Thursday, July 26, 2012

Opinion: Jewish groups must preserve vital records

More than one in three Americans have explored their family trees according to a 2011 “60 Minutes/Vanity Fair” poll. Jews, who tend to skew the curve when it comes to all things nerdy, must certainly be among the greatest shakers of genealogical boughs and branches. How many of us have spent nights pouring over the online records from Ellis Island or the U.S. Census Bureau?

And yet, some of the greatest sources of information about our families and our community lie abandoned and vulnerable in the basements and storerooms of our communal institutions. As Jewish groups -- from synagogues to international organizations -- work to satisfy today’s needs and strengthen the future, preserving records of the past often falls by the wayside.

We have seen historical records treated shabbily by our communal institutions. That is why the recent decision by B’nai B’rith International to turn over its remarkable historical records to the American Jewish Archives is such a unique example -- and a deep blessing -- to the community as a whole. -- Jeff Rubin, JTA

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