It's been a heavy couple of weeks on the Jewish calendar - Pessah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and, of course, the 60th Independence Day celebration (we're not going to forget that one anytime soon). From Pessah, with its celebration of ancient traditions to Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the nation's modern-day trauma, to this week's reflection on the sacrifices made by our soldiers and the showcasing of how far we've come in a mere six decades, we've reviewed and at least partially experienced thousands of years of Jewish life. It all leaves you feeling sort of inspired - like you want something you can take with you to the future, in order to better preserve the past.
History (capital H) is made up of histories of individuals, families and communities. One benefit of the modern, connected world is that people with common roots can more easily find each other and share histories - helping to write a greater history of a people. That's the idea behind Famillion (http://www.famillion.com/), and its specifically Jewish subsection, called Jworld (http://jworld.famillion.com). The site (developed by Israeli entrepreneurs) sets as its goal "connecting the Jewish people worldwide." You set up your family page, enter your information, personal stories, upload photos, etc., and the site checks its database to see if any other family trees include information in your tree - like if a relative of yours is also a relative of someone else. If a match is found, the site will contact both parties, giving them the opportunity to connect with each other and share their information.
According to the Jworld/Famillion people, "if only 2 percent of us built our family trees, we would all be connected," since that would give its database enough of a sample to work with to discover who's related to whom. Until then, you can check out the meaning of many Jewish surnames and read general histories of Jewish communities.
Some critics say Jworld/Famillion's claims that it will "map" the entire Jewish world's family tree are exaggerated (http://tinyurl.com/6x7mxd). But, it should be pointed out that the site offers all its services, including its matching notifications, for free, unlike several other family tree sites that require subscriptions. Meanwhile, if you've decided that it's time to make your own contribution to Jewish history, Jworld/Famillion is a great place to start.
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