Reunited and It Feels So Good

A 95-year-old Holocaust survivor whose entire family was lost learns she has three living first cousins. A Holocaust orphan lives her entire life without knowing her true identity. Four years after her death, the woman’s daughter is finally reunited with her biological family thanks to a DNA test. A child survivor of Theresienstadt finally learns the identity of his unknown father.

This talk will detail some of the amazing and unexpected Holocaust reunions Jennifer Mendelsohn has helped orchestrate through a blend of dogged paper trail research and careful DNA analysis. In 2022, Mendelsohn co-founded the DNA Reunion Project at the Center for Jewish History, a first-of-its kind effort to provide free DNA testing to Holocaust survivors and their children. Now called “The Holocaust Reunion Project,” this project hastested over 1000 survivors and enabled scores of successful connections. In this presentation, Mendelsohn shows how genetic genealogy can benefit the Holocaust survivor community, with examples of how DNA has provided closure and led to heartwarming reunions.

Jennifer Mendelsohn is a sought-after genealogist who specializes in helping Eastern European Jewish families shattered by the Holocaust reclaim their history. Her journey began in 2013, when she reunited her husband’s grandmother—a Polish Holocaust survivor who had lost her entire immediate family and most of her extended family—with three living first cousins she had never known. Since then, she has worked on scores of cases, solving complex family mysteries using a blend of traditional and genetic genealogy. Her sleuthing was featured in the 2019 bestseller Inheritance by Dani Shapiro. In 2022, she co-founded the DNA Reunion Project at the Center for Jewish History, which seeks to promote DNA testing as a tool for helping Holocaust survivors find family.

Mendelsohn is also known for the innovative use of genealogy as a tool for activism. She created the viral hashtag #resistancegenealogy, which uses genealogical and historical records to fight disinformation and honor America’s immigrant past. The project received international media attention, including being featured on, The New Yorker, The Washington Post and Yahoo News.

A native Long Islander now based in Baltimore, Mendelsohn serves on the board of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland and is the administrator of Facebook’s Jewish Genetic Genealogy group, with over 10,000 members worldwide.

Prior to her work as a genealogist, Jennifer spent many years as a freelance journalist. Her work has appeared in countless publications including People, Slate, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, Time, and Tablet. In addition, she is the author of a children’s book and helped fashion guru Carson Kressley pen his New York Times best-selling mens’ style manual Off the Cuff.

The program will take place on-line via Zoom. For more information and to register go to

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May 19
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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Minnesota Jewish Geneological Society