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From Generation to Generation: How to Trace Your Jewish Genealogy and Family History Hardcover – Apr 7 2004


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Given the extent of the Jewish Diaspora and the devastation of the Holocaust, it has always been a difficult proposition to trace one's Jewish genealogy. First published in 1980, From Generation to Generation provided invaluable information and research tips for Jews interested in plumbing the depths of their family history. In this latest edition, Kurzweil incorporates the most recent technological advances and innovations into his information-gathering guide. Using the Internet as^B a resource, it is now easier and less time-consuming to gather documents, cross-check references, and peruse government records. Although much of the information provided can be applied to any ethnic group, the author painstakingly outlines how Jewish genealogy substantially differs from all other genealogy. Brimming with worthwhile advice and handy shortcuts, this handbook will have immense appeal for a limited audience. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“…highly recommended as a primer for novices and a reference book for the experienced…” (Family History Monthly, September 2004)

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IN THE SPRING OF 1970, I wandered into the Jewish Division of the New York Public Library for the first time in my life. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 9 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Part detective story, part spiritual quest,, part how-to text Aug. 16 2005
By Kathy F. Cannata - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Along with the new Avotaynu Guide, indispensable.

Kurzweil's book is not as lengthy and technical as the Avotaynu book, nor as concise and tightly organized as Barbara Krasner-Khait's Discovering Your Jewish Ancestors (2001). But what it offers is something unheard of in genealogy textbooks - a work that reads like a novel. He is not afraid to be expansive and anecdotal, even chatty. His personal stories with genealogy, dating back to 1970, are gripping. Especially so because Kurzweil (unlike many genealogical authors) knows how to tell a story. The book is often lyrical and intensely earnest, without being melodramatic or overwrought. His passion for discovering his ancestral roots is sincere and infectious. In fact, his discovery of a descent from a famous Hasidic rabbi led him to embrace more traditional Judaism in his spiritual life.

But the book is not ALL personal stories, as interesting as they are. He packs the bulk of these into his opening chapters, and then sprinkles them as useful illustrations throughout the work. He covers all of the important topics, and is quite up to date on the online resources (through about late 2003). He has a great command of the details of doing Jewish genealogy, and he has some very brilliant recommendations for some unique and creative sources. (He was a founding father of Jewish genealogy in the mid-70s, and has given something like 600 lectures around the country).

His enthusiasm is infectious, and he makes strong arguments for the moral and spiritual value for Jews to explore their roots (bolstering his case with short gripping quotes from the Old Testament, Jewish sages, and Talmud). Further, he makes a good case against cremation (with which this Christian reviewer agrees).

The only shortcomings of the book:
1. As noted above, this is not absolutely comprehensive. You will want both the Avotaynu and the Krasner-Khait books to fill in all of the blanks.
2. While a good scholar and critically oriented, he is generally a littel more eager than I am to accept oral traditions or unproven claims of rabbinic lines. See, for example, the material pp.30-34. At the end he is willing to claim it is `likely' he is a direct descendant from King David, because a certain famous rabbi living 1500 years after David claimed descent from him (how could he know?). And another rabbi living 600 years later claims to be a descendant of that rabbi, etc. Four or five jumps like that and Kurzweil makes it to his famous 3x-great-grandfather rabbi. Utterly unprovable beyond perhaps the first or second `jump' backwards, and pretty unlikely. But in fairness, he acknowledges the problems with these rabbinic genealogies.

In any case, a wonderful read, and a good practical tool.

It might make a nice gift for a relative who is mildly interested in their family history, but in need of inspiration to get more involved. Also, every synagogue library, public library, and local historical society needs to have a donated copy (along with the Avotaynu guide). And at just $16 (for a beefy, nicely illustrated hardback), VERY affordable.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The single best source for Jewish Genealogy I've found yet Dec 7 2006
By Hanoch McCarty - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having become interested in doing the genealogy of my family about two years ago, I began by going it alone and stumbling around Google and visiting some resources in New York City including the fascinating Municipal Archives.

I was told about this book some months ago and, voila!, it has opened the whole world of Jewish geneaology for me. I've bought 14 other books on the subject and find this the most interestingly written and the most complete. There are updates to the book so I'd caution the buyer to get the latest one from Amazon rather than one of the much older ones being sold as used. The list of resources is exhaustive and clearly organized and each area of investigation is illustrated by the author through sharing his journey of discovery of his own roots.

You'll find information about how to use resources in the US and in the major cities like NY and Chicago as well as information about national resources such as YIVO, the National Archives, the Mormon Church's extensive records and how to access them. Special interest groups for Rumania, Latvia, etc. are listed and you'll eventually find many rich sources which you'd probably not discover on your own except by accident.

This is the book I wish I'd had two years ago and I would have saved much time, money and frustration. No one book can be the only one worth having, but I'd definitely buy this one first, read it through with a highliter and post-it notes to mark sections worth exploring again more deeply.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Primer for anyone considering Genealogy Research April 12 2001
By Magic Al - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While this book focuses on one man's search for his family history, his examples could be of value to anyone who is considering beginning a research project. Mr. Kurzweil's joy of discovery is very compelling, and was probably a big reason why I got into the hobby myself.
There is plenty of practical advice on how to start, where to look for documentation, how to interview, etc. While the book lacks depth in some areas, it covers every important facet of Genealogical research, and provides a point to jump from in search for more information.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
really interesting and helpful Dec 31 2007
By L. Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an awesome book. I am a novice at family genealogy, with a research background. When I became interested in tracing my family's roots, I was intrigued by the data available on the web. It was hard to figure out where to look first. I saw the reviews for this book on Amazon, and I first took this book out from the library. When I realized how much I'd use it, I bought my own copy.
This book is very easy to read, especially in terms of how to sort out the kinds of information you can look for, hints about where to find it, and realizing that it's okay to decide for yourself how far to delve. The enthusiasm of the author is contagious. I couldn't put it down.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
From Generation to Generation: How to Trace Your Jewish Genealogy and Family History March 12 2010
By Mary Ann Eells - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All novice researchers of Jewish genealogy should own this book. Yes, Jewish genealogy is different from all other genealogy, but the author Kurzweil is more than equal to the task of explaining it. Admittedly, this review can include only highlights of this wonderful book. Not a collection of dry facts, throughout, the author inspires with the tale of his own quest to learn about his Jewish ancestors.

On specifics, Kurzweil provides guidance on how to collect family stories, get the research underway, use historical records, and access key Jewish resources such as Memorial Books from Jewish communities. He claims that Jewish towns and surnames are the key to the research, and so he lists the towns with published Memorial Books, and provides lists of Jewish names. He gives extensive information and guidance to elaborate on these topics.

Kurzweil thoroughly explains a wealth of other resources. Examples include helpful websites such as JewishGen.org.; journals of Jewish genealogy such as "Avotaynu"; resources for Holocaust research; and Jewish encyclopedias including "Encyclopedia Judaica".

In the Foreward to the book Elie Wiesel said it all. That Kurzweil's beautiful and important book ....."shows us that each name is a mysterious call transmitted from generation to generation in order to force themselves to question the meaning of their survival."


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