Yehuda Leib of Shpola (c.1725 – 1811) – better known as the Shpoler Zeide (Yiddish for “Grandfather of Shpola”) or Saba Kadisha (Hebrew for “Holy Grandfather’) – was a beloved Chassidic folk rebbe, great kabbalist, and a revered tzaddik (saintly or holy man) about whom many Jewish folk tales, stories, and legends abound.,,, He was a first-generation disciple of the Baal Shem Tov.<< His mentors were Rabbi Pinchas [Shapira] of Koretz הרה”ק מקאריץ and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polonnoye.
Yehuda Leib was born in a small village close to the town of Uman, in the Ukraine. His parents were Boruch Gerondi and Rachel.,  He and his wife, Pesya Mirel, had four sons: Boruch Gad (b. 1763), Abram (b. 1767), Yankel (b. 1770), and Peisach (b. 1775). They also had at least one daughter.
According to legend, the Shpoler Zeida received his Zeida nickname when, at his circumcision, the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidism, blessed him: “Let it be God’s will that you shall be a Zeide (grandfather) to the Jewish people.” , ,  After the Czar’s 1804 edict mandating that Jews adopt surnames, Yehuda Leib and his descendants became known by the Zeida surname.
Although the Shpoler Zeida was considered a true folk rebbe, he steadfastly refused all titles, never accepting a rabbinical position. Instead, he served as a shochet (ritual slaughterer), faith healer, teacher, and a loyal spokesman for the Jews before heaven, and he ordered his sons to act in the same way., 
The Shpoler Zeida died in 1811; he outlived his mentor, Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz, by twenty years and the Baal Shem Tov by fifty years, but their teachings and beliefs were inextricably intertwined. He was such a beloved and revered tzaddik that Chassidic Jews make frequent pilgrimages to his gravesite, and annual seudas (memorial dinners) are still held in his honor on the 19th day of Shvat by his descendants all around the world. His fame lives on in popular culture, and there is even a Facebook site dedicated to him.
The Shpoler Zeida was a leader of the early Chassidic movement, and the reverberations of his life and teachings are still being felt today. And yet, there is little in the way of tangible evidence of his existence. He founded no rabbinical dynasty, he left behind no writings, and there are no known portraits of him. The Shpoler Zeida did, however, leave a tangible and very valuable gift behind – his DNA.
The Shpoler Zeida touched the world, and left his genetic fingerprints on it. Now, thanks to recent advancements in the science of genetic genealogy, we can identify those fingerprints. In this genetic genealogy research study, we focus on identifying the genetic fingerprint or signature of the Shpoler Zeida through Y-DNA testing of his paternal descendants.
Chassidim visiting the Shpoler Zeida’s Ohel in the Shpola Cemetery, Ukraine, 2008
The tombstone of the author’s great-grandfather, noting descent from the Shpoler Zeida 
The authors (upper left) presenting a talk on the Shpoler Zeida’s family tree, at the annual Shpoler Zeida Seuda, Crown Heights, NY, January 23, 2011
The Y-DNA tests were conducted by Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) of Houston, Texas. Standard DNA Y-chromosome segment (DYS) markers, also referred to in genetic testing as short-tandem repeat (STR) markers, were tested at the 37 STR marker level for three pedigreed paternal descendants of the Shpoler Zeida, and for three other descendants who, through traditional genealogical research methods, were identified as being possible paternal descendants of the Shpoler Zeida.
Y-DNA passes down from father-to-son without recombination and largely unchanged, except for infrequent mutations (changes) that occur along the hereditary line, which is why the Y-DNA genetic signature of a male descendant represents that of his ancestral paternal lineage. That is also why, for the purpose of identifying the Y-DNA signature of a paternal lineage, it is essential that all descendants of the lineage are son-after-son.
The value of testing Y-DNA STR markers comes from identifying a Y-DNA signature (haplotype) for them and comparing that Y-DNA signature to others in a database. They are useful for genetic genealogy because a unique Y-DNA signature distinguishes one paternal lineage from another. They can then be used in conjunction with Family Tree DNA’s Y-DNA comparative database to discover genealogical connections or historic ancestry.
In order to establish the Y-DNA genetic signature of a particular common paternal ancestor, the Y-DNA of descendants of that paternal ancestor must genetically match one another. Ideally, these descendants should be from at least two different sons of that common ancestor, with each descendant representing a different cousinly paternal line. Matching Y-DNA results from three or more different paternal lines provides additional confirmation and validation of the Y-DNA genetic fingerprint or signature.
Identifying Pedigreed Paternal Descendants of the Shpoler Zeida
Genetic tests, including Y-DNA tests, are not a substitute for traditional genealogical research. In order to establish the Y-DNA genetic signature of a particular paternal lineage, pedigreed descendants of that lineage must first be identified for testing. Although the Shpoler Zeida has a large family with thousands of descendants, pedigreed lines with living paternal descendants, descending son-after-son, are rare.
Locating and testing pedigreed paternal descendants of an individual who was not a rabbi, and who was born in the Russian Empire nearly three hundred years ago, presents unique genealogical challenges. Extensive genealogical research of the Shpoler Zeida and his descendants by the authors laid the necessary groundwork for identification of living paternal descendants for this Y-DNA study.
