Jewish Genealogy Research

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Beginning Research
Original Records
Compiled Sources
Background Information
Finding Aids

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Western Temple Wall, Jerusalem

Did you know?

  • Columbus took Jews with him in hopes they could translate Oriental languages.
  • Jewish births are sometimes listed in local church records.
  • Emma Lazarus, daughter of Sephardic Jews, wrote the famous poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses..."
  • Jews are the oldest group with their national identity and cultural heritage intact.[1]


Ethnic Divisions of Judiasm

  • Ashkenazi Communities of Jews that settled in Central and Eastern Europe. They speak a unique language called Yiddish, which is a mixture of Hebrew and German that originated in the 9th century.
  • Sephardic Jews who descend from those who were expelled from Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1496 and from Italy 1490 - 1510. Most of these Jews spoke a version of Spanish called Ladino and settled in the Ottoman Empire, Netherlands and the Holy Land. Sepharad means Spain in Ladino.
  • Romaniote Community with distinctive cultural features and who have lived in the territory of Greece, Italy and neighboring areas for more than 2,000 years. They trace their roots from the destruction of Jerusalem. Their languages were Yevanic, a Greek dialect, and modern Greek.
  • Mizrahi Jews descended from local Jewish communities of the Middle East. The term Mizrahi is most commonly used in Israel to refer to Jews who trace their roots back to Muslim-majority countries. Mizrahi and Sepharadic are often inter mingled.
  • Marrano Jews from Spain who converted or were forced to convert to Christianity, some of whom may have continued to practice Judaism in secret. Sometimes called Crypto-Jews
  • Crypto-Jews A term used to describe descendants of Jews who maintain some Jewish traditions of their ancestors while publicly adhering to other faiths.

Key Internet Links

The Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center and is the only center of its kind in the world. At the Center, visitors can search a computerized database containing thousands of genealogies of Jewish families from all over the world and can also register their own family trees. There is also a way to order genealogy help even when you aren't at the museum

  • National Library of Israel JPRESS. New titles on JPRESS This site contains a collection of Jewish newspapers published in various countries, languages, and time periods. Ongoing project.
  • National Jewish Welfare Board Records The collection documents the National Jewish Welfare Board's (JWB) evolution from an organization founded in 1917 to provide support for soldiers in times of war to an agency involved in all aspects of Jewish life both in the United States and abroad. In 1990 JWB recreated itself as the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America.
  • For more websites click here:

Helpful Guides

Sources

  1. Joseph Aaron, "Fun Jewish Facts" in Jewish News Online at http://www.chicagojewishnews.com/forums/showthread.php?t=338 (accessed 15 August 2009).