An Amazing DNA Discovery


Article in the Washington Post by Libby Copeland

She thought she was Irish — until a DNA test opened a 100-year-old mystery

She thought she was Irish — until a DNA test opened a 100-year-old mystery

How Alice Collins Plebuch’s foray into “recreational genomics” upended a family tree.


Book by Libby Copeland The Lost Family…

YouTube video of Alice Plebush’s appearance on the Today Show

Meet Alice Plebuch, A Woman Who Discovered That Her Father Was Switched At Birth | Megyn Kelly TODAY

Meet Alice Plebuch, A Woman Who Discovered That Her Father Was Switched At Birth | Megyn Kelly TODAY

Alice Plebuch always thought she was Irish-Catholic until a DNA test gave her startling news – and led her to uncover that her father had been switched at bi…


Reconnecting to Alice Plebuch

3 January 2021

Hi Eli, 

Several years ago, you added my family’s story to Ziezmariai’s page. Until now, I haven’t seen a DNA match with you. My New Year’s surprise was to find you towards the top on my FTDNA list today! Although they put us at 2nd – 4th cousins, I understand that with endogamy, the relationship may be twice as far. 
Interesting, I see that we’re related through my grandmother, Ida Cott (neé Ides Zlata Kot) of Ziezmariai as match known descendants of her family, but not of my grandfather Sam Benson (Zalman Peskin). Since we last wrote, I’ve been able to discover a few more names and thought I’d pass them along to see if any sound familiar. 
Zlata’s father was Kopel KOT. He was, in some way involved in the lumbering business. I have no surname for his mother or any other woman on his line.  Her mother was Freyda “RATINSKY” according to her children and sister; however, I believe it was actually something along the lines of Rudnitsky as her father was Mordeche Maier Rudnitsky.  Her mother was Beila Chaya LEYBOVICH (or something that sounds similar. I believe Beila was from Belarus. 
I’m going to play with the DNA and see if I can ferret out any further information. Than you so much for your help in the past, maybe this is my opportunity to give back.





Ziezmariai, Lithuania


Switched at Birth: Unraveling a Century-Old Mystery with DNA

Switched at Birth: Unraveling a Century-Old Mystery with DNA

The following is a guest post by Alice Plebuch demonstrating the potential of DNA testing.  When Alice first contacted me about two and a ha…


Ziezmariai & Switched At Birth – tangential travel

Ziezmariai & Switched At Birth – tangential travel

tangential travel



Elected to IAJGS Board

August 2020,  For release: Upon receipt

Contact: Sandra Golden, Publicity Chair, IAJGS,

Perth resident elected to International Jewish Genealogy Board                 

Eli Rabinowitz, a Perth, Australia, resident,  was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) at its International Jewish Genealogy Conference, presented virtually on Aug. 12.  The Conference drew more than 2300 registrants from 28 countries.

Eli  has researched his family’s genealogy and associated Jewish cultural history for over 30 years. A South African-born Australian, Eli has travelled extensively, writing about Jewish life, travel and education on his website, Tangential Travel and Jewish Life. 

 Eli writes and manages 87 Jewishgen KehilaLinks, and over 750 WordPress posts. His articles have appeared in numerous publications. Eli has lectured internationally: at educational institutions, commemorative events, at IAJGS and other conferences, and online platforms.

He established the Partisans’ Song Project, and was awarded a U.S. government cultural grant for his WE ARE HERE! Human Rights and Social Justice initiative,

Eli has an Economics Honours degree from the University of Cape Town.

IAJGS is an umbrella organization of more than 91 Jewish genealogical organizations worldwide.  The IAJGS coordinates and organizes activities such as its annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy and provides a unified voice as the spokesperson on behalf of its members. The IAJGS’s vision is of a worldwide network of Jewish genealogical research organizations and partners working together as one coherent, effective and respected community, enabling people to succeed in researching Jewish ancestry and heritage. Find the IAJGS at: and like us on Facebook at  



WE ARE HERE! at SA Friends of Beth Hatefutsoth


On Friday 13 March 2020, the South African Friends of Beth Hatefutsoth will be hosting a presentation by Eli Rabinowitz, from Perth.

Eli, who is the founder of the education project the We Are Here Foundation, will be giving a talk accompanied by video footage about the programme for youth across the globe. The foundation focuses on the importance of educating Jewish youth about the Jewish partisans during the World War II. He will be giving an update on the success of this project, which is funded by the US government.

The project which started at schools in Australia is now functioning in Belarus, Lithuania, Israel and the USA.  Communities across the globe have been taught to sing the famous Partisans Song (Shir HaPartizanim).

His message is loud and clear: WE MUST NEVER FORGET!

If you would like to attend please email us at

For more information please visit the website:

WE ARE HERE! An Education Program That Inspires Upstanders


With Barbara Miller and Ken Wyatt, Federal Minister 2019
With Vince Connelly MP 2020

Kristallnacht Cantata Melbourne – World Premiere 2019

With Benny Rabinowitz in Birzh, Lithuania 2019
With Ambassadors of of China, Israel and Japan in Birzh, Lithuania 2019
Ground Turning at Lost Shtetl Museum, Seduva Lithuania
With Finnish, UK and US Ambassadors in Lithuania 2018
Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 2019
With Ian Stein and Dimitri Coutras at Sea Point School in 2019
At Beyachad meeting in 2019

WE ARE HERE! in Melbourne

Using memory and legacy to educate the generations that follow, and to create upstanders out of bystanders!

The William Cooper Legacy is gaining momentum!

Special events celebrating William Cooper were held in Melbourne over 5 days in December.

These events connected Upstanders from diverse backgrounds, from the William Cooper Institute at Monash University to the Richmond Football Club, and from The Ark Centre in East Hawthorn to Temple Beth Israel.

Below is my selection of photos which highlights these events, and connects our WE ARE HERE! Human Rights and Social Justice project to the growing world of Upstanders influenced by William Cooper’s once long forgotten protest way back in 1938.

I have also incorporated parts of Barbara Miller’s report  into this post. Barbara is William Cooper’s biographer. Thanks Barbara! 

The Events- 2019:
  • Barbara Miller Book Launch
  • The William Cooper Dinner at Richmond FC
  • The launch of the William Cooper Institute at Monash University
  • The special Shabbat at The Ark Centre
  • The interfaith youth seminar in Ascot Vale
  • A visit to William Cooper’s former home in Footscray
  • Some William Cooper icons around Melbourne city
  • The World Premiere of the Kristallnacht Cantata 
The Barbara Miller Book Launch

White Australia Has A Black History is available as a paperback from Barbara Miller’s website, and Barbara would love you to review it on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

 The link to the book on Amazon is –

The link to the book on Goodreads is

 Barbara giving a talk on William Cooper at an Author Event at Lamm Jewish Library in Melbourne 3 December 2019


Shattered Lives Broken Dreams is at the printer – almost ready to be released!

Barbara on the radio

Barbara Miller:

David Jack interviewing Barbara on J-Air Jewish Radio in Melbourne on 4 December 2019 with Maurice Klein working the desk. The topic was Kristallnacht and William Cooper. It was on the Beersheba Vision program run by Peter Kentley.

Link to the interview:

Richmond FC Seminar & Dinner

The Seminar

 Abe Schwarz

Eli Rabinowitz, Barbara & Norm Miller

My slide – thanks to Stuart Rhine-Davis of Ellenbrook Secondary College

Barbara Miller

The Richmond Football Club and the William Cooper Legacy Project convened by Abe Schwarz hosted a seminar and dinner on 5 December 2019. It announced a new William Cooper Centre which will integrate sport, culture and diversity as the home to the Korin Gamadji Institute emerging Indigenous leaders program, the Bachar Houli Academy, Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS) and women’s and community football. 

There were four speakers at the seminar – Barbara Miller, biographer of William Cooper, Mike Zervos CEO Courage to Care, a teacher from Parkdale College called Natalie Baker and Eli Rabinowitz, founder, the WE ARE HERE! Project. Nola Kelly, the great-granddaughter of William Cooper, Leonie Drummond, Uncle Boydie’s daughter, shared briefly. Barbara is pictured speaking. A mural of the Tigers AFL players on the wall.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Richmond Tigers

The Table List

Eli Rabinowitz, singer Lior Attar, Tali Kellman and Alex Kats

Professor Jacinta Elston, Monash University and William Cooper’s great grandchildren, Leonie Drummond and Lance Turner, with Eli Rabinowitz

 David Jack

 Eli, Rabinowitz, Professor Jacinta Elston &  Abe Schwarz

  Jamil Tye,  Roberto D’Andrea & Aunty Di

Eli Rabinowitz, dancers, Abe Schwarz

Eli Rabinowitz, Uncle Boydie Turner, Alex Kats, Kevin Russel, ?, David Jago

William Cooper’s family


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ngarra Bulla Ferra

Ngarra Bulla Ferra

Richmond FC, Melbourne 8 December 2019


Richmond FC Dinner
Abe Schwarz & Uncle Boydie

Uncle Boydie


William Cooper Legacy Film by David Jack

William Cooper Legacy 13min 45 sec doco converted


Monash University Clayton – William Cooper Institute Launch

 Eli Rabinowitz, Bill Appleby of Jewish Care & Norm Miller

Eli Rabinowitz & John Gandel

Barbara Miller, Minister Ken Wyatt & Eli Rabinowitz

Leonie Drummond


Andrew Markus, Pauline Gandel, Simone Markus & Eli Rabinowitz

Eli Rabinowitz & Vedran Drakulic

Eli Rabinowitz & Professor Susan Elliott

Eli Rabinowitz & Professor Jacinta Elston & Associate Professor Chivonne Algeo

L-R photos – The Hon Minister Ken Wyatt with Barbara and Norman Miller at Monash University, the Unveiling of the plaque at Monash Uni with Uni staff, Cooper family and the Minister, and the Millers with Dr John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel. 

On 6 December 2019, the 81st anniversary of the 1938 AAL protest, Monash University launched the William Cooper Institute. The Gandel family’s philanthropy made the centre possible. Stirring speeches were made by the Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, Mr Ken Wyatt, Chancellor Simon McKeon, the Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Jacinta Elston, Dr John Gandel AC, and Leonie Drummond, Uncle Boydie’s daughter. 

Minister Ken Wyatt said that William Cooper cut a pathway for people to follow and showed bravery in the face of opposition. He said William Cooper stepped out and left footsteps in the sand to follow. He said he had recently returned from Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech, had paid tribute to William Cooper. 

The Ark Centre – Cross Cultural Shabbat

Rabbi Gabi Kaltman and the ARK Centre held an Indigenous themed Shabbat service and meal honouring William Cooper on 6 December 2019

Eli Rabinowitz, Viv Parry, Lisa Naphtali, Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann, Kate Brocker, Shane Charles & Abe Schwarz

Shane Charles & Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann

A Very Special Duet by Shane Charles & Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann
A Very Special Duet by Shane Charles & Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann

The Ark Centre Aboriginal Kabbalat Shabbat In Honour of William Cooper Melbourne, Australia 6 December 2019


The Interfaith Youth Human Rights Seminar in Ascot Vale

Elana Saks

A visit to William Cooper’s House in footscray

The Footscay Railway Station

Eli Rabinowitz & Christine Newman, owner of the William Cooper house.

The William Cooper Justice Centre

The former Nazi Consulate in Melbourne where William Cooper marched to, and left his petition

Kristallnacht Cantata – Temple Beth Israel

The Kristallnacht Cantata: A Voice of Courage held its world premiere on 8 December at Temple Beth Israel St. Kilda, Melbourne. The strident music of the orchestra conveyed the build-up to the Night of the Broken Glass and the shattering of glass and lives that took place. A tribute to William Cooper, the Cantata imagined a moving duet between Cooper and Otto Jontof-Hutter who was arrested in Stuttgart during Kristallnacht along with thousands of other Jews.

Otto’s grandson, world-famous violinist Ron Jontof-Hutter, active in the Berlin-based World Doctors Orchestra but living in Melbourne, conceived the Cantata. An Israeli composer living in Melbourne, Alon Trigger, collaborated with Ron as the lyricist and world-famous conductor Dr David Kram, as musical director, to put the Cantata together.

The event was held in Temple Beth Israel synagogue and Barbara was asked to read a scripture and she chose Isaiah 62:1-7. There was a beautiful performance by the Yeng Gali Mullum Indigenous Choir.

Photos L_R, Uncle Boydie watching the orchestra of the Kristallnacht Cantata and the Yeng Gali Mullum Indigenous Choir.

For the start of the Kristallnacht Cantata, scroll to the 1 hr 41 min mark

 back in Perth – On Noongar Radio with Jodi Ryder

Manager: Paul Whitton

Beyachad Educators

On Friday 1st March 2019, the South African Friends of Beth Hatefutsoth were pleased to host a meeting with Eli Rabinowitz, from Perth, Saul Issroff from London and various educators and genealogists.

From Tachlis, Michele Gogoski & Elona Steinfeld, Beyachad, Johannesburg:

Eli, who is the founder of the We Are Here Foundation, gave an inspirational presentation about the importance of educating Jewish youth about the Holocaust and the Jewish partisans during the World War II. The talk was accompanied by video footage of the youth of various communities across the globe, who have been taught and are being taught to sing the famous Partisans Song – Zog Nit Keyn Mol (Shir HaPartizanim).

His message is loud and clear: WE MUST NEVER FORGET!

For more information please visit the website

WE ARE HERE! An Education Program That Inspires Upstanders

With Howard Feldman – Chaim FM


From Stan Smookler on the Good Shabbas Newsletter

I attended a Lecture by Eli Rabinowitz @ Beyachad last week, and it was a VERY interesting discussion, the Subject being “ Zog Nit Keynmol’ ( Never say never again), the Partisan’s song…. see …. I never realized that such a project would have soooo many opinions and ‘Machlokes’ …. The project is to revive the Partisan song that was written by Hirsch Glik in the concentration camps…… The project involves getting schools to start learning the song and of course understanding the meaning…. Eli has teamed up with various Schools, especially in Russia, Poland, Souff Effrikka etc, and World Ort have given him huge assistance, with ORT schools around the World joining in the programme….. The question is ; Should the Song be sung/learnt in any other language than Yiddish, as this is what it was started as…???? Methinks, yes, as it will get lost if not promoted.

At the meeting were a few knowledgeable people in Yiddisher circles, and Saul Issroff ( Absoluuuuut BOFF on Lithuania) from London (Ex PE ‘Amolikke Yoren’), Eli Goldstein who is very involved in the teaching of Yiddish in Joburg, Ishvara Dhyan, who takes walking tours of Joburg, and covers many of the old Yiddisher places, Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft (The Travelling Rabbi) ,Darryl Frankel (King David) Marc Latilla who runs a website Johannesburg 1912, which has a lot of info on many suburbs (in detail) and Joburg City  … , where you can find in depth info on Joburg/suburbs….. Tali Nates from the Holocaust Museum also came, and Eli did a show with Howard Feldman on Chai FM 91.7 .. Pictures; 

ChaiFM – my interview by Howard Feldman

Howard Feldman – Cham FM



 With some of the educators  who attended my presentation.

With Saul Issroff & Tali Nates
With Rabbi Moshe Sliberhaft

With Elona Steinfeld at SA Friends of Beth Hatefutsoth

Also caught up with:

With Rabbi Kacev
With Rabbi Lipskar

Coming Up

Coming Up in the UK, Europe and Israel in June, Europe and the US in July, and Australia in August!
I will be participating in:
a commemoration in June in Birzai & a shabbat weekend in Kedainiai, Lithuania;
an eight day educators’ seminar in June at the International School of Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem; 
a 100-strong gathering in Novogrudok, Belarus in July, where a full and interesting program will include learning about the Partisans’ Song, and then singing it in the Naliboki Forest, where the Bielski’s lived and hid from 1942 to 1944; 
the IAJGS39 conference in Cleveland in July, where I am giving two presentations, including one as part of the educators program – see below; and
WE ARE HERE! An Education Program That Inspires Upstanders in Australia in August.This educational program, which promotes universal human rights and inclusive development, is funded by the US Dept of State, and brings Holocaust educator and specialist Nance Adler of Seattle to Australia.


Busy times ahead!

Chag Pesach Sameach and Happy Easter
Please contact me for further details.
Best regards
Further details:
I have been invited to be one of six speakers who will presentat the Educators Program at IAJGS39 (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies) in Cleveland OH, USA on 28 July, the opening event at thisconference.

My topic is:

Projects That Draw Youth to Ancestral Roots.

The details appear below
My second talk is on 30 July on the WE ARE HERE! Project for Upstanders. 

A Special Program for Jewish Educators

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is being held in Cleveland for the first time. It features a special day designed specifically for Jewish educators!

Who Should Attend

Educators who:

  • Work in formal and informal settings
  • Work in day or synagogue schools
  • Create and facilitate family and intergenerational programs
  • Teach history
  • Teach writing and research skills

Sunday, July 28th is the date. The program begins with breakfast and a keynote by noted Jewish educator and genealogist Carol Oseran Starin, former Vice-President of the Jewish Federation of Seattle. Participants may select from two workshop time periods, each with a choice from three nationally known presenters, followed by lunch and idea exchanges.

Program Details


To introduce educators to how Jewish genealogy strengthens students’ Jewish identity through the experience of researching their roots and how their history shaped family and community.


8:30–9:00 Registration and light breakfast
9:00–10:00 Keynote speaker: What is Jewish about Jewish Genealogy, Carol Starin
10:15–11:15 Three workshop sessions
  1. Jewish Genealogy for Beginners, Maurice Kices
  2. Designing an “Introduction