On March 9, the local Jewish Family Research Association/Israel Genealogical Society branch in Ra’anana hosted director Zafrir Kochanowsky of the six-episode Israeli version, shown on Thursday evenings.
He explained that “it was not easy” to get subjects. The program planners and researchers wanted people with a variety of backgrounds and a mixture of men and women.
As in the UK and US versions, well-known personalities were approached. However, some 85% of the Israeli celebs refused!
Eventually, six people agreed and research was done mainly in Russia, Poland, Hungary and Germany. Each person was taken on a “roots trail,” resulting in some cases with the discovery of documents written in ancestors’ handwriting and, in others, discovering previously unknown living family members.
One of the biggest problems was keeping everything a secret. Although Israel is so security-minded, word travels fast in this small country.
The producers wanted to maintain the “surprise” element; when the personalities set off from Ben Gurion Airport, they didn’t know where they were going or what they were going to find!
Genealogical assistance to the series was provided by Arnon Hershkovitz, who moderates an on-line Hebrew Family Roots forum.
Kochanowsky announced that plans to produce a DVD of the episodes – with English subtitles – are in the pipeline.
Thanks to JFRA/IGS’ Ingrid Rockberger for this report.
We’ll report on the availability of the DVD as soon as we learn more.