We began our research with a search of the Kiev archives for Shpola censuses and vital records for the Zeida family., ,  In those documents, we found all of the Shpoler Zeida’s paternal descendants through the first four generations of his family. Using rabbinical books, tombstone inscriptions, immigration and naturalization records, U.S. censuses, birth, marriage, and death records, social media, and other genealogical sources, we traced the Shpoler Zeida’s descendants through twelve generations, to produce a family tree comprising over 2,500 of his descendants.
From this extended family tree, we identified six living paternal descendants of the Shpoler Zeida for Y-DNA testing. For the purpose of our analysis, these six descendants were divided into two different groups. The first group consisted of descendants for which the paper trail provided strong evidence of their being son-after-son descendants of the Shpoler Zeida. David Seide, Yisrael Seide, and Michael Zeide belong to this group. The lines of descent for these three pedigreed paternal descendants are presented in Table 1.
The second group consisted of descendants for which the evidence of their being son-after-son descendants of the Shpoler Zeida was more equivocal; i.e., there were more uncertainties in their paper trails. Possible paternal descendants Aaron Joseph Zeide, Miron Zeide, and Yuri Zeida belong to this group. Genealogical evidence, together with the Y-DNA results for each group of descendants are presented and discussed separately.
As shown in Table 1, David Seide and Yisrael Seide are descendants of the cousinly paternal lines that descend from the Shpoler Zeida’s grandson, Boruch Gad (son of Yankel), who is their most recent common ancestor, while Michael Zeide is a descendant of the cousinly paternal line that descends from a different son of the Shpoler Zeida, Abram.
The most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of these three paternal lines is the Shpoler Zeida; hence, if the Y-DNA of these three descendants genetically match one another, that would establish his Y-DNA genetic signature.
Table 2 presents the Y-DNA test results for David Seide, Yisrael Seide, and Michael Zeide. The Y-DNA results showed a genetic match of 33-to-35 allele values at 37 STR marker locations between the three pedigreed paternal descendants of the Shpoler Zeida. Each of them had between one and three non-matching allele values that were not shared by the other two descendants.
Y-DNA Test Results for Pedigreed Paternal Descendants of the Shpoler Zeida
Because the sample size is too small to determine which of these non-matching allele values represents ancestral allele values for the lineage, and which represent mutations, they are all considered to be “possible ancestral allele values” (indicated by the green shaded cells in the table). This distinctive pattern of allele values at 37 STR marker locations represents the Y-DNA haplotype for the Shpoler Zeida’s paternal lineage.
The R-M173 haplogroup for the three pedigreed descendants was predicted by FTDNA on the basis of their haplotype. Additional single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping was conducted for the pedigreed descendants to further refine the initial haplogroup/subclade classification. This haplogroup/subclade classification, together with the Y-DNA haplotype, comprises the Y-DNA genetic signature or “fingerprint” of the Shpoler Zeida’s paternal lineage.
Based on their Y-DNA haplotype, all pedigreed Zeida descendants were initially classified as belonging to the R-M173 haplogroup. The R-M173 haplogroup which is defined by SNP mutation M173, was historically known as R1 and has been common throughout Europe and South Asia since pre-history and has many branches ,  It is the second most common haplogroup in Indigenous peoples of the Americas following haplogroup Q-M242.
The R1a-M173 Haplogroup
The majority of Ashkenazi Levites belong to Y-DNA haplogroup R1a, which is one of the most common haplogroups throughout Europe and Western Asia and on the Indian Subcontinent.Haplogroup R1a1 was found at elevated levels among a sample of the Israeli population who self-designated themselves as Levites and Ashkenazi Jews (Levites comprise approximately 4% of Jews). Behar reported R1a1 to be the dominant haplogroup in Ashkenazi Levites (52%), although rare in Ashkenazi Cohanim (1.3%).
The R-Z93 subclade of the R1a haplogroup (formerly known as R1a1a1b2) is distinguished by several unique markers including the M420 mutation. R1a-Z93 is the main Asian branch of R1a, one of three principal downstream subclades of R1a which split from each other about 6,000 to 7,000 years ago. It is found in Central Asia, South Asia and Southwest Asia (including among Ashkenazi Jews).
R1a-Z93 is the marker of historical peoples such as the Indo-Aryans, Persians, Medes, Mitanni, or Tatars, and pervades the genetic pool of Arabs and Jews. Based on descendant testing, it appears most likely that the sultans of the Ottoman dynasty belonged to haplogroup R1a-Z93, although this has not yet been officially confirmed.
In an effort to further define downstream SNPs for pedigreed Zeida descendants, FTDNA’s “R1a-Z93 SNP Pack,” which tests for 107 additional SNPs, was ordered for them. The Y-SNP branch R1a-Z94 of R1a-Z93 is defined by the F3105, S340, and Z94 subclades, and a number of downstream markers, including Z2124. Z2124 has five direct subclades, including Y2632.
All three pedigreed Zeida descendants were found to belong to the Y2632 subclade. The full branching structure of this subclade may be designated as: R1a-M173>Z93>Z94>Z2124>Y2632. This particular subclade appears to represent a small non-Levite branch of R1a. Taken together with the Y-DNA haplotype, this subclade comprises the Y-DNA genetic signature of the Shpoler Zeida’s paternal lineage.
Time-to-Most Recent Common Ancestor (TMRCA) Predictions
In this Y-DNA study of the Shpoler Zeida’s lineage, as in our previous studies of rabbinical lineages, the common ancestor of pedigreed descendants is already known, and therefore, does not need to be estimated. Conducting Y-DNA testing of pedigreed descendants, however, does offer the advantage of being able to evaluate and assess current predictive models for estimating the time-to-most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) for their accuracy.
