Gideon Carmi: My Genealogical Research...
Gideon Carmi Message, dated 24.3.1997, to "Gombin Email Exchange Group".
Ada asked me to write about my genealogy research, thinking it might help other people of this group to advance their own research. I do not know if this will cause any interest, however I decided to write, mostly for my own encouragement.
I started my research only a little more than a year ago, actually in February 1996, following a Bat Mitzvah project my youngest daughter, Gal, did as her main assignment toowards that celebration, building her own family tree. She started the research, interviewing and asking our more close family members mostly my parents, my wife's father and some uncles etc. She needed help, and naturally I volunteered (could I refuse?).
The bug caught ne, and here I am doing this very intensive and extensive research.
My beginning was quite easy - we have here in Israel quite a large family, though larger parts of our families had been murdered by the Nazis in the holocaust.
It is a very closeluy knit family with warm feeelings and much love. So I started to interview, first the older generations. My goal was to interview them a.s.a.p., some of them being over 80 years old, so as to investigate their childhood and early life family memories from their consecutive shtetls in Poland.
My mother and one of my closer cousins died in this last year, and I thank my luck I was able to interview both very extensivelly before they both died. I continue to interview, both duirng face to face meetings and also, yes, by very long phone talks. I try to use the memories of the older relatives before they forget, trying to extract from them deeply hidden childhood memories, and most of them are happy to cooperate, because most of the young ones do not care and never ask.
My father had been born in 1909 in Opoczno, Radom gub, Poland. his parents - his father Aron CHMILNICKI was also born there, and his mother, Chaja Gitla KRAUSZ, was born in Konskie, about 60 km SE of Opoczno. She was a descendant of the LEWKOWICZ-LEWIN clan of that shtetl. From that side I have many relatives living in the USA - my grandmother's 2 sisters and brother moved to the USA in the 1st 2 decades of this century, so I have a very large family in your country. My late mother had been born in 1906 in Suchedniow, Kielce gub, Poland. She was a SZPIRO from her father's side. According to a family lore, our SZPIRO are direct descendant of Aharon the
Cohen, brother of Moshe Rabenu. There are only 3 such families in the Jewish world with such a claim, our SZPIRO is one of them. Anyway, my mom's mother, Ruchla GRYNBOM had been born in Piotrkow-Trybunalski. The SZPIRO's before coming to Suchedniow and some of them to Kielce, were originally from Lodz. Kielce and area had been banned for Jews until the late 1860's.
From my mother side I also have a large family, part of them very orthodox, one distant cousin was even former chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel (Avraham Szpiro).
My wife's family is from northern Poland - her paternal roots are in Gombin (her grand father Hermann (Chaskel) Baumann, son of Elchanan BAUMAN was born in Gabin in 1875 and moved to Germany around 1900, after marrying his wife Shebbe KON of Plock. My wife's mother's roots are in Warsaw. Her grandparents Saul SLOMOWICZ and wife Mirjam nee KALMANOWICZ also moved to Germany, but made Aliya to Palestine in the 1930's, so most of that part of the family survived here and some in South America and Europe.
When I started to interview several family members here, in Israel, most relatives were very goodwilling, helping me a lot, supplying all necessary data needed with no problems.
At the same time I started to write letters to most family members out of Israel -USA, Canada, Argentina, Switzerland, Germany, UK and other places. During this year I discovered I have a very large family, a large part of which had never been known to me before this research started, since my parents did not like to talk about their past and their lives in the Gola (diaspora) until they got very old and decided to talk before their memories perish with them. Now I am in contact with most of the newly discovered relatives, and am very happy to learn that we have them. I phoned and wrote to many of them and most answered and thus the data accumulated.
I even received some crude family tree drawings done by various family members. Up to now, I think, I wrote about 100 letters, sent hundreds of email messages, but the rewards are pouring in.
When I started my reserach, my family tree included about 300 names I knew about. Now I have more than 1800 blood and marriage relatives listed and the database is growing.
By the way - this summer I will be in the USA and Canada, and will meet and interview many of my relatives spread around in both countries.
About a year ago, after dicovering the Internet and its wonders, I joined the JewishGen usenet group, and found a treasure of knowledge there, and very good people who love to help. Using this group of amateur genealogists I succeded to find more needed info. I use a lot the various online databses they have available.
I joined this (Gombin) group, for the research of my wife's ancetral roots, and the Kielce-Radom SIG, which is dedicated to the genealogical research of that area - my own ancestral roots are from these 2 gubernias. And last, but not least, I subscribed to Avotaynu, and bought from them some of theirmore popular books.
This research is quite expensive, way beyond my modest means, but it is very important, to me, to my wife, to my large family, who declared me as the formal family historian, and I think mostly, to the future generations.
I do not want them to ignore and/or forget where we came from, who were our ancestors, and what is the meaning of being Jewish in such a hostile world, to our people.
I love to help and try to help other jewishgenners as so many of them helped me.
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