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Updated Immigrant Census Form (1940 added)

For those unaware, this site has a set of genealogy forms that you can fill out on a computer, or print out to be filled out by hand. I find this is a great way to get started with genealogy, and these forms are also helpful for sending out to relatives to be filled out and returned. These forms are designed to work together in useful ways. One form that is particularly useful is the US Immigrant Census Form, which was released all the way back in 2011. This form has fields for the useful genealogy information that you can extract from US Census records during the critical turn-of-the-century period of mass immigration to the US. When the original form was created, the 1940 Census had not yet been released, so it only covered the censuses between 1880 and 1930. This updated form adds a column for 1940.

B&F US Immigrant Census Form v2
B&F US Immigrant Census Form v2
Continue reading Updated Immigrant Census Form (1940 added)

101 Most Popular Jewish Boys Names in Israel in 2019

After a delay due to COVID-19, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics has released the baby name data for 2019. As I’ve done for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017-2018, I’m posting the top 101 Jewish boys names. These are the most popular names given to Jewish boys born in Israel during 2019. Below you can see the number of boys that were named each name, and the ranking for 2019, as well as 2018 and 2017 for comparison. For number and rankings from earlier years, see the annual posts linked to above. For the parallel girl’s list, see 101 Most Popular Jewish Girls Names in Israel in 2019.

Seven boys names entered the top 101 in 2019, including Aryeh (105 to 81), Asaf (118 to 86), Yaheli (102 to 87), Lenny (131 to 88), Oz (106 to 90), and Tom (103 to 98). The boys names that exited the list were Ophir (81 to 102), Yedidya (87 to 104), Leroi (95 to 108), Yinon (98 to 110), Eyal (74 to 111), Shai (99 to 113), and Adir (97 to 117)

All the columns in the table below can be used to sort the table, so you can sort the table to see the order of ranking for each year, or by the spelling of the name in Hebrew or English. You can also search the table using the search field on the top right of the table.

Continue reading 101 Most Popular Jewish Boys Names in Israel in 2019

101 Most Popular Jewish Girls Names in Israel in 2019

After a delay due to COVID-19, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics has released the baby name data for 2019. As I’ve done for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017-2018, I’m posting the top 101 Jewish girls names. These are the most popular names given to Jewish girls born in Israel during 2019. Below you can see the number of girls that were named each name, and the ranking for 2019, as well as 2018 and 2017 for comparison. For number and rankings from earlier years, see the annual posts linked to above. For the parallel boy’s list, see 101 Most Popular Jewish Boys Names in Israel in 2019.

Two girls names entered the top 101 in 2019, Darya (104 to 99) and Feiga (116 to 101). The two names that exited the list were Anne (101 to 104) and Shani (100 to 107).

All the columns in the table below can be used to sort the table, so you can sort the table to see the order of ranking for each year, or by the spelling of the name in Hebrew or English. You can also search the table using the search field on the top right of the table.

Continue reading 101 Most Popular Jewish Girls Names in Israel in 2019

Deciphering Jewish Gravestones

My 2011 article on Jewish gravestone symbols has long been one of the most popular posts on this web site. In that article, I discuss the symbols found on Jewish gravestones, but not the text. I wrote in the first paragraph that I will likely write about the text at some point in the future. Unfortunately, I waited nine years to do so, but here’s a look at some of the Hebrew text you might find on a Jewish gravestone, and how to decipher it.

We should get some terminology out the way. We’re talking about Hebrew inscriptions on gravestones. In Hebrew we call the grave a קבר kever, and the gravestone itself a מצבה matseva (lit. monument). There isn’t a particularly good Hebrew word for epitaph (the inscription), it’s just הכתובת על המצבה the writing on the gravestone. We do use the word הספד hesped for eulogy, and you can think of some of the inscription to be a eulogy. As this is intended as an introduction to this topic, I’ll simply use the English terms most of the time.

For those who want to print this out, I’ve created a parallel version that will print nicely, and you can download it as a PDF.

As this is a long article with lots of sections, I’ve added a table of contents below that will let you jump to a particular section if you want. The sections generally follow the order that these items would show up in the inscription.

Continue reading Deciphering Jewish Gravestones

Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy

I get asked by a lot of people how to get started in researching their family. This entire site is dedicated to helping people do just that, but after eight years of writing articles and creating resources like my forms, and the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy, it’s still hard for someone completely new to genealogy to know what to do first. My goal here is to guide someone completely new on what to do first, what is useful on my site, as well as what other sites are useful. So if you’re new to genealogy, this will help you get started.

What do you already know?

It seems obvious, but the first thing you need to do is figure out what you know, which will help you figure out what you don’t know. You start this process by asking whoever in your family may know information. Depending on your age, this might be your parents, or grandparents, or whoever are the oldest relatives in the line you are researching. When reaching out to these relatives, you want to not only ask for information, but if they or another relative might have documents that show this information. Always ask if they know of a relative that has already researched the family history. Many families have a cousin that has already done research, and already collected documents and photographs. They may remember a cousin or an uncle that has collected information on the family, and even if that person is not alive now, you may still be able to find information from that relatives’ descendants.

When getting started I always suggest starting with paper forms. There are many great computer programs and web sites for organizing your genealogy, and I do recommend using them but especially when meeting with older relatives, working with a piece of paper is usually easier, and it has the advantage of making it very clear which fields in the form you have not filled in yet (and thus need to ask about/research). On my site you can download several different forms, in English and in Hebrew.

I suggest starting with the Ancestor Form with yourself as the source person at the bottom, and adding in the details on your parents and grandparents. Are you able to fill in all the fields on the form? Do you know where all of your grandparents were born? What their exact birth dates were? Do you have documentation for any of the information, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, ketubahs, passports, etc.?

Once you’ve filled out the form, add Sibling Forms for each of your parents and grandparents, or Family Forms for their parents (which will provide similar information but include the parents, and will show their siblings as children of the parents). As you work your way out further, you’ll see that you probably know less information. That’s okay – this is just the first step in building out your family tree.

When you’ve built out several of these sheets, and you see what information you’re missing, you will have a good idea at least for what information to starting looking for. Continue reading Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy