Beginning Jewish Genealogy

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How do you start a search for Jewish ancestors? As with any genealogy search, the best place to begin is to start with the individuals you know, and the information you currently have. Next, you will want to talk to family members who may be able to fill in some of the blanks. From there you’ll want to expand the search by searching original and derivative sources like census records, vital records, naturalization records, etc.  For Jewish ancestors, you will want to try some additional ideas including: join your local Jewish Genealogical Society, attend a Jewish conference, and consult with other individuals who are performing Jewish research.

A great resource for Jewish Genealogy is the Tracing The Tribe blog (http://tracingthetribe.blogspot.com). Tracing The Tribe is filled with resources, tools, and insights on Jewish genealogy. The blog is written by Schelly Talalay Dardashti who adds a nice personal touch to her work. Schelly has conducted family history research in Belarus, Russia, Lithuania, Spain, Iran and other countries. She is also a well known speaker, teacher, and is the former president of the five-branched JFRA Israel (a Jewish genealogical association).

In her blog Schelly also provides links to other genealogical sites (which include Jewish classes, genealogical research, news, conferences and more), which may aid you in your research. Some of the sites Schelly mentions are:

For those who are just starting their research in Jewish Genealogy, JewishGen, one of Schelly’s recommendations, suggests the following two books:* Kurzweil, Arthur. From Generation to Generation: How to Trace Your Jewish Genealogy and Personal History. Updated Edition. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004). 367 pages. ($24.95 hardcover). ISBN 0-7879-7051-4 [First edition was: (New York: William Morrow, 1980). 353 pages. ISBN 0-8052-0706-6. Second revised edition was: (New York: Harper Collins, 1994). 388 pages. ISBN 0-06-270097-9].

* Rottenberg, Dan. Finding Our Fathers: A Guidebook to Jewish Genealogy. (New York: Random House, 1977). 401 pages. ($20). [Reprints: Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986, 1995, 1998. ISBN 0-8063-1151-7]

WorldVitalRecords.com also offers several Jewish databases. Here are a few:

1. Jewish Cemeteries

2. JewishData

3.Heritage Florida Jewish News

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