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December 09, 1988 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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-

Miriam Weiner shares her tips on tracing family roots.

Searching For Roots
Becomes Her Destiny

STEVEN M. HARTZ

Jewish News Intern

N

o longer will Jewish
people bark up the
wrong tree searching
for their roots. People like
Miriam Weiner, certified
Jewish genealogist, will be
their guide. The Secaucus,
N.J., resident, who appeared
in lecture at Adat Shalom
synagogue, cautioned her au-
dience that tracing family
histories is not easy. "You
need persistence and pa-
tience," Weiner said.
Before she became a full-
time genealogist, Weiner held
such positions as road
manager and publicist for
country singer Bobbie Gentry
and was a private in-
vestigator for a detective
agency in Hollywood, Calif.
She said these jobs helped
prepare for her current
avocation.
"Working for Gentry has
helped me a great deal in
preparing press kits and pro-
motional material for this
job," noted Weiner. "I was
licensed by the state of
California as a private in-
vestigator; many of my ac-
tivities involved taking oral
histories and interviewing
people, and the experience I
received in taking witness
statements as a P.I. are the
same types of techniques I
use now."
About 20 years ago, during
a visit to the East Coast,
Weiner, at her mother's sug-
gestion, looked up some
cousins whom she never
heard of or met. That really
was the first time she started
thinking about making some
family trees. It wasn't until
eight years ago that she took
the job on as a full-time

career. Now, she has created
a family tree reaching 20 feet
long on a computer printout
containing 1,000 names.
Weiner said her greatest
discoveries as a certified
Jewish genealogist happened
when she located 70 members
of her family behind the Iron
Curtain.
"I discovered my Russian
relatives by tracing them
through Soviet telephone
books at the Library of Con-
gress in Washington, D.C.,
Weiner said. "That was very
exciting, and I have since met
some of those family
members."
She also reuinted a father
with his daughter who was
put up for adoption when the
daughter was four years old.
"I found the four-year-old
daughter, and she was
brought back together with
her father and a brother and
sister whom she never knew
she had," recalled Weiner.
"They spent about five years
together until the father died
earlier this year."
Weiner acts as a guide and
doesn't actually do the
research for other families. "I
want them to have the joy of
discovering their roots
themselves," said Weiner,
whose home library of books
related to Jewish genealogy
numbers 1,600.
She uses numerous sources
such as birth, marriage,
death and census records. "I
use archival records in Judaic
libraries, Holocaust research
centers, and naturalization
and city directory records,"
Weiner said. "I also use infor-
mation from oral interviews
and run ads in Jewish
newspapers all over the coun-
try."
Weiner shatters the myth
that very few Holocaust

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

15

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