As the Jewish Festival of Lights - Chanukah - is celebrated around the world, MyHeritage.com and Beit Hatfutsot (Museum of the Jewish People) have announced their new partnership to grow the Museum's Jewish family tree database and help to preserve Jewish identity.
Family trees built online at MyHeritage.com, via this special page: http://www.myheritage.com/BH or via our free software, Family Tree Builder http://www.myheritage.com/BeitHatfutsot - with the consent of the tree creators - will be transferred to the Museum for digital safekeeping.
MyHeritage.com has 35 million members, 420 million profiles worldwide, and has some 9 million family trees. It operates in 36 languages, making it ideal for families to connect around the world, as it offers easy and fun tools to enable sharing of information, photos, documents and videos among far-flung relatives. Most importantly, privacy controls can be set according to the wishes of the tree creator.
For 30 years, Beit Hatfutsot has been collecting digital information about the Jewish people in many categories. The goal is preservation for the future of these materials, including family trees with millions of records.
A few days ago, I had an opportunity to interview Museum CEO Avinoam Armoni (photo, below left) - a strong believer in genealogy - who understands Jewish identity as well as the important relationships between Jewish people worldwide.
Although our conversation covered future plans of the Museum and how technology will improve public access online to its digitized multimedia database - which includes Jewish genealogy, communities, photos, films and music - the main topic was saving the trees, Jewish family trees!
He believes that this partnership with MyHeritage will add millions of data elements to existing databases at the Museum.
"The immediate benefit of the new arrangement," said Armoni, "is to offer the public free software from MyHeritage.com to create family trees, with the option to share those trees with Beit Hatfutsot."
"MyHeritage.com - a site used all over the world - is the most popular genealogy Website in Israel and in much of the Jewish world, making it a natural partner for our project," he added.
For 14 years, the Museum has also conducted the "My Family Story" international family tree competition for young people; over the years, some 200,000 students have participated. The family trees of participants will now be built on MyHeritage.com and become part of this database.
"Let us build the global world family tree together," said Armoni.
As the museum is a national institute, data entrusted to it, he says, will have a permanent home forever. "I want Beit Hatfutsot to be the boidum (storeroom) of the Jewish people. Family history should not fade away in an attic," he said, "Share it and preserve it for future generations."
Armoni is especially interested in this collaboration because he sees the future of the museum in technology. As a museum without artifacts, it serves as a platform for education and discussion. Its databases, including the unique genealogy database, are the jewels in its crown. Armoni calls them "the Mona Lisa of the museum."
"We are excited to join forces with Beit Hatfutsot," said Gilad Japhet, MyHeritage.com's founder and CEO, himself an avid genealogist. "We see it as a privilege to cooperate with Beit Hatfutsot and help it collect family trees from people who wish to participate, and preserve them for eternity. In doing so, we not only take part in a project of significance on a historical scale, but we also fulfill our own goal of proliferating family history, which is an enriching and bonding human experience."
For readers who may not be familiar with Beit Hatfutsot (Museum of the Jewish People), it was founded as the Museum of the Diaspora in 1978. Located on the Tel Aviv University campus, it presents thousands of years of a flourishing, multifaceted culture, bringing to life the unity that underlies the diversity of Jewish civilization.
The Jewish people's story is told through the Museum's permanent and temporary exhibits, educational activities, and its rich digital database resources (Jewish genealogy, family names, communities, photographs, films and Jewish music).
For more information, click here to visit the Museum's website.