Israeli App to Help Find Missing Yemenite Adoptees With DNA Tests

MyHeritage to conduct exams for free while providing secrecy to people who think they were taken from their families and given up for adoption.

Prime Minister David Ben Gurion visiting the cheder at Farradiya transit camp, Nov. 22, 1950.
Eldan David/GPO

My Heritage, which helps people build family tress, uncover family histories and find distant relatives, said this week it would help Israelis who suspect they were given away for adoption as babies during the mass immigration of Yemenite Jews to Israel in the early 1950s.

Allegations that hundreds, maybe thousands, of Yemenite babies who were said to have died or disappeared were actually given or sold for adoption to European-born Israelis and American Jews has been the subject of government inquiries for decades, without any conclusive results.

MyHeritage, working with MK Nurit Koren (Likud), is offering free DNA testing for those who suspect they were adopted or had a child that went missing.

The service, which would normally cost $100, is being offered to Israelis and people abroad. “The tests will be done in complete privacy, anonymously and through a DNA lab in the United States. The names of those tested won’t be uploaded to the internet, nor reported to the lab,” the company said. Positive results will be reported back to the families involved and, if they wish, MyHeritage will arrange a meeting with them.

"We at MyHeritage are carrying out the project out of a sense of mission and see a moral and Zionist obligation to assist with social healing and setting things right," said Gilad Japhet, the company's CEO. By providing families the opportunity to locate their dear ones and to uncover their fate, we hope that we will be able to ease the suffering of many families that has persisted for over 60 years."