Update on ‘The Unbroken Chain’ (2023)

New Volumes Published

March 30, 2023

Dr. Neil Rosenstein, author of the newly-updated The Unbroken Chain recently announced publication of new volumes in the massive work.

Rosenstein is one of the foremost Jewish genealogists in America today, with an internationally acclaimed expertise in the genealogy of rabbinic dynastic families.

The Unbroken Chain deals uniquely with world Jewry’s “rabbinical royalty,” covering a period of about 700 years, until the current generation. The massive work documents many thousands of Jewish families, including many famous and accomplished people as well as members of actual European royal families and nobility who “married in” to the Jewish world.

For decades Rosenstein has pored intensively over rare books and manuscripts, and conducted much archival and cemetery research involving extensive travel and personal interviews to produce his magnum opus. The Unbroken Chain outlines the common genealogical linkage of more than 600,000 Jews. According to Rosenstein, there is no other published source that is as massive and comprehensive, especially for the English speaking public.

See also: The oldest family tree in the world

The work first appeared as a single volume in 1976 and was republished in expanded format in two volumes in 1990. Rosenstein began working on a monumental multi-volume third edition in 2016. Thus far seven volumes have been printed in what is projected to be a ten-volume set. Each book averages about 700 pages with a 100-page index.

Rosenstein was perhaps the first Jewish genealogist to have an article written about him in a major American newspaper. Months after Alex Haley’s book Roots was published in 1976, Rosenstein was the focus of an article in the New York Times titled “Now, Jewish Roots” by Israel Shenker (March 20, 1977). That same year, Rosenstein established the Jewish Genealogy Society, the first in what is now dozens of Jewish genealogical societies around the world.

The Unbroken Chain focuses on the descendants of the MaHaRaM of Padua — Rabbi Meir Katzenellenbogen (1482-1565). Personages include many significant rabbinic figures of Ashkenazi Jewry as well as numerous others who attained significance in the fields of literature, music, art, business and politics over the past five centuries.

Attorney and Jewish genealogical expert E. Randol Schoenberg refers to the Katzenellenbogen descendants as “the very backbone of Ashkenazi Jewry in Eastern Europe – the lineages of rabbinic royalty.”

Few “encyclopedic genealogists” who attempt to document an entire community ever complete their work or live to see it published, Schoenberg noted, adding that the late Dr. Paul Jacobi of Jerusalem, whose papers were published posthumously by Avotaynu, was another recent example.

“No family tree is ever fully complete or finished,” Schoenberg observed. “There will always be corrections to make and further branches to research and discover, as Dr. Rosenstein has demonstrated with his own publications. Nevertheless, we must be grateful that he has given us all the benefit of his erudition and experience by publishing his work now in such a thorough and convincing fashion. The rest of us can now start off where he has ended, standing atop the shoulders of this giant of Jewish genealogy.” ♦

Famous personalities in The Unbroken Chain