Saturday, November 19, 2011

An Investment in Zionism

So often genealogists are faced with dry documents out of which they try to conjure the spirits of their long-gone ancestors.  A fortunate few have letters that create a fuller picture.  For me, knowledge of what my family valued came from an unexpected source.

I had become aware of a site for The Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victim Assets  which seeks to reunite heirs to the assets their ancestors held.  Now I had no illusions of any windfall, but I was intrigued when I went into the database and typed in Radom, the Polish town from which one branch came.  Up popped twelve pages of names, among them my great-grandfather. In many cases I knew the descendants of many of those listed.  Now it didn’t appear any great wealth awaited as most had a listing titled JCT Shares.  The JCT stands for Jewish Colonial Trust and represented shares in the Jewish Colonial Fund established by Theodor Herzl in 1899 to serve as the Zionist Movement's financial arm.  I recalled reading that many people purchased one share and when you divide that up among descendants it is probably not worth filing from a monetary standpoint.

As a genealogist I had a different interest.  I was intrigued with the idea that my great-grandfather was enough of a Zionist to make an investment in the movement.  It appeared that he had purchased at least one share so I began the process to confirm that it was in fact him.  The data they asked for was easily accessible for a genealogist so I sent the forms back and waited.  Some time passed and I received correspondence verifying that this was in fact my great-grandfather.  While I doubt I will go the additional step to collect on the assets, I feel as if I have a fuller picture of my ancestors and their views.  I had previously learned, from a friend who is a survivor from Radom, that Zionism was an important part of the Radom community.  Apparently it was also something on which my great-grandfather placed value.

No comments:

Post a Comment