Roots of a problem

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 31, 2010

The lack of an internet database of Manchester Jewish burial records is hampering the research of "lost Jews" wishing to discover their roots.

Manchester's Council of Synagogues has been working for five years to produce an electronic database with 30,000 burial records. The city's Jewish Genealogy Society chairman, Lorna Kay, has been urging the council to make the information public, believing it would enable hundreds of people to reconnect with the community.

"People are constantly approaching me saying one of their parents or ancestors is Jewish. Every country where there is a Jewish community, and so many towns are making these records accessible free of charge because they know how important it is to families who have been split up."

If the synagogues' council had recruited an internet company to put the database on a website, it could have been self-funded by charging users to access the data.

David Moscovitz, who has managed the database project, said the council had run out of money. It needed a full-time worker to check the accuracy of records by photographing gravestones. "If the database doesn't do what it says on the tin, we shouldn't be selling it. We've found anomalies - you might get the same grave number for two people. You are opening a can of worms."

Last updated: 10:13am, December 31 2010