Regardless of where your Jewish ancestors are from, our experts can help you learn more about your Jewish ancestry.
Tracing Jewish Ancestry
Were your ancestors Ashkenazi or Sephardic Jews? Perhaps they left Europe due to financial hardship or persecution, or perhaps they stayed, and you still live in Europe or another part of the world. At Legacy Tree Genealogists our researchers can help you trace your Jewish ancestry no matter where your ancestors lived.
Most of our requests for Jewish ancestry research involve people whose ancestors came to the United States, but if you have a different research question and/or set of circumstances, we would still love to help you! Contact us for a free consultation to discuss how we may be of assistance.
Jewish Ancestor Immigration
There are so many family stories of Sephardic Jewish ancestors immigrating to America from Spain and Portugal. These were the Marranos (Jews who publicly converted to Catholicism, but privately held to their Judaic heritage and religion) who arrived in the United States even before the American Revolution (pre-1770s). They left their homeland primarily because of religious oppression.
On the other hand, you may have German Jewish ancestry with your ancestors arriving in the United States mostly between the 1820s and 1840s. These families left Europe due to economic depression in their homeland as well as increasing anti-Semitism there.
The third (and largest) group of Jewish immigrants to the United States were the Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe (the former Russian Empire and the former Austro-Hungarian Empire). This included the modern countries of Poland, Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine and countless others. These immigrants came to the United States, England, and other safe havens between the 1880s and the 1920s to escape the ever-increasing anti-Semitism (personal abuses, pogroms, restrictive laws, etc.) they experienced in their homeland.
The fourth wave of Jewish immigration took place shortly before and during World War II. This time they fled Europe to escape the abuses, torture and murder many of them would otherwise experience under the Nazi Regime. Perhaps your direct-line family member escaped, but never knew what happened to a brother, a sister an uncle or an aunt. We can assist you with trying to find out what happened to the rest of the family.
Genealogy Records in Jewish Ancestry Research
These family stories are familiar to most people with Jewish ancestry, and many have been able to trace their line back to the immigrant ancestor but then hit a brick wall. This does not have to be the end of your story – with no answers, no homeland, and no roots.
The key to tracing your Jewish ancestry is knowing what town your family came from and having a solid understanding of the available records there. Some of these records have been destroyed over the years, but many of them are buried in archives all over Europe. This is where most people get stuck.
The records you have from the U.S. might give you a country or region but not a specific town. Or you may have a record that lists a larger city but you haven’t been able to find them there, which means they might have actually lived in a smaller surrounding town…but which one? Or you may know the town, but you don’t know where the records are, or the records are only available onsite in an archive or church.
Our Network of Onsite Genealogy Researchers Can Help
Legacy Tree Genealogists has experienced researchers who know how to work around these issues and find the records. We will work with you to find your ancestral hometown (which can often be the hardest part!) and identify your family in the Jewish records from Europe. We have onsite agents worldwide who can go to where the records are and search everything that is available.
It’s definitely true that Jewish ancestry research can be difficult because of lost and destroyed records, but with enough time and effort we’ve seen some great success stories. We will work to help you discover your long lost family, find your ancestors, and reconnect you with your ancestral homeland.