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For hundreds of years, the Bene Israel (meaning Children of Israel), now largely concentrated in and around Thane had fought Western prejudice that denied them their claim as descendants of one of Israel's 12 lost tribes. "Extended Y chromosome haplotypes resolve multiple and unique lineages of the Jewish priesthood." Human Genetics 126:5 (November 2009): 707-717. Abstract: "It has been known for over a decade that a majority of men who self report as members of the Jewish priesthood (Cohanim) carry a characteristic Y chromosome haplotype termed the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH).
Now the Jews of Thane, home to 2,000 or 40 per cent of India's Jewry, can hold their head high among the rest of the Jewish community. Now science has proved that we are descendants of the Cohanim or hereditary priests. The CMH has since been used to trace putative Jewish ancestral origins of various populations.
"More than 2,000 years after they first claimed to have set foot in India, the mystery of the world's most obscure Jewish community - the Marathi-speaking Bene Israel - may finally have been solved with genetic carbon-dating revealing they carry the unusual Moses gene that would make them, literally, the original children of Israel.
Four years of DNA tests on the 4,000-strong Bene Israel, now mainly based in Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Ahmedabad, indicates they are probable descendants of a small group of hereditary Israelite priests or Cohanim, according to new results exclusively made available to the Sunday Times of India....
Aaron thus became the first Jewish priest, or cohen, a tradition that has since been handed down from father to son.
[Michael] Hammer, Karl Skorecki, David Goldstein, and colleagues studied Y markers from three hundred Jews, including more than one hundred cohanim, and found that half of the Jewish priests shared the same genetic signature, compared to less than 5 percent in the lay Jewish population....
The estimated divergence time of this lineage based on 17 STRs is 3,190 ± 1,090 years.
[Tudor] Parfitt, who initiated and led the research, says this is the first concrete proof that 'exiles from Palestine made it as far as India and managed to maintain Judaism in the sea of Hinduism and Islam'...
Aharon Daniel expressed doubt about the new findings.
Sixty-six-year old Phinas Bamnolkar, the hazan or cantor at the Thane synagogue says, 'It was always our claim that we are descendants of Moses. While Cohanim from diverse backgrounds carry a total of 21 Y chromosome haplogroups, 5 haplogroups account for 79.5% of Cohanim Y chromosomes.
Our claim has now been scientifically proved.'" "Extensive DNA testing has found the Bene Israelis, clustered in and around the western city of Bombay, are direct descendants of a hereditary Israelite priesthood that can be traced back 3,000 years to Moses' brother, Aaron." Jonathan Karp. The most frequent Cohanim lineage (46.1%) is marked by the recently reported P58 T C mutation, which is prevalent in the Near East.
We have shown it to be a minor haplogroup that is primarily shared among Iranian Kerman, Iranian Azeri, Kurds, Ashkenazi Jews and non-Ashkenazi Jews, and that it is virtually absent in the Caucasus region, Europe, South Asia, and southern Siberia." Doron M. Jones, Karen Held, Vivian Moses, David Goldstein, Neil Bradman, and Michael E. "Multiple Origins of Ashkenazi Levites: Y Chromosome Evidence for Both Near Eastern and European Ancestries." American Journal of Human Genetics 73:4 (October 2003): 768-779.