Harold Pollins <pollins@...>
Here is a not quite hypothetical ethical problem.
Someone has seen your name and has concluded he is related to you. He sends
you parts of his family tree as evidence. He asks for yours in return.
Should I send it?
Some of the information I have on my tree has been sent to me in good faith
by members of my extended family. Do I have the right to pass it on to
others? I could ask my family members for their permission to communicate
it to third parties; but their tree contains details >from distant relations
and they in turn ought, presumably, to be asked to give their permission.
I do not know the recent sender, the one asking for my family tree, from
Adam. I do not know what he will do with the information I send him. Will
he send it on to others? Who knows where it will end up or what use will be
made of it.
Let me extend the point. I am interested primarily in my paternal and
maternal family and their immediate connections. I have been told that an
extremely distant forbear of my late wife's - via umpteen marriages - was
an officer in the army in the mid-19th century. A Sephardi noch. That gave
me a moment's frisson of interest but it quickly passed. My own family is
very ordinary. I do not expect to find any famous people, rabbis even, in
the lineage. On the contrary; I am told our family left what is now
Belarus in order to escape the Chassidim. All I want to do is to be able
to go back a little before the 1880s. That would be satisfying enough.