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JewishGen Family Finder

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  1. What is the JGFF?
    1. What does it contain?
    2. Where does this data come from?
    3. How big is the JGFF?
    4. What's the history of the JGFF?
    5. Where is the JGFF available?
    6. How often is the JGFF updated?
    7. How much does this cost?
    8. Disclaimer
  2. What isn't the JGFF?
  3. How do I search for data?
    1. Search results: What do I do now?
    2. How do I contact researchers?
    3. A researcher has no e-mail address.
    4. What is the "Blind Contact" system?
    5. I wrote to a researcher, but the mail was returned. Do you have a more recent address?
    6. My search yielded no matches - what do I do now?
    7. What is the JGFFAlert System?
  4. How do I submit my own data to the JGFF?
    1. How do I enter family surnames?
    2. How do I enter town names?
    3. How many entries can I enter?
    4. Where do I send my family tree / GEDCOM file?
    5. What provisions have been made for privacy?
  5. How do I modify my entries?
    1. How do I add some new surname/town entries?
    2. How do I get a password?
    3. What if I forgot my password?
    4. How can I change my password?
    5. I've forgotten my JewishGen ID Number.
    6. I've moved. How do I change my address?
    7. My e-mail address has changed. How do I change it in the database?
    8. My surname/town entries are wrong - how do I correct them?
    9. The town names I entered are spelled wrong — you've put them in the wrong country — how do I correct this?
    10. How do I delete a surname/town entry?
  6. How do I view my entries?
  7. Where do I find information about my grandfather?
  8. How do I report problems?

1. What is the JGFF?

The JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) is a database of surnames and towns currently being researched by Jewish genealogists worldwide.  It contains ancestral surnames and town names, and is indexed and cross-referenced by both surname and town name.

The JGFF is a networking tool, designed to connect genealogists with similar research interests.  Its purpose is to allow people who are researching the same surnames and towns to discover each other, and then share information with each other.  All Jewish genealogists are encouraged to participate.

1.1. What does the JGFF contain?

The JGFF contains names of ancestral towns and ancestral surnames, submitted by people around the world who are researching their Jewish family roots.

Each entry in the JGFF database consists of three components:

  • The Surname being researched
  • The Town being researched (town name and country name)
  • The researcher's JewishGen ID Number

The JewishGen ID Number is a reference to the researcher who submitted the Surname and Town Name.  If you find something of interest, you can then contact that researcher for more information.

Here's a sample entry:

SurnameTownCountry Researcher (JewishGen ID Number)
CohenMinskBelarus Joe User (#1234)
27 Yichus Drive
Youngstown, OH 12345
Click HERE to contact Joe User (#1234)

The above sample entry indicates that Joe User (JewishGen ID #1234) is interested in the surname Cohen from the town of Minsk, Belarus.  If you are interested in the same town and/or surname, then you should write to "Joe User", via the provided snail-mail address or e-mail link, and exchange information.

The JGFF does not contain information about individuals.  It contains no given names, nor any dates.

1.2. Where does this data come from?

The JGFF data comes from you, the participants.

The JGFF consists of surnames and town names of personal interest, submitted by people researching their own Jewish family history.  It is not collected from any other source.

1.3. How big is the JGFF?

As of December 31, 2017, the JGFF contained more than 585,000 entries, submitted by more than 111,000 Jewish genealogists worldwide.  The database contains more than 140,000 different surnames, and 18,000 different ancestral town names.

The following statistics show the number of JGFF entries for ancestral towns in each country, for the top 60 countries, as of 30-Jun-2016:

Poland   99,056   22.0%
Lithuania   31,2707.0%
Germany   29,0516.5%
Austria6,126   1.4%
Czech Republic   6,0431.4%
Israel5,112   1.2%
Netherlands   5,0931.1%
Moldova   4,9951.1%
Turkey   2,241   0.5%
South Africa   1,7890.4%
Australia   1,3160.3%
Morocco   1,2940.3%
Switzerland   6030.1%
Ireland   412   0.1%
New Zealand   1990.1%

Note that the above statistics include only entries where the town name is filled in; blank records (those specifying "Any" town within a country) were not counted in these statistics.  It's interesting to note that the top six countries (Poland, Ukraine, USA, Belarus, Lithuania, Germany) comprise nearly three-quarters of all entries.

