The National Library of Israel's Genealogical Research Service

Genealogy - Tracing Family Roots

Studying Family History

​The National Library offers a service for those interested in researching their family origins and learning more about their ancestry.

This service is designed to "open the door" to research and direct people to relevant sources of information available in literature and online, that can be helpful in studying the history of your family.

In the interest of encouraging people to explore their family roots, this service is provided free of charge, by genealogists and expert reference librarians. The service will be provided during specially arranged appointments, once this form has been filled out. We recommend first reading the "Finding Family - First Steps" section.

The service is not designed to provide all of the information available, and does require further research on the part of the client.

Given the nature of materials at our disposal, the service will be provided for Jewish communities only.

​Finding Family – First Steps

1. Begin by gathering as much information as possible from family members, including basic details, stories and documentation.

2. Where did the family come from? Consult JewishGen (free service).

3. Search by country & town first. Use the various aids provided at:

JewishGen - InfoFiles
JewishGen - KehilaLinks

4. For Eastern Europe, check whether there is a web page for the town or region. What records exist? What has been transcribed? What is available? Choose a country and follow the links. For example, these sites can be helpful for Poland.

5. For Sephardi communities, see JewishGen - Sephardic. Choose the country and follow the links.

6. Find out about cemeteries in your family's place of origin

7. If the family is from Eastern Europe, find out whether there is a community register or Yizkor Book. Look for other books about the town that might contain names and possible information about the family.

JewishGen - Yizkor
JewishGen - Holocaust

8. Search the Yad Vashem central database for surnames:


9. Find other people searching for people from the same town or with identical or similar names.

Search for the names of your relatives in family trees.


Additional Suggestions

1. What was life like where the family came from? Look up information & background:

Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture (FASSAC)
Virtual Shtetl - Poland

2. What next? Join a JewishGen discussion group (free) or one of the SIGs (Special Interest Groups) and receive a daily digest of postings.

3. Join a genealogy group, register your family names and search the group's sites for family connections. These sites may be helpful as well:
My Heritage English/Hebrew