Project Genesis

Basics of Judaism

Who is a Jew?

Discovering Jewish Geneology

Question: I believe that my mother’s family may be Jewish. They came here from Hungary, and I grew up eating Matzos, going to the bazaars at the local Synagogue. I learned that my great-grandmother was fluent in Yiddish, Hungarian, and German. I don’t know much about my great-grandfather, and my grandmother (who recently passed away) never liked to discuss family history in any capacity. How can I learn the answer to this question that has been in my heart and mind for close to twenty years?  Any direction would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Thanks for the question. You may indeed have Jewish ancestry. While only Jewish, matrilineal descent would make you Jewish (i.e. if your mom’s mom’s mom was Jewish, you would be as well; if her own mom was not Jewish, then you would not be), it would still be a fascinating study. You may want to look for boat records in Ellis Island, etc for more clues. If you know the exact hometown in Europe, there may be records in that town. You really need more information before deciding to pursue this, as anecdotes are hard to rely on for accuracy.

Hope your research succeeds.


Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt

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