The JGFF grows daily.  There has been a tremendous growth in new entries since the system went on-line in 1996.  Here are some historical statistics showing the growth of the JGFF:

Date   Researchers     Entries  
1990 1,300 20,000
1991 1,500 22,000
1992 1,700 24,000
1993 2,000 28,000
1994 2,300 30,000
1995 Jun 2,400 31,000
1995 Dec 2,600 32,000
1996 Jun 2,600 32,000
1996 Dec 3,500 40,000
1997 Mar 4,200 47,000
1997 Apr 4,600 49,000
1997 May 4,700 50,500
1997 Aug 5,400 54,000
1997 Oct 6,600 58,000
1997 Dec 7,300 61,000
1998 Mar 7,900 70,000
1998 Jul10,000 85,000
Date Totals Quarterly Growth
  Researchers     Entries     Researchers     Entries  
1998 Jul10,000 85,000+2,100+15,000
1998 Sep12,000 90,000+2,000+15,000
1998 Dec15,000105,000+3,000+15,000
1999 Mar18,000120,000+3,000+15,000
1999 Jun21,000135,000+3,000+15,000
1999 Sep26,000150,000+5,000+15,000
1999 Dec29,000165,000+3,000+15,000
2000 Mar32,000180,000+3,000+15,000
2000 Jun36,000195,000+4,000+15,000
2000 Sep39,000208,000+3,000+13,000
2000 Dec41,700218,000+2,700+10,000
2001 Mar45,000231,000+3,300+13,000
2001 Jun48,600246,000+3,600+15,000
2001 Sep51,400258,000+2,800+12,000
2001 Dec53,700268,000+2,300+10,000
2002 Mar55,900278,000+2,200+10,000
2002 Jun57,500286,000+1,600+ 8,000
2002 Sep59,500295,000+2,000+ 9,000
2002 Dec61,200301,000+1,700+ 6,000
2003 Mar62,200309,000+1,000+ 8,000
2003 Jun64,500318,000+2,300+ 9,000
2003 Sep66,200326,000+1,700+ 8,000
2003 Dec67,700335,000+1,500+ 9,000
2004 Mar69,000342,000+1,300+ 7,000
2004 Jun70,100349,000+1,100+ 7,000
2004 Sep71,000355,000+ 900+ 6,000
2004 Dec71,900360,000+ 900+ 5,000
2005 Mar73,300367,000+1,400+ 7,000
2005 Jun74,400373,000+1,100+ 6,000
2005 Sep75,100377,000+ 700+ 4,000
2005 Dec76,100382,000+1,000+ 5,000
2006 Mar77,300388,000+1,200+ 6,000
2006 Jun78,400394,000+1,100+ 6,000
2006 Sep79,400400,000+1,000+ 6,000
2006 Dec80,200404,000+ 800+ 4,000
2007 Mar81,000408,000+ 800+ 4,000
2007 Jun81,700413,000+ 700+ 5,000
2007 Sep82,200416,000+ 500+ 3,000
2007 Dec82,800420,000+ 600+ 4,000
2008 Mar83,600425,000+ 800+ 5,000
2008 Jun84,300429,000+ 700+ 4,000
2008 Sep84,900433,000+ 600+ 4,000
2008 Dec85,400437,000+ 500+ 4,000
2009 Mar86,000441,000+ 600+ 4,000
2009 Jun86,700446,000+ 700+ 5,000
2009 Sep87,300449,000+ 600+ 3,000
2009 Dec87,900453,000+ 600+ 4,000
2010 Mar88,600457,000+ 700+ 4,000
2010 Jun89,400462,000+ 800+ 5,000
2010 Sep90,200466,000+ 700+ 4,000
2010 Dec91,000470,000+ 800+ 4,000
2011 Mar91,900475,000+ 900+ 5,000
2011 Jun92,800480,000+ 900+ 5,000
2011 Sep93,600484,000+ 800+ 4,000
2011 Dec94,300488,000+ 700+ 4,000
2012 Mar95,200493,000+ 900+ 5,000
2012 Jun96,200498,000+1,000+ 5,000
2012 Sep97,000502,000+ 800+ 4,000
2012 Dec97,700507,000+ 700+ 5,000
2013 Mar98,500511,000+ 800+ 4,000
2013 Jun99,300515,000+ 800+ 4,000
2013 Sep100,000520,000+ 700+ 5,000
2013 Dec100,700524,000+ 700+ 4,000
2014 Mar101,400528,000+ 700+ 4,000
2014 Jun102,100532,000+ 700+ 4,000
2014 Sep102,800535,000+ 700+ 3,000
2014 Dec103,400539,000+ 600+ 4,000
2015 Mar104,100543,000+ 500+ 4,000
2015 Jun104,800547,000+ 700+ 4,000
2015 Sep105,400550,000+ 600+ 3,000
2015 Dec106,000554,000+ 600+ 4,000
2016 Mar107,000558,000+1,000+ 4,000
2016 Jun107,400562,000+ 400+ 4,000
2016 Dec108,600570,000+1,200+ 8,000
2017 Jun109,900578,000+1,300+ 8,000
2017 Dec111,400585,000+1,500+ 7,000

The JGFF is searched approximately 40,000 times every month – about half a million hits per year.  Users have made more than 13 million searches total since 1997.

