22 September 2007

Genealogy and Chabad

Jewish genealogy featured in a story about Chabad and its outreach to Johns Hopkins University students as well as the non-academic community in Baltimore, Maryland.

Like the one this year, when a woman in her sixties, one of the few female Hopkins’ grad school alumnae (the university was boys only at the undergrad level into the seventies), who selected Chabad as her first point of re-entry into organized religion since the Nixon administration. A genealogy enthusiast, the woman traced her roots to an attic, to a bundle of letters all written in Yiddish. When she found out that her great-great-great-and then some grandfather was none other than Reb Rafael of Pershan, a noted devotee of the first Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi--she felt she belonged at Chabad.

Jewish genealogy is everywhere!


  1. I am the woman in her sixties described in the Chabad article. The article contains some slight inaccuracies, the most important of which is that my ancestor, Rebbe Raphael of Bershad, and his mentor, R' Pinchas of Koretz, were NOT followers of the Maggid of Mezritch or his disciple, R' Zalman of Liadi. I did not attend the Chabad services for that particular reason, but because Chabad is so open to Jews who are "outsiders" to the established communities and congregations. I am very grateful to Rabbi Gopin for his warm welcome.

    It's true that I have recently been able to fill in the "missing links" in my line of descent from R' Raphael, with the help of some wonderful distant cousins. Working together, and sharing the letters and documents inherited from our parents and grandparents, we've made a lot of progress (though there is still much more to do).

    Although R' Raphael is well known to Chassidic Jews, I am working on the development of a web site to make information on his descendants and religious philosophy available to a wider audience. I'll be happy to send you a link when the site is ready.

  2. I'm delighted that you wrote to Tracing the Tribe, and for providing additional details. Please send me the link for your website when it is ready, so I can let others know about it.

    Are you in contact with the RavSIG group on JewishGen? As you may already know, RavSIG is the JewishGen special interest group for those tracing their rabbinical ancestors.

    With best wishes for the New Year for you and your extended family.


  3. Thanks, Schelly!

    I'm planning to send a link to JewishGen's RavSIG when the site is ready.

    The most rewarding aspect of this research is finding some distant cousins and developing warm friendships with them.

    Best wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy new year!

  4. Meeting distant cousins and enjoying the reconnection is one of the best things about genealogy.

    Looking forward to your web site announcement.