Dear JewishGen Community,

For generations, Jewish tradition has associated the ritual of memory with the lighting of candles. A candle represents the past, for a flame is only as strong as its fuel source. Yet the light emanating from the candle also represents a focus on the future. We look to the candle and remember those who came before us, but do so within the context of learning from their experiences, and permitting the values our ancestors held most dear to illuminate and influence our lives today.

As we observe Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, JewishGen’s mission of remembrance and preservation becomes more pronounced and urgent. JewishGen’s work is designed to change us. It is supposed to transform us. And it should inspire us.

Our goal is for people to understand not only who their relatives were, but how they lived. What was important in their lives? What challenges did they face? How can their experiences influence and illuminate our life choices today?

Among JewishGen’s most important projects is the translation of Yizkor Books (memorial books), which offer an insight into communal life before and during the Shoah.

Take some time to explore these treasure troves of information which, among other things, provide first-hand accounts of a Jewish communal life and culture that in many cases no longer exists.

These accounts help us to visualize what life was like in a very personal way, while providing us the ability to transmit a more profound legacy for the future.

We also encourage you to explore our Holocaust Collection, which contains more than 2.75 million records about Holocaust victims and survivors. This week, we have added more than 30,000 records from a variety of sources (a more detailed announcement will be forthcoming).

As with everything on JewishGen, we offer our resources at no charge.

  • To search the Yizkor Book collection, please click here
  • To search the Holocaust Collection, please click here

Thank you for your continued support of our important work.

Avraham Groll

Photo: Taken earlier this morning at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust staff commemoration of Yom HaShoah. Right to left: Ruth Mermelstein, a survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, lights a Yizkor candle with her daughter, Evelyn Orkaby, who is also a gallery educator at the Museum. Jon Rose, a Museum intern, looks on. For the latest news and announcements, please visit