Our long term project goal is to help all Ashkenazi Jews connect to their distant past. This is something that is illusive for most Jews due to the fact that most can't go back any further than around 1700, especially if they are from eastern europe. This idea gradually evolved because as one of the administrator of the German Jewish DNA project for 3 years, I could see that my members didn't have any idea how to connect to their matches, most of whom were from EasternEurope. I also kept seeing how those of Eastern European descent didn'tseem to have any idea of how to look at the big picture. Fact is, a huge number of their ancestors did live in Germany in the 15th-16th century (and vise versa).
The more I get to know various haplogroup administrators who rely primarily on statistical analysis of Y DNA markers to determine how DNA matches are related to each other, the more I realize the need to anchor these statistical results to the actual paper trail. Only in this way can we determine the accuracy of these predictions. People mutate at different rates, especially when only 37 markers have been tested. So sometimes a prediction of how someone fits within his haplogroup can be off by hundreds of years. We are not geneticists or statiticians, but we are familiar with the tools that are being used. So our goal is also to network with the corresponding haplogroup administrators so that they can also benefit. For this reason, it is important that everyone in this project ALSO join a haplogroup project. But I anticipate that this approach of anchoring genetic distance to people with actual "deep" paper trails will help all Jews connect to their roots!
This project is primarily focused on the paper trail, although branches of most of these families can also be found in Eastern Europe. My primary mission is to find people who are direct line offspring of the families of the Frankfurt region, (which I've extended to include Worms, Mainz, Metz and other nearby towns). Frankfurt is special. Thanks to the database known as "Ele Toldot", it is possible to reconstruct family trees for all Jews who lived there following the Black Plague in 1349. Neighboring Worms and Mainz were very early Rabbinical centers, and families from early Worms were the ancestors for many of the later Jews of Frankfurt; Guggenheim, Wertheim,Oppenheim, Bach(a)rach, ... just to name a few. To this end, I have already entered the Ele Toldot records for all of the early families of Frankfurt as well as from other sources into my database. Along with my other administrators, we are very happy to help all of our members (of course free of charge) to learn more about their family. I also am willing to create haplogroup-specific gedcoms for each cluster, and I am quite willing to share this information with the members of my in my project as well.
Even though this project focuses on the Jews of Frankfurt, their trail isn’t limited to this area. Famous rabbinical families came and went. But often one son would remain. This is true of Luria, Treves, Eppstein, Horowitz, Katzenellenbogen and Speyer/Spiro to name a few. I have researched records from Hamburg, Amsterdam, Prague and even Padua in an effort to track down a direct line male “Y” ancestor of a Frankfurt line. It is evident that Jews moved.... and they moved a lot! So that’s why I am hopeful that there will be other similar projects for other regions.
I am able to read German vital records, but I am far from fluent. Therefore I have three co administrators who are all very capable in German. Lars Menk has been my right hand man. He has helped me with all of the Frankfurt family trees ("Y Trees" as they trace the direct male line). He is best known for his book "Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames". My other co-administrators are Rachel Unkefer and Karen Franklin. Rachel and I visited Worms in July and we now have new records to help us link the early Jews of Worms to the Jews of Frankfurt. She also is the administrator of the Bacharach DNA project, an extremely important rabbinical lineage that is central to our project. Karen Franklin is also well known as a German genealogist.
We have had to make this a join by request only project because too many people do not read our criteria for membership. Please do not request to join unless you have; (1) one of the surnames that appear on our list (unless you think we've omitted one that should be there) AND have an oldest known "Y" (direct line male) ancestor who lived in Germany or Alsace, OR (2) have a DOCUMENTED pedigree that shows that your family lived in the Frankfurt area before 1700. We will also entertain requests from anyone from a very famous rabbinical line that has a documented pedigree back to at least the 16th Century even if they have no knowledge that their family lived in the Frankfurt area.