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Tracing the Origins of the Naars of New Jersey:
A Personal Odyssey

By Devin Naar

In the following article Devin Naar takes you through the numerous steps needed to trace his family tree.You can use these steps as an example of how one would go about tracing their own. Devin Naar would love to hear from you. If you have questions or comments regarding this article, please contact him at

In January,2002, my father, Harry I. Naar, received a letter from Mr. Andrew J. Jones, a resident of a town just minutes from our home in Lawrenceville. In his letter, Jones said that he is the great-great grandson of Judge David Naar (1800-1880), a prominent political figure in New Jersey during the Civil War era, and in fact, the first Jewish mayor of an American town –Elizabeth, NJ. Jones asked if my father and I, sharing Judge Naar's surname, were related to him. At that point, I could not answer the question. Of my family's history, I only knew that my great-grandfather, Benjamin H. Naar (1880-1954), was the first ordained Rabbi of Congregation Etz Ahaim, a Sephardic synagogue in Highland Park, NJ, having come over through Ellis Island in 1924 from Salonica (Thessaloniki), Greece, where he also had served as a rabbi. Jones thus sparked an exploration of my roots in an attempt not only to connect my family with that of Judge David Naar and Andrew Jones, but also to reinvigorate an appreciation of my Sephardic heritage. Through this project, I have discovered much about the Naar family history. In this article, I will summarize my discoveries, explain how I arrived at them, propose hypotheses about the relationship between the Andrew Jones/Judge David Naar branch of the Naar family and mine, and share what I hope to discover in the future.

First, I will present what I theorize to be the relationship between the Andrew Jones/Judge David Naar branch and the Salonica branch of the Naar family, and explain the history of each. It seems likely that both branches trace back to a single Naar family of pre-Inquisition Spain, living in the town of Granada, in the province of Castille. Upon the Inquisition of 1492, the Naars fled to Tomar, Portugal. When the Inquisition came to Portugal in 1496, Naars became Marranos, or crypto-Jews, to avoid persecution. From Portugal, the two distinct branches of Naars developed: one fled to Salonica, in what was then the Ottoman Empire, and the second, to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. By about 1550, the Naars that fled to Salonica had reverted back to the open practice of Judaism. Naars remained in Salonica well into the 20th Century, and a few still reside there today. Because of the Great Fire of 1917 that burned down most of the ancient Jewish quarter, economic instability, the Holocaust, and/or a combination of other factors, Naars immigrated from Salonica to the United States, Israel, and Latin America during the 20th Century. It is from the family members who immigrated to the United States from Salonica that I am descended.

The other branch of the family remained in Portugal as Marranos until the end of the 16th Century. Between the end of the 16th Century and about 1620, this branch of the Naar family remained for some time primarily in St. Jean de Luz and Rouen, France, and Antwerp, Belgium. By about 1620, many members of this branch had settled in Amsterdam. Here, like the Salonica Naars, this branch reverted back to the open practice of Judaism. In pursuit of their trade activities, Naars moved from Amsterdam to Hamburg by about 1630, to Curaçao in the then Netherlands Antilles by about 1660, and to London by about 1830. From Curaçao, during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, Naars spread to locations such as St. Thomas (where Judge David Naar was born), Venezuela, Colombia, Suriname, Haiti, Jamaica, and the United States. Naars also came to the United States from London during the early 20th Century. By the 1920's, three groups of Naars lived on the east coast of the United States, originating from Salonica (New York/New Jersey), Curaçao/St. Thomas (New York/New Jersey), and London (Boston/New York).

My quest to discover the history of my ancestry that began as a small inquiry among my immediate and extended family mushroomed into an exploration of sources at the Mercer County Public Library, the library at Washington University in St. Louis (where I am a student), various college libraries across the country (via inter-library loan), archival materials in New Jersey and in New York, the internet,1 and through correspondences via mail, e-mail, telephone, and fax with The Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas, the American Jewish Archives, faculty members at Washington University, Dr. Neil Rosenstein, a well-known Jewish genealogist, and especially Dr. Nathan Reiss of the Jewish Historical Society of Central Jersey, among others. A lot of my time has been spent guessing: I look for a source on a relevant topic, check the index, see if the name Naar appears. Sometimes it does and sometimes it does not. Hours and hours of internet searches have also consumed time that could (should) have been devoted to my studies here at school. It has been a tedious task and often times very frustrating.

