Tracing your Family:
· Records of Births Deaths and Marriages are kept by the local Registrar (of the County Council area they occurred in).
· Additional records of Jewish Marriages and Deaths will also be kept by the synagogue responsible.
· The Office of the Chief Rabbi keeps further copies of Marriage Ketubahs, for ceremonies conducted in a large number of Ashkenazi congregations.
· Try consulting the official UK Government National Archive UK Census Online for years from 1841 to 1911.
The Jewish Genealogical Society is a key organisation to contact. Its aims are…To encourage genealogical research * To promote the preservation of Jewish genealogical records and resources * To share information amongst members The Society is open to all interested in Jewish genealogy.
Checking if you have a Jewish Heritage
Jewish heritage is passed down through the maternal line.
If your mother was Jewish you are Jewish.
If your father was Jewish, but your mother was not, then traditionally you are not Jewish.
Lost Jewish Lineage
To integrate more with society, Jews often amended or completely changed their names, adopting more culturally acceptable ones yet with their Jewish lineage and identity otherwise persisting.
Jewish names but non-Jewish culture
Alternatively, because the family take the name of the father, its possible that a Jewish surname persists even though the Jewish heritage has been lost, through the mother being non-Jewish.
But it is also possible that individuals assimilate and lose their Jewishness altogether.
Local Records & other Evidence
Finding details of where your relatives were born, married and buried (local Registrar’s Office), and where the families resided (UK Census) will help you find patterns of connection with (or not) with the Jewish community.
If you find some indications that your relatives were part of Jewish society, then they may have been members of the nearest synagogue.
Synagogues move and merge, and when they do the records are usually held in trust by another synagogue.
Details of Marriages:
The Jewish Marriage Certificate – the Katubah – may hold the details you want. Older ones may be written entirely in Hebrew. A local synagogue might be able to help you get a translation.
If you haven’t got a copy of the Ketubah another copy will be held on record by the synagogue responsible for conducting he ceremony.
Confirmation of where the marriage took place can be gained by obtaining a copy of the Civil Marriage Certificate from the Registrar of the County Borough or City where the ceremony took place.
Contact the synagogue where your relation was married, they should have records of all marriages conducted there.
Many synagogues amalgamate over the years, but its likely that the records will have been inherited by a synagogue nearby.
If the synagogue records have been lost you can contact the Office of the Chief Rabbi, in London.
They hold records from all synagogues associated with the United Synagogues.
This will cover a very large number of UK synagogues, but not all.
Office of the Chief Rabbi, 305 Ballards Lane, London, N12 8GB, UK
Enquiries: +44 (0)20 8343 6301