Hardly anything bugs me as much as a totally non-related, usually not even remotely Jewish, amateur genealogist misappropriating my ancestors and inserting them in their “family tree”. I have absolutely no empathy for them at all.

No. Correction: had no empathy for them. Until today.


Today I bumped into an ancestor I would have loved to claim. But though he bears the names I am researching, he is absolutely no relation. Worst of all, I’m sure his real relatives would not appreciate him as he deserves. My relatives never properly appreciate my extra special genealogical finds.

So I’m offering you a deal, all you fair-weather genealogists out there. 

Dump your unwanted unconventional relatives here, and I will start an appreciation society for them. I have too much respect for records and hard facts to fake a connection, but hey, just ignore your black sheep: I will treasure them for you. Just don’t you be ashamed of them, for they are what makes your family history special. 

I already have the first and honorary member of my appreciation society. He might well have been related to me. He carries one of the names I investigate. Despite poverty and misalliances, which apparently got them kicked out of the Portuguese nation, it is still a proud name – even when carried by the likes of us. And on his mother’s side, my fake relative carries another name I am proud of. The bearers of that one did not take injustices lying down (or regulations either) and often clashed with the powers that be.

The Dutch keep an abundance of archives for the genealogist who likes to dig. I was digging up paper trails that the struggles of another, real, relative of mine may have left in the annals of justice. Though even a whisper of scandal might mortally offend its bearers, I couldn’t resist typing in that Portuguese name I’m researching as wel. But oh dear.

A possible ancestor who was in and out of prison like a ‘revolving door criminal’? Thank goodness no relation! Whatever was he in for? It appears a matter of profession, or education really. Mr. Portuguese, as I’ll call him, finished primary school and came out able and willing to write – no mean feat in 19th century Amsterdam. When checking into prison for the umpteenth time, he proudly stated his profession as: “Merchant and poet“.

Because his poetry was not appreciated as it should have been, Mr. Portuguese was a regular customer of the ‘correctional institution’ of Hoorn. “And all because of begging“, the warden on duty noted in the registry. Having ‘gone in’ many many times for sentences of a few days, our Portuguese fell foul of a judge who wanted to teach him a lesson once and for all.
He got three years. I doubt it has stopped him writing poetry.

Of course he is not related to anybody. But he’s a good start of the Unwanted Relatives Admiration Society. Feel free to offer your candidates!



3 gedachten over “The Joys of Jewish Genealogy

  1. Met m’n Engels is niks mis, maar nu even meteen geantwoord, beetje impulsief misschien, wellicht denken andere blog volgers van jou Elise mij ook. Bij de totstandkoming van HET naslagwerk Koosjer Nederlands heb ik ene klein steentje bijgedragen en sterker nog…daarna voor een volgende editie, al zal dat jaren van hier zijn, door gebrek enerzijds aan belangstelling of überhaupt zin. Bedenk daarbij een te kleine groep gelijkgestemden en de hoeveelheid medewerkers et cetera en later lezers. Het zal waanneer dan ook geen gangbare vervolguitgave worden. Het gaat hier om Joodse familienamen, veelal in het Jiddisch, maar slechts met een zeer beperkt geografische verspreiding van al die namen, to aan zelfs……..speciale familie uitdrukkingen vervat in een naam en met een connotatie of betekenis die slechts weinigen of niemand kennen.

    Uit eigen familiekring noem ik slechts 2 namen. VROUW DE BOER, maar ook daarentegen: NOOCHEM SPIER.

    Ga er maar aanstaan. Reacties welkom. Da’s dus een ‘sport’.

  2. In tot nu toe 7 boeken van mijn hand staan diverse andere voorbeelden. Niet overigens namen, maar ook specifieke Joodse uitdrukkingen in de familie, kille of (NL) gemeente. Ik wens je alvast veel plezier met jouw zelfwerkzaamheden op dit gebied.

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