I began my search by looking for information about Judge David Naar because he was a relatively prominent figure. Sure enough, there is an entry for Judge Naar in the Encyclopedia Judaica! I then consulted many sources and annotated bibliographies. Before long, I came upon a relatively extensive family tree in Malcolm Stern's First American Jewish Families, 2 which I found at my University's library. Although Stern's tree turned out to be far from complete and even erroneous in some respects, it nonetheless gave me a good start. Beginning with David Naar's father, Joshua Naar (1769-1834) in Curaçao, an island off the coast of Venezuela, the tree traces the family up until about 1950, to locations beyond Curaçao, such as St. Thomas, Jamaica, elsewhere in the Caribbean, New Jersey, New York and other states along the east coast of the United States. Because of Joshua's origin in Curaçao, I searched for sources on the Jews of Curaçao. The authoritative source that I came upon was The History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, 3 written by Dr. Isaac S. Emmanuel, a Rabbi and historian who wrote many of the sources that I would subsequently consult, and who I would later discover was a personal friend of my great-grandfather. Emmanuel's work provided extensive information on the Naars of Curaçao, and their ancestors from Amsterdam back to about 1620.

Shortly after this discovery, I received a family tree in the mail from Andrew Jones, which he had received from a Naar in New York. This is one of as many as four Naar family trees that may exist. It contains a paragraph in the bottom left-hand corner written in Old Portuguese briefly describing the Naar family's history: leaving Spain in 1492 to escape the Inquisition and moving to Tomar, Portugal, twenty three leagues from the capital at Lisbon, where they became Judeo-Christians, or Marranos, to escape further persecution in Portugal. The paragraph then names Isaac Nahar, presumably the individual at the base of the tree, his son, his grandson, and some great-grandsons. Interestingly, a second version of the tree also exists and is housed at the American Jewish Archives (AJA) in Cincinnati. 4 It is clearly a separately-prepared copy since, although it follows the same template, the handwriting is different and the AJA version contains four fewer individuals at the top of the tree. Both trees contain about one hundred individuals beginning at the base with this Isaac Nahar. 5 The first tree ends at the top with "Ellen of D'Naar," who most likely is the same as Eleanor Naar (1832-1833), a daughter of Judge David Naar, who died in childhood. The AJA tree ends before Ellen, with her older brother, Joshua (1830-1851), who is recorded on the tree as "Joshua of D'Naar." Also of note is that in neither copy are all fifteen of David Naar's children indicated (Joshua was the seventh and Ellen/Eleanor, the eighth), suggesting that both copies had been completed by 1832 and not updated thereafter.

In addition, New Jersey historian and longtime journalist for the Trenton Times, Harry J. Podmore, records some history of the Naar family in a series of articles published in The Community Messenger in the 1920's. Located both at the Trenton Public Library, and in the Rutgers University Library Archives, as part of a compilation of newspaper clippings and documents referred to as "The Joseph L. Naar Papers," 6 Podmore addresses the existence of a family tree. In recounting David Naar's fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1870, he states that "From the roof of the arch [in the assembly room] hung the genealogical tree of the Naars, dating back to the time of the discovery of America by Columbus." 7 This would suggest that at least a third version of the tree exists, tracing the years 1492 to 1870. Additionally, Podmore notes that a genealogical record of the Naar family exists that traces the generations from 1492 to 1894. 8 This may suggest that either a fourth tree exists, or that this tree is the same as the one displayed at the wedding anniversary in 1870, although subsequently updated over the years until 1894. Either conclusion remains uncertain. Unfortunately, the present whereabouts of either the third or fourth (if the fourth is indeed separate) trees are unknown.

