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Annual Report

The Rabbinic Genealogy Special Interest Group was officially launched on May 14, 2001 (21 Iyyar). We are grateful to be celebrating the first anniversary of our existence and to submit the following report to our membership.

Rav-SIG was created by genealogists who recognized the need for a central clearinghouse for researchers of rabbinic ancestry and rabbinic genealogies. An advisory committee of experts is composed of Rabbi Avrohom Marmorstein, Rabbi Dov Berish Weber and Dr. Neil Rosenstein, Chairman. Rav-SIG encompasses all geographical areas and time periods. A steering committee is composed of Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn, Dr. Robert E. Heyman, Ronald Landau, Dr. Perets Mett, Leslie Reich, Dr. Neil Rosenstein, Shirley Rotbein Flaum, and Tom Venetianer.

As many of you know, sources used in rabbinic genealogical research are unique among Jewish genealogical resources. Many are rare Hebrew texts not readily accessible to the average researcher. Techniques used in such research are not commonly known. To help overcome obstacles normally encountered in rabbinic genealogical research, Rav-SIG has established a number of ongoing projects.

Online Discussion Group

A moderated online discussion group facilitates and actively encourages the exchange of information among expert and novice researchers, several of whom have experienced breakthroughs in their personal research. Among our subscribers are many experts, experienced researchers, academics, and authors. There are currently 462 active subscribers from: Argentina (2), Australia (10), Belgium (5), Canada (16), Switzerland (1), Czech Republic (2), Germany (3), Denmark (2), France (8), Hungary (1), Israel (57), Poland (1), United Kingdom (8), and South Africa (4). The overwhelming majority of subscribers are from the United States or undetermined origin. List Manager: Dr. Jacob "Jake" Goldstein.

Web Site

Over the past year, the Rav-SIG web site has expanded from its initial five pages to its current 71 pages. The home page has experienced more than 11,000 hits. As founding web master, Tom Venetianer was also the web site designer and creator of its beautiful graphics. His efforts, dedication, and talent will always be appreciated by Rav-SIG. Shirley Rotbein Flaum is the current web master. Philip Lazar serves as web site editor.

This past year, author and genealogist Chaim Freedman donated his book, Beit Rabbanan: Sources of Rabbinic Genealogy, in its entirety. Major portions of the book currently appear throughout the Bibliography and Glossary. Rav-SIG acknowledges this generous donation with greatest appreciation.

Features currently online are:

  • Glossary: A list of translations and meanings of 151 non-English terms often encountered in rabbinic genealogical research.
  • Bibliography: More than 300 resources for rabbinic genealogical research listed by category. Indexes by author and by names of rabbis or surnames found in the bibliography are also provided. Commentary was provided by numerous generous donors, as noted throughout. Committee: Chaim Freedman, Hadassah Lipsius, Daniel Polakovic, and Dr. Neil Rosenstein, Chairman.
  • Surnames of Rabbinical Families: A chart of 74 surnames, and variants. Etymology, meaning, and century of origin are included, where known.
  • Famous Rabbis: An incomplete listing of well-known rabbis known by titles of their rabbinic works or by acronyms of their works or names. To date, 104 rabbis are included, from the 11th through the 20th centuries.
  • Links: An extensive list of links organizes the Internet by such topics as history, date conversion, rabbinic works, biographies, family genealogies, rabbis by country and libraries. Committee: Hadassah Lipsius and George Farkas, Chairman.
  • Online Journal: Several essays by experts in the field, personal research experiences, and translations of documents are currently online. Authors who have generously donated their work are: David Einsiedler, Werner L. Frank, Bernard Israelite Kouchel, Arthur Kurzweil, Sarina Roffe, and Dr. Neil Rosenstein.

Major projects in progress are:

  • Guide to Rabbinic Research and FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions): Sections of the comprehensive guide have already been completed and more are in progress. Committee: Werner L. Frank, Rabbi Mordechai Schlanger, Rabbi David Shapiro, and Shirley Rotbein Flaum, Coordinator.
  • Databases: Plans for a searchable rabbis database are under development. Plans include a database with the means for users to enter information about individual rabbis. In the final stage of completion is an index of 1,362 surnames found in Meorei Galicia: Encyclopedia of Galician Sages, by Rabbi Meir Wunder. Committee: Dr. Yehuda Klausner and Dr. Robert E. Heyman, Chairman.
  • Research Groups: Plans are under development to create focus research groups. These groups will consist of individuals researching common rabbinic surnames, lineages, rabbinic dynasties, and rabbis in common geographic locations. Committee: George Farkas, Moishe Miller, and Dr. Perets Mett, Interim Chairman.

In Appreciation

We acknowledge with great appreciation the invaluable assistance of Edward Goldstein of Gesher Galicia, Micheline Gutmann of GenAmi, Debbi Korman of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles, and Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Sack of Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy.

We sincerely thank the many members who have contributed to Rav-SIG. Each of you has contributed something of value to the continuously expanding body of knowledge in the area of rabbinic genealogy. We owe our success to all the members and volunteers of Rav-SIG who have participated in our forum and so generously shared their knowledge, time and effort.

Many thanks to JewishGen and its Board of Directors for providing the home for the Rabbinic Genealogy SIG listserver (mailing list) and web site. We encourage you to donate generously to JewishGen through JewishGen-erosity: http://www.jewishgen.org/jewishgen-erosity

Shirley Rotbein Flaum, Rav-SIG Coordinator,
On behalf of the Rav-SIG Steering Committee
May 13, 2002