When I mentioned our family history project to an Orthodox member of the family several years ago, her reaction was very positive. She said, quite enthusiastically, "Now we'll be able to know who's Jewish and who isn't in the family."
I realized that - from her particular perspective - this was a major reason to keep genealogical records, although I have never looked at family research from such a vantage point. To me, a family member is a family member no matter how they enter the family records - they are part of the family.
Over the years, I have heard of some family historians who wonder about including adopted children, non-Jewish individuals and inter-married couples. I have even known some genealogists who decide that daughters and their descendants should not be included as they marry and become part of another family.
Jewish genealogy did make it into the conversion issue in Israel just this week, when the Israeli High Court ordered the state to fund Reform and Conservative conversion institutes as well as Orthodox ones. This is an explosive issue in Israel for those who may not be familiar with it. The Orthodox rabbinate - Sephardic and Ashkenazi - slammed the court's decision.
Genealogical research could be boosted by a likely inadvertent comment by the religious services minister, who said, "the High Court would force anyone who observed Halacha [Jewish law] and who was concerned with maintaining his Jewish identity to keep genealogy records."
As long as families keep genealogical records - for whatever reason - I'm happy!
Read more here.
Is there be a circumstance in which you would not list a family member in your records? Share your thoughts.