After last night's interview on "Wiso de Noche," channel 3, local Baní cable tv, I decided to walk around the town and ask random people to participate in my investigation. Within 30 minutes, I obtained 3 DNA samples from key founding-families. I felt like a business man implementing the win-lose, think big, and impulse factor. If you are into sales, you'll know exactly what these strategies entail. It was funny because the first person that I interviewed did not want to participate. After I explained the benefits of the study, she agreed and spoke away. I noticed how she became very comfortable with the interview and finally with collecting her two saliva samples. In the end, she recommended other people that I should interview. When I asked Ms. Pimentel Melo about cousins marrying in the family, she agreed that it was normal to do so. In fact, on both sides of her families, the parents married either 1st or 2nd generation cousins. She also confirmed the separation of meat and dairy pots. Moreover, she laughed when I asked about the counting of the stars and the superstition that comes with it. I sensed that she felt embarrassed about subscribing to that belief. 
Next, I had a wonderful setamí (parve) two-hour lunch. I was given the pleasure of signing and playing the guitar for my host. I laughed because I had realized that she had researched my name on google and discovered my entire curriculum and more. Since now she knows that I am a Jew and a Torah scholar, she felt comfortable telling me about her reciting of the Shemá. I was aghast! "Really? You say the Shemá?", I asked. She belongs to a neo-Catecumenal movement within the Catholic Church. She expressed that they are criticized by many because of the their Judaizing tendencies. This explained a lot. Next, she showed me her Shemá plaque. I wonder if this movement is a new method of appealing to those parishioners with Jewish ancestry. Food for thought!
At that point, I felt comfortable to share some of the Iberian Jewish customs that the Banilejos practice without knowledge of their origin. She was amazed when I explained the superstition of not pointing at the stars. I had to give her a historical lesson about the forced conversions in 1391 in Spain, then the Inquisition and Expulsion decree. Her eyes lit up when I showed her Lucien Wolf's book on the "Calendar of Inquisition Trial of the Canary Islands." 

Following suite, I went around town, trying to obtain 8 DNA samples and genealogies. I was unsuccessful. Apparently, people were focused on minding their own business. Then, I decided to go to Matanzas. One of the subjects had a contact there and tried to connect me with him. It was a failure. However, I got on the bus, without knowledge of where I was headed. When the subject called me to confirm my location, she told me that I had gone too far and that I needed to go to a medical plaza. When I told the bus driver, he laughed! I walked about 10 minutes towards the center of Matanzas. As I walked, I noticed that the people were more homogeneous, i.e. Andalusian phenotypes. Most people have dark hair and light brown or blue/green eyes. Their noses are thin and their body structure are also thin. I approached the medical plaza and looked for Dr. Carvajal. After introducing myself and presenting my identification, she called a local patient and introduced me. She told me that it was crucial for me to have the identification, since many thugs continuously researching on ways to steal from people. 

I approached Mrs. Báez' home and introduced myself. She was curious about my research and was cooperative. I kept thinking to myself what Dr. Wuaku taught us about obtaining access and entry. In this case I was able to obtain access and entry through Dr. Carvajal. I learned an interesting word that the people in Matanzas use to describe traditions and superstitions, namely "cabbaláh" and "cabuloso" to describe a person that adheres to those traditions. This is clear evidence of Hebraisms in the jargon of the people. After taking Mrs. Báez' saliva samples, I went my way and asked if she knew anyone else that could participate. She told me to go from door to door. I did just that! Next, I interviewed a young college student. She was at home with her parents and grandparents. When I presented myself, she agreed to participate. It was quick. She is from the Rosario and Melo family. She had a keen interest in knowing about her genetic cousins. By that time, it was almost time to catch the last bus back to Baní (7pm). As I waited for the bus, I spoke with a young woman by the name of Yaindy Elizabeth. She did not disclose her surnames because she did not want to participated. I kept trying to convince her, but she didn't seem to show interest. When I began showing her pictures of the U.S. and sharing about my music career, she began opening up. Unfortunately, the bus came and I had to leave.

Tomorrow I must leave Baní and I have still 8 kits. I am considering using these kits on women with known Sepharadi ancestry in the Miami area, so that I may compare their lineages with those from Baní. Let's see what happens.

This is a liquor store in Matanzas. The owners are from the Lara family ;) They must be my cousins!

To be continued...

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  1. Hello, I am Dominican and suspect that I have Jewish ancestry on my father's side. The last names are Guillén Castro. His family is originally from Pimentel (near San Francisco de Macorís) and they later settled in El Llano, a "campo" of Baní. Please contact me, as I think you may have some information thatcan help me to clarify my ancestry. Thank you! Gypsy(.)guillen(.)kaiser(@)gmx(.)net

  2. Hi, have you been able to find more information? I'm from Bani, and sm interested in doing a dna test myself and for my father's dude of the family and mom. I've been able to traced my mom's side, but wonder what the dna test might reveal. ..thanks

    1. You can do a "Family Finder" test with and also a mtDNA full sequence exam. You will be able to see your genetic cousins with clarity up to the 5 generation. If you happen to have many Jewish genetic cousins, then this will be an indication of Jewish ancestry. However, this exam cannot determine if one is a Jew or not. Only a Jewish tribunal can determine that through genealogy and family customs.

  3. Quick question... Will the DNA test results be published (anonymous or otherwise) on this blog? I am curious to see the breakdown of the test results.


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