top of page

Don't Take What You Already Know for Granted

I regularly play with the idea of whether I would like to pursue a professional learning certificate through the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. I love their asynchronous classes and have taken a few now, including Eastern European Languages & Alphabets, Eastern European Church Records, and Forensic Genealogy. If I were to pursue this certificate, I would have to specialize in an area, and I'm not there yet.

But there are certain courses required for any certificate, including "Electronic Resources: Using The Internet." Honestly, what holds me back from pursuing the certificate is having to pay for courses in things I already feel pretty comfortable in. Why not invest that money elsewhere?

So you can imagine my excitement when I found this class available on Groupon for $19 (usually, it's $89!!). Even better, Canadian Groupon had it available, so combined with a promotion, I saved even more money with the exchange rate! I also bought a couple more classes at a discounted rate, also at Groupon. I will likely do one in Canadian Research, since much of my genealogy travels have taken me to Canada lately (new obsession is the 1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta). The other will probably be on Mayflower Ancestors, as I want to improve my knowledge of all-things New England genealogy to assist my clients.

Check out those Canadian prices! And another sale on top of it!

[Side note: Besides everyone needing to check out Groupon for their promotions, The National Genealogical Institute for Genealogical Studies is offering some amazing deals in honor of their 20th anniversary. These include a free course (I chose Social Media Tools for the Wise Genealogist). They are also having a special anniversary event on Saturday, June 27th. Click here for info.]

I'm currently working on the Electronic Resources class, which is incredibly informative, but not really new information for me. I felt pretty savvy with internet searches already, so I just figured I'd put in the minimum time necessary to complete the course.

But have you ever had the experience where you feel so confident in something, complacent even, that you feel comfortable enough to skip from A to Z, rather than moving through each letter one at a time?

That was me in this class, but I'm THRILLED that this forum forced me to put to use what I already know. One lesson was to Google search a surname and/or location with various keywords. So I decided to search "Berzak" (my maternal grandfather's line) AND "Lithuania." With such a simple search, I found a page in Pinkas Hakehillot Lita: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Lithuania, available at JewishGen, which I don't believe I had ever seen before. My Berzak family is originally from Bagaslaviskis, but there was also a time my family also lived in Musninkai. With this Google search, the page for Musninkai popped up, which you can read here:

Google Maps Musninkai
Distance from Bagaslaviskis to Musninkai. Courtesy of Google Maps.

I always had just heard the Berzaks who stayed behind were murdered in Ukmerge, likely Pivonia Forest on 5 September 1941. But this entry also gave me some more insight: "After the German conquest, Lithuanian nationalists took over the town and arrested everyone identified with the Soviet regime. They were particularly severe with the Jews. Among others, they murdered the heads of the Krechmer, Riman and Levin families, because their sons had escaped or attempted to escape from the Germans to the Soviet Union. They also arrested Rabbi Avraham-Yitzkhak Beniash and the slaughterer Shlomo-Yitzkhak Berzak."

Shlomo-Yitzchak Berzak was my great-grandfather's half-brother. We knew that he had died, but reading about his actual arrest made it all the more real.

Testimonial page for Shlomo Yitzchak Berzak given by his daughter. Found in Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names at Yad Vashem.

This was an important lesson to research the familiar. In the search for the elusive, it's very easy to miss something that's right in front of you or easily at your fingertips. I will be more mindful of this moving forward, exhaustively researching what I already know, so that I don't leave any stone unturned.


Contact me at if you're interesting in exploring your family history. Free initial consultations.

Follow me on social media:

1 Comment

Jun 19, 2020

Thank you, Dr. A, for the Groupon tip; I would never have thought to look there.

bottom of page