, the same monarchs that forced Jews to convert, and in the same year that the inquisition began, was from a Jewish family that secretly converted. See this CNN article, Was Christopher Columbus secretly a Jew?, written by Charles Garcia.