The outline of individuals on these trees in combination with marriage records from The History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, birth records from the extensive Mormon genealogical database at, information from Malcolm Stern's compilation, and information from Andrew Jones, enabled me to derive an uninterrupted lineage from Isaac Naar, born before 1492, to Andrew Jones in the present. However, information regarding the individuals toward the base of the tree, who lived in the 16th and 17th centuries, had not been sufficient to construct this part of the tree as confidently. Luckily, in an article that I acquired through my University's inter-library loan system a few months later, written in French and Portuguese by I. S. Revah, 9 an important professor and Sephardic historian during the 1960's, the generations from the years about 1492 to about 1676 are explicitly traced. Revah's article is a description of a series of manuscripts written by an individual named Isaac de Mattatia Aboab (1631-1707), who would turn out to be the great-great-grandson of Isaac Naar. His work traces the Naar, Aboab, and Curiel families for over 175 years from Spain to Portugal to Amsterdam, and elsewhere. In the article, it is clearly stated that the Naars fled Spain and became Marranos, or "nouveaux–chrétiens" in Portugal. In addition, there was a detailed outline of the descendants of Isaac Naar, thereby providing enough information to effectively interpret the base of the tree. Interestingly, according to Revah, 10 Isaac Naar, at the base of the tree in both the AJA version and Revah's outline, adopted the alias Rodrigo Ianes in 1497 in Portugal to hide his Jewish identity.

This adoption of a Spanish-Portuguese, Catholic-sounding alias would initiate a more than two-hundred year trend of members of the Naar family adopting such aliases. The adoption of aliases was a fairly common practice among Jews of the era who wished to conceal their Jewish identities. Information I had previously encountered in a list 11 of such aliases of Sephardim in Amsterdam and Hamburg in the 17th Century, and information from various articles from Studia Rosenthaliana, a Dutch-based journal focused on Jewish history of Amsterdam, now became clear. Isaac Naar's son was Mestre João, and Mestre's son was Diogo de Pina (1548-1612). However, neither Mestre's nor Diogo's Hebrew names are known. It then made sense that Diogo de Pina's sons are known both as Moseh Naar and Duarte Ramires Pina (1584-1624); Isaac Naar and Francisco Ramires Pina (1592-1641); Eliau Naar and Manuel de Pina (1595-1638); etc. According to manuscripts that Revah discusses, when the Naars finally returned to the open practice of Judaism in Amsterdam by 1620, they re-adopted Hebrew names that they thereafter used in addition to their aliases. These aliases remained for business and public purposes, while the Hebrew names were reserved for the synagogue. Interestingly, according to Emmanuel, in addition to the aliases Pina or de Pina, other aliases such as Gillao, Chillon, and Mendes Chillon, also became associated with the Naar family. 12

With an understanding of the Naar family from Spain to Portugal to Amsterdam, I sought to discover the precise relationship, if any, between this branch of Naars and my branch of Salonica Naars. My initial hypothesis, which was reasonable and historically plausible, was that the split took place in 1492: Isaac Naar fled to Portugal and became a Marrano while a brother or cousin fled directly to Salonica, a location most likely chosen opportunistically, as Dr. Nathan Reiss suggested to me in an e-mail. A second hypothesis that I constructed focused on another individual named Isaac Naar (1633-1686), a Rabbi and doctor born in Hamburg to former Marrano parents. I had come across his name early on in my research but had not initially pursued further information on him. I first came upon his name in The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, and I later found a brief biography online, at This Isaac Naar, (to whom I will refer as Rabbi Isaac Naar), became involved with Sabbetai Sevi, the so-called "false Messiah" during the messianic movement in the 1660's. In 1666, Sabbetai Sevi appointed Isaac Naar as Rabbi of Livorno (Leghorn), Italy. Knowing that Sevi's headquarters were largely in Salonica, it seemed reasonable to believe that Rabbi Isaac Naar could have gone to Salonica at some point, because of his close alliance with Sevi, and given rise to some children there, thereby initiating the Salonica branch. This hypothesis would later be proven wrong, as it became clear that Naars were living in Salonica almost a century before Rabbi Isaac Naar was born. However, the notion of Italy as a stepping stone from Portugal to Salonica, as we will see, remains in the picture.

