Where do I begin?  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , , , , , , , , ,

I am going to recap what I have done so far in the past few weeks since I have embarked on this journey.

First, I read through my sister's roots project and got all fired up. Some of the pages in the project were printouts from Beit Hatfutzot, which is also known as the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora. They had basic information about my paternal grandparents' villages in Poland. The two villages are Radzilow and Dolhinov (wow, I just found this site when doing a Google search. There is so much information I have to go through and I have already seen several familiar names!).

From there I jumped over to the Yad Vashem site which is The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. It is the largest and most impressive holocaust museum in the world and is located in Jerusalem. I remember going there when I was younger to do a research project about the Treblinka Concentration Camp. It was a project I did for school and the reason I chose that specific camp was the fact that it only had one purpose - kill as many people as fast as possible. We'll get back to this in a minute.

I sat at the computer with my mom and we started searching through The Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names and all of a sudden we both started getting chills. There, in front of our very eyes, were hand written documents (called pages of testimony) filled out by my grandfather's first cousin, Rivka Geiger. To the right you can see the page she filled out about my great-grandfather, Hanoch Meir (Heynoch) Dombek. Rivka and her sister Tamara (Tema) Fruchter were the only close family survivors that my grandfather was able to find in Israel after the war. That's a story I will have to tell in full in a later post.

Anyway, by using the easy functionality of the site I was able to find 58 pages that were filled by Rivka. We were just skimming through them, trying to figure out the names and dates. Most of the testimony is in Yiddish and hard to read, but we slowly figured out who was who. Last night I finally sat down and went through them all and I now have a chart of three generations of the Dombek family that perished in the Shoah (holocaust). I will have a full post about that soon as well. I promise.

I started a quick family tree with some free online software through a link I found on the Beit Hatfutzot site. I won't actually link it here because it has all the details of living relatives. If you want to see it please let me know. I will also figure out a way to post this tree somewhere else.

I spent a few hours with my parents, trying to map out as many relatives as we could think of. The next day my mother and I went to visit my grandmother and I grilled her for over two hours, trying to get as many details as I could.

On my return to the US, I told my wife about my new hobby and asked to see what her mother had put together a few years ago. That pretty much got me started with a big chunk of information on her side. I also found a few people through JewishGen's Family Finder (JGFF) and the Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP) who were nice enough to share some of their research and give me some tips moving forward. I joined Ancestry.com and found a distant relative of my wife's who has over 23K people in his tree. With his help and direction I decided to purchase the RootsMagic Genealogy Software tool. Through Ancestry.com I was able to piece together a lot of information from US Census data from 1840-1930 about the Auth, Wiley and Hytowitz families.

Well, this is becoming quite a long recap of the first few weeks and I already have several posts I promised to write. One of the things I will try to list at the bottom of each post is how many people I currently have in my family project.

7/29/08 - Current family members: 825 in 259 families.

What? Another Blog?  

Posted by Abba-Dad in ,

Well, yes. But this one is a little different. This one is about my past.

On my last trip to Israel, while showing my daughter some old photo albums, I ran into my sister's Dari family roots project that she did for her bnei-mitzvah year at grade school. I was fascinated by all the details and photos in it that I had forgotten about over the years and then all of a sudden I got all nostalgic about my family and my ancestry. I had heard about genealogy before but had never really looked into it and so, this seemed like a good time to try my hand at it.

There are several reasons why I decided to start on this quest:

1) My family had been almost completely wiped off the face of the earth by the holocaust. On my maternal grandfather's side there were only a handful of living relatives. I feel like this is one way for generations to follow to be able to remember and try to comprehend what happened.

2) My wife's ancestry is so different from mine and there are so many resources to go through and put the pieces of the puzzle together. Her mother started a genealogy project for her on her 30th birthday and that was a great source of information for me to start with.

3) I want my daughter (and any future children) to be able to have a source to understand their heritage and history.

4) I want all our family members to have a chance to learn from my experiences.

What I intend to write about is my quest to uncover the past and try to reach every piece of available data out there to get the most complete picture possible. I will post my thoughts, my discoveries, my roadblocks, interesting stories, anecdotes and tidbits.

I am a true beginner and I am sure I have a lot to learn about the field of genealogy, but I have definitely been bitten by the bug and I am truly enjoying trying to solve this historical puzzle step by step. I will also sometimes ask for help and see if the answers come back from the ether.

I hope you enjoy this blog, whether you are a family member, friend, fellow genealogist or just a random reader. You can always leave a comment or send me an e-mail to adekel@bellsouth.net if you have a private message. I do intend to list people's names on this blog, but I will omit first names of living relatives to protect their privacy.

I called this blog 'I Dream of Genea(logy)' because once you immerse yourself in your own history, it will probably invade your dreams.