Shalom! Happy Hanukkah!

Jewish ancestry?

Why New Zealand? Some had heard of Australia but New Zealand? 
For me it was absolutely the right decision – there was no where further away from Germany...”
- Hansi Silberstein in Promised New Zealand

 The eight-day Jewish holiday, Hanukkah (the festival of lights) is celebrated this week, in commemoration of the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

This year, Hanukkah runs from Saturday December 8th until sunrise on December 15th and while there has never been a large Jewish population in New Zealand, there are certainly resources to help you start your research if you think you may be able to lay claim to Jewish ancestry.

Gary Mokotoff’s Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy (we have the 2011 edition in our collection) is recommended by New York’s Museum of Jewish heritage (and their website).

Mokotoff shows how you can trace ancestry on line and he describes a search he conducted on a family (going back 200 years) using familiar sites such as with its Ellis Island databases.

While Kiwi Jewish ancestors are less likely to have travelled via Ellis Island, in our collection we do have several books to mull through, such as guides to cemeteries and how to read headstones (in Auckland, both Symonds Street and Waikumete have Jewish sections), and especially relevant to our country, stories of post World War 1 Jewish immigration (such as Freya Klier’s Promised New Zealand.)

Interestingly, a couple of our prime ministers can lay claim to Jewish roots– Sir Julius Vogel was a practicing Jew, and John Key has Jewish ancestry via his mother, an Austrian immigrant.

If you’re looking for aids to begin your research, use the Central Auckland Research Centre call number on the catalogue, which is... 1 GEN REL JEW.

Bring on the potato latkes and Mazel Tov in anticipation of some excellent finds.


This entry was posted on Monday, 10 December 2012 and is filed under ,,,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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