Shimron Schiff, from Petah Tikva, Israel, has been researching his genealogy as a hobby since 2013. For his grandmother’s recent 100th birthday celebration, he transformed his research into a very special gift: a sun chart of every one of her 140+ descendants. Here is his story.
Genealogy has been my hobby since 2013, when I succeeded in finding some information online for a family member in my wife’s family. It was then that I realized I knew basically nothing about my own family history. My mother had been interested in genealogy when she was my age, but I didn’t share her enthusiasm at the time, and we never had any family history project in school. What I knew was where my grandparents came from and my grandmother’s maiden name — not much more. So I started talking to everyone in the family and going online, trying to find family trees on MyHeritage and Geni.
I found some fascinating family stories, and ended up lecturing twice about the Holocaust and writing emails to family members about my findings. Soon, they began to approach me to ask me questions about our family history and treating me as the genealogy expert of the family.
It so happens that we are a very close-knit family who loves to spend time together. And when we started planning a get-together to celebrate my grandmother’s 100th birthday, it definitely seemed like the right time and place to display our impressive family tree.
Creating a sun chart for Grandma Ester
My grandmother is a truly special woman. She came to Israel at almost 17 years old with absolutely nothing, having lost all her immediate family in the Holocaust. She went on to establish a wonderful family with more than 140 descendants. Today, at 100 years old, she still has a bright memory, is completely independent, lives by herself, and cooks for others — and if you invite her to any event for a grandchild or great-grandchild, she’ll be there! She has always invested everything in her family, and she is now reaping the benefits: her descendants all live close by, she always has family around her, and they love her and visit her often.
As her 100th birthday approached, my cousin raised the idea of creating a poster that would show off all of our beautiful family, and I suggested creating one on MyHeritage — the sun chart. A sun chart is a special format of family tree that places the main couple in the center and each subsequent generation in a ring around the previous one. So my cousin was in charge of collecting photos from the whole family — we got one for every single family member! — and we verified all the names. My grandmother is the only one who can remember all the names and ages and what everyone is doing in life, so it took some work for us!
We added everything to the family tree on MyHeritage and generated the chart… but we wanted to customize the chart within a few days. So I decided to write to Gilad Japhet, founder and CEO of MyHeritage, to ask for help. I’d corresponded with him in the past about an Israeli record collection. To my surprise, Gilad responded immediately with amazing customer service. I didn’t expect such a quick response.
We printed the sun chart on acrylic plastic and added a verse from the Bible about being blessed to see a better future and children born to your children. We also slightly enlarged the photos of my grandmother and grandfather.
5 generations celebrate Ester’s 100th
For the family reunion, we booked a place in northern Israel and everyone came. We spent the whole weekend together and hired a photographer to take family photos. Grandma was like a celebrity at the center of it all.
The sun chart was placed front and center in the reception area and everyone loved it. It was a fantastic way to show people at the reunion where they fit in the family tree.
We also printed an hourglass chart to show my grandmother’s ancestors going a few generations back. I used the Photo Enhancer and MyHeritage In Color to improve my grandmother’s parents’ pictures, and she enjoyed that.
During the weekend, I gave a lecture about the history of my grandfather’s side of the family. It was a great opportunity to interest the audience in genealogy and encourage the adults to share some of their own memories of the past.
The event was especially important to us because all of our children were able to see how much our grandmother means to all of us, and what a special person she is. They got to hear about her life and how she gave of herself to others and how she treats her family. It’s not often that children are able to attend an event that focuses on the older generation, and I really enjoyed that aspect.
And as for the sun chart, it now hangs over the computer in her study, where she enjoys it every day.
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Source: My Heritage