Old lineages #general

john weiss

Someone claimed that Jews can't trace their lineage further back than their grandfather. I know that's ridiculous, but i was wondering if there are any reliable genealogies going back much further. I heard about the Lurie book, but that's only to the 13th century. Any well-supported older lineages?

John Weiss

Richard Cooper

I believe Moshe Shaltiel-Gracian has traced the SHALTIEL family back 2,000 years to contemporaries of Jesus,
Ric Cooper
Midhurst, UK

michele shari

Adam Cherson has used extensive DNA testing through Y DNA from FTDNA and traced my Farkas family, of which the men are cohanim back to several rabbinical lines and Babylonian gaonim. Although I have to catch up on the latest findings it is quite extensive research and it is ongoing through a group on FTDNA. I had my uncle's Y DNA tested and also signed up for any groups on FTDNA for contact. Adam contacted me to join his research and sends regular updates. His knowledge is amazing and he has helped me sort out many things on my tree. The only thing I had to do was upgrade my uncle's Y DNA testing which I decided to upgrade to the Y 700 (which I found on a great sale) but there were less expensive options. It is amazing what they can find on DNA from medicine to genealogy!
Michele Farkas
Boynton Beach, FL (formerly NY)
Researching Farkas, Taiszig, Izsak from Romania and Hungary; Stauber, Davidovici, Herstik, Teszler from Romania

Jeremy Lichtman

For places like Poland or Lithuania, the metrical records (birth, marriage, death) or town-level residence records (where they have survived) go back to circa 1808. There are sometimes surviving records for the censuses of 1794/5 and 1765 as well. Pretty much anyone from those places (assuming their ancestral towns have surviving documents) can trace back that far. If their ancestry is from Western Europe, they're likely to be able to go back somewhat further, depending on specifics.

As far as fairly reliable (i.e. from a genealogical perspective) lineages go, my understanding is that the Kalonymides are reasonably documented back to circa 800 CE.


Jeremy Lichtman
Toronto, Canada

Sally Bruckheimer <sallybruc@...>

The problem with lineages back 1000 or more years is that there were few, if any, reliable records. Avotaynu once published, I think, 12 'Descent from Rashi' lineages, showing how each was flawed. Later there were a half-dozen more, none possible. Rashi was only 1000 years ago, not 'back to the time of Jesus'.

You can have a lineage back to Eden, as European royalty had made, but if it can't be true, what is the point. 

Sally Bruckheimer
Princeton, NJ

john weiss

Thanks, all. Can anyone share any strong documentation or links?

John Weiss
San Francisco

Lee Jaffe

I admit I'm not sure of the original question since the proposition that we can't trace our families further than our grandparents seems patently absurd.  I have records for all of my great-grandparents, in several cases have reliable records for 2x great-grandparents, some 3rd and 4th great-grandparents, and in two cases can go back 9 generations.

On my Sztejsapir line I can go back to my 7th great-grandfather, Jankiel Roterozen 1720-1790 (Rajgrod, Poland). I have his death record through JRI-Poland and records for both my 6th great-grandparents.  On a different branch of that line, I have records for another 7th great-grandfather Zelik Ludwinowski c.1705-? (Suwalki, Poland).

I have a few branches were I haven't managed go back past my great-grandparents.  But that doesn't mean the records aren't there, and I couldn't document those branches to earlier generations; I just haven't connected the right dots yet (I hope).  

Though I haven't found anyone born before 1700, last year thought I'd traced my Ludwinowski line back 20 generations to the 12th century.  One evening Ancestry prompted me with "potential father" and "potential mother" links for my 3x great-grandmother Slawa Ludwinowska.  I naively accepted the new records and was peppered with even more hints leading back to 12th c. English-Norman nobility, via a 15th c. Portuguese slave, two famous rabbis in exile in London, and several prominent Sephardi families in Amsterdam, with connections to Fez, Constantinople and Venice.  The histories of the Sarfati and da Crasto families – among others – are well-documented – through extensive records in Amsterdam, combined with Inquisition records and other historical accounts.  If you can link your tree to one of their members you will suddenly have a very, very old lineage indeed. 

However, in my case, the link to my 3x great-grandmother was specious.  After more careful investigation and consultations with other Ludwinowski descendants, I learned the link was based on an unsupported record in Geni, since corrected.  (Given how pervasive Geni records are, it's disappointing how easily mistakes can be entered there and how unreliable the means of correcting them is.)  The reputed 4x great-grandmother turned out to be a fictional character, the product of a conspiracy tract trying to prove that most of the leading Kabbalists of the early modern period were secret Catholics.  A couple of the people in the account are famous, but some key characters never appear in any historical records and/or the key events (marriages and births) can't be documented.  Examining available records, there are at least two significant gaps in the narrative which decisively uncouple my family from that "old lineage."

The history of the the earlier families with well-documented lineages is real.  But the link to my Ludwinowski ancestors is extremely doubtful.  That doesn't keep the majority of online Ludwinowski family trees I've surveyed from including those lineages.  There will be Ludwinowski heirs who believe they are descended from a Norman baron whose daughter married an exiled Portuguese diplomat whose son fathered a child with his Portuguese Jewish slave who became the matriarch of a prominent Sephardi family in Amsterdam.  After all, before the Internet and digitized records, what was genealogy but family lore supported, at best, with a handwritten family tree?   But now we need DNA and contemporary reports before we can say the woman we called "mom" is really our mother.  

