Jewishgen: The Place to Start Your Family History Search
By Susan Weinberg

If you are interested in Jewish genealogy the place to start is Jewishgen is a free site, but you’ll get more out of it if you create an account through registration.  Let’s look at how you can use Jewishgen to get answers to some of your questions about family history.

I think I know the town my family came from, but don’t know where it is today. And I’m not quite sure how to spell it. 

Go to Databases – Town Finder and it will take you to the Communities Database.

This great search tool enables you to enter the name the way you’ve heard it pronounced, and it will show you today’s spelling, the country in which it is located, and its rendering in Russian, Polish and Yiddish.

It will tell you how far it is from the nearest large city and the town, district and province before WWI, between the wars and after WWII. It may provide more than one match and you will then need to use additional information to narrow it down.

So now that I know where they came from, how can I find more information on that town? 

Hover over the “Research” button in the navigation bar to find a listing called Kehilalinks.

Click this link will take you to listings of virtual community websites, created by volunteers, on the former and current Jewish communities. Now that you know the country of your town from Town Finder, you can look for the name it goes by today under the country to see if someone has adopted your town.

Is there a way to search for information on the country or region?

Hover over the “Research” button again, and find Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

Here you’ll find dozens of listings for groups centered on regions or topics. Many of them have search engines for the region.

Some of the robust sites include JRI-Poland and the All Lithuania Database.  In many cases you will find the actual digitized records on-line.

You can also subscribe to discussion groups by region by clicking on the “Discussion Groups” link in the “Research” menu. Use these to post questions and ask for assistance within the group.

I found a record, but I’m told it is in Russian. How can I get that translated? 

Within the “Research” menu you will find a listing called Viewmate. This page will instruct you on how to upload an image of the record. Volunteers will translate the key information for you.

Who else is searching for my names? Maybe someone already figured this out.  

Hover over “Databases” in the navigation bar to find Family Finder.  Here you can search by town or family name.

However, you can also get some clues about fellow searchers through Town Finder, where the last column is headed: “# of JGFF entries”. Click on that number to view a listing of researchers working on the same town, along with the names they are searching. You can email them through Jewishgen and explore any relationship.

Don’t forget to add to your account the towns and names you are searching for so that someone can find you, too.

How can I look for family tombstones in my ancestral town without leaving home? 

Under “Databases” you will find The Jewish Online Worldwide Burial Registry.

This source has transcriptions and often photos of tombstones by town and name from all around the world. When I travel, I frequently take pictures of tombstones and submit them to JOWBR.

You can also find records closer to home: JOWBR has listings for over 6,000 tombstones from United Brethren Cemetery in Richfield, Minnesota.

Tombstones provide a wealth of information valuable to a genealogist. (Don’t forget that many cemeteries in the United States will take a photo and send it to you for a small contribution.)

For more information check out the Resource page maintained by the Minnesota Jewish Genealogical Society. MJGS hosts meetings where you can connect with others who are also involved with genealogy.


The Nudell Family

About our Collection:
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JHSUM does not hold any Birth, Death or Marriage records. These records are held with the County Department of Public Health. Also check the Minnesota Historical Society’s online Death Certificate index.

JHSUM’s collections do not contain census records or naturalization records. These items can be found at the Minnesota Historical Society’s Library at 345 Kellogg Blvd. West in St. Paul.  For more information visit the Minnesota Historical Society’s Library website.

Nudell Family in Ukraine, 1909-1910.

Consider these research options if you are planning on diving into a search for genealogy-related information:

Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society has both online help and information about genealogy research classes, including a callin help line at 651-259-3300. MNHS also has extensive collections of local, state and federal census data; naturalization records, 1918 Minnesota Alien Registration records and newspapers from across the state, including the American Jewish World. Access to subscription databases, like, is also available on-site. Copies of Minnesota birth records (pre-1900-1934) and death records (1904-2001) can be obtained on-site or ordered through their website.

