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From Our Mailbox...

July 2010

These four stories highlight how the simple posting of a surname can result in new family connections and an expanded family tree.

Debbie’s story also shows that today’s social networks, such as Facebook, can play an important role in making these connections.

The texts of these emails have been gently edited for publication.

JGFF and Facebook Connect a Family

As a result of my listing on the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF), a researcher contacted me about my Hillenbrand family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The researcher, Luc Radu, had a marriage certificate for Lupu Hilenbrand and Roza Goldschlager in Romania (he is a Goldschlager researcher).

We corresponded back and forth and determined that the Wolf Hillenbrand and wife Rosa on my family tree were the same people listed on the Romanian marriage certificate. Luc had not known where they had settled. I told him that in the past I had been in correspondence with a great-granddaughter of Wolf and Rosa. I had lost her contact information and she hadn’t used JewishGen for quite some time.

I took a stab in the dark and looked to see if she was on Facebook. Sure enough she was! I sent her a message on Facebook, she contacted me, and I put her in touch with Luc. She is related to Luc in the same way as she is related to me--third cousins once removed. So we have been happily sharing information. Thank you to JewishGen for allowing us to post our family interests.

Debbie Kopstein Burr
Forest, Ontario, Canada

JRC-UK Reunites the Mendzigurskys and the Bookbinders

My mother, Feige Mendzigursky, her sister Margo, and their father Peisech, all managed to get out of Leipzig in August 1939. Tragically, my grandmother and the youngest daughter did not survive. Feige and Margo arrived in England on the Kindertransport and were taken in by some members of the Bookbinder family in Manchester, who were nine siblings, all first cousins of Peisech. They saved my family's life and helped them to settle in their new life in England and deal with the pain of their losses.

My mother moved from Manchester to London around 1948 and, although she lost contact with the Bookbinders, mum has always talked about them. I posted a message on JRC-UK (a joint project of JewishGen and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain) searching for any Bookbinders who remembered my mother, aunt, and grandfather.

I have since been contacted by three Bookbinders, all of whom remember my family very well and had always wondered what happened to them. One of the Bookbinders made the long journey by train to visit mum and be reunited -- after more than 60 years! I will always be indebted to this family who saved my mother, aunt, and grandfather from deportation and murder.

Judith Elam
Maui, Hawaii, USA

JGFF Posting Finds 30 Cousins in Australia

In the beginning of the last century, a brother of my grandfather left Istanbul for Egypt and founded a family there. His three brothers and his sister and their descendants did not know what happened to him and to his family. During many years, from Paris where I live, I looked for them in a French site of genealogy, but without success.

And then some weeks ago, I found the JewishGen site, and I looked for my granduncle by posting his surname on the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF). Somebody answered me from Sydney in Australia. I gave him the few pieces of information I had, he did the same, and we found that my mother, 95 years old, and his mother-in-law, 94 years old, were first cousins!

Not only, thanks to JGFF, have I found about 30 Australian cousins, but the best is that they did not know, even his daughter, that my granduncle had three brothers and one sister, which makes now more than fifty cousins connected at one time. Today we spoke to each other by Skype, and really I can say it is a success story thanks to JewishGen.

Edmond Cohen
Paris, France

JewishGen Discussion Group Connects the Ain Family of Swislowitz

There was a post on the JewishGen Discussion Group from a researcher who was searching for Ain from Swislowitz, Russia. I immediately replied, as I knew my grandmother's maiden name was Ain and that my dad and all were born in Swislowitz/Swisloch/Zvistrich (many spellings). Also, I had the Ain name and some old addresses from my mom’s personal telephone book.

I wrote that I didn't know if this was the same family, giving the names of my dad and his two brothers. It turned out that this researcher was my cousin! His dad remembered my uncles living with them when they came to the US. From that post to JewishGen that brought my reply, my husband and I were invited to the newly found cousin's daughter's Bat Mitzvah. We travelled to the Boston area to attend. We were blessed with meeting his mom and dad, his sister and brothers, and their children. We have been in contact since that time.

Rachelle Leaf Berliner
Marietta, Georgia, USA

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We frequently receive emails containing short testimonials and expressions of gratitude from researchers who have successfully used the resources of JewishGen. If you'd like to submit a brief story of your own, you can do so here.

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Updated by MH on Thursday, July 29, 2010.

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