A Jewish Hereditary Genetic Research Project
and the families: ELTERMAN, MANCHICK, KRAVETSKY
Bobruysk researchers, I need your help in a genetic related genealogical
Certain families from Bobruysk share the identical novel mutation of the Beta-Thalassemia
genetic trait carried by my family (originally from Ostrow Maz., 500 km west of
The known Bobruysk families are: ELTERMAN/ALTERMAN, MANCHICK, and KRAVETSKY. Of
course, there could be others which have not yet been identified.
I am looking for anyone related to these families because knowing about the
beta-thalassemia genetic trait may be vital to them and perhaps people you know.
For years, Beta-Thalassemia (also known as Cooley's anemia or Mediterranean
anemia), was thought to affect only Greek, Italian, Asian, and some
Sephardic Jewish families. By 1993, four Ashkenazic families had been
identified as carriers. Through my outreach, I have now been able to document
fifteen families with the the trait and the future generations of unsuspecting
members of these families could be at risk for the fatal disease. Here's why:
The offspring of two carriers have a one in four chance of inheriting the
disease. As I have done in my family, I have urged the other families to reach
out to every branch they can find to warn them that the mild chronic anemia
could well be something else.
Six years ago, Dr. Ariella Oppenheim of Hebrew University - Hadassah Hospital,
Jerusalem, and Dr. Charles Scriver of McGill University - Montreal
Children's Hospital Medical Research Institute, independently discovered that my
family and a family in Jerusalem carry the same novel mutation of the beta-thalassemia
trait. As a result, I embarked on a scientific and humanitarian project that
invites the participation of genealogists around the world.
The first scientific paper related to the project was published in January 1997
in the medical journal "Human Mutation." (Vol. IX, No. 1)
In Israel, where there is mass pre-natal screening for beta-thalassemia,only
seven Ashkenazic families have been identified as carriers.) This rarity creates
a potentially dangerous scenario for Ashkenazic families with unsuspecting
carriers. The thalassemia genetic trait (thalassemia minor) does not affect
carriers themselves. However, it can be a ticking time bomb for their
descendants because the trait is typically diagnosed as mild chronic anemia.
Thus, Ashkenazic Jews and their physicians, particularly in the Diaspora, are
unlikely to go to great efforts to try to identify the cause of the anemia.
With the growing rate of intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews, as well as the
increased frequency of Ashkenazic-Sephardic marriages, there is an
ever-increasing risk of this devastating disease occurring in an unaware
The first step in identifying carriers is to ask the physician
about the individual's MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume) which is normally
recorded in a standard blood test. If it is 78 or less, there should be a
further evaluation of the hemoglobin A2.
While I have not found other carriers of my family's specific mutation so far,
outreach has turned up a number of other Diaspora Ashkenazic families
carrying the trait. A few are already starting programs to alert their
extended families about the potential dangers to future generations. These
families were found through JewishGen posts and articles in the general and
Jewish press and Jewish Genealogical Society newsletters.
On-site research in Poland and the cooperation of the Polish State Archives and
key Civil Records Offices enabled me to document sixty additional families who
may be at risk. With descendants of so many families to be traced and contacted,
my task, already immense, has now become almost unmanageable. I need help from
my fellow genealogists, their friends, relatives, and physicians - anyone who
might have knowledge of a carrier.
Here's how you can help:
1. Review the names in below for possible matches with your family,
friends, and acquaintances. It could explain the mild chronic anemia
which until now may have been ignored, discounted, or worse,
2. If you are, or know, an Ashkenazic carrier of beta-thalassemia,
please contact me immediately. As per standard medical practice,
all names will be held in confidence.
3. Contact the expert(s) on Jewish genetic diseases in your area.
This will usually be the chief hematologist at a general hospital serving
a large Jewish patient base and/or a hematologist associated with a
local children's hospital. Genetic counsellors may also know possible
contacts. The question to ask is, "Have you, or anyone you know, ever
identified Ashkenazic carriers of the beta-thalassemia trait?"
If the answer is yes, please let me know the name of the attending
physician. I will forward the full background on the project, which
could then be given to the carrier. The next step would be for the
carrier to contact me.
4. Send a copy of this request to your physician(s); ask that it be
mentioned to associates, particularly in the fields of hematology,
genetics, and pediatrics. This step is necessary since information
about a carrier may not always come to the attention of the local
If you want to help or need further information, please contact me via
email (SMSDiamond@aol.com), telephone
(514-484-0100), or fax
The Bobruysk families who may be carriers of my family's novel mutation of
the Beta-Thalassemia genetic trait are:
ALTERMAN/ELTERMAN (Bobruysk, Minsk, Belarus)
KRAVETSKY (Bobruysk, Belarus)
MANCHICK (Bobruysk, Minsk, Belarus)
For further information on this research, please check out my website at the
address noted below:
Stanley M. Diamond, Montreal
"Genealogy with an extra reason" ... Beta-Thalassemia Research Project
Tel: (514) 484-0100 Fax: (514) 484-7306