FTDNA’s time predictor (TiP®) model was used to predict the TMRCA probabilities for the three pedigreed paternal descendants of the Shpoler Zeida; David Seide, Yisrael Seide, and Michael Zeide. In comparing Y-DNA STR marker results for the purpose of estimating the probability of the TMRCA, each pedigreed Zeida descendant was compared to the other two pedigreed descendants.
David and Yisrael Seide’s TMRCA probabilities are based on 37 STR markers; the others are based on 25 STR markers because Michael Zeide did not appear on the other pedigreed descendants’ genetic match lists at 37 markers. These probability predictions are presented numerically in Table 3 and graphically in Figure 1.
Mean Probability of the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) Living within a Specified Number of Generations for Pedigreed Paternal Descendants of the Shpoler ZeidaFigure 1
David and Yisrael Seide’s most recent common ancestor, Boruch Gad Zeida (1802 – 1858), preceded them in the Shpoler Zeida’s lineage by five generations (see Table 1). FTDNA’s time predictor (TiP®) model predicts only a 43.4 percent chance of their most recent common ancestor (MRCA) living within five generations.
Yisrael Seide’s and Michael Zeide’s most recent common ancestor, the Shpoler Zeida (1725 – 1811) preceded them in the lineage by seven generations. FTDNA’s time predictor model predicts a 51.4 percent chance of their most recent common ancestor living within seven generations.
Michael Zeide’s and David Seide’s most recent common ancestor, the Shpoler Zeida (1725 – 1811) also preceded them in the lineage by seven generations. FTDNA’s time predictor model predicts a 23.9 percent chance of their most recent common ancestor living within seven generations.
As shown in Table 3 (right column), the actual TMRCA for generations 5 through 7 fell between the 30.7 and the 46.4 percent mean probability predictions for this study. This is consistent with the results of previous Y-DNA studies which showed that the FTDNA time predictor model consistently overestimates the TMRCA.
Y-DNA Test Results for Possible Paternal Descendants of the Shpoler Zeida
Table 4 presents the Y-DNA test results for Aaron Zeide, Miron Zeide, and Yuri Zeida, and compares their results to those of the three pedigreed paternal Zeida descendants, David Seide, Yisrael Seide, and Michael Zeide.
Aaron Zeide and Miron Zeide have matching allele values at 37 of 37 STR marker locations, but they match the three pedigreed paternal Zeida descendants at only 11 of 37 STR marker locations (non-matching allele values are indicated by the blue shaded cells in the table). Their identically matching allele values indicate that they share a common paternal ancestor, but it also leaves little doubt that their common paternal ancestor does not belong to the Shpoler Zeida’s paternal lineage. Indeed, their Y-DNA test results identified them as belonging to a completely different haplogroup (Q-M242) from that of the pedigreed paternal Zeida descendants (R-Z93).
Yuri Zeida matched the three pedigreed paternal Zeida descendants on only 10 of 37 STR marker locations tested. His Y-DNA test results identified him as belonging to the E-L117 haplogroup. His widely disparate allele values and haplogroup classification (E-L117) indicates that he is descended from a different paternal line from all of the other Zeida descendants.
These Y-DNA results effectively rule out paternal descent of these three descendants from the Shpoler Zeida. When Y-DNA results for presumed paternal descendants of a lineage do not match, it generally means there is an interruption somewhere in the paternal lineage. Some of the more common possible explanations for such breaks in the lineage, include mistakes in the paper trail, undocumented surname changes, adoptions, and non-paternal events (NPEs).
In this case, it was discovered that there were, in fact, errors introduced in the lineage for Aaron Zeide, Miron Zeide, and Yuri Zeida. These lineage errors are explained in the following Discussion of Results.
Discussion of Results
The Shpoler Zeida’s lineage dates back almost three centuries. Through traditional genealogical research, we were able to identify and locate three living paternal descendants having well-documented pedigrees, who descend from two different sons of the Shpoler Zeida.
The close genetic match between all three pedigreed Zeida descendants – David Seide, Israel Seide, and Michael Zeide – validates the authenticity of their pedigree, and their distinctive allele pattern at 37 STR marker locations represents the haplotype of their most recent common ancestor, the Shpoler Zeida. Their haplotype, in conjunction with their haplogroup classification, R1a-M173>Z93>Z94>Y2632, represents the Y-DNA genetic signature of the Shpoler Zeida.
The modal (most frequent) allele values reported at 37 STR markers for the pedigreed Zeida descendants in this study match those reported by Wim Penninx for a small cluster of Ashkenazi non-Levite Jews who are not closely related to the larger Levite R1a group. In his data, Penninx found a relationship between the size of a branch and the TMRCA. He postulates that this relationship is most likely caused by differences in the time of arrival of the progenitors of the branch in the Ashkenazi countries; early arriving progenitors have a large TMRCA, and are also larger in size (e.g., the R1a Levites group).
Penninx considers the small non-Levite cluster as a small branch of the R1a haplogroup, with a recent TMRCA. He suspects that the most recent common ancestor of this branch arrived late in the Ashkenazi countries, and that the Jewish common ancestor arrived in the Eastern Ashkenazi countries directly from the Middle East. His hypothesis is supported by the results of this study, since the same modal allele values that he reported for the small non-Levite cluster represent those of the Shpoler Zeida (b. 1725).
