Monday, June 1, 2009

About the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project

Project Mission: The mission of the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project is to acquire, collect and make the information contained in Yizkor (memorial) Books, accessible to Jewish family researchers who no longer understand the native Yiddish or Hebrew language with which the Yizkor Books were originally written.
About Yizkor Books: Yizkor Books (Yiddish for Memorial Books) were traditionally written to memorialize the names of departed family and martyrs during holiday services in the synagogue (a practice that still exists in many synagogues today). The first recording of such a book dates back to Nuremberg in 1296. Over the centuries, as a result of countless persecutions and horrific atrocities committed against the Jews, Yizkor Books (Sefer Zikaron in Hebrew) were expanded to include more historical information, such as biographical sketches of famous personalities and descriptions of daily town life.
Out of the ashes of the holocaust, the idea of remembrance and learning took on an urgent and crucial importance. Survivors of the holocaust sought out other surviving members of their former towns to memorialize and document for posterity the names and way of life of those whom were ruthlessly murdered by the Nazis.
These remembrances were documented in Yizkor Books, hundreds of which were published in the first decades after the holocaust. Most of these books were published privately, or through the landsmanshaftn (social organizations comprised of members originating from the same European town or region) that still existed, and were often distributed free of charge. Sadly, the languages used to document these crucial histories and links to our past, Yiddish and Hebrew, are no longer commonly understood by a significant percentage of Jews today. 
It is our hope that the translation of these books into English (and other languages) will assist the countless Jewish family researchers who are so desperately seeking to forge a connection with the heritage and life that once was.
Please click here to visit the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project homepage and view our current progress.
Other Yizkor Book Resources Online:

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