A valuable source that I later encountered, written in German by Michael Studemund-Halévy, 13 which examines grave inscriptions and genealogies of families buried in Hamburg, further confirmed the Naar family lineage I had constructed from Portugal to Amsterdam to Hamburg. However, Revah's work contains the most detailed outline of the family, including a branch addressed neither by Studemund-Halévy nor Emmanuel: an offshoot that went from Portugal to Pisa, Italy in the mid-16th century and whose members had adopted the aliases of Mendez and Rodriguez. 14 This suggests the possibility that Pisa served as a stepping stone from Portugal to Salonica in the mid-16th century. Consequently, a Portugal-Italy-Salonica migratory pattern still seems plausible. Dr. Reiss suggested that this pattern is supported by the fact that many Jews of Salonica had Italian names because they had initially fled from the Iberian Peninsula to Italy, only to be ousted by the Inquisition when it arrived there several decades later. A source that I consulted, Histoire des Israelites de Salonique by historian Joseph Nehama, asserts that the Naars came to Salonica from Portugal as Marranos and helped to establish a synagogue called Lisbon Hadash ("New Lisbon") by 1550. 15 If Nehama's assertion is correct, this clearly contradicts the Rabbi Isaac Naar hypothesis. While Nehama does not mention whether or not the Naars came directly from Portugal to Salonica, it is possible that they had an interim stay in Italy much like the Amsterdam branch had interim stays in St. Jean de Luz, Rouen, and Antwerp before settling in Amsterdam. Nehama's assertion, however, that the Naars came from Portugal to Salonica seems to increase the likelihood that the Amsterdam and Salonica branches are related – a connection may have existed sometime before 1550. However, another question still remains.

About halfway up both of the trees from Andrew Jones and from AJA, the spelling of the surname changes from Nahar to Naar. That is, Judge David Naar is the first individual on the tree to have the spelling of "Naar." My subsequent research indicates that the separate spellings using the Roman alphabet really are inconsequential as it represents a mere transliteration from the Hebrew. Other variants of the name using the Roman alphabet include Na'ar 16 and Naär. 17 Podmore says that family oral tradition indicates that the original spelling contained the "h," but upon migration to English-speaking countries, this nearly-silent "h" of the Spanish was dropped. 18 However, Podmore's explanation seems contradictory to other information I have discovered. Hebrew spellings from which Naar and Nahar derive are different. My direct ancestors and I, spelling our name 'Naar' in the Roman alphabet, spell it in Hebrew as (nun-ayin-resh). This word, pronounced bisyllabically, most often as 'na-ar', means "boy" or "youth" in English. However, Reiss suggests that because Sephardim do in fact pronounce the 'ayin' very subtly, a bit like a hard "h" made far back in the throat, the possibility that could be transliterated as 'Nahar" seems plausible; however, I have yet to come across any examples where this is the case. Contrastingly, David Naar's ancestors, according to epitaphs on tombstones in Curaçao, 19 and Hamburg, 20 who spelled their name either 'Naar' or 'Nahar,' spelled their name in Hebrew, regardless of the Roman spelling, as (nun-hey-resh). This word, pronounced as the bisyllabic word, 'na-har," means "river" in English. This contradicts Podmore's explanation of the spelling change, as his claim that the "h" was (at least initially) silent is clearly fallacious because a Hebrew spelling of nun-hey-resh indubitably indicates that the "h" was pronounced.

Upon this discovery, I became discouraged. My initial conclusion was that, since the Hebrew spellings of the name were different, my Naar family of Salonica was distinct from David Naar's family. Perhaps Nehama had been referring to a Naar family in Salonica that was distinct from the Naar family in Amsterdam. Could there have been two Marrano families in Portugal in the mid-16th Century sharing the name Naar? Perhaps. However, Emmanuel, in his Precious Stones of the Jews of Curaçao, writes regarding the Naar family of Curaçao and Amsterdam, that "In Salonica they [the Naar family] belonged to the Cohen family in the early 1600's and ranked among the outstanding members of the community… Like the Salonica branch they were also keenly active in communal and religious life." 21 From where Emmanuel draws this conclusion remains uncertain; yet, the clear implication is that the two Naar families of Curaçao/Amsterdam and of Salonica are related. However, Emmanuel does not address the different Hebrew spellings of the name. At that point, I had encountered Naar spelled only nun-ayin-resh in Salonica and only nun-hey-resh in Amsterdam, Curaçao, and Hamburg. Upon obtaining a copy of another volume by Emmanuel, entitled Gedole Saloniki Ledorotam, a book in Hebrew documenting prominent figures among Salonica Jewry, I came upon a further complication in the name-spelling mystery. In this volume, as in a book entitled Matsevot bet ha-almin shel Yehude aSaloniki by historian Michael Molho, which contains tombstone engravings and epitaphs from Salonica, the name Naar is spelled nun-hey-resh. The most recent individual listed is Zacharia Naar, who died in Salonica in 1908. 22 This at first suggested that the nun-ayin-resh Naars were distinct from the nun-hey-resh Naars. While it is uncommon for two distinct names, such as nun-hey-resh and nun-ayin-resh to be of the same family, it is nonetheless possible. Emmanuel notes that, for example, the name Curiel, (whose family members, coincidentally, had married into the Naar family of Amsterdam in the 17th Century) had two Hebrew spellings: koof-resh-aleph aleph-lamed, meaning "he who calls G-d," and koof-resh-aleph-yod aleph-lamed meaning "my plea to G-d." 23 Thus, the difference in spelling of the Hebrew names of nun-hey-resh and nun-ayin-resh does not necessarily signify that the families are distinct. The notion that the two Naar families are in fact related became further reinvigorated in my mind upon discovering an entry for Aharon h'Cohen Naar, in which Molho spells the surname nun, then ayin, written in parenthesis, then hey, written in brackets, and then resh. 24

In August, I had spent some time at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. There, I came upon some original documents from Salonica, including a civil registry of families most likely recorded directly before World War II. 25 Written in Ladino and Hebrew, this source lists Naars spelled only as nun-ayin-resh. So the question is: What took place between 1908, when Zacharia Naar died, and World War II, when the registry was recorded, to account for the apparent shift in spelling from the use of 'heh' to the use of 'ayin'? Some historians note that there existed a "phonetic phenomenon of the substitution of similar sounding letters" in poetry among Jews of Turkey and the Balkans. 26 Could this same phenomenon have applied to name spelling? Perhaps. However, Reiss suggests a more plausible answer: under the Ottoman Empire, Turkish, the language spoken in Salonica, was written using the Arabic alphabet. It was not until Kemal Atatürk, and his attempts to westernize Turkey beginning in 1923 that the Roman alphabet was adopted there. So in those days, when Hebrew was written in the vernacular, it was in the Arabic alphabet. Around 1918 Salonica went from Ottoman to Greek hands, and the vernacular changed from Turkish to Greek, and the script changed from Arabic to Greek. Certainly in that transition a change in the transliteration to the Roman alphabet could have occurred. Could Aharon h'Cohen Naar represent a transitional figure in terms of the spelling of the name? The implications of the combination or uncertainty in the spelling of his surname remain unclear, but the fact that the 'ayin' and 'heh' are both considered suggests that the relationship between nun-hey-resh and nun-ayin-resh is substantial. Explanations that reconcile these two Hebrew spellings of the name Naar continue to be on the forefront of my investigations.

If only I were more fluent in Ladino, Hebrew, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Dutch, and Italian, my research would be much less complicated. The basic questions left that I hope to answer are: (1) Which members of the Naar family came to Salonica, exactly when and for what reasons, and precisely how are they related to the Naars who remained in Portugal? (2) What accounts for the change in spelling of the surname from nun-hey-resh to nun-ayin-resh in the Salonica branch and when and to what extent did this change take place? As for Andrew Jones and me, it seems very plausible that he and I share a common ancestor. Most likely, we share this common ancestor before 1550, thereby making us tangentially related, but nonetheless related. Even if it is nothing but a good story, my voyage back in time has been worth the effort – and I am not ready to stop just yet. Now, more than ever before, I am proud to be not just a Jew, but a Sephardic Jew, with identified and yet-to-be-identified ancient roots.