These results of this study are consistent with those of multiple Y-DNA studies of Jewish lineages which have demonstrated that the FTDNA time predictor (TiP®) model tends to overestimate the actual time-to-most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) in the vast majority of cases. However, in this study, the overestimates were even more pronounced.
For instance, the TiP model predicted a 95 percent probability that Yisrael Seide and Michael Zeide’s most recent common ancestor (the Shpoler Zeida) lived within twenty generations, when, in fact, he lived within seven. The known TMRCA fell between the 30.7 – 46.4 percent mean probability predictions in this study; a range of between 50 – 95 percent using the FTDNA time predictor model has been reported by these authors in previous Y-DNA studies of rabbinical lineages. , , , Similar findings were reported by Unkefer, who indicated that the actual documented TMRCA generally falls between the 50 percent and the 95 percent probability predictions. 
This Y-DNA research study of the Shpoler Zeida’s paternal lineage presented several unique challenges. Because the Shpoler Zeida was not a rabbi and did not found a rabbinical dynasty, there are few family trees, yichus letters, or published genealogies of his family in rabbinical sources. The pedigrees of many of his descendants are therefore not as well-documented as are other rabbinical lineages of his day.
Our search of the Kiev archives for Shpola census and vital records was undertaken in order to corroborate or complete the documented paper trail for our pedigreed and possible paternal descendants. The records search was successfully completed, and we were able to verify and/or complete the paper trail for all tested descendants.
Unfortunately, during the process of reconstructing the lineage for the descendants who had uncertainties in their pedigrees, some errors were introduced into the paper trail. These errors greatly complicated interpretation of the Y-DNA results. For instance, David Seide and Yisrael Seide were found to be close genetic matches, and Aaron Joseph Zeide and Miron Zeide were found to be identical genetic matches at all 37 STR marker locations tested.
David and Yisrael Seide, however, did not genetically match Aaron Joseph and Miron Zeide. Having what we believed was a complete paper trail documenting paternal descent for all four descendants, we had no way to distinguish which pair of results represented the true genetic signature of the Shpoler Zeida. To further complicate the issue, Yuri Zeida’s Y-DNA results did not match either pair of descendants.
Fortunately, additional Y-DNA testing enabled us to find and correct these lineage errors. The first step was identifying a sixth descendant from a completely different branch of the Shpoler Zeida’s family to test. If that descendant’s Y-DNA results matched those of either David Seide and Yisrael Seide or Joseph and Miron Zeide, we would then know which pair of descendants represented the true genetic signature of the Shpoler Zeida.
We identified Michael Zeide as the sixth Y-DNA test candidate. Michael descends son-after-son from the Shpoler Zeida’s son Abram, whereas David and Yisrael Seide descend from his son Yankel (see Table 1). Aaron Joseph and Miron Zeide were thought to descend from the Shpoler Zeida’s grandson Shmuel, while Yuri Zeide was thought to descend from a previously unknown son, Fayvil, whom we identified from the Shpola census.
Michael Zeide’s Y-DNA test results were found to match those of David and Yisrael Seide, thereby confirming that the three pedigreed descendants were indeed paternal descendants of the Shpoler Zeida, and that their haplotype and haplogroup represented the Shpoler Zeida’s genetic signature. It also meant that errors were introduced into the lineages of the possible paternal descendants during the process of reconstructing their paper trails. We proceeded to examine their paper trails and supporting documents to locate the possible source of these errors.
The first error was introduced during the reconstruction of Aaron Joseph and Miron Zeide’s lineage. From the existing paper trail, their common ancestor was known to be Shmuel Zeida. In our analysis of the 1834 Shpola census, Shmuel Zeida, born circa 1778, was listed as being a son of Boruch. Because the Shpoler Zeida had a son named Boruch (b. 1763), we interpreted this to mean that Shmuel was Boruch Zeida’s son, and the Shpoler Zeida’s grandson.
However, in light of the fact that Aaron Joseph and Miron Zeide’s Y-DNA results do not match the Shpoler Zeida’s genetic signature, we believe that their ancestor Shmuel was not a paternal descendant of the Shpoler Zeida. Instead, we believe that he married a daughter of the Shpoler Zeida, and adopted her Zeida surname.
In 1804, an edict issued by Czar Alexander I mandated surnames for all Jews living in the Russian Empire. Shmuel was 26 years old in 1804, and based on the birth year of his son Boruch (1794), was married prior to the Jewish surname mandate. Adopting the surname of famous ancestors was considered an honor, and was a very popular tradition at that time.
Hence, adopting his illustrious father-in-law’s Zeida surname subsequent to the 1804 surname mandate is a very plausible scenario. In support of this scenario, the book Ish ha-Pele mentions a Rabbi Shmuel who married the only daughter of the Shpoler Zeida without mentioning her name.
The second error was introduced during the reconstruction of Yuri Zeide’s lineage. From the existing paper trail, his ancestor was known to be Fayvil Zeida. In our analysis of the 1834 Shpola census, Fayvil Zeida, born circa 1788, was listed as being a son of Leib. We interpreted this to mean that Fayvil Zeida was a newly-identified son of Yehuda Leib Zeida (the Shpoler Zeida).
