"The Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Persians rose.then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greeks and Romans followed.and they are gone; others have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was.All things are mortal, but the Jews, all other forces pass, but he remains."
- Mark Twain, "Concerning the Jews," Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 1899
If you are searching for your Jewish genealogy, it's almost certain that you'll trace some of your lines to New York. Today, New York has the world's largest Jewish population; in fact, there are more Jews living in New York City than in the state of Israel. From 1880 to 1925, approximately 70 percent of all immigrants entering the United States cam through the port of New York; many of them were Jewish. In addition, New York has been the largest city in the United States since 1829. For that reason, understanding New York jurisdictions is crucial to researching your Jewish genealogy.
New York Localities
If you try to search for nineteenth-century "New York City" records, you won't find them. There were five New York boroughs that were later incorporated into New York City: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. All had significant Jewish populations; after World War II, many Jewish families moved to the suburbs of New Jersey, Long Island, or Westchester County. Pay attention to jurisdiction, because that is where you can find and access records today. You'll need to know what borough your ancestors lived in, and what the corresponding county was:
|Borough ||County |
|Manhattan ||New York |
|Brooklyn ||Kings |
|Bronx ||Bronx |
|Queens ||Queens |
|Staten Island ||Richmond |
One of the greatest resources for learning how to do Jewish genealogy research, in New York and elsewhere, is Avotaynu Genealogy. The publication was founded in 1985 by Gary Mokotoff and Sallyan Amdur Sack, widely considered to be the eminent experts on Jewish genealogy. Avotaynu means "our fathers" or "our ancestors" in Hebrew, and you can read about researching Jewish genealogy in all nations, from Estonia to India and everywhere in between.
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