MyHeritage: A young genealogist’s quest

Jared wears his MyHeritage fleece

Family history attracts people of all ages.

Recently, MyHeritage was happy to hear from member Jeff Zeitlin of Connecticut, who sent an email on behalf of his son Jared, 11. He explained that Jared was very interested in genealogy and asked if it was possible to get a MyHeritage souvenir.

Our marketing department wrote to Jeff and discovered that Jared had made remarkable family history discoveries.

We asked the family’s permission to share their story and they were happy to do so. Of course, we sent Jared a MyHeritage fleece (see photo left).

Here’s Jared’s story:

A fifth-grade student, Jared’s parents are Alyson and Jeffrey Zeitlin and he has an older sister, Mikayla. He also enjoys spending time with his grandparents in Connecticut and Florida.

Growing up in a Jewish family, Jared found great interest in religion and genealogy. These interests spurred his focus in researching his family history, which resulted in building the family tree on

One day a few summers ago, Jared’s father’s first cousins visited them in Connecticut – the first time Jared had met them.

During the day we discussed how we were related. Cousin Arthur mentioned that another distant cousin had created a family tree on another website. That got me interested in looking at my family.

Jared checked that website, read about his family and added family members – some 450 people. Then he stopped for a while.

One day, my Grandpa Matthew provided me with new information to add to the tree. We began discussing family trees again while we were on vacation in Florida in December 2011. I learned about through a family tree my Israeli cousins began and they invited me to join. I decided I wanted to start a new family tree from scratch and see how far I could grow it. My parents allowed me to start a new family tree on

As Jared began adding people, he became even more interested. He felt good because this was now his family tree.

With each new person I added, I learned something new. This was very exciting and interesting for me. I began to ask different family members about what they knew of the family and the tree began to grow!

My grandfather Irving’s mother’s family, c.1909
My grandfather Irving’s mother’s family, c.1909. From left: Jean Zeitlin Needle (great-aunt), Naomi Sparber Zeitlin (great-grandmother), Joseph Zeitlin (great-grandfather), Louis Sparber (great-great uncle), Sol Sparber (third cousin), Shaya Sparber (great-great uncle), Nathan Sparber (third cousin), Nisha Kraemer Sparber (great-great aunt), Hyman Sparber (third cousin), Sol Sparber (great-great uncle), Morris Savitzky (great-great uncle), Hinde Sparber Savitzky (great-great aunt) (standing), Bella Savitzky Schuman (third cousin)

Currently, Jared has 1,641 relatives in his family tree, with his earliest ancestor – Yitzhak Osovitzky – born in 1790. The youngest is his first cousin once removed – Roselyn – born in November 2011.

The history of his family only goes to Jared’s great-grandfather, Joseph Zeitlin (1884-1956), from Minsk, Belarus. Although Joseph’s ancestors are still unknown, most of the family is from Russia and Poland.

His maternal great-great-grandfather was Philip Goldberg (1879-1962), from Gorodok, Belarus, who didn’t know who his maternal mother was until he was 27. The child of an arranged marriage that didn’t work out, he always thought his mother was the woman his father was married to as he grew up.

Jared has been a MyHeritage member through his Israeli cousin’s tree since April 2010, and began his own tree in December 2011.

The best part of MyHeritage is being able to share what I find about my family with all these other relatives, many of whom I’ve never met. It’s been great to get e-mails from relatives who looked at my tree. I also get excited when I see relatives contact each other – like a birthday greeting – through MyHeritage. I also now speak to or email family with whom I’ve never communicated before.

Jared received many SmartMatches with the family tree that his Israeli cousins compiled on MyHeritage.

His family is also involved in his family history quest.

My parents let me join MyHeritage and other websites to help me research and build the family tree. I also get a lot of information from my two grandfathers about relatives to help me do my research.

Most of his living relatives are included in his tree, and when Jared sees them, they know about the family tree and always share information.

I also tell them about their family and new facts that I learned. I email some relatives now with whom I had little or no contact before working on my family tree.

The family came from Poland, Russia and Belarus, and today lives in the United States and Israel. Sometimes Jared wonders if he still has relatives there:

I probably do. One day maybe, I will go to Minsk, Belarus.

He hopes to go to Israel when he is 13 to visit his Israeli cousins.

Jared shared a great story with MyHeritage about his research.

My mom and I spoke to a cousin, Rana, whom I’ve never met, for 90 minutes on the phone. She’s my Grandpa Matthew’s first cousin’s daughter. My mom hadn’t been in contact with her for over 30 years. I found her information while doing Internet research for my family tree.

Rana sent Jared information about her family, including her brother, parents and uncle (Jared’s grandfather’s first cousin), and Jared shared the information with his grandfather. She also emailed photos and birthdates for the tree. Jared gave Rana the link to and she shared the information with her own father.

The young genealogist also shared the following research tips:

Start with your parents and the relatives you know. Ask them about other relatives and how everyone is related. There is great information on the Internet, such as census records, that give a lot of information about people’s families, which can be included on the family tree.

Jared also discovered that libraries are good places for information. He visited the Connecticut State Library’s genealogy section and looked up city directories and obituaries on microfiche (see below).

At the Connecticut State Library, Jared checks city records and family obituaries.
At the Connecticut State Library, Jared checks city records and family obituaries.

