Next Meeting: Wed 3 May 2023 @ 7:30pm

The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague & Genealogy
by Joshua Grayson

More than a famous tourist landmark the Prague Old Jewish Cemetery is one of the most important sources of information on the Jewish community of Early Modern Prague. As a seminal community—particularly, as one of the only ones with both documentation and surnames dating to the fifteenth century—this population plays a pivotal role in our understanding of Ashkenazi genealogy. While the cemetery was documented in the late nineteenth century, only a small part of this work was published.

In coordination with former Los Angeles Holocaust Museum president E. Randol Schoenberg, Dr. Joshua Grayson is working to create a complete database of names from the cemetery using the most important manuscript sources. This multimedia presentation will cover background information on the cemetery and its history, outline some of the many challenges and solutions, and offer a tantalizing look at some of the insights that this project can provide.

Since childhood, genealogy has connected Dr. Grayson with his beloved grandparents -- although back then, he had no way of knowing that it would become an obsession that would change the course of his life. During the course of his doctoral studies at the University of Southern California, he acquired a wide assortment of research skills -- gathering historical evidence, critically evaluating sources, developing knowledge, and effectively communicating ideas and research findings. Since then, he has conducted genealogical research in German, Russian, Polish, Hebrew, Yiddish, French, and Spanish, and is proficient in many historical scripts including Kurrentschrift, pre-1917 Russian cursive, 19th-century Hebrew/Yiddish cursive, and Rashi typeface. Since then, he has put those skills to use for his personal genealogy research and for his services as a professional genealogist.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of British Columbia (JGSBC), a non-profit organization, brings together people who are interested in pursuing their Jewish ancestry or family history. Together with the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC we try to restore the history and family links that time has erased.

While there are many resources available on the internet, their use does require some skill and training. Many traps await the unwary: name changes, spelling errors, the same name for two different people, the many vagaries of census takers, clerks and other takers of record. The difficult task of digitizing the records has led to other errors creeping in. We will help you to avoid those pitfalls and develop an accurate and descriptive family tree. If you are interested in joining us, you can pay for a yearly membership here. Any questions? – send us an email.

This site also has links to resources (including Jewish newspaper archives) that we have found useful in our research.

JGSBC is a member of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies