International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (IIJG) and Paul Jacobi Center
National Library of Israel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center was founded in 2004 by an international group of prominent Jewish genealogists. It was opened at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem in January 2006. Its distinguished Honorary Advisory Board reflects the support it enjoys throughout the Jewish world, far beyond the Jewish genealogical community.
The Institute’s primary goals are:
- To advance the academic status of Jewish Genealogy within the field of Jewish Studies, through teaching and research;
- To contribute to the Jewish continuity, on the premiss that an individual’s and a people’s – future is more assured if it is firmly grounded in its roots.
These goals are inter-related:
- Academic acceptance of Jewish Genealogy as a branch of Jewish Studies has a “trickle down” effect among wider segments of Jewish society, especially as it is accessible and attractive to Jews everywhere, irrespective of age, backgrounds, lifestyles, religious positions and worldviews.
- In particular, the more academic Jewish Genealogy gains recognition, the greater its potential to interest young Jews in the serious study of their origins – and enhance their pride therein.
In the last seven years, the Institute has made tangible progress in pursuing its goals, at both the scholarly and broader Jewish levels. Inter alia:
- “Academic Guidelines” for BA and MA courses in Jewish Genealogy have been elaborated
- 12 ground-breaking research projects, have been conducted including:
- DNA and Sephardic migration from pre-Expulsion Spain;
- Elite Sephardic families in late Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine;
- The lives and lineages of leading families and ordinary people in Hungary in the 18th and 19th centuries;
- Kinship networks among Latvian Jews in the Inter-War period.
- Advanced computerised technologies for the phonetic recognition of Jewish names and for the merging of genealogical databases have been developed.
- The Institute has participated in international Jewish Studies conferences and made its presence known in the academic world.
In an effort to reach out to diverse audience and advance its goals among them, the Institute has initiated a series of innovative projects. These include:
- In January 2012, the launching of demographic and genealogical survey of Scottish Jewry as a whole, since its emergence in the early 19th century;
- In March 2012, the formation of a panel of experts, headed by Baroness Ruth Deech, to examine ethical dilemmas in Jewish Genealogy;
- In September 2012, the holding of a joint Symposium, with the Russian Institute for Genealogical Research at the National Library in St. Petersburg, on the “Genealogy and Family History of Jews in Russia”;
- In October 2012, embarking upon a multi-year study of the lives and lineages of Village Jews in the Minsk Gubernya in the 19th century.
- In March 2013, the initiation of a Genealogical Service at the National Library.