In light of the fact that Yuri Zeide’s Y-DNA results do not match the Shpoler Zeida’s genetic signature, we believe that Fayvil Zeida married the Shpoler Zeida’s granddaughter and adopted her surname. Fayvil’s first wife Ruchlya (b. 1793) could have been the daughter of any of the Shpoler Zeida’s four sons. We considered the following set of facts in choosing the most likely candidate to be her father:
- The Shpoler Zeida’s eldest son, Borukh Gad, was born c. 1763, but he died in 1788, which eliminates him as Ruchlya’s father.
- The Shpoler Zeida’s second eldest son, Abram, was born c. 1767. Abram had a son Yankel, who was born in 1792, just one year before Ruchlya.
- The Shpoler Zeida’s third eldest son, Yankel, was born c. 1770. His wife, Perlya was born c. 1776. Their only son Borukh was born in 1802. We consider Perlya, who was only 17 years old in 1793, as unlikely to have been Ruchlya’s mother. In support of this inference is a rabbinical source which documents Yankel’s descendants, but make no mention of Ruchlya.
- The Shpoler Zeida’s youngest son, Peysach, was born c. 1775. He did not have any known sons, and his wife Gudya was born in 1791, just two years before Ruchlya.
Based upon the above set of facts, we believe that the Shpoler Zeida’s son Abram is the best candidate to be Ruchlya’s father. In support of this inference are name patterns – Ruchlya named her youngest son Avrum Zavel (b. 1808). It is very likely that he was named after her father Abram, who is known to have died young.
The fact that these three descendants all have the Zeida surname, but descend from different patrilineal lineages, illustrates the difficulty that confronts many Ashkenazi Jews – their common ancestor often predates the era in which Jewish surnames came into use.
As surname use became mandatory for Jews in most of Europe during the late 1700s – early 1800s, the descendants of those common ancestors adopted a variety of surnames based upon the places they were from, their occupations, nicknames, spouses’ surnames, parents’ given names, the decisions of the kahal, or the whims of the local authorities., 
In this study, a son-in-law and a grandson-in-law of the Shpoler Zeida adopted their wives’ Zeida surnames. Male surname changes make tracing Jewish lineage even more difficult using traditional genealogical methods, and emphasizes the importance of Y-DNA and other genetic tests as an essential component of Jewish genealogy.
Recommendations for Future Study
The identification of the Shpoler Zeida’s Y-DNA genetic signature is a significant research finding with many implications for the field of genetic genealogy, particularly for individuals of Jewish descent. As is the case for most pioneering genetic genealogy studies, the Shpoler Zeida Y-DNA study raises many new research questions, and opens many new promising research avenues to exploration.
Based upon the closely matching Y-DNA results of three pedigreed paternal descendants of two different sons of the Shpoler Zeida, we have succeeded in identifying the haplotype and haplogroup that characterizes the Y-DNA signature of the Zeida paternal lineage, back to their most recent common ancestor, the Shpoler Zeida (1725–1811).
This Y-DNA genetic signature is based on the testing of 37 STR markers, which is sufficient for genetic matching purposes when testing descendants of known pedigree who share the same common ancestor. Due to different allele values at four specific STR marker locations among the three pedigreed descendants, however, there is some degree of uncertainty regarding which allele values represent ancestral values, and which represent mutations. These uncertainties can be reduced by testing additional descendants, and by testing at more STR markers, in order to determine modal allele values.
We tested for 107 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) downstream of R1a-Z93 in this study, which led to the identification of the R-Y2632 subclade. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques such as FTDNA’s Big Y test will be useful in further defining downstream subclades and in identifying the terminal SNP. Undoubtedly, as other descendants of the Shpoler Zeida’s lineage are identified, and additional STR markers and SNPs are tested, the Shpoler Zeida’s Y-DNA genetic signature will be further extended and refined.
We compared known, documented TMRCAs to predicted values using FTDNA’s time predictor (TiP®) model, and found that the model significantly overestimated the TMRCA. This finding was consistent with the results of our previous Y-DNA studies of rabbinical lineages. , , ,  These Y-DNA studies provide useful validation data for evaluating the accuracy and reliability of current STR mutation rate-based models. Research studies which employ such validation data are needed to improve the accuracy and reliability of current STR mutation rate-based models.
The finding that the modal allele values reported at 37 STR markers for the pedigreed Zeida descendants in this study match those reported by for a small cluster of Ashkenazi non-Levite Jews that is not closely related to the larger Levite R1a group, and the associated hypothesis that such small clusters are often an indication that the most recent common ancestor arrived late in the Ashkenazi countries directly from the Middle East, is an interesting premise that bears further study.
In theory, age estimates of clusters based upon SNPs have the potential to be more accurate than those based upon STRs, but emerging phylogenetic-based methods which employ next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques are still evolving, and more fundamental genealogical research is needed. Y-DNA research studies, such as the recent study by Unkefer et al., that examine Jewish clusters as haplogroup subclades, can provide valuable clues to the ethnic and geographical origins of a lineage before the most recent common ancestor migrated to the Ashkenazi countries.
As NGS tests become more widely available and used, and the full genome database grows, emerging phylogenetic methods may play a larger role in identifying new descendants of rabbinical lines and in defining the Y-DNA genetic signature. In addition to phylogenetic-based methods, recent advancements in STR methodologies may also make more accurate determinations of mutation rates, TMRCAs, migration patterns, and ethnic origins possible., 
Summary and Conclusions
The Shpoler Zeida’s lineage dates back nearly three centuries. Extensive genealogical research of his family laid the necessary groundwork for identification of three son-after-son descendants of his lineage for this Y-DNA study. Based upon the matching Y-DNA results of these three pedigreed descendants, we have succeeded in identifying the haplotype and haplogroup that characterizes the Y-DNA signature of the lineage back to their most recent common ancestor, the Shpoler Zeida (1725–1811).
