The JG&FHC was established for the purpose of expanding genealogical services at the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute (JHI) in whose facilities it is housed.
Its goals are to:
- Assist Jews worldwide to learn more about their Polish roots and to connect more closely to their Ashkenazic heritage;
- Help Poles who believe they have Jewish roots to explore their own backgrounds and, if appropriate, to resume their place amongst the Jewish people;
- Provide guidance and instruction on the process of searching for documentation relevant to particular individuals and families;
JHI’s genealogy services were initiated in 1994, when a small-scale genealogy project began, supported by the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. After some years and in the face of a rapidly growing demand, the genealogy project outgrew its physical space, staffing and technological capacities. Answering a vast number of written queries while serving a significant walk-in clientele became increasingly difficult.
In 2009 the genealogical project became the Jewish Historical Institue Genealogy Department. Our leading funder is the Taube Foundation.
Yale J. Reisner was first. It was him who in 1994, back then under the auspices of Ronald S. Lauder Foundation walked into ŻIH (Polish: JHI-the Jewish Historical Institute) and began his journey with genealogy. He meant to come for only two years, but ended up staying for good. Yale graduated from East and Central European studies program at the Columbia University and International Relations at Tufts.
Anna Przybyszewska Drozd joined Yale a couple of years later. She studied archeology and then got involved in documental film. Her passion is psychology, finding and connecting pieces that make up the history of the family.
In 2011, we were joined by Aleksandra Dybkowska-Grefkowicz an alumn of international relations at the City College of New York and social studies of the Lancaster University program at Center for Social Studies of Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. Aleksandra’s interests, whether those associated with Eastern Europe or those with adults with autism, focus on meeting between different cultures.
Since 2013 we have been working with Aleksandra Ola Sajdak. Ola is a doctoral student at the Institute of Culture, focusing her studies specifically in the interwar period, Warsaw history and the Jewish charity. Ola works also for the Taube Center.
Matan Shefi grew up in Jerusalem, and lately decided to deepen his relationship with his Polish side and moved to Warsaw. He did make a strong relationship in the city where his forefather grew up and lived in. He has an extensive past as an officer in the Israeli navy and studied European History and Humanities in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He also tries to help others in finding their place, connection and feeling with this Old-New love.
Marta Maćkowiak studied Indian languages and culture and Jewish studies at University of Wroclaw. After 2 years of working at Jewish Information Center in Wroclaw and promoting concerts, she decided to move to Warsaw to develop her passions and help others.
Noam Silberberg came to us from Israel, where he studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Music. Now, after following his own family history back to Warsaw, he is combining his two passions — music and history.
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