1 Such as:,,,,, Sephardic list-serve, and more.
2 Malcolm H. Stern, First American Jewish Families: 600 Genealogies, 1654-1988, (Baltimore: Ottenheimer Publishers, 1991), p. 224.
3 Isaac S. and Suzanne A. Emmanuel, History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, (Cincinnati: American Jewish Archives, 1970).
4 Referenced in James W. Clasper and M. Carolyn Dellenbach, Guide to the Holdings of the American Jewish Archives, (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College, 1979), p. 563.
5 Isaac Nahar will hereafter be referred to as Isaac Naar; I will address the difference in spelling later.
6 Joseph L. Naar (1843-1905) was the son of Judge David Naar. Joseph succeeded his father as editor of the True American newspaper published in Trenton. From: Joseph L. Naar, Papers, 1880-1951, LCCN: 88-798044; located at Special Collections and University Archives, Archibald S. Alexander Library, Rutgers University.
7 Harry J. Podmore, "Jews in Trenton History: Installment XXVII," The Community Messenger, (Nov. 1927), p. 4.
8 Harry J. Podmore, "Jews in Trenton History: Installment VIII," The Community Messenger, (April, 1926), p. 3.
9 I. S. Revah, "Pour l'histoire des Neouveaux-Chretiens Portugais. La Relacion Généalogique d'I. de M. Aboab," Buletim Internacional de Bibliografia Luso-Brasileira, (1961), V. 2, pp. 276-312.
10 Revah, "Pour l'histoire," p. 296.
11 Dona Deli, "Aliases," at
12 Isaac S. Emmanuel, Precious Stones of the Jews of Curaçao: Curaçaoan Jewry 1656-1957, (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1957), p. 174.
13 Michael Studemund-Halévy, Biographisches Lexikon der Hamburger Sefarden: Die Grabinschriften den Portugiesenfriedhofs an der Königstraße in Hamburg-Altona, (Hamburg: Christians, 2000), pp. 663-670.
14 Revah, "Pour l'histoire," p. 296.
15 Joseph Nehama, Histoire des Israelites de Salonique: L'Age d'or du Sefaradisme Salonicien, (Salonique: Librairie Molho, 1936), V. III, p. 90.
16 Hindle S. Hes, Jewish Physicians in the Netherlands, 1600-1940, (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1980), p. 115.
17 Isaac da Costa, Noble Families Among the Sephardic Jews, (London: Oxford University Press, 1936), p. 100.
18 Podmore, Installment VIII, p. 3.
19 Emmanuel, Precious Stones, pp. 166, 174, 373, 377, 405, 423, 464.
20 Studemund-Halévy, Biographisches, pp. 663-670.
21 Emmanuel, Precious Stones, p. 174.
22 Michael Molho, Matsevot bet ha-almin shel Yehude Saloniki, (Tel Aviv: Hotsa'at Makhon le-he ker Yahadut Saloniki, 1974), p. 599. Zacharia ben Shlomo Naar written as nun-hey-resh.
23 Emmanuel, Precious Stones, p. 284.
24 Molho, p. 351. Aharon ha'Cohen Naar written as nun, then ayin, written in parenthesis, then hey, written in brackets, and then resh.
25 "Salonica Register of Population WWII?" in collection entitled "Jewish Community of Salonika," RG 207, Box 11, Item 3, p. 302. At the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City.
26 Uri Melammed, "An Epistle and Supplication by Rabbi Meir ben Moses de Boton" Studies in a Rabbinic Family: the de Botons, (Jerusalem: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1998), p. 143.

Planning a Family Reunion

by Bernice Bernstein

Bernice Bernstein, a new member to our JHSCJ Board, has prepared the following step-by-step instructions for planning a Family Reunion. We think that anyone who ever thought about doing this will find it invaluable. If you personally are not inclined to undertake this type of project, we suggest you share this plan with your family and friends. Bernice points out that it takes time and patience but it results in a wonderful gathering of your family. Now, we invite you to explore the creation of the "Aaron Family Reunion" as narrated by Bernice.