The close genetic match among the three pedigreed descendants of the Shpoler Zeida’s lineage; David Seide, Yisrael Seide, and Michael Zeide, together with their well-documented paper trail, provides a high degree of confidence that their distinct allele pattern at 37 STR marker locations, in addition to the R-Y2632 SNP, which defines their haplogroup, accurately represents the Y-DNA genetic signature of the Shpoler Zeida.
One of the more gratifying aspects of this study involved identifying the Y-DNA genetic signature of the Shpoler Zeida, and then using that genetic signature to either confirm paternal descent from his lineage, or to bring to light possible mistakes in the paper trail.
The validation of the line of paternal descent for David Seide, Yisrael Seide, and Michael Zeide; the lineage corrections for Aaron Joseph, Miron, and Yuri Zeide, and the identification of Ruchlya Zeida as one of the Shpoler Zeida’s granddaughters, were all genealogical discoveries that were made possible through the comparison of their Y-DNA results to the Y-DNA genetic signature of the Shpoler Zeida.
These lineage validations and corrections provide a classic illustration of how traditional and genetic genealogical methods can work hand-in-hand to break through brick walls and solve genealogical problems that neither method is capable of resolving alone. As more and more Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews turn to genetic testing as a way of discovering their roots, it is becoming increasingly clear that characterizing the unique Y-DNA genetic signature of the historically significant rabbinical lineages with well-documented pedigrees, will play a critical role in the ultimate success of these endeavors.
As Y-DNA genetic signatures are identified for a growing number of rabbinical lineages, and the number of families represented in the DNA databases increases, the likelihood of finding a match to a well-documented lineage increases.
Y-DNA research studies of the Bacharach, Polonsky, and Katzenellenbogen rabbinical lineages, and the Savran-Bendery,  and Twersky Chassidic dynasties, have demonstrated the intrinsic value of identifying and characterizing the Y-DNA signature of a rabbinic lineage in an effort to bridge the major gaps in the paper trail for both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.
The Shpoler Zeida did, indeed, touch the world, and left his genetic fingerprint upon it. With the successful identification and characterization of that genetic fingerprint, we hope to enable many current and future generations of previously unknown descendants to connect themselves and their families to this illustrious tzaddik, and to discover their remarkable lost Jewish heritage.
 Yitzhak Alfassi: “Encyclopedia L’Chassidut,” Volume 2. Mosad HaRav Kuk, Jerusalem, Israel, 1986, p. 332. The Shpoler Zeida’s years of birth (1725) and death (1811) are cited in this rabbinical reference.
 Menashe Miller: “Ish ha-Pele” (Man of Miracles). Jerusalem, Israel, 1987.
 Yehuda Yudl Rosenberg: “Tiferet Maharal mi-Shpoli.” Piotrokow, Poland, 1911 (reprinted in Israel in 1968).
 Mordecai L. Kalmanson, Editor: “The Shpoler Zeide: Biographical Sketches, Tales, and Musical Works of the Great Tzaddik, Reb Yehuda (Aryeh Leib) of Shpola.” The Shpoler Zeide Family Society, Brooklyn, NY, 1983.
 Wikipedia: “Tzaddik.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzadik. The title of tzaddik is generally given to personalities in Judaism who are considered saintly, such as a spiritual master or rebbe (Yiddish word for rabbi). The root of the word tzaddik means justice or righteousness.
 Levi Halevi Grossman: “Shem ve-She’arit.” Betzalel Printers, Tel Aviv, Israel, 1943, p. 101. “Tzaddikim of the generation related to him [the Shpoler Zeida] with honor.” The title of “tzaddik of the generation” refers to holy men who can perform miracles or act as a pipeline between man and God (see note #3 above).
 Yitzhak Alfassi, 1986, Op cit. p. 333.
 Levi Halevi Grossman, Editor, Shem ve-She’arit. Tel Aviv, Israel, Betzalel Printers, 1943, p. 101.
 Yehuda Yudl Rosenberg, 1911, Op cit. Rabbi Baruch’s surname is mentioned as Gerondi in several secondary sources, including Rosenberg’s book, and also in Menashe Miller’s Ish ha-Pele. However, there is no mention of this surname in any primary genealogical sources, so its validity cannot be independently confirmed.
 Menashe Miller, 1987, Op cit.
 Yehuda Yudl Rosenberg, 1911, Op cit.
 Menashe Miller, 1987, Op cit.
 Yitzhak Alfassi, 1986, Op cit., p. 332
 Following his death in 1811, the Shpoler Zeida’s descendants adopted the surname Zeida. There are many variants of the English spelling of the surname, including, Zaida, Zaide, Zadin, Zayda, Zayde, Zeida, Zeide, Zeyda, Zeyde, and the most common American variant, Seide.
 Yitzhak Alfassi, 1986, Op cit., p. 333-334.
