Benny Gantz (L) and Yair Lapid (R) anounce the Blue and White Party.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
After the political nighttime drama that ended with a joint list of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid called "Blue and White", today it turns out that apart from a political union, Gantz and Lapid are also relatives - Gantz's grandmother is Lapid's 11th cousin.
Dr. Arnon Hershkowitz, a faculty member at the Tel Aviv University School of Education, an amateur genealogist for the past 20 years and director of the Shorashim Family Forum, said, "this morning I got up and heard the news about the union and my thoughts instead went straight to family matters."
"I was quite surprised to find that there is a direct connection between them, a blood connection, they are descendants of the same person - their common ancestral parents lived in Prague at the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century.
"I knew that Gantz and Lapid had Hungarian roots, so I thought to search through GENI.COM, whose goal is to share the family tree of the entire world and to see that there may be a family connection.The site compiles people's family trees and an algorithm helps connect those who possibly share family similarities and sections of trees in common, the system the proposes to merge the trees [together to show commonalities]."
"I expected to find some connection because the Jews ended up marrying each other for many generations and Israel is a small country, so in many cases, if we seek a connection between two people, we find that there is a very extensive connection between them," said Hershkowitz.
"The Jews have no records of people who lived 500 years ago, but the rabbinic families have detailed documentation that is available for use today, because they had a common ancestor who was a great rabbi, there is documentation about his descendants," he explains. "The descendants of the Twins family, Frenkel and Horowitz, are famous and documented families in the Jewish world, so it is reasonable to assume that there are many other Knesset members who have survived and can be verified by historical documents."
"I do not remember such a case of a direct familial relation, but we can expand the examination and include it on quite a few candidates from the political quagmire," Hershkowitz added.
"It demonstrates the power of technology today in family research: On the one hand, we can record a lot of information in a simple and accessible way for the whole family and use the same technology to discover things that we do not know... I guess Gantz and Lapid do not know about the connection either," he concluded.
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