Minnesota marriage records are held by the county in which a marriage license application was made.The county recorders of Minnesota have set up a website with an index (not yet complete for every county) and ordering information. Go to for information.

Minnesota Genealogical Society
The Minnesota Genealogical Society has a full menu of classes and services, including free and for fee.Their extensive library in South St. Paul holds books for locations across the United States as well as Polish, Czech, British, Scandinavian, and Canadian collections. Access to subscription databases is also available on-site.

Minnesota Jewish Genealogical Society
The MNJGS came about when one of our members attended the 2014 IAJGS Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah and noticed, to his chagrin, that there was no local JGS representing Minnesota. The present organization is the result of that effort.

Our past meetings have addressed such topics as an introduction to Jewish genealogy, genealogical proof and how to make use of on-line resources and tools. We have visited a local Family History Center to familiarize ourselves with its many resources, explored a local Jewish cemetery and learned more about the Jewish archives.

We offer programs for beginners as well as experienced researchers. At “beginner” programs, more experienced volunteers offer support through “Ask the Expert” sessions or more informally through hands on assistance.
Easily the best web site for all levels of researchers interested in Jewish-focused resources. Check out the link to “Getting Started” for “first-timers” and on-line class information.

IAJGS International Jewish Cemetery Project
The goal of the IAJGS International Jewish Cemetery Project is documentation of every Jewish burial site in the world.

Steve Morse
Past JHSUM speaker, Steve Morse has created a one-step portal for online genealogy.

Garon/Kaner/Karon Family Website
Jews of the Greater Duluth-Superior Region
Many of our Jewish ancestors immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe and settled in Northern Minnesota, Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.  They came in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This website begins with the Garon, Kaner and Karon families and their extended relatives and includes up to ten generations going back to the late 1700’s in Eastern Europe. It also extends to the other Jewish families who settled in the northern Great Lakes region.  The information collected and archived tells us that many are connected from the old country and possibly related through marriages.
The website includes family trees, photos and documents contributed by individual families or found on various genealogy related websites.  Collectively they tell a story of courage and persistence in making new homes, creating new businesses and establishing Jewish communities in a new land. There are indices for family names, old newspaper articles, obituaries, cemetery markers and Jewish businesses.  Check this website for information about any family names connected to this region.
Much of the general information on the website is open to the public, but the more detailed family data are password protected.  For questions and requests for access, contact Allan Garon using the webpage:

Max Elijah Grossman
Greetings!  Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Max Elijah Grossman.  I was born on March 19, 1967 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and am the eldest of the three children of Richard and Joan Grossman.  My  father Richard is the eldest of the five sons of Norman Bud and Alene Grossman.Bud is the second of the three children of Max and Ida Grossman.

We also recommend that you check with a professional genealogist if you need help with your search, or would like to contract for research to be done on your family project. Contact the following community members for help and expertise with Jewish family history projects:

Max Orenstein Email:
Max Orenstein is a Minneapolis videographer born and raised in the Twin Cities. His company Observe Video LLC., produces family autobiographies as well as Corporate and not- for- profit fundraising videos.

Joanne M. Sher

Susan Weinberg Email:
Susan Weinberg has broad experience researching Jewish family history in both the US and Eastern Europe.   Her research has taken her to the shtetls and archives of Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine and to the Holocaust records in Germany.  Susan is available to assist you in researching your family history or to coach you in your own search. At her website you will find case studies that will give you a flavor for how a genealogist can assist you. Articles from her family history blog are also available to assist in your research.

Bill Wolpert or 612-801-1001.
Interested in searching your family history? Whether you are a beginner or advanced, Bill Wolpert has started a new service that can help – Bill has over twenty years of experience in family research. Starting with his own family, that settled in Minnesota in the 1880s, he has research experience in the U.S., England, Ireland, Eastern Europe, South America and Israel. Even if you do not know where your ancestors came from, Bill Wolpert may be able to help.

His services start at $50 per hour, with a two hour minimum. A 10% discount is currently being offered to Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest Members.

Additional websites: