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Why the JewishGen Memorials & Plaques Project?

The JewishGen Memorials & Plaques Database aims to index information from synagogue memorial plaques, yizkor lists, congregation memorials, founding member and officer plaques, war memorials and rolls of honor, Holocaust memorials, deportation memorials, memorials from local conflicts.  The JewishGen Memorials & Plaques Database is a searchable database of names and associated information.  As of December 2022, the JewishGen Memorials & Plaques Database contains 256,000 memorial records from 551 Synagogues, Institutions and Memorials.

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Why a Memorial Plaques Database?

Why Submit Records to the JewishGen Memorials & Plaques Project

  • It's a Permanent Archive for Memorial Information
    The JewishGen Memorials & Plaques Project acts as a virtual global memorial database, where records will be permanently housed for researchers and family members to access information on worldwide.  It is unfortunate, but even in the U.S., synagogues have been closed, merged, and abandoned — and sometimes there is no one left to keep the records.

  • It's a Centralized Database for Researchers and Family Members
    As "the" central search location for memorial information, researchers and family members can find individuals in one central database, as opposed to calling or searching a multitude of places. On many occasions, people who are seeking information about relatives have no idea where they are memorialized. By including records in the JewishGen Memorials & Plaques Database, researchers and family members will discover the memorial information of loved ones.

  • It's a Unique Source of Genealogical Information
    Information from these sources may not be found elsewhere. For example, one of the most important reasons for finding a yahrzeit plaque is to be able to find the deceased's Hebrew name, as well as their father's Hebrew name. For researchers with immigrant ancestors, this information will help in finding information in the “old country”.

    My great-grandfather put up yahrzeit plaques is his local shul for his parents, who died in Europe.  These plaques included the names of both of his grandfathers.  Finding these yahrzeit plaques was the only way that I could have discovered my great-great-great-grandfathers' names, and this led me on the path to finding more family information overseas.

  • It's a Mitzvah
    Plain and simple, it's a mitzvah.  In the figurative sense, it offers help to those who are concerned with preserving their Jewish past.  Exodus 20:12 says, "Honor thy father and thy mother...", and Jewish tradition offers loving guidance through deepest grief and a gradual return to the living, through the mitzvot of menachem aveilim and kavod ha-met, comforting mourners and providing dignity to the deceased.  Hebrew dates of death can also be used for yahrzeit.

  • It's a Potential Source for Additional Revenue Flows
    Connecting relatives with their relatives' yahrzeit plaques may also result in additional revenues for the synagogue.  Synagogue administrators may use this opportunity for communication with a relative.  Some synagogues have chosen to charge for taking photographs of yahrzeit plaques for researchers and family members who call the synagogue directly.  Although this might not be significant, it provides the possibility of generating additional revenue to the synagogue.

Other Considerations

  • Free and Available to All
    The JewishGen Memorials & Plaques Project is interested in helping researchers and family members find information.  JewishGen does not charge any fees, and the information is available to everyone with internet access.

  • Ability to Increase Synagogue and Other Source Web Site Traffic
    For each of the synagogues or sources for which the JewishGen Memorials & Plaques Database has records, you will find a "Synagogue/Source Description" page. The Synagogue/Source Description page can be used to provide any information you would like the public to have. For example, this description field can contain synagogue/source history, contact information, websites for additional information, public acknowledgments for the source of the data, etc. For example, if a synagogue wants to give JewishGen only basic information for each yahrzeit plaque (surname, given name, date of death) and then have researchers contact them directly, we are happy to do so, which should contribute to increased traffic to their websites. If the synagogue does not want to be contacted for additional information, we can add a line stating that all available information is on-line and no further information can be obtained through direct contact with the synagogue.

  • Paper to Digital Conversion Assistance
    The JewishGen Memorials & Plaques Project has a group of reliable volunteers who are available to help you covert your paper records to our digital spreadsheet format.  JewishGen will be happy to give you a copy of the finished spreadsheet, which you can use internally to help find information on site.

  • Never Lose the Rights to Your Data
    Donors of data and or photos to the Memorials & Plaques database are asked to sign a standard JewishGen Donor Agreement.  This agreement permits JewishGen to incorporate your data into the Memorials & Plaques database.  It is a non-exclusive agreement, which does not limit your use of your data for any other purposes.  The Donor retains all underlying rights to their original data.

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