Judaism is the name of the religious faith and set of practices that is shared by the Jewish people. In order to be a member of the Jewish people, a person needs to have been born to a Jewish mother or needs to have converted to the Jewish faith. Judaism is not a race or genetically determined identity, and is open to new members.
According to HAARETZ, the fundamental text of the Jewish people is the Torah. It includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
From a religious perspective, the line of the Jewish people arises from the son of Sarai (also known as Sarah) and Abram (also known as Abraham). Their son Isaac is the father of Jacob (whom God renamed as “Israel”). Israel fathered 12 sons. It is their male descendants who, according to the Torah, constitute the 12 tribes among whom the Land of Israel is divided after being reconquered by Joshua, following the Exodus from Egypt.
JewishGen is committed to ensuring Jewish continuity for present generations and the generations yet to come. It is a free website that features thousands of databases, research tools, and other resources to help those with Jewish ancestry research and find family members.
The mission of JewishGen is to encourage the preservation of Jewish heritage, allowing anyone with Jewish ancestry to research their roots, connect with relatives, and learn about their family history. JewishGen is affiliated with the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
People with Jewish ancestry can search for a surname, a town, or a person on the JewishGen website. The website includes a Holocaust Database which people can use for free (in a limited way) or can use the advanced database features for a donation of $100 to the JewishGen General Fund.
Genealogy has become connected with genetics. The Jewish Genetic Disease Consortium states that there are a number of genetic diseases for which people of Jewish heritage are more likely to be carriers than the general population. They define Jewish heritage as having at least one grandparent who has Jewish heritage.
A person who carries a gene that increases the risk of developing a specific disease won’t have that disease themselves, but can pass the gene to their child. If both parents carry a certain gene mutation for the same condition, there is a 25% chance of them having a child who is affected by that disease. Some genetically heritable diseases that people with Jewish heritage may want to get tested for include Tay-Sachs Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, and Bloom Syndrome.
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