1.4. What's the history of the JGFF?

In April 1982, the New York-based Jewish Genealogical Society published a 37-page typewritten roster of ancestral towns and surnames being researched by 83 members of the society.  This was the genesis of what became the "Jewish Genealogical Family Finder".  Gary Mokotoff, a member of the society, computerized the list and expanded the JGFF by permitting contributions from any person who was researching their Jewish ancestry, even though not a member of the New York group.  Mokotoff elected to maintain the JGFF under the auspices of the Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. from 1982 until 1996, turning over profits to the society.  Printed copies of the JGFF were distributed to the various Jewish Genealogical Societies throughout the world semi-anually, and the JGFF was also made available to the public on microfiche.

In 1991, the JGFF was made available on several dial-up computer bulletin boards (BBSs), in a project developed by Susan King.  In 1994, the JGFF was made available on the Internet, via a World Wide Web and e-mail retrieval system developed by Warren Blatt for JewishGen.  In 1996, a new online system was developed for JewishGen by Michael Tobias, which included the ability to enter and modify entries online.

In 1996, ownership of the JGFF was transferred from the Jewish Genealogical Society (New York), to JewishGen, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, in order to make the data more widely available.  It was renamed to the “JewishGen Family Finder”.

1.5. Where is the JGFF available?

The JGFF is available on the JewishGen website at

The JGFF is updated instantaneously, as new entries are added by users all over the world.

[Previously, the JGFF was available in other media:

  • In Print: All Jewish Genealogical Societies (JGSs) had a printed copy of the JGFF.  This 600+ page printout was last updated in June 1998.  Some genealogical and Judaica libraries may have copies of the old printed JGFF.
  • On Microfiche: The JGFF was also available on two microfiche (from Avotaynu, Inc).  The microfiche edition was last updated in May 1998.]

1.6. How often is the JGFF updated?

The online JGFF at the JewishGen web site is updated instantaneously, as new entries are added on-line by users all over the world, via the internet.  An average of 10 new users and 100 new surname/town entries are added every day.

[Before 1998, the printed version of the JGFF was updated annually.  The last printed edition was published in June 1998.  The JGFF has grown eight-fold since that time — a printed version would now run over 4,000 pages(!)  The last microfiche edition was published in May 1998.]

1.7. How much does this cost?

There are no costs for use of the JGFF.  Everyone may participate, free of charge.  The JGFF is maintained by JewishGen, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation.

However, while JewishGen is completely free of cost to users, there are costs to administer and maintain the database.  We ask those who are benefiting and using the JGFF for their research to send a voluntary annual donation (tax-deductible in the U.S.), to help offset some of these expenses, so we can continue to provide this and other services to the Jewish genealogical community.  Please make checks payable to: JewishGen, Inc., Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, New York, NY 10280.  JewishGen is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.

For more information on supporting JewishGen, see the JewishGen-erosity page.

1.8. Disclaimer

JewishGen, Inc. is not responsible for the accuracy of the information contained in the JGFF.  Since the information is input by our participants, it is subject to errors and omissions.

The information in this database is presented as a means to contact those listed herein solely for your own personal genealogical research.  The JGFF may not be used, without the prior written permission of JewishGen, Inc., for any other purpose including, but not limited to: solicitation of paid research, school-related research projects or term papers, interviews, or for purposes of publication.

See the standard JewishGen disclaimer notice on site use and privacy.

2. What isn't the JGFF?

The JGFF is not a database of individuals.  The JGFF is not a database of families.  It does not contain any information about people, places or times.  The JGFF is not a missing persons service.  It does not contain data collected from any historical sources.

The JGFF is a database of only surnames and towns being researched by Jewish genealogists worldwide, nothing more.  It is a purely contributory database, containing only information submitted by you, the users.

The purpose of the JGFF is to allow people with common research interests to find each other, so they can then share information.

3. How do I search for data?

To find other researchers who are interested in the same ancestral surnames and towns, go to the JGFF on the web at and select the SEARCH option.  You will be presented with a fill-in form, which will allow you to enter a family surname and/or town name.  Read the instructions, fill in the form, and then press the "Search" button.


The form provides you with several search options: search-by-surname, search-by-town, search-by-surname-and-town; and variations of those basic searches using exact spelling, starts-with, contains, and sounds-like matching.  The spaces provided in the form will scroll to allow you to fill in up to 20 letters per Surname query, and up to 30 letters per Town query.

Basic Surname and/or Town Searching:

To search for a listing, type a surname and/or town in the appropriate space in the search form.

  • To search for people researching a particular surname, type that surname in the "Surname" box.
  • To search for people researching a particular ancestral town, type the name of that town in the "Town" box.
  • If you wish to combine searches to find surname X in town Y, then fill in both spaces.

You can also filter your searches by country.  Please note that the country filter works only on modern country borders, which are often irrelevant for Jewish genealogical research.

Search types:

For each search, you can choose one of four different types of matching, for Surnames and Town names:

  • Is Exactly (Standard) - match on exact spelling only
  • Starts With (Wildcard) - match based upon a prefix
  • Sounds Like (D-M Soundex) - match based upon a name's sound
  • Contains (Partial Text) - match based upon text matching anywhere within a name

"Is Exactly" Searching:

Selecting the "Is Exactly" option will let you search for only exactly the name that you type in — exact spelling matches only.  For Surnames, this option is not very useful, since surnames were rarely spelled consistently in historical records.  For Towns, you can also opt to use the Town Synonym database, if a specific country is chosen.

"Starts With" Searching:

Selecting the "Starts With" option will let you search for all combinations of your surname or town using a prefix string.  For example, selecting the Starts With option for the name "Stein" will match all names that start with the letters "Stein", such as: "Stein", "Steinberg", "Steiner", "Steinman", etc.

"Sounds Like" Searching:

Selecting the "Sounds Like" option will let you search for all similar-sounding names, according to the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex system.  For example, "Lvov", "Lebow", and "Lubawa" will all be searched if you choose Sounds Like for a search of "Lvov".  "Rosenstein", "Rozenstine" and "Rouzinsztejn" will all be searched if you request a Sounds Like search of "Rosensteen".  See the JewishGen InfoFile soundex for more information about the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex system.

"Contains" Searching:

Selecting the "Contains" option will let you search for all data records which contain that text somewhere within the surname or town field.  For example, selecting the Contains option for the name "Blatt" will match "Blatt", "Blattman", "Blattenberg", "Feinblatt", "Greenblatt", "Steinblatter", etc.

3.1. Search Results: What do I do now?

Your search results will reveal a list of people who are searching the same surnames and/or towns of interest to you.

Here's a sample entry:

SurnameTownCountry Researcher (JewishGen ID Number)
CohenMinskBelarus Joe User (#1234)
27 Yichus Drive
Youngstown, OH 12345
Click HERE to contact Joe User (#1234)

The above sample entry indicates that Joe User (JGFF researcher #1234) is interested in the surname "Cohen" from the town of "Minsk, Belarus".

If you are interested in the same town and/or surname, you can write to that researcher, via the provided snail-mail address and/or e-mail link, pointing out whatever similarities exist in your own research data, and offer to engage in a mutual sharing of information. (See Question 3.2).

If you find several people searching the same town or shtetl, you might consider putting together a JewishGen KehilaLinks page.

3.2. How do I contact researchers?

Contact researchers by writing to them, via either their snail-mail (postal mail) or e-mail, depending upon which address they chose to list.

To contact researchers via e-mail, click on the "Click HERE" link in the JGFF search results display. (See Question 3.1).  This will bring up the "Contact JGFF submitter" form. (See Question 3.4).

Tell the researcher who you are, how you found their name, and what family names and towns you are interested in.  Tell them something about your family, so they can tell you something about theirs.  Be sure to include dates and places.  For example:

To: Joe User
From: Marci Cohen
Subject: Finkielstein family from Lublin and Philadephia

I am researching the Finkielstein family from Lublin, Poland, and I found your name in the JewishGen Family Finder, which said that you are also researching Finkielsteins.

My grandparents were Abraham and Mollie Finkielstein, who came to Philadalphia in about 1910.  Their children were Morris (Moshe), Hyman (Chaim), Peggy (Rivka) and Florence (Fayga), who were born in 1904, 1906, 1911 and 1914.  Are you releated to these Finkielsteins?

Marci Cohen
Pittsburg, PA

When writing using postal mail, be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope.

3.3. But the researcher has no e-mail address...

Not everyone who has listed data in the JGFF has e-mail.  The JGFF is a three-decade-old project, first started by the Jewish Genealogical Society (New York) in 1982, and taken over by JewishGen for online entry in 1996. (See Question 1.4 for the history of the JGFF).

Some JGFF participants have chosen not to list their e-mail address, preferring to use their postal address.  You can write to them using old-fashioned snail-mail: a letter, an envelope and a stamp.

3.4. What is the "Blind Contact" System?

JewishGen's "Blind Contact" system allows you to retain your anonymity in your JGFF listings.  Registrants can chose to be listed in the JGFF with only their JewishGen ID Number displayed.  See Question #4.5 for details on this Display Option.

