From the archives of The Galitzianer

Published since 1993, The Galitzianer is the quarterly newsletter of Gesher Galicia. A selection of articles from recent issues have been put online, and more pieces will be added to this website in the near future. Articles may also be browsed by issue number or by article type. Members of Gesher Galicia can download full PDF's of past issues, and can opt to receive their subscription to the The Galitzianer in either digital or paper format.

From (May, 2002) ·

Jewish Genealogy: More than a Family Tree?

by Valerie Schatzker

Technically, this magazine, we who subscribe to it, and the eminently successful enterprises of the Jewish Genealogy web site, JRI-Poland, and a host of other similar resources and organizations are dedicated specifically to the pursuit of Jewish genealogy. Yet the relatively recent explosion of interest in this topic, undoubtedly encouraged by the ease of communication provided by the Internet, would seem to indicate that more than the curiosity and family pride motivates many amateur genealogists in this field.

Jewish genealogy is dominated and complicated by the matter of the Holocaust, which annihilated not only millions of individuals but also most of European Jewish society. Thus, as people search for great-grandparents and second cousins, they may find their names and a few important dates in their lives but know so little about them. Sources of information on Galician Jewish life are scarce, scattered or non-existent. Much of this is can be blamed on the destruction of war and the annihilation of Jewish social structure and institutions. Synagogue and community records were lost, libraries obliterated, monuments and cemeteries leveled. However this is not the only explanation for the paucity of material. The thousands of books, articles, stories, and biographies that would have been written, the many films, documentaries and TV programs that would have been made by people from these lost societies were never written, never produced, because the spokesmen for this lost world are ashes.

Are we seeking these lost relatives to enumerate them and trace their lineage, to put names to the anonymous millions who are known to us only as statistics or through photographs and accounts of mass slaughter? Or do we also have an obligation to resurrect them as living people, to see them not only as lists of victims but also as vital and vigorous participants in the life of their own societies.

Gesher Galicia members, log in to read the rest of this Galitzianer article.
Not a member? Join today and get access to almost two decades of back issues!

Gesher Galicia is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people research their Jewish family roots in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire province of Galicia, which is today southeastern Poland and southwestern Ukraine. Our organization's primary focus is researching Jewish roots in Galicia, but the diverse community records in our databases contain names that span all the ethnic and religious groups who once lived in this region.

Search our free All Galicia Database, Map Room, and Archival Inventory today, and learn about our terrific member benefits for genealogists, researchers, and families, starting at just $36/year. You can join online!