Annual Assessments

2013-2014 Annual Assessment

2013-2014 Annual Assessment
No. 10

Dr. Shlomo Fischer

Avinoam Bar-Yosef, Nadia Ellis, Sylvia Barack Fishman, Avi Gil, Inbal Hakman, Michael Herzog, Antony Korenstein, Dov Maimon, Asaf Nissenbaum, Steven Popper, Shmuel Rosner, David Saks, Noah Slepkov, Shalom Salomon Wald, Einat Wilf

Barry Geltman
Rami Tal

We would like to thank Prof. Gideon Shimoni, Prof. Uzi Rebhun, and Dr. Deborah Bolnick
for their contributitons to this Annual Assessment

2013-2014 Annual Assessment

If one considers that the Jewish people is a big interconnected family made up of smaller more closely related families, then the more a family remains connected, the more connected the Jewish people is as a whole. Conversely, if Jewish families lose their connectedness, we are more likely to see a drifting apart of the Jewish people as a whole.

The last 150 years have witnessed massive migrations of the Jewish people throughout the world. As Jewish families relocated, they often broke apart from their larger families – starting a new life in the new world often meant leaving the old life and the family history behind. Furthermore, the Shoah destroyed countless amounts of families and genealogical data.

The advances described above have the ability to help relatives that had been separated for generations find each other, even if those individuals don’t live in the same continent or speak the same language. The tools also function, like most virtual social networks, as a mechanism to keep families connected and in communication.

Moreover, due to differences of language and culture, perhaps it is difficult for Jews in one part of the world to feel truly connected with Jews in another part of the world, especially in situations where neither are facing persecution. Genealogical mapping has the ability to introduce, at least virtually, individuals to members of their own extended family living in other parts of the world, reinforcing the notion of Klal Israel. There is a tremendous benefit, therefore, in embracing these tools as a mechanism to strengthen inter and intra-community bonds.

Considering that until the end of the 19th century the Jewish people consisted of communities living in population enclaves throughout the world, where the overwhelming majority married other Jews, it is reasonable to assume that a mega-family tree of the Jewish people would be easier to build compared to other Western communities or ethnic populations, barring of course the huge gap in the family tree as a result of the Shoah.