Cherishing One’s Family History

Thank you for an excellent and very interesting article (“Digging Up My Roots,” Aug. 15). I have been interested in my family history for 40 years, since I was 14 years old. I was fortunate enough to know my paternal grandmother, who passed away at age 83 when I was almost 17 years old; my maternal grandfather who passed away eight years ago at age 96; and both of his parents, my great-grandparents, who both passed away at age 86 within a month of each other after my bar mitzvah. After my great-grandfather passed away, my great-grandmother could not live without him; they had married for 66 years.

A lot of influence for me becoming an observant Jew came from my great-grandfather who I remember, when I was 7 and visiting the Bronx from Baltimore. I would watch him pray with immense interest, and I still have a yarmulke that my great-grandmother gave me when I was 7. I remember her giving it to me as if it were today.

Thanks to a cousin on my mother’s side, I have a whole history book with photographs and documents which he wrote, published and distributed to family members. He was successful in researching back to the late 1700s to my great-great-great-grandparents. On my father’s side, I have some information but very minimal. There is nobody living today who can help me with the information. I just remember what I was told as a youngster and have found bits of information on the Internet.

It is very difficult to find information on my paternal side; Freedman is a very popular name. On my grandmother’s side (my father’s mother’s side), the name Simmons is also very popular, and it may not even be the original name.

Researching one’s family history is a wonderful thing, and it is something that should be cherished for generations.

Simcha Mendel Freedman

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