Afamily tree can reunite branches of your family separated my migration and document the fate of deceased relatives, said Sarina Roff, a descendant of the Missry and Salem families. As families grow, the children dont understand the relationships that their parents and grandparents had. A family tree puts all the information together.

When I got married, my husband David Roff and I went to see Rabbi Jacob Kassin AH, just as every couple getting married did in those years, she said. Rabbi Kassin took out his ketubot logbook and showed us the entry he had for both our parents, whose wedding ceremonies he had performed. In this act, he was checking our lineage. In later years, when I had occasion to see the logbooks, I noticed that when a person married into the community, he had a letter from the community rabbi asserting the person was Jewish, attached to that page. Thats how important tracing your lineage is.

After decades of researching family trees for members of the community, Sarina (Missry) Roff, a longtime IMAGE writer, is using her talent to begin Sephardic Jewish Genealogical Journeys, a division of the Sephardic Heritage Project, whose mission is to help Jewish families complete their family trees. Specializing in Syrian Jewish and Sephardic families, a family tree can be built for your family using information and documents you have, as well as information available through a variety of sources.

Sarinas passion comes from the intense pleasure she feels when aunts, uncles and cousins pour through the compiled family trees, pulling it from their shelves when searching for information, such as a birth date, or for a unique document. In addition, its a great tool when children must do a family history project for school. They always look at the family tree Sarina researched and put together for them.

When my family gets together informally, the first thing they do is take out the family tree, said Roff. Its a great conversation piece and gets our family reminiscing and then amazing new stories come out.

Have You Researched Your Family tree?
Family trees are a way to ensure that your family history is recorded, to prove relationships, and to preserve cherished memories for the future. They also ensure that family members are honored, appreciated and respected after their passing.

The Sephardic Heritage Project was started by Sarina Roff as a way to identify and preserve the marriage and brit milah records of the Syrian Jewish community. For the past eight years, she has been working with researchers in New York and Israel to have Hebrew records translated to English so that they could be accessible as an information source for families researching family trees. Thousands of marriage records and brit milah records from Aleppo, Syria, were found and translated.

With Sephardic Jewish Genealogical Journeys, community families will be able to have their family trees researched by professionals who will provide clients with a memorable family tree that will be treasured for generations to come.

For each family tree, Sephardic Genealogical Journeys will work with family members to gather as much data as possible including birth dates, marriage dates, cities of birth, cities of marriage, dates of death, maiden names, etc. Sephardic Genealogical Journeys will conduct interviews with family members to gather stories, documents (passports, brit milah certificates, ketubot, naturalization papers, invitations) and photos. Sephardic Jewish Genealogical Journeys will write individual biographies, which can include personal experiences, businesses, education, military service and accomplishments. In addition, Sephardic Genealogical Journeys will gather family photos and scan them for use in your family tree.

While each family is different, this information becomes the starting point for research. Research endeavors may include census records, immigration records, historical newspapers, city directories, social security indexes, obituaries, ship records, business records and more.

Where available, Sephardic Genealogical Journeys will look into brit milah, marriage and death records. Sarina has access to an international network of genealogists and researchers who help her with the information gathering. Family search queries are very handy and accurate and allow Sephardic Genealogical Journeys to follow unique branches of your family tree, often uncovering surnames and locations of relatives the family didnt know about.

The Final Product
The end result will be a memory you can share with you family for generations to comea family record, all in one place, a primary source of information that shows who is related to whom and how.

This compilation will include family trees, generation lists, biographies, photos and of course the data. For years to come, your family will cherish your family tree as the go to source for information.

Sarina Roff has an extensive history with Sephardic genealogies. A member of Brooklyns Syrian community, she has completed genealogies for the following community families: Missry, Salem, Roff, Labaton, Hedaya, Seruya, Beda, and Kassin.

The Kassin family tree branching out took Chief Rabbi Shaul Kassins family back to Spain in 1492. She is the first Sephardic member of the JewishGen board of governors and is well connected with fellow Sephardic genealogists.

Sarina has presented at numerous conferences including the World Congress of Jewish History and the International Jewish Genealogical Society. She is a frequent contributor to genealogical publications, encyclopedias, journals and magazines. She holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Maryland and an MA in Jewish Studies from Touro College. For more information, visit or email

Post by Image