Jewish genealogy isn't easy, but it isn't as hard as you might think Many things you "know" about Jewish genealogy aren't true With a systematic approach, you should be able to trace back to your immigrant ancestors or farther In the past, most Jews were not as interested in documenting their pedigrees as gentiles were.In recent years, however, genealogy has become a popular hobby for both Jews and gentiles, as evidenced by popular television shows like "Who Do You Think You Are?" Jewish genealogical research has also taken on an added importance for those moving to Israel, because the increasingly strict Israeli rabbinate requires higher levels of proof of Jewish status.
From three Jewish parents, I have identified 22 of 24 possible 2nd-great-grandparents born in the mid 1800s; 24 out of 48 possible 3rd-great-grandparents born in the early 1800s, and a few ancestors back to the early 1700s.
This page will pass along some of the benefit of my experience. Jews don't talk much about their family history, but that doesn't mean they don't know anything.
Many people believe that Jewish genealogy is not possible because no one in the family knows anything, names were changed at Ellis Island, records were destroyed by Hitler, towns don't exist anymore, and so forth. When I had to do a genealogy project for school in 4th grade, my father told me the names of his grandparents, and I assumed that was all he knew.
The reality is, these assumptions are not entirely true, and you can probably trace your family tree one or two generations farther than you think you can. As an adult, I had done quite a bit of research on my family tree before I found out that my father knew much more: he had compiled a family tree as a bar mitzvah project in the 1950s, while many of the older relatives were still living.
His tree included all eight of his great-grandparents, some of his 2nd-great-grandparents and dozens of aunts and uncles and cousins.
In addition, my father's brother and cousin had done ongoing research that I did not know about until long after I had started my work.This is one of the most widespread myths of genealogy, and many people lovingly cling to their family's quirky name-change stories even when confronted with the facts.Sorry to disappoint you, but nobody's name was changed at Ellis Island.Lists of passengers were compiled at the port of departure based on the name found in the ticket.The names given upon arrival in the United States had to match the name on the passenger list and on the ticket.But even if the name were recorded incorrectly at Ellis Island, it wouldn't matter, because you didn't have to use the name that was recorded at Ellis Island.