If a JGFF registrant opts to be listed only by their JewishGen ID Number, then only the words "Click HERE to contact Researcher #123456" will appear next to their entries in the search results report:

SurnameTownCountry Researcher (JewishGen ID Number)
CohenMinskBelarus Click HERE to contact Researcher #123456

When somone who wishes to contact this researcher clicks on this link, the "Contact JGFF submitter" form appears:

Contact JGFF Submitter

Please enter your email message

From: Marci Cohen (JewishGen ID# 111111)
To: Joe User (JewishGen ID# 123456)

Message Heading
My message

You should then fill in the requested fields, type a message, and press the "Send my Message" button, which will send the message to the JGFF registrant.

By using the "Blind Contact" system, JewishGen sends the first e-mail on behalf of the person attempting to make contact with the JGFF registrant.  Note that JewishGen has the ability to screen the messages, so that only when it relates to personal genealogical research is the message forwarded to the registrant.

The "Blind Contact" system provides JewishGen with the ability to minimize the potential for SPAM or other contacts which are unrelated to personal genealogical connections.  This system allows JewishGen to shield you from solicitations sent by those people who may want to sell you research services or products peripherally related to genealogy.

When you initially register in the JGFF (see Question #4), you select the "Display Option" by which you prefer to be contacted by any other researcher who may find a match to one of your entries.  Each JGFF registrant is in control of how they wish to be contacted.  To change to a different "Display Option", see Question #5.

3.5. I wrote to a researcher, but the mail was returned. Do you have a more recent address?

No, we don't.  We have no further information about anyone or anything in the JGFF database.  Each researcher is responsible for maintaining their own address information.

You should try using conventional means of locating the researcher, such as telephone directory assistance, online people locators and search engines.

If you experience a bounced email message after using an email address listed in the JGFF, please report it to, giving the name of the person you are attempting to reach, their JewishGen ID Number number, the e-mail address you used that bounced, and the bounced message.  The JewishGen LostNFound Support Team will do its best to locate the person and notify you of the results of their search.

3.6. My search yielded no matches — what do I do now?

There could be several reasons for this.
You should broaden your search.

  • One common error is to enter both a surname and a town name on the SEARCH form.  Having both fields filled in indicates a Boolean 'and', meaning that you're searching for a specific surname in a specific town.  Matches of this nature are highly unlikely (and you are very lucky if you do find one!).  You should broaden your search by putting each surname and town in a separate search.  That way you will find everyone researching that surname or that town, rather than the combination thereof.

  • Another possibility is using a different search type.  The search type 'Is Exactly', looks only for exact spelling matches.  Jewish surnames were not spelled consistently until the 20th century — "Rozenbaum", "Rousenbem", "Roizenbom", "Rojznban", etc. are all the same name.  Try using the 'Sounds Like' option to match surnames based upon the way they sound, rather than on how they are spelled.  See Question #3 for more information about search types.

  • Another possibility, when searching for town name matches, is that you are not using the modern town name.  For example, you should search for "Kaunas", not "Kovno".  See Question #4.2 for more information about town names.

If there are still no matches, that doesn't mean that there isn't any information available out there... it simply means that no one researching this surname or town has registered their interest with the JGFF.  If you are interested in this surname or town, then you should register your interest.  See Question #4 for information on how you can register your research interests with the JGFF.

3.7. What is the JGFFAlert System?

The JGFFAlert System is an extra value-added service — It is an "immediate advisory system", which constantly monitors all entries and changes made to the JGFF, and alerts JGFFAlert System participants immediately if a new entry into the JGFF is a potential match with one of their own entries.  The JGFFAlert System relieves you of the need to check periodically for new entries... JewishGen does it for you!

If you are a JGFFAlert participant, whenever any JGFF entry is made which matches any of your current JGFF entries, the JGFFAlert System will notify you immediately via e-mail, alerting you about the matching entry.

Here's how it works:

Whenever a new surname/town record is added (or an existing surname/town record is edited) by any JGFF Researcher:

  1. The JGFF is searched for matching records.  A "match" is defined as a record where the Surname matches using Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex, and the Town and Country matches by exact spelling.  (Note that records where the Town or Country name is blank or "Any" are never matched).

  2. If a match is found, the JGFFAlert System will check to see if the matching JGFF Researcher is a JGFFAlert participant.

  3. If the JGFF Researcher is a JGFFAlert participant, they are sent an email with the details about the newly added/edited JGFF record, such as the following:

    Dear JGFF Researcher 3420,

    JGFF Researcher 64389 has just added/amended a data entry for the surname RUSTADT in Soest, Germany.  Could this be a match for your RUHSTADT entry? (note that D-M soundex might suggest matches which at first sight are not obvious).

    To find the contact information for JGFF Researcher 64389, click on the following link:

    or go to the JGFF at, and enter Surname: RUSTADT and Town: Soest into the search form.

The JGFFAlert System will only check for matches where both a surname and town are given on a data record.  JGFF records which don't specify a town or country, i.e. those for "Any" town, are ignored.  You may want to adjust your JGFF entries accordingly, to take advantage of the JGFFAlert System.