The Aaron Family Reunion

"You may know your branches but do you know your roots?" That was the theme I chose when I began making arrangements for an Aaron Family Reunion to be held in the Spring of 2001. Our family consisted of about 160 people with roughly 64 living in California.

The first step is to make a list of all your family members. Six months before setting a date and making arrangements for the reunion, write a letter to all of your family members. I sent a letter to all my relatives who had attended a reunion in Donaldson Park, Highland Park, NJ in 1980, informing them of the planned reunion. I asked them to return an RSVP cut off sheet at the bottom of the letter indicating whether they would attend. I gave them several possible dates to check off. I realize now that by the time I sent this letter out, we had lost practically one generation and gained another. When some letters were returned with"address unknown," I got in touch with relatives whom I thought would know where some of the people had moved. They either gave me information I needed or gave me a hint as to where they might be living. I also searched 'phone directories' on the Internet and was able to locate some of my missing relatives.

Second step: Finding a place for the reunion to be held. I tried to keep the cost low, as I wanted to have as many people attend as possible. I did not want the cost to deter them from coming because they may have had the added expense of staying overnight in the hotel. I visited several hotels in the area and met with the banquet managers to see what they had to offer. I finally decided on a Sunday All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet at The Sheraton in Woodbridge, NJ. The buffet was open to the public but we had a room reserved only for the Aaron Family that was located next to the buffet. When I received about 50 "yes" answers I reserved the room, which could accommodate 75-80 people.

Third step: I sent a card (I had it made in Kinko's in a bright color), titled Aaron Family Alert. The information on the card contained where the reunion was being held and indicated if more information was needed to call or e-mail me.

Fourth step: A letter was sent out with all the particulars, including date, time, directions and cost of banquet and hotel. The cut off date was two weeks prior to the reunion for returning monies, and the number of family members who would be attending. Much to my delight, I received 96 replies. This was also a problem, since at this point there was not much I could do about making other arrangements for a larger room. The room was a little crowded but everyone was so happy to see and meet each other that no one seemed to mind. I also asked the family to bring pictures, letters and memorabilia they might have that would be of interest. One of my cousins graciously hosted all of the out of town guests the evening before the reunion.

Fifth step: I was very fortunate to have my cousin, Jerry Liboff, from Alaska, who is a member of the Central Jersey Jewish Historical Society, help me make this reunion a memorable one. As one entered the room, we had a long table with pictures of our great grandparents and their siblings. One could also peruse through albums with old pictures from Europe, pictures from the early, mid and late 20th century, including pictures of our 1980 reunion.

As each person arrived, they were given a name tag which was color coded and represented each of my great grandfather, Moses Aaron's siblings and their families. For example: Bernice Frant Bernstein>Jacob Frant>Tylle Aaron Frant>Moses Aaron's children and their descendents. As a centerpiece, we had Moses Aaron's face blown up.

Sixth step: The piece de resistance was a 16 mm film that we were very lucky to have obtained from one of my cousins. It was a family gathering that took place in New York in 1952. As a matter of fact, my dear late father, Jacob Frant, presided at the gathering. It was a happy and bittersweet moment for us to watch the film. Most of us were quite young, but our grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles were all etched in time. Everyone loved the film. We had to show it numerous times. I've had it made into a video and have since added more "found" film from the past. By having it transferred to video, copies can be made for anyone who is interested in obtaining one.

Seventh step: We videotaped the reunion, took individual family pictures and one big family picture.

Although it was a lot of work, it was a day, which I will always remember. I had an opportunity to meet relatives that I hadn't seen since 1980, and also to meet many new members of the Aaron family. Families came from Alaska, California, Florida, Maryland, Virginia and Wisconsin. I planned the last two reunions which were held locally and I am presently working with my cousins in California to have one there in 2003.

Since I did most of the planning myself, it was very time consuming and I would suggest that anyone planning a reunion, to try to recruit family members who would be interested and willing to help.

We just sent out our first newsletter, called the "Aaron Family Roots" and also have our own Aaron Family website. Acknowledgements from our family members who attended were so wonderful and enthusiastic in their comments communicated to me, that I would encourage anyone, who has family members who cannot get together frequently, to go forward with this type of endeavor.