Modeling the genealogical dynamics of Jewish identities since 1492
In November 2012, the Spanish government announced a fast track naturalization policy targeted to non-citizens who are both Jewish and whose ancestors were expelled from Spain during the inquisition-related dislocation of Jews in 1492. The announcement received extensive media coverage in Spain (e.g. El Pais) and globally (e.g., NY Times).
The policy is ostensibly meant to target “Sephardic” Jews, i.e., a minority of the global Jewish population who retain cultural practices associated with ancestral origins in the Iberian Peninsula. However, in a paper appearing in January 2014 in PLoS One, Prof. Weitz proposes and analyzes a variant of standard genealogical models, well-established in other contexts, to show that most Jews, regardless of whether they self-identify as Sephardic or not, are likely to have one, if not many more, ancestors who were expelled from Spain in 1492.
Dr. Weitz's research has been profiled as part of the following news articles: