My fifth-grade family tree project

February 18, 2015

Jewish Journal, February 18, 2015

By E. Randol Schoenberg

My son Joey’s fifth-grade class at Sinai Akiba Academy is participating in the worldwide “My Family Story” competition sponsored by Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People, on the campus of Tel Aviv University. The kids have to start by building a family tree, and then they put together an art project. The winners get a trip to Israel for an exhibit at the museum. Last year 13,000 students participated.

Rather than try to live vicariously through Joey’s project, I decided that I would do my own project alongside his. I have been working on my family tree for about 40 years, since I did my own grade-school family tree assignment in third-grade. Over the years, I’ve become something of an expert in the field of Jewish genealogy, serving on the board of, the Internet hub for Jewish genealogy, and as a curator for’s World Family Tree, an online collaborative tree with about 87 million connected profiles and more than 3 million connected users. Last year, I launched a Facebook group called the Jewish Genealogy Portal, which already has over 4,000 members.

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