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Finding Your Italian Jewish Roots
GenTracer in the US and the IjCCC in Calabria Can Help

Have you wondered if you have Jewish ancestors? Does your family history include stories of Jewish heritage or Jewish traditions? Some experts state that as much as 50% of the populations of Calabria and Sicily (the most Southern regions of Italy) were Jewish before the Inquisition.

During the Inquisition, some of these families moved north in Italy and then east into Greece and Islamic countries to pursue their religion without fear of death. Some were already inter-married with Catholic families and were blending into that society and not openly practicing the Jewish religion so they didn't need to move. Some were converted to Christianity as adults to stay in their towns and keep their lives.There is a Jewish congregation in Salonika (Greece) dating to the Inquisition, so that now most of them aren't even aware of their Italian roots! Rabbi Barbara (see below) has traced her family as it traveled around the Mediterranean and eventually settled in Calabria. Some of these traveling families returned to Italy after the Inquisition, some didn't. Knowing that among the emigrants to the US, the Italians were the most likely to return to their homeland, I suspect the same applies to these people.

How to Begin

If you are brand new to searching your roots and even if you are not sure of the town of your Italian family’s origin, we can help you. Begin by contacting Kathy Kirkpatrick of GenTracer at www.gentracer.com/italy.html. The birth, marriage, and death records are kept at the town level in Italy, so if you don't know the town, even if you do know the names, this is the place to start.

Level I: The GenTracer basic research process begins here. For a fee of $200 Genealogist Kathy Kirkpatrick will search records available in the United States to determine your town of origin. Payment can be made through this PayPal link:


Level II: GenTracer will continue the research project by examining the microfilmed civil and church records available through the Family History Library (www.familysearch.org). This work will continue to extend your family lines back in time. This basic research project includes a presentation of 6 – 9 documents (which vary depending upon the accessibility and the legibility of the records). The fee for the Level II documentation is $200. Payment can be made through this PayPal link:

Level III: When you have determined your town, you can now begin the process to determine your Jewish roots. The IjCCC staff (Rabbi Barbara Aiello, Professors Vincenzo Villella and Enrico Mascaro) will visit your town and research records there, including those available from the local Jewish community (if they have remained in tact). All general evidence of a Jewish presence in the area will be presented to you for a fee of $300. Payment can be made through this PayPal link:

Level IV: Throughout the south of Italy there are more records to research to further determine your family’s Jewish roots. This process includes the study of the tax records and the adult baptism records of what was once the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; a way to identify Jewish ancestry prior to the Expulsion and Inquisition. Researchers Villella and Mascaro will research early church records, tax records and burial records not available on microfilm to extend and analyze the family history and find connections to Jewish ancestry. Because Level IV investigation requires more travel and an overnight stay in order to work in local offices the fee is $800. Payment can be made through this PayPal link:

Payment can be made through check or money order sent to one of the addresses below if you prefer.

The research can be complicated but we are ready to help you. We can also access many Catholic Church records which document such obscure events as the adult baptisms of Jews during Inquisition times, special marriage taxes levied against Jewish couples and anecdotal stories of how Jewish families moved all around the Mediterranean in their efforts to escape persecution. Other documents indicate families who inter-married and thus blended into local communities.

In addition for those who are interested in learning more about how specific family traditions, practices and even superstitions related to Jewish culture and religion, Rabbi Barbara Aiello will assist you in this endeavor. Learning more can give you a greater understanding of the lives of your ancestors or be a part of your own personal spiritual journey.

For more information write or call:


Kathy Kirkpatrick
GenTracer
PO Box 11955
Salt Lake City, UT 84147
801 755 6991
www.gentracer.com
[email protected]

The IjCCC – The Italian Jewish Cultural Center of Calabria
Rabbi Barbara Aiello
Dr. Enrico Mascaro
Prof. Vincenzo Villella
Via Scaramuzzino 36
88046 Lamezia Terme (CZ)
Italy
011.39.0968 81302
cell: 011.39.333.535.0647

www.rabbibarbara.com
[email protected]


I'll be speaking at the Italian Jewish Roots Conference in New York City on 22 March 2009. For more details, see www.rabbibarbara.com. To order an audio recording of one or more of the speakers, including PowerPoint and handouts, please see River Walk Media.

If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to ask through the email link below. I look forward to hearing from you.




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