The Montefiore Endowment has updated its website and includes new materials #belarus


Newly released material shows tens of thousands of Jews living in
Israel long before the Balfour Declaration

Newly digitised and translated archives reveal that many tens of
thousands of Jews lived in the land that was eventually to become the
modern state of Israel as far back as the 1830s, nearly a century
before the Balfour Declaration.

For the first time ever, documentary evidence has become readily
available in English of a substantial Jewish presence in the Holy
Land. Censuses taken by the Victorian philanthropist, Sir Moses
Montefiore, contain personal and family particulars, occupations and
countries of origin of 25,535 Jewish families, together with details
of 968 of their agricultural, religious, educational and welfare

Taken together with other Montefiore papers, the Censuses provide
eloquent testimony of the tenacity with which Jews clung to this
neglected, poverty-stricken province of the Ottoman Empire.
Accompanying the Censuses are other manuscripts showing how they had
to contend with the hostility of their immediate neighbours, the
depredations of marauding Bedouin tribes, devastating earthquakes,
repeated outbreaks of plague and the attention of aggressive Christian
missionaries. Yet, despite all hardship, they steadily increased in

The manuscripts, which constitute a unique sociological and
genealogical record of Jewish life in the area during the 19th century
are written in a variety of scripts. Many pages are difficult to read
and, lacking an index, the tracing of individuals can be frustrating -
especially as the names and the spellings of families, towns and even
countries often changed over the period.

The Montefiore Endowment, which owns the manuscripts, has just
announced that after nine years of work, complete scans of the
Censuses themselves with full English translations, are now available
on its website together with sophisticated search-engines in English
and in Hebrew to facilitate further use.

Lucien Gubbay, Chairman of the Montefiore Endowment, said "The
Endowment takes great pride in having made these valuable manuscripts
easily accessible to English-speaking and Hebrew-speaking scholars and
members of the public for the first time. The many volunteers involved
in nine years of painstaking work are to be congratulated for a
significant research achievement."

Rose Feldman
Israel Genealogy Research Association
Winner of 2017 IAJGS Award for Volunteer of the Year

Help us index more records at

Join to automatically receive all group messages.