Barbara Krasner | History Writer and Poet

Discovering Your Jewish Ancestors

Writing about Jewish History

I have been fascinated with Jewish history since my Hebrew school days at Congregation B’nai Israel in Kearny, New Jersey. I earned extra credit by reading additional history books in Mar Derman’s fourth grade class.


I began tracing my family’s history in 1989 after the birth of my son and was thankful that I’d studied German and Russian in high school and college. I was also glad I knew the Hebrew alphabet and could understand Yiddish based on that and my knowledge of German. But the deeper I dug for my roots, the more I wanted to know who my ancestors were as people. And their stories began to inspire the stories I wrote.


Children:


BABAGANEWZ
“Miracles.” (Nisan [March] 2002)
“Rescue at Entebbe.” (Iyar [April] 2002)
“Searching for Mt. Sinai.” (Sivan [May] 2002)
“Tears and Testimony: Survivors of the Holocaust Speak Out.” (Tevet [December] 2002)
“Going Wild.” (Shevat [January] 2003)
“Freedom Ride.” (Adar One [February] 2003)
“Aboard the Exodus: Setting Sail for Freedom’s Shore.” (Iyar [April] 2004)
“Spotlight on Gershom Mendes Seixas.” (Special Supplement)
“Dear Heartsey.” (Special Supplement)
“Prairie Dogs Weren’t Kosher.” (Special Supplement)
“News ‘n Views: The Beth Elohim Controversy.” (Special Supplement)
“Life in a Sweatshop.” (Special Supplement)

HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN
“Make Your Own Noisemaker: Celebrating Purim.” (March 2006)

Special project management/​editorial assignment work for Behrman House, including lesson plan manuals and other curriculum materials

Adults:


ANCESTRY
“Beginning Jewish Research.” (March/​April 2003)

AVOTAYNU: THE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF JEWISH GENEALOGY
“The Fate of Our Files.” (Spring 1999)
“Breaking New Ground: Jewish Records Indexing – Poland Project.” (Spring 2001)

B’NAI B’RITH INTERNATIONAL JEWISH MONTHLY
“Going the Distance.” (November/​December 2000)

DOROT (Journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York)
“The Power of Collaboration: A Three-way Success Story.” (Spring 2002)
“Book Review: Climbing Your Family Tree by Ira Wolfman.” (Fall/​Winter 2002)

FAMILY CHRONICLE
“Discovering Your Jewish Ancestors.” (July/​August 2001) Book excerpt.

HERITAGE QUEST (Contributing Editor on Jewish Genealogy, January 1999 – December 2003; Contributing Editor, January 2004 – Present)
“Fishing for Ancestors? Cast a Wide Net.” (January/​February 1999)
“Finding Your Jewish Family in Nineteenth Century Poland.” (March/​April 1999; errata corrected and reprinted May/​June 1999)
“Russian Revision Lists.” (July/​August 1999)
“Surname by Decree.” (September/​October 1999)
“Surname Surfing on the Web.” (November/​December 1999)
“Hunting for Your Eastern European Vital Records.” (January/​February 2000)
“Colonial Jewish Families.” (March/​April 2000)
“Researching Your Jewish Medical Family History.” (May/​June 2000)
“Locating Your Jewish Immigrant Ancestors.” (July/​August 2000)
“Sephardic Research.” (September/​October 2000)
“Jewish Cemetery Research.” (November/​December 2000; errata corrected and reprinted January/​February 2001)
“Calling All Landsmen! Town-based Research in Jewish Genealogy.” (March/​April 2001)
“Holocaust Research.” (May/​June 2001)
“The Center for Jewish History: Candy Store for the Jewish Genealogist.” (July/​August 2001)
“Going on a Treasure Hunt.” (September/​October 2001)
“World War II Diaspora.” (November/​December 2001)
“Handling Those Sensitive Skeletons.” (January/​February 2002)
“Finding Your Jewish Ancestors in the Ellis Island Database.” (January/​February 2002)
“Jews in Eastern European Censuses.” (March/​April 2002)
“Going Back to the Shtetl.” (May/​June 2002)
“Finding Your Past through Postcards.” (July/​August 2002)
“Serendipity in Jewish Genealogy.” (September/​October 2002)
“Researching Your Jewish Tough Guy.” (November/​December 2002)
“Researching Jews in Military Service: Russia, Poland, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.” (January/​February 2003)
“Network Your Way to Success with the JewishGen Family Finder.” (March/​April 2003)
“Where in the World? Using Maps to Find Your Ancestors.” (May/​June 2003)
“Jewish Newspapers.” (July/​August 2003)
“10 Essential Books for the Jewish Genealogist.” (September/​October 2003)
“Mining Russian and Polish Business Directories.” (January/​February 2004)
“Morse's Code: The Making of the Ellis Island Database.” (June 2004)

HISTORY MAGAZINE
“A New World Exodus: The 23 Unwanted Pilgrims.” (August/​September 2009)

Newspapers


“Ashkenazim Seen to Get Blood Disorder.” Forward, August 28, 1998.
“Waldheim Cemetery Provides Links to Genetic Research.” JUF News 29, no. 5 (May 1999).

Books


Discovering Your Jewish Ancestors. North Salt Lake, Utah: Heritage Quest, June 2001.

Short Stories


"The Guardian," Jewishfiction.net, February 2011

Poetry


"The Rabbi's Unintended Joke." Jewish Women's Literary Annual, 2011
"The Beetle of Terezin." Poetica Magazine, Spring 2012 Special Holocaust Edition
"The Shtetl." Poetica Magazine, forthcoming

Selected Works

Short Story
Inspired by my 2008 trip to Poland
Appeared in April 2015 issue of Jewish Literary Journal
Photo Exhibits
Thirty photos of Warsaw and Barbara's ancestral "shtetlach"
Magazine Articles
American History article that chronicles the odyssey of the ill-fated MS St. Louis, a ship of nearly 1,000 German-Jewish refugees, in 1939. Based on interviews with survivors and archival research.
Profile of Lalita Tademy and her journey to write this book
Cover story for History Channel Magazine, July/August 2008
Books
This book chronicles the development of the library as a place for knowledge, a place to grow, a place for community, and a place where time stands still. In its 100-year history, the library has contributed to making the Town of Kearny a "place where everyone knows your name."
"You've done a great job capturing the heart of many of our childhoods."--Linda Kaywork Barbieri
“It’s a great gift for any Kearny resident. The pictures are priceless!”
-Debra C.Bird
“A perfect Hanukkah gift!”
-Family Tree Magazine