From PBS - Many Americans descend from a variety of European ethnicities, with ancestral roots across every country in Europe. Actors Robert Downey, Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhaal are textbook ... See full summary »
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From PBS - Many Americans descend from a variety of European ethnicities, with ancestral roots across every country in Europe. Actors Robert Downey, Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhaal are textbook examples of Americans with a rich medley of European immigrant stories in their family trees. Delve into their deep American roots in early colonial communities and meet their Eastern European Jewish ancestors, who share almost identical migration stories. From the Mayflower to Ellis Island, journey through centuries of immigration that shaped and built this melting pot nation. Written by Anonymous

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22 April 2012 (USA)  »

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A Look At America And Jewish Roots
15 January 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Many Americans descend from a variety of European ethnicities, with ancestral roots across every country in Europe. Actors Robert Downey, Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhaal are textbook examples of Americans with a rich medley of European immigrant stories in their family trees. Delve into their deep American roots in early colonial communities and meet their Eastern European Jewish ancestors, who share almost identical migration stories.

This was a great parallel, which is something "Finding Your Roots" does well. On one hand, we have Jewish ancestors, with Gyllenhaal having her line extended all the way back to the beginning of the Jewish world. Downey's was a bit less exciting, but we got to learn about Russian pogroms.

On the other side of their trees, we have some great Americans -- Downey going back before the Revolution, and Gyllenhaal tracing her line to a preacher (whose descendants include several presidents). Of the two, Gyllenhaal was clearly the more impressive, even having royal blood, but both gave us a good story of what it meant to be American.


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