Relly Coleman's post on 3rd October listing multiple towns and family names
in which he has an interest raises an important question specifically addressed
in his post of September 28th (see below).
In last week's post, Relley asked: "Is there a global amount that allows access
to a number of offline towns (of JRI-Poland data)?"
The simple answer is "no" but the question necessitates a broader response.
JRI-Poland.org is faced with the challenge of creating data from the largest
single source of specifically Jewish records in any one country in the world.
Thus, our approach, by necessity, has had to be tailored to this reality.
Unlike commercial organizations (Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.com, etc.),
it would have been impossible for JRI-Poland to achieve its level of success
with more than 6.3 million records (online and in the pipeline) built on a
subscription-based model. As researchers know, as a convenience and
service to the genealogical community, JRI-Poland data is also displayed
The freely available information online in our database has been funded
by 25-years of donations from researchers who supported the data entry of
records for their towns or, what we call, a "shtetl-specific" model. Through
these donations, supporters became Qualified Contributors and were then
entitled to obtain information for each town in advance of online publication.
Qualifying Contributions vary according to the number of records and an
estimate of the number of researchers who may be interested in each town
and the percentage of those researchers who are likely to contribute.
Without such support, JRI-Poland is unable to fully extract the records (for
more than 600 towns in our system) and ultimately make them freely available
to all researchers online. Sadly, there are towns for which we have had data
for many years that we are unable to put online because of lack of support.
Finally, I should add that by supporting JRI-Poland's mission to extract all the
records of Poland, you are not only indicating an interest in your town but you
also are demonstrating you truly appreciate our efforts to build and continue
building the largest online database of country-specific Jewish records.
And taking this broad view of our world, reminds of the important message in
our Rabbi's Erev Yom Kippur sermon. Prior to the sermon, the Cantor sang a
beautiful rendition of "Stand by Me." I am sure I was not alone in wondering
why...what could be the message? We did not have long to ponder the question...
In his virtual sermon, Rabbi Aubrey Glazer emphasized both the meaning and
importance of "being part of something bigger than ourselves, be part of a team."
Was he talking about supporting the shul in a time where budgets are strained?
Of course. But he went further by urging each one of us - in a time when it
might be easier to withdraw behind our own four walls because of the pandemic -
to make the effort to become involved, be part of a team in whatever form it
might take...family, friendships, community or any worthwhile cause.
Of course, I could not help but immediately think of JRI-Poland, JewishGen and
the many remarkable organizations who are made up of "team members" - all
making a difference in this world.
For those of us who grew up in families where volunteering was expected, and
where giving back was what we did naturally, there must have been many unseen
nodding heads in hearing the Rabbi's words. And for those of us who have
always supported causes that call to us, there was surely many an "Amen."
And so, as we start 5781, let us all say "Amen" to being more than an observer.
Instead, in one way or another, becoming involved and/or showing our support
for an activity about which we all feel so passionate.
Stanley Diamond, M.S.M. (Montreal, 514-484-0100)
Executive Director, Jewish Records Indexing - Poland, Inc.