Success! Finding My Relatives with Skype, Google, Facebook and, of course, JewishGen

About a year ago on this blog, I reported of my success using JewishGen to locate my TABAKIN family that was separated by the Holocaust. (You can read that article here). This encouraged me to continue the search, and today I can share another story.

The search for Tabakin family members became my almost day-to-day business for the last several years. This family originated in Birzai, Lithuania and descended from Iosel Tabakin, who was born around the 1790’s. The fact that this surname is relatively rare was very helpful for the search.

I found Denis Tabakin, who lives in South Africa, a long time ago using the Skype directory. He told me that his ancestors came to South Africa from Lithuania, but we couldn't find any matches in the names. Over the time, using JewishGen and Lithuanian archives, I was able to collect many more names of Tabakin family members, but still couldn't connect them to Denis.

At the same time I set up Google alerts for the keyword Tabakin. This service sends an automatic e-mail every time a Google search engine finds a new keyword on-line. (Click here to learn more).

One of the many documents used to discover the Tabakin family

About half year ago I got a message mentioning an artist Bonita Tabakin. I quickly found her e-mail and asked her the usual questions about her roots. To my disappointment she didn't know much, but also mentioned that Lithuania is possibly one of the places where her ancestors came from. After several messages from me she relayed my questions to her aunt Hattie Shocket (Tabakin) and from that point things started to move much faster.

It just so happened that Hattie has a relative, Joan Meister, who is a genealogist and is very experienced in the Lithuanian ancestry. Using JewishGen she quickly connected our families and traced our roots to my great-great-great-great grandfather, Iosel Tabakin. As it appeared, the names of Hattie's father was already on my family tree, but I obviously didn't know anything about his descendants. It was interesting to discover that Hattie's brother and Bonita's father is a Hollywood actor Ralph Tabakin.

Hattie wrote me a very detailed letter describing her family, a big part of which lives in South Africa. However, Hattie didn't have contact with them over the last 25 years. To my surprise, the list of South African family contained the name of Denis Tabakin. At that point I felt that my puzzle was solved.

Slowly I learned that I have a large group of relatives in South Africa. The next step was the easiest – finding them on Facebook, which only took a couple of days. That's how my family tree grew by tens of family members almost overnight.

Thank you JewishGen!
Igal Sokolov
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