To participate in the JGFFAlert System:

JewishGen's current resources simply will not allow us to provide this service to all 90,000+ JGFF researchers.  The JGFFAlert System is available as a value-added special "Thank You" to all who contribute a minimum of $100 annually to the JewishGen General Fund.  (Donations to hosted organizations, or to any of the SIGs or their projects do not qualify for participation in the JGFFAlert).  We urge you to participate in this exciting service and to insure your research information is kept current and up to date.

To contribute, visit our secure credit card site.

4. How do I submit my own data to the JGFF?

Go to the JGFF online at and select the ENTER/MODIFY button.  If you are not already registered with JewishGen and logged in, you will be asked to register and log in.

Registration will ask for your contact information: Your name, your address, your e-mail, etc.  Please enter accurate information, to enable other researchers to contact you.  If you do not enter correct information, researchers will not be able to reach you.  You also select your privacy display options during the JewishGen user registration process.

During registration, you will be asked to create a password.  This will be the password associated with your email address and JewishGen ID Number.  You can make up whatever password you like, between 4 and 8 characters long.

Once you complete JewishGen user registration, and validate and approve your contact information, you will be sent to the next part of the data entry process — to enter your ancestral surname and town name listings.

You may enter only 16 surname/town entries per screen.  If you wish to enter more than 16 entries, or add additional entries at a later time, see Question #5.1.

4.1. How do I enter family surnames?

A JGFF entry consists of one surname associated with one town within one country.

For example, if you are researching a Cohen family from Warsaw, and you want to enter sevral varient spellings of the surname, enter each as a separate entry:

   Cohen            Warszawa      Poland       <-- CORRECT
   Kahn             Warszawa      Poland       <-- CORRECT
   Cohen or Kahn    Warszawa      Poland       <-- INCORRECT

Enter only one surname per entry.  Use only the 26 letters of the alphabet.  Do not use slashes, dashes, parenthesis, brackets, commas, numbers, or any accented characters.

If you are researching a surname from two different localities, create two separate entries.  For example, if you are researching the surname Schwartz from both Grodno and Bialystok, create two separate entries as follows:

   Schwartz         Grodno        Belarus      <-- CORRECT
   Schwartz         Bialystok     Poland       <-- CORRECT
   Schwartz         Grodno/Bialystok           <-- INCORRECT

Spelling: You typically do not have to enter all of the variant spellings of your surname, because the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex search will find all variants (e.g. 'Meyerson', 'Meirzon', 'Majersohn', etc. will all be found if someone searches for 'Maiersen').

4.2. How do I enter town names?

The JGFF uses the modern contemporary name of each town.  Many cities and towns, especially in Eastern Europe, have alternative town names or spellings, due to political-liguistic changes over time, and various transliteration methods.  The JGFF uses the name of the locality as it is known today.

As genealogists, we need to be able to identify each locality uniquely, so that all references to that locality will appear together.  Because of all these variant names, and the desire for all researchers to be able to find each other, the JGFF standard is to always use the modern contemporary town name and country name for all localities, regardless of whenever your ancestors lived there.

For example, the city of "Lviv, Ukraine", was formerly known as "Lemberg, Austria" before World War I.  Between the wars it was known as "Lwów, Poland".  After WWII it was "L'vov, U.S.S.R.", and since the breakup of the former Soviet Union, it has been known as "Lviv, Ukraine".

You must use the name of the locality as it is known today.  In the above example, the JGFF would use the modern contemporary town name and country name: "Lviv, Ukraine".

In addition, it must be the name which is used by the native country, as written in the Roman alphabet, not the Anglicized version.  That is, towns now in Poland will be written in Polish; towns now in Lithuania are to be written in Lithuanian, etc.  For example, the capital city of Poland is known in English as "Warsaw", in French as "Varsovie", in German as "Warschau", in Italian as "Varsavia", in Spanish as "Varsovia", etc.  It is known in Polish as "Warszawa" — that is the native version, hence that is the version that should be used in the JGFF.  Omit any accents or diacritical marks.  Each locality has one and only one native official name.  List only that modern name, not any variant.

Some examples:
  • Warszawa, not Warsaw (Poland)
  • Vilnius, not Vilna (Lithuania)
  • Kaunas, not Kovno (Lithuania)
  • Wien, not Vienna (Austria)
  • Praha, not Prague (Czech Republic)
  • Moskva, not Moscow (Russia)
  • Kyyiv, not Kiev (Ukraine)
  • Munchen, not Munich (Germany)
  • Gdansk, not Danzig (Poland)
  • Bucuresti, not Bucharest (Romania)
  • Iasi, not Jassi (Romania)
  • Koln, not Cologne (Germany)

The best source for correct town names is Where Once We Walked: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust, Revised Edition, by Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack with Alexander Sharon (Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, Inc., 2002).  It can be found in major libraries.  Another good source is The Times Atlas of the World.  The JewishGen Gazetteer can also be helpful — use only the bolded version of the town name in the JewishGen Gazetteer results.

