When Shavei Israel announced the publication last week of its new book in Spanish, Do You Have Jewish Roots?, we expected a few hundred people to request a free download of the eBook version. But within 48 hours, so many people had clicked to receive their copy that the special website we set up had crashed.
The total number of requests topped 5,000, the maximum capacity for the website, explains Estee Dahan from the J. Media Group, which is managing the download system for Shavei Israel. Needless to say, “we were extremely surprised by such incredible results,” Dahan says. J. Media Group has run many similar campaigns and never hit the limit with any other client. Fortunately, the problem was detected quickly, and the site was up and running a few hours later. The requests continue to stream in and will shortly pass the 10,000 mark.
Shavei Israel’s Tzivia Kusminsky, who heads up our Bnei Anousim department and spearheaded production of the book, says she is “shocked by how many people search for information about their roots every day on the Internet. It’s incredible! I knew that there were a lot of people, but I never thought it was so many.”
Kusminsky is referring to the fact that most of the 5,000+ downloads came from people who saw a Google Ad that Shavei Israel placed using keywords such as “searching for Jewish roots.” That means that these were people already searching for information in general about a possible Jewish heritage, not people who have an existing connection with Shavei Israel.
Even more surprising: half the people who downloaded the book are from Brazil, even though the book is currently only in Spanish. A Portuguese translation is in the final stages of production, as is an English version. Italian will follow in a second stage.
The 109-page book is the first-ever practical guide to discovering one’s Jewish heritage. Its nine chapters cover all the major questions someone at the beginning of their Jewish discovery might have – from how to conduct a genealogical search to information on “hidden” Jewish customs. Inspirational personal stories are sprinkled throughout the text and an appendix includes a section from Genie Milgrom who documented her own Jewish roots search in the book How I Found my 15 Grandmothers: A Step by Step Guide.
Do You Have Jewish Roots? was written by Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund and Shavei’s educational director Rabbi Eliyahu Birnbaum, with help from Rabbi Nissan Ben-Avraham, Shavei Israel’s emissary to Spain, and Kusminsky. It is aimed at Bnei Anousim communities in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America. In addition to the free eBook version, one thousand printed copies are also being distributed by Shavei Israel’s emissaries and staff.
“We are very proud and happy to take part in such an inspiring campaign that helps others in seeking their Jewish identity,” J. Media Group’s Dahan says. Promotion of the book will be stepped up in the coming weeks with a dedicated website and YouTube video.
If you know someone who is interested in exploring their Jewish roots and speaks Spanish (or in the coming weeks Portuguese, English or Italian), please send them to this link where they can download their copy for free.