At 11, Jared is rather young to compile such a large family tree. He’s proud of his accomplishment – as is MyHeritage!

I’m proud because I’m the first person in my family to make such a large family tree. I’m gathering family history for my family. I get excited when I see that other family members visit my MyHeritage site. Sometimes they ask questions or they just tell me how impressed they are with the information. I’m also excited when I find a new record or find new information. That makes me feel very good.

MyHeritage sent Jared a company fleece in honor of his accomplishments. We hope his story encourages other young people to track their families.

Do you know a young genealogist who would like to share his or her story? MyHeritage wants to encourage the younger generations to get involved in family history, so let us know in the comments below.

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  • Gert Litsky

    May 10, 2012

    Hi Jared,

    We are very excited about what you have accomplished. You are
    doing a great job.
    Gert & Ronnie Litsky (Cousins)

  • Hugh Zeitlin

    May 10, 2012

    As Jared’s oldest first cousin, I’m very proud and impressed with what he’s accomplished. He’s gathered more information about our family (even including some of my wife’s family) than I think we ever knew was out there.

    Almost as impressive is his ability to remember such a great amount of what he enters into the tree.

    Way to go, Jared!

  • Staci Coelho

    May 10, 2012

    Way to go Jared! Awesome job!
    The Coelho’s are very proud of you!

  • Randy and Mark Zeitlin

    May 10, 2012

    Great story! Way to go Jared!

  • Smadar Belkind Gerson

    May 10, 2012

    Mazal Tov Jared! I have a lot of young cousins like you who have joined my tree, often around their bar mitzvah. I’m very impressed that you started your own and have been able to extend your research and your tree so much! Great work!

  • Irving & Shirley Zeitlin

    May 10, 2012

    Jared is a true remarkable youngster. His work and research on the family tree which he started is unbelievably fantastic, for a young man his age. We, are his grandparents, on his father’s side, and we are very proud of him. Jared has uncovered history of relatives of ours, whom we never thought existed. A wonderful young man.

  • Joan Phillips

    May 10, 2012

    Dear Jared,

    I know that you are a very bright young man, but I never realized the depths you go to, to pursue your interests.I am so proud of you. Always remember how very special you are.

    I love you,


  • Joan Phillips

    May 10, 2012

    Alyson and Jeff Zeitlin

  • Barbara Zeitlin Leviton

    May 10, 2012

    Hi Jared–This is your cousin Barbara Zeitlin Leviton. I’ve always wanted to let you know how wonderful we think your research into our family tree is (just lazy I guess) but after reading about you on My Heritage I said “that’s enough of this. I must let this truly remarkable young man know how much we appreciate his finding our roots.” Your passion is truly admirable!!!!

  • Janice

    May 10, 2012

    It’s truly wonderful what you have done for your family, Jared. I wish I had gotten as early a start as you! Luckily, a few decades ago, one of my relatives did a lot of research on one side of my family and that has helped. Figuring out the paternal side has been more of a challenge. Your story is inspiring me to grow my tree more.

  • Arthur Zeitlin

    May 10, 2012

    HI Jared,

    It is cousin Arthur. You are doing a fantastic job. It is amazing how much history you were able to uncover in such a short period of time. Keep up the good work. WE are very proud of you.
    The best to you and your family

    Cousins Maddy and Arthur

  • Dick & Robin Marsan

    May 11, 2012

    Very impressie accomplishments Jared, by anyone of any age but all the more so due to your young age. You make your parents proud. Congratulations and keep it up. When you exhaust all options with the Zeitlin’s give me a call. Need a guy like you in my family!

  • Charles Coe

    May 11, 2012

    I think the most important thing about this very inspirational story is that Jared started the tree when he still had family that he could ask for information. When I started my tree I was the oldest surviving member of my family which makes it very difficult.

  • Kim

    May 12, 2012

    Uncle Neil & I are so proud of you! I love hearing the updates and stories about our ancestors. We love you very much!
    Keep up the amazing work!
    Aunt Kimmie

  • Anna

    May 13, 2012

    Beautiful work! loved!

  • Kelly Edwards

    May 15, 2012

    What a great article! I know your family is so proud of all you’ve done and I’m so glad your mom shared it with me!

  • Billy

    May 19, 2012

    Great story and article, cool littel boy keep up the good work 😉 i self get my eyes up for genealogi whem i was 13 years old.

    greetings from Denmark!

  • Joe Savitzky

    October 4, 2013

    Can your great uncle and aunt Morris and Hinda Savitzky be my grandparents? They had exacly the same names! The family came from Zetel in the State of Slonim in what was then Poland (today Belarus). We have to check this out.

    Joe Savitzky (son of the late David Savitzky)

  • Joe Savitzky

    October 4, 2013

    Please contact me so that we can establish our relationship. It seems clear that it could be through my grandmother’s Hinde side: Sparbers). It’s really quite exciting! In addition to my e-mail address, you could also reach me at my home phone in Florida (we moved here from Israel just several months ago) I should point out that I grew up in the U.S. and moved to Israel back in the 60’s-70’s. My telephone number here in Florida is: 954-590-8900.
    Joe Savitzky

  • Amanda Hugo

    October 9, 2015

    This is so inspiring that I want to add to my own family tree.Well done.A book that touched me deeply was Daniel Mendelsohn” book the lost.I’m sure you will one day write just such a moving account of your family.