My point (and I do have one) is that some very old Jewish lineages can be documented.  Let's keep in mind we are all descend from old families: we just can't all document them past a certain point.  It seems to me that the gap for many of us takes place in the Eastern European communities before 1800, sometimes earlier, where records for Jews weren't made or didn't survive or still haven't surfaced.  But there are some Jewish communities with good records of very old lineages and some of them are our ancestors.

Lee Jaffe, Santa Cruz
Brodowicz > Ludwinowska > Braun > Stzejnsapir > Jaffe
Wizajny, Suwalki > Philadelphia, PA

Ellen Lukas Kahn

After reading this posting, my question is:

How can one trace ancestors for whom an oral history has been handed down (without documentation) that their ancestors left Span during the inquisition?  How can one trace Jews who travelled between 1492 and 1685, the year they were first documented as living in western Germany?  That 200 year gap could be a combination of land or sea.

Ellen Kahn


Most of these kinds of discussions are totally meaningless.  From the Spanish Inquisition to now (say 1500 to 2000) is roughly 20 generations. Let's say 15 generations to be conservative. 

In 15 generations an average person (assuming an average number of children of 4 -- again a conservative estimate) will have roughly 1,431,655,764 descendants. 

So even one oral family story, if carried down over that time, would involve literally millions of people. Given even a few oral stories, practically everyone on earth would hand down the identical set of stories assuming even a minimal level of intermarriage between different Jewish tribes.

By way of another example, Edward III of England (died at Westminster on 8 June 1376) -- by the year 2000 over 95% of the entire population of the United Kingdom was a DIRECT descendent of Edward III. So everyone would have carried that oral history. It is sobering to think that if one could go back to the 1300s and eliminate just a single person, almost none of the 68 million people of the UK (all of whom proudly carry that oral history) would exist. 

Dr Aubrey Blumsohn

Sheffield, UK


Alan Cohen

Perhaps the oldest example is Cheddar man, the earliest specimen of Homo sapiens found in UK. He lived about 10,000 years ago and a few years ago DNA showed that the local Cheddar village school's history teacher and two youngsters shared a common female ancestor with Cheddar man.
Of course there is no documentary evidence, but the geographical link remains.
Alan Cohen
Northwwod UK


Hi my problem is My name Kleinman, as the oldest in my family I am only ably to find My Great grandpa
his name was Gerson Kleinman Klejman have his death papers (1883-1947) believe his pa was Dov ?
that's were it ends 
What can I do to find more

Gerald Kleinman
Florida USA

Lee Jaffe

On Fri, Feb 26, 2021 at 02:53 AM, Ellen Lukas Kahn wrote:
How can one trace ancestors for whom an oral history has been handed down (without documentation) that their ancestors left Span during the inquisition?  How can one trace Jews who travelled between 1492 and 1685, the year they were first documented as living in western Germany?  That 200 year gap could be a combination of land or sea.

If you are asking this as a real-world, practical question (i.e., Is there a practical strategy for linking family turning up in German in 1685 with family reputably expelled from Spain in 1492?), I think I tried to cover that in my earlier post but I can try to be more explicit.  There seems to be a gap in the records available for a lot of Ashkenazi family lineages around 1700-1800 (based on repeated reports of lack of available records beyond those dates) that presents a significant hurdle to establishing such a link.  But we all came from someplace (or someones).   

And some of those someones are in fact well-documented.  I came across such a family tree, supported by a chain of evidence that establishes its lineage generation by generation.   I went through that family history from my purported (and eventually disproven) 4x ggmother Rachel Mayer (b.1760) back another 15 generations carefully and was skeptical but inclined to accept its authenticity.  I even deleted the tree and rebuilt in, double-checking each entry and supporting record, made some corrections, but came away satisfied that it was as accurate as I could hope for.  Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the connection to my tree was highly suspect.  

The problem at the heart of your question (as I understand it) is joining the nearer end of that lineage to the latter end of mine (or anyone else who can't trace their trees further back than a few generations).  I was responding to the original post floating the provocative notion that most Jews can't trace their families past their grandparents.  Several responses seemed to be trying to make the case that deep family trees were fictional.    I wrote to refute both the "not past our grandparents" assertion and also take on the notion that there were no records to support "very long lineages." I had experience with such a lineage I could share, even though it wasn't mine. 

My entrance into this exchange, by way of analogy, is like reading someone claim that there are no red birds in California and I posted a photo of a Purple Finch perched on a CA 1 highway sign:  It doesn't make me an ornithologist.  And I'm not by any measure an expert in Sephardic genealogy and haven't managed to trace any of branch of my family tree back to a point where it connects to one of those "very old lineages."  But that doesn't mean the connection isn't there.  After all, it's worth repeating, we are all descended from someone and therefore belong to "very old lineages," whether on not we can document them, or even give them names.

Lee  Jaffe
Jaffe / Stein (Sztejnsapir) / Joroff (Zharov) / Schwartz (Schwarzstein/Schwarzman) / Weinblatt (Weinblot) / Braun / Malamud / Cohn / Ludwinoska/i / Rubin / Lubinski / Koshkin / Rappaport / Steel? / Brodowicz / Roterozen / Saperstein / Rutzki / Skazdubska / Zelmanow / Yos / Frank