If you want to research your family’s origins, here are a few places to start, according to the experts:
The first stop should be the local Jewish Geneaological Society – there are branches in several Canadian cities. The groups are led by passionate and knowledgeable volunteers, who offer workshops and seminars and are a wealth of information (jgs-montreal.org; jgstoronto.ca).
From Generation to Generation: How to trace your Jewish genealogy and family history by Arthur Kurzweil, was last updated in 2004, but is still recommended as an excellent resource for those getting started.
The genealogy world is largely online. The most comprehensive resource is www.jewishgen.org, where there’s a section for those just getting started. Also look for special interest groups devoted to cities and regions of Europe, southern Africa, the United Kingdom, as well as for Sephardic searches.
The expert in Sephardic genealogy, Jeffrey Malka, maintains a comprehensive resource at sephardicgen.com. There are also subscription-based sites, such as Ancestry.com, which hold, among other things, passenger lists for ships that arrived in Canada and the United States.
Library and Archives Canada holds among other things, censuses, passenger lists and naturalization documents. bac-lac.gc.ca
For Holocaust-era records, visit Yadvashem.org.
For Polish Jewish records, visit the award-winning database, JRI-Poland.org.
For Western Canadian resources, visit jhcwc.org, the website of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada.
Avotaynu has published a quarterly magazine for more than 30 years. It also sells numerous books on all things genealogy, including a guide to getting started. avotaynu.com