Cold-Calling a Distant Relative Who Doesn't Know the Family Was Jewish #general

Meron Lavie

Hi all,

Occasionally, I manage to locate a distant relative, whose family obviously at some
time in the past left Judaism. Until yesterday, it had always gone well. For
example, one person I called laughed hysterically when I told him. He related that
his grandmother and her sister always spoke some language between them which they
claimed was German, but he had already guessed it was probably Yiddish.

Yesterday was different. I tried calling a man who is my 3rd cousin twice removed.
I know his father's headstone has a cross on it, so I already knew the family had
left Judaism. So I called. His wife answered the phone. She said her husband wasn't
in,and that he wasn't interested much in talking about family - but that she
was very interested, and would be glad to help.

We exchanged a few pleasantries and made sure I was right about the connection,
that the details of the family members going back a couple of generations added up,
and I also pointed out that her daughter's public tree and her DNA matched with
mine. Then she asked me what I knew about the family history. I mentioned that the
family came >from a small town in Ukraine. She sounded surprised, but told me to go
on. So I asked her what she knew about the family's religious background. She asked
"what do you mean". So I said that the family was originally Jewish. Well, she
immediately changed her tone, and said "I'm sorry, but the details don't
match my husband's family. I have to go. Bye".

Anyone else encounter this? Maybe I shouldn't have brought up religion, and
simply tried to get as much info as possible?

I'd appreciate hearing others' stories and advice.


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