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I am a member of several genealogical websites.

I got a message one day that my grandparents' names had been found on a new collection of documents that they had available.

The collection: Jewish Holocaust Memorials, and Jewish Berlin residents from 1933-1945.

I looked at what the website provided. It was my grandparents and the name of the collection, but not specifically which database within the collection.

So I wrote to a Facebook genealogy group.

In searching [website] I came up with this record. This is my grandfather. My grandmother, Dorothee also shows up with this search. However, they are not Jewish. (Mario was non-religious->Quaker, Dorothee was Lutheran->Catholic).

They did have a large number of Jewish friends as they moved throughout Europe (Berlin-Dresden-Austria), so it wouldn't surprise me if their names showed up in correspondence, or even as witnesses as legal events.

They shouldn't show up in the "Jews living in Berlin 1933-1945" list. They were in Austria by 1933 and came to America in 1939.

[website] is less than helpful in indicating the source of this particular information. Any ideas of where to explore?

One woman was helpful and found a source indicating my grandfather was a party to some deed. I'm working with that archive system to get the details.

One woman gave a very nice summary of my grandparents' (and father's) immigration dates. I responded that she wasn't telling me anything that I didn't already know. All I wanted was some information trying to identify the specific sources in the website's collection.

Then came the questions that blew me away.

Is it possible for your grandparents to have had a Jewish grandparent or great-grandparent? This would classify them as being Jewish by German law at the time. This is regardless of the religion practiced.

I don't disagree, but my grandparents weren't living in Germany between 1933 and 1945. So they wouldn't have shown up on any census regardless of the religious practices of their grandparents or great-grandparents. And they certainly wouldn't show up on a Holocaust Memorial list.

[Remember that in the original post, I indicated that religiously they were non-religious -> Quaker, and Lutheran->Catholic)

There were actually Jewish families who converted to Catholic outwardly and practiced Judaism secretly within their families or community. How is it you "know" they weren't Jewish.

Well, because I know. My grandmother came from a long line of German Lutheran pastors. My grandfather came from a long line of areligious people.

How do I know that? Because on official paperwork in Europe in the late 1800s and through much of the 1900s, people had to declare their religion, and my grandfather's family typically said none. And how do I know that? Because the family had to collect generations of birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage certificates to prove that there was no Jewish blood in the family so that he and his sister could go to university, his father could work, and the family could ultimately immigrate. I've got the paper trail. I "know" that they were not Jewish.

The "how do you know they weren't Jewish" questions were initially disconcerting. However, I realized that they came from the genealogist's belief that honesty and truth are important, even if it hurts. When working on family trees, people will often find parents who weren't really parents or second families that no one knew about. Those are hard truths that can sometimes shatter your belief in who you are.

Jesus' family line is a bit problematic.

Matthew starts with a detailed family line of 42 generations, ending with Joseph. But Joseph is one of those parents who isn't really a parent.

We trust that Joseph nurtured and treated Jesus as his son. Joseph gets short shrift in the Bible. We know he was righteous. We know he listened to the angel who told him about Mary's pregnancy. We know he followed God's commandment to marry Mary. We know he listened to God in his dreams, took his family to safety in Egypt, and returned to Israel.

That's about it. By the end of chapter two in Matthew, Joseph has disappeared. He fares about as well in Luke and John.

It makes sense. Joseph was the token father. Mary was the important one. She was the one who carried and gave birth to Jesus. We presume Jesus would have respected and obeyed Joseph as a father. But Jesus didn't need a family tree to know who his true father was. It was God.

As worshiping Christians, we also know who our true Father is. And that fact makes all of us family. It's not the kind of family that genealogists recognize. It is the kind of family that we acknowledge as we welcome each other in church on Sundays.

Next Sunday, we will celebrate a church homecoming. We will celebrate the opportunity to gather as church family and recognize our mutual Father in Heaven. Please join us on Sunday and celebrate the chance to be with your church family. Everyone is welcome to participate in worship, a gathering time outside, and a group picture. Red facemasks will be provided for everyone to wear when we take our congregational photo. Everyone is welcome to be in the picture, from long-time members to first-time visitors.

If you're unable to come, please consider sending a picture to so it can be held up for the photo.

41 Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." 49 "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:41-49)

Ann Iona Warner


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