Country names:
For country, enter the country in which the town is located today.

Towns in the USA and Canada:
To specify an ancestral town in the United States or Canada, you must indicate the state or province (using its official two-letter postal abbreviation) as part of the town name, separating the town and state name by a comma followed by a space.  Then enter 'USA' or 'Canada' as the country name.

For example:
  • New York, NY
  • Toronto, ON
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Vancouver, BC
  • Chicago, IL
  • Winnipeg, MB

Do not spell out the state name.  Do not omit the state name.  Always use the official two-letter state or province abbreviation.

Unknown locality:
When a researcher wants to specify an unknown town within a country, i.e. you know the country but not the specific town of origin, the JGFF's convention is to use the word "Any" in the Town field for this purpose.
For example: "Any, Poland",   or   "Any, USA".

However, the use of 'Any' is strongly discouraged.  For best results, be as specific as possible in specifying your ancestor's town of origin.

Use only the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet.  Do not use slashes, dashes, hyphens, parenthesis, brackets, numbers, or any accented characters.  For a town name such as 'Frankfurt-am-Main', enter using spaces: 'Frankfurt am Main'.

Accented Characters:
The JGFF does not currently support accented letters with diacritical marks.  Please use the unaccented versions of these letters.  For example, for a town name like 'Köln', enter without the umlaut, as 'Koln';  for 'München', enter without accents, as 'Munchen'.

4.3. How many entries can I enter?

While there is no system-imposed maximum number of entries per user, we strongly suggest that you limit your entries to the major surnames that you are researching; only your direct ancestral lines.  Do not enter everyone on your family tree — that's not the purpose of the JGFF — that's what the FTJP is for (see Question #4.4).

Typically, your data should consist of the surnames and ancestral towns of your four grandparents, your eight great-grandparents, your sixteen great-great-grandparents, your thirty-two g-g-g-grandparents, etc.

4.4. Where do I send my family tree / GEDCOM file?

Not to the JGFF!  The JGFF is a database of only surnames and town names; it is not a repository of information about individuals or family trees.

The place for Jewish family trees in GEDCOM format is The Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP).  See the JewishGen FAQ, Q#16, and the FTJP web page for more information.

4.5. What provisions have been made for privacy?

For the JGFF to be most effective, its contents — ancestral surnames and towns — should be available to as many genealogical researchers as possible.  However, JewishGen respects the privacy of its users, never shares the addresses of its users with any organization, and resists attempts by those who want to send all sorts of unsolicited information to our users, i.e. Spam.

To balance the need for public listing with the need for privacy, JewishGen makes available three different "Display Options" to those who list their research interests in the JGFF.  You should select the type of Display Option that you prefer, to enable other researchers to contact you.  The three Display Options are:

  1. Your JewishGen ID number only.
  2. Your JewishGen ID number and full name.
  3. Your JewishGen ID number, full name, and complete postal address.

In all cases, your email address is never displayed.  Email contact is made by clicking on words "Click HERE to contact Researcher #123456" in the last column of the search results report, which brings up JewishGen's "Blind Contact" e-mail system.

See Question #3.4 for information about the "Blind Contact" System, and see Question #5 for information on how to change your Display Option.

Why is it necessary for me to give you my telephone number?

In order to insure the greatest effectiveness of the JGFF database — to help researchers connect with family lines — JewishGen needs to be able to reach you should your e-mail address change.  Your phone number will never be listed publicly — it is only for our internal administrative records, as a way for the JewishGen administrative office to reach you should the need arise.

5. How do I modify my entries?

In order to modify or add to your existing entries, you will need to log on to JewishGen, using either your email address or your JewishGen ID Number, and Password.

  • To modify your contact information (name, address, email address, etc.), your Display Options, or your Password, click here.

  • To modify your surname/town entries, go to the JGFF at and select the ENTER/MODIFY button.

    There are two options on the Modify screen:

    • To modify your surnames and towns, select 'Modify Surname/Town Information'.
    • To add additional surnames and towns, select 'Add Additional Surname/Town Information'.

    After selecting one of the these two options, press the 'Send Request' button.  Please read and follow the instructions carefully.

5.1. How do I add new surname/town entries?

To add additional ancestral surnames and/or towns, go to the JGFF online at and select the ENTER/MODIFY button.

There are two options on the Modify screen:

  • To modify your surnames and towns, select 'Modify Surname/Town Information'.
  • To add additional surnames and towns, select 'Add Additional Surname/Town Information'.
Select the second option, 'Add Additional Surname/Town Information', and then press the 'Send Request' button.  Then read and follow the instructions on the next page.

5.2. How do I get a password?

You create your own password when you initially register with JewishGen.  JewishGen uses a password for each user, to ensure that no one else can modify your data.

When you enter your JGFF data for the very first time, you will use the ENTER/MODIFY feature (see Question #4).  JewishGen will assign you a JewishGen ID Number during registration, and asks you to select your own password.

5.3. What if I forget my password?

If you have forgotten your password, you can visit this screen to make a new password

If you wish, you can change your password.

5.4. How can I change my password?

See Question #5.

5.5. I've forgotten my JewishGen ID number.

A JewishGen ID Number (formerly called a "JGFF Researcher Code" number) is required to access the JGFF.  A JewishGen ID number is assigned to you when you first register with the JGFF (see Question #4).  If you've forgotten your JewishGen ID Number, there are several methods you can use to find it:

  1. Your JewishGen ID Number is sent to you in all acknowledgement messages from JewishGen.  Search your inbox and inbox wastebasket for acknowledgement messages which you've previously received from JewishGen.

  2. If you have forgotten your password, you can visit this screen to make a new password

5.6. I've moved. How do I change my address?

See Question #5.

5.7. My e-mail address has changed.  How do I change it in the JGFF database?

See Question #5.

Please note that changing your e-mail address in the JGFF database also changes it for your subscription to the JewishGen Discussion Group mailing list and any of the SIG Discussion Group mailing lists to which you are subscribed.  To use a different email address for your mailing list subscriptions, see the JewishGen Support Center, Question 3.10.

5.8. My surname/town entries are wrong — how do I correct them?

See Question #5.  Go to the JGFF online, click ENTER/MODIFY, then select the first option 'Modify Surnames'.

Make any modifications you wish to your existing entries, and then press the "Submit" button at the bottom middle of the page.

To delete any of your previous entries, overwrite the surname with the word DELETE in the 'Modify Surnames' screen. See Question #5.10.

5.9. The town names I entered are now spelled wrong / you've put them in the wrong country — how do I correct this?

You don't.  The JGFF uses only modern native town names and country names, not historical names of localities.  The JGFF automatically converts some town names, for example, "Warsaw", to the proper native name "Warszawa", using an internal town synonym database.  Please review Question 4.2 for an explanation and examples.  In addition, the database is periodically manually edited to correct town names which do not conform to the JGFF rules.

If you feel that a change to one of your entries is incorrect, contact the JGFF editor, using the Town Query Form.

5.10. How do I delete a surname/town entry?

To delete any of your existing surname/town entries, first go to the JGFF online, click ENTER/MODIFY, select the first option 'Modify Surnames', and press the 'Send Request' button.  The next page will contain a list of all of your previously-entered surname/town entries.

To delete any of these previous entries, overwrite the surname with the word DELETE, and then press the "Submit" button at the bottom middle of this page.

6. How do I view my entries?

To view all of your JGFF submissions — both your contact information, and all surname/town entries — go to the JGFF at and select the LIST button.  If you are not already logged onto JewishGen, you will be prompted to log on, using your email address or JewishGen ID Number and Password.

You can select either table output, or plain text output.  (The difference is that table output looks better on the computer screen, while plain text output is easier to cut and paste into another program, such as an e-mail message or word processor).  Finally, press the "List Details" button.

To modify any of this information, see Question 5.

7. How do I find my grandfather?

By doing genealogical research!  The JGFF is not the be-all-and-end-all... it is only a tool for connecting people with similar research interests... It lets others know what surnames and towns you are interested in, and lets you know what surnames and town others are interested in.

The JGFF is merely a facilitator, bringing together thousands of researchers worldwide.  The JGFF is simply a device to allow people to share information with one another. Finding information about your family requires research on your part; nobody at JewishGen or anyplace else for that matter is likely to have 'your file'.  There will be bits and pieces waiting for you to uncover and piece together into a cohesive whole in census records, passenger manifests, naturalization records, city directories, and vital records, to name just a few.

To provide assistance in your genealogical research, JewishGen offers several excellent information files.  To begin, see the JewishGen FAQ, Frequently Asked Questions About Jewish Genealogy, available at the JewishGen Home Page.  Then see the JewishGen InfoFiles for more information about your specific research interests.

You can join and post queries to the JewishGen Discussion Group at

8. How do I report problems?

First, see if your question is already answered in one of the questions above.

Second, if it's a problem with your own data, fix it yourself!  Go to the JGFF web site and modify your entries.  See Question #5 above.

You can report other problems or questions to the JGFF Help Desk.

Author: Warren Blatt, with assistance from Carol Skydell, Iris Folkson, Susan King and Gary Mokotoff.
Version 2.40   Last Updated: Jan 17 2018  

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