 Howard Schwartz: Gabriel’s Palace: “Jewish Mystical Tales: The Saba Kadisha in the Upper World.” Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 248-249.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull, standing by the tombstone of his great-grandfather, Nathan Polonsky, Mount Judah Cemetery, Queens, NY, January 23, 2011. The tombstone inscription reads:
Here is buried an honest man, descendant of the Saba
Kadisha (holy grandfather) from Shpola, and descendant
of Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz,
son of Aharon David, of blessed memory,
passed away on 5 Tishrei, 5690.
May his soul be bound up with the living.
 A short tandem repeat (STR) is a repeating nucleotide pattern that can be counted. In specific locations on the Y chromosome, men who are descended from a common male ancestor will usually have the same number of nucleotide repeats.
 Rabbi Yaakov Kleiman: “The DNA Chain of Tradition: The Discovery of the “Cohen Gene.” http://www.cohen-levi.org/jewish_genes_and_genealogy/the_dna_chain_of_tradition.htm.
 Haplotype refers to an individual collection of specific short tandem repeat (STR) mutations within a given genetic segment. ISOGG defines the term “genetic signature” as: “another name for a haplotype” http://isogg.org/wiki/Genetics_Glossary. FTDNA defines it similarly https://www.familytreedna.com/learn/ y-dna-testing/. In our view, the haplogroup is also an essential part of the Y-DNA genetic signature of a paternal lineage, and STRs and SNPs both serve as defining components of the Y-DNA genetic signature.
 Family Tree DNA Learning Center: “What does each short tandem repeat (STR) marker mean?” https://www.familytreedna.com/learn/y-dna-testing/y-str/short-tandem-repeat-str-marker-mean/.
 State Archive of Kiev Oblast: “1818 Census of Shpola.” Fond 280, Inventory 2, File 381, p. 532.
 State Archive of Kiev Oblast: “1834 Census of Shpola.” Fond 280, Inventory 2, File 572, p. 780-789; 804.
 State Archive of Kiev Oblast: “1858 Census of Shpola.” Fond 280, Inventory 2, File 1382, p. 151-152; 173-174; 185-189; 215-216.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull and Jeffrey Briskman: “The Shpoler Zeida Family Tree.” The genealogical information presented in the descendant chart shown in Table 1 is derived from this tree, created by the authors, and contains over 2,500 of the Shpoler Zeida’s descendants, including source documentation for each descendent. For genealogical research requests, please contact the study authors: https://independent.academia.edu/JeffreyMarkPaull.
 State Archive of Kiev Oblast: “1858 Census of Shpola.” Fond 280, Inventory 2, File 572, p. 780.
 Wikipedia: “Haplogroup.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup. Haplogroups are branches of the human phylogenetic tree. A haplogroup is comprised of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mutation in all haplotypes. In human genetics, the haplogroups most commonly studied are Y-chromosome (Y-DNA) haplogroups and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups, both of which can be used to define genetic populations. The special feature that both Y chromosomes and mtDNA display is that mutations can accrue along a certain chromosome segment and the historical sequence of these mutations can be inferred.
 A Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP), is a mutation of a single nucleotide from the reference value at a specific location on the chromosome; a single-nucleotide substitution of one base for another. To be classified as a SNP, two or more versions of a sequence must each be present in at least one percent of the general population. SNP names are assigned by the individual, company, or organization that first identifies them.
 A clade or haplogroup refers to a set of people sharing a common ancestor. A subclade is a subdivision of a haplogroup. Within a subclade, the individuals are more closely related to each other, with a more recent common ancestor, than the larger haplogroup.
 Wikipedia: “Haplogroup R (Y-DNA).” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_R_(Y-DNA).
 Doron M Behar, Mark G Thomas, Karl Skorecki, Michael F Hammer, et al.: “Multiple Origins of Ashkenazi Levites: Y Chromosome Evidence for Both Near Eastern and European Ancestries.” American Journal of Human Genetics, 73 (4): 768–79, 2003.
 I. Rozhanskii and A. Klyosov: “Haplogroup R1a, Its Subclades and Branches in Europe during the Last 9,000 Years.” Advances in Anthropology, Vol. 2, No. 3, 139-56 (2012).
 Eupedia: “Haplogroup R1a.” http://www.eupedia.com/europe/Haplogroup_R1a_Y-DNA.shtml.
 Anthrogenica: “Thread: New YFull haplotree for Z94 has some new branches.” http://www.anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?2781-New-YFull-haplotree-for-Z94-has-some-new-branches.
 Wim Penninx: “Shpoler Zeida Y-DNA Study.” Email correspondence with Jeffrey Mark Paull, June 12, 2016.
 Wim Penninx: “Shpoler Zeida Y-DNA Study.” Email correspondence with Jeffrey Mark Paull, June 13, 2016.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull: “Connecting to the Great Rabbinic Families through Y-DNA: A Case Study of the Polonsky Rabbinical Lineage.” 2013, Op cit. Using FTDNA’s time predictor model, the author found that the actual TMRCA fell between the 58.6 percent and 89.5 percent probability predictions.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull and Jeffrey Briskman: “Connecting to the Great Rabbinic Families through Y-DNA: The Savran-Bendery Chassidic Dynasty.” Op cit. Using FTDNA’s time predictor model, the authors found that the actual TMRCA fell between the 53.8 percent and 93.3 percent probability predictions.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull, Neil Rosenstein, and Jeffrey Briskman: “The Y-DNA Genetic Signature and Ethnic Origin of the Katzenellenbogen Rabbinical Lineage.” Op cit. Using FTDNA’s time predictor model, the authors found that the actual TMRCA fell between the 78.5 percent and 95.8 percent probability predictions.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull and Jeffrey Briskman: “Identifying the Genetic Fingerprint of a Tzaddik that Touched the World: The Shpoler Zeida.” Op cit. Using FTDNA’s time predictor model, the authors found that the actual TMRCA fell between the 23.9 percent and 51.4 percent probability predictions.
 Rachel Unkefer: “Interpreting Y-DNA Markers: A Primer.” AVOTAYNU: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Vol. XXX, No. 1, Spring 2014. Using McGee Utilities to calculate TMRCAs, the author reported: “In situations with known family trees, the number of generations back to the known MRCA tends to be smaller (more recent) than the 95 percent probability prediction in the vast majority of cases we have studied. The actual documented TMRCA usually falls between the 50 percent probability predictions and the 95 percent probability predictions.”
 Czar Alexander I: “Imperial Statute Concerning the Organization of Jews.” Article 32, December 9, 1804.
 Menashe Miller, 1987, Op cit., p. 135.
 Ibid, p. 316-329.
 Ibid, p. 135, 316.
 The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe: “Kahal.” http://www.yivoinstitute.org/pdf/kahal.pdf. A kahal is an executive board chosen to run an autonomous Jewish community. A kahal served as a Jewish community council, or as a decision-making committee of a kehilah.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull and Jeffrey Briskman: “The History, Adoption, and Regulation of Jewish Surnames in the Russian Empire – A Review.” AVOTAYNU: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Fall, 2014.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull and Jeffrey Briskman: “The Jewish Surname Process in the Russian Empire and its Effect on Jewish Genealogy.” Avotaynu Online, August 21, 2015. https://www.avotaynuonline.com/ 2015/08/the-jewish-surname-process-in-the-russian-empire-and-its-effect-on-jewish-genealogy/.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull: “Connecting to the Great Rabbinic Families through Y-DNA: A Case Study of the Polonsky Rabbinical Lineage.” 2013, Op cit.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull and Jeffrey Briskman: “Connecting to the Great Rabbinic Families through Y-DNA: The Savran-Bendery Chassidic Dynasty.” 2015, Op cit.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull, Neil Rosenstein, and Jeffrey Briskman: “The Y-DNA Genetic Signature and Ethnic Origin of the Katzenellenbogen Rabbinical Lineage.” 2016, Op cit.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull, Jeffrey Briskman, and Yitzchak Meyer Twersky: “The Y-DNA Genetic Signature of the Twersky Chassidic Dynasty.” 2016, Op cit.
 Rachel Unkefer, J.B. Royal, and Wim Penninx: “Y-DNA Evidence for an Ashkenazi Lineage’s Iberian Origin.” AVOTAYNU: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Volume XXXII, Number 1, Spring 2016.
 T Willems, M Gymrek, GD Poznik, C Tyler-Smith, and Y Erlich et al.: “Population-Scale Sequencing Data Enable Precise Estimates of Y-STR Mutation Rates.” American Journal of Human Genetics 98(5); 919-933, May 5, 2016.
 G David Poznik, Yali Xue, Fernando L Mendez, and Thomas F Willems et al.: “Punctuated Bursts in Human Male Demography Inferred from 1,244 Worldwide Y-chromosome Sequences.” Nature Genetics 48: 593-599, April 25, 2016.
 Rachel Unkefer: “From Kansas to the Rhine: A DNA Journey through Europe’s Rabbinic Capitals.” AVOTAYNU: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Vol. XXIX, No. 4, Winter 2013.
 Rachel Unkefer, “From Kansas to the Rhine: A DNA Journey through Europe’s Rabbinic Capitals.” 2013, Op cit.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull, 2013, Op cit.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull, Neil Rosenstein, and Jeffrey Briskman: “The Y-DNA Genetic Signature and Ethnic Origin of the Katzenellenbogen Rabbinical Lineage.” 2016, Op cit.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull and Jeffrey Briskman: “Y-DNA Genetic Signature of the Savran-Bendery Chassidic Dynasty.” 2015, Op cit.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull and Jeffrey Briskman: “Connecting to the Wertheim-Giterman Rabbinical Lineage through Y-DNA.” AVOTAYNU: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Volume XXX, Number 3, Fall 2014.
 Jeffrey Mark Paull, Jeffrey Briskman, and Yitzchak Meyer Twersky: “The Y-DNA Genetic Signature of the Twersky Chassidic Dynasty.” 2016, Op cit.
Biographical note: Both study authors, Jeffrey Mark Paull and Jeffrey Briskman, share a genetic connection to the Shpoler Zeida. Jeffrey Mark Paull is a direct descendant of the Shpoler Zeida. His 2nd-great-grandfather, Aharon David Polonsky, was married to Pesya Brayna Zeida, the 2nd-great-granddaughter of the Shpoler Zeida. Jeffrey Briskman shares a connection to the Shpoler Zeida through his daughter, Miriam Briskman, the granddaughter of Rivka Geisinski. Rivka was the 2nd-great granddaughter of Pesya Mirel Zeida, who was the 2nd-great-granddaughter of the Shpoler Zeida. Pesya Brayna Zeida and Pesya Mirel Zeida were first cousins, their common ancestor being the Shpoler Zeida’s grandson, Boruch Gad Zeida.