Connecting the Branches has appeared in every second issue of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin since June 2010. In almost 40 columns, I have covered topics of interest to serious genealogists and also to those with a passing curiosity about their ancestry. I’ve discussed new databases, excellent web sources for research, Holocaust materials, genealogical techniques, and travel in Eastern Europe.
Many of the columns dealt with my own personal experiences developing and expanding my family tree, and the wonderful discoveries associated with that pursuit. It was my hope that writing the column would encourage people in our Ottawa Jewish community who may have been interested in their family history, but had not yet taken up the hobby, to take that first step using the tools and tips I was offering.
I think I’ve been successful in stimulating interest. Almost every time a new column appeared, I was approached by people asking for assistance with their own personal research.
These requests have come by telephone, by email and in person, often by complete strangers at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC) and other Jewish community buildings, and even at my place of business. In most cases, I have been able to offer some help or have been able to point them in the right direction to do the research themselves.
It has been very rewarding to help someone solve a mystery about their family, and to see their excitement as they have uncovered something relevant to their research either through a vital record document, or from an archived newspaper article.
Particularly satisfying has been the feedback from so many readers telling me they have read and enjoyed the column. I thank everyone for their comments and support. As I believe the articles have, by now, provided a good overview of Jewish genealogy, I have decided that, rather than contribute to the Bulletin on a regular basis, the column will now appear occasionally, when there is something new in the field I believe is of general interest to readers.
If you are interested in genealogy, but haven’t yet taken that first step, I encourage you to attend a meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Ottawa (JGSO). This group meets monthly, with the exception of July and August, usually at the SJCC. Most meetings are research meetings, where those in attendance can ask questions of the more experienced members, as well as use the databases the JGSO subscribes to. The society is always acquiring new database subscriptions, the most recent one being the Drouin Society database, which provides great details on all marriages in the province of Quebec up to the 1990s.
Some JGSO meetings feature guest speakers with interesting topics to share. Each meeting begins with JGSO President Hymie Reichstein presenting a list of new resources that may be of help to members. To join the JGSO, to ask a question or to be put on the notification list for meetings, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the wisdom and advice of Hymie Reichstein, and to thank him for his support, and to Editor Michael Regenstreif and the Bulletin staff for their assistance over the past four years.