A few weeks ago, Ilan Ganot mentioned the citizenship papers that his
grandparents were granted under the British Mandate for Palestine.
Ilan was gracious enough to send me a copy of the two pages, but
since he had his gp's originals, he had no idea where one finds such
things today. I know now.
You have to go to the National Archives on Makor Haim Street, in the
Talpiyot neighborhood of Jerusalem. (Little traffic and lots of
parking.) they are open Sun-thurs, 8AM-3PM. An extra two hours on
Mondays and Wednesdays but you cannot order new materials during
They have two resources of interest to genealogists - immigrant
information and Mandatory citizenship files.
The immigrant information is the same database that Batya
Untershatz uses, but without the computerization and her expertise.
It might be useful as something to look through (microfilms) if
fishing without a specific name.
There is an index of citizenship applications on about eight
microfilms. Their microfilm reader is ever so much better than Yad
VaShem's - the only thing I know to compare it to - there are two
machines and the second wasn't in use while I was there. (There
were maybe six other researchers in the whole place.)
You look up the last name and all those with that name are together.
In my case, I looked for Pickholz and they referred me to Pikholz,
where I found twelve entries on a single card. One of the twelve was
someone I had never heard of.
The card is handwritten and some are hard to read. (The original
cards are at the Internal Affairs Ministry - Misrad HaPenim - and not
accessible by the public.) The information on the card is: first name,
birth year, birth place (all of them had towns - "Austria" or "Russia"
wasn't good enough) and file number.
Just seeing the index van be useful and sometimes that's all there is.
The British turned over the index but only about half the files. The
rest - who knows what happened to them. So you order the files you want
and they bring them after an hour or two. (They'll hold them in the
reading room for two weeks, so you can come back later.) That's if
they have them. I ordered three hoping for one or two - and got two,
including my mystery man.
Cost - well, that's a problem. Looking at a file costs NIS 100, about
twenty-five US dollars. They take credit cards. Copying is extra - NIS
1.5 a page. (And they charge NIS 3/page for printing >from the
microfilm reader!) You label what you want copied and they do it when
they have time. I asked that my two files (maybe ten pages each) be
copied completely and they said ("they" is Galia, who is very helpful
and friendly) They would mail them to me and I could pay for the
They files I saw did not have precise birthdays - just years - for the
men, but did have for the wives. No parents names etc, but did have
records of events that took place after immigration. Also passport
photos and in one case an expired passport. the price is high, but you
may get just the missing piece you need and it's certainly useful to
flesh out the person's life.