What’s in a Name?: A Young Person’s Jewish Genealogy Workbook

Hadassa Word Press  2017


This Jewish genealogy workbook is a treasure trove of resources for young people, that can motivate them to learn about their families by exploring "secret codes, history, genetics and science." It shows the young, new detective of family history how to find information so that they can locate and safely keep what may have been lost to their families; these facts can be passed onto future generations.

The book contains a section that is truly unique—how to decipher what is on a Jewish gravestone and how to behave while in the cemetery. The reader also learns how to trace ancestors who came from different countries. The reader gets a history lesson on the development of Jewish communities from around the world.

A common myth is debunked: there were no names changed by officials at Ellis Island. The book discusses several other ways that these scenarios may have occurred. Multiple topics are covered, including census records; death and birth certificates; military records; and the issues of conversion, adoption, and families that had criminal members.

The authors have made a complex topic easily accessible through their clear and informal style. They are sensitive to the use of private information and to the costs in both time and money that may be involved. They recognize the need to consult parents before proceeding in certain areas. The authors also encourage contacting a Jewish genealogical organization and list several as resources. There is also a glossary of terms in English, Yiddish, and Hebrew, and a list of helpful websites.

At the end of the book, the value of genealogy is beautifully summarized with the following quotation: “Know where you come from and where you are going. When we learn about our heritage and our past, it allows us to see the present in a different light, and to…recognize our historical tapestry is still being woven.”

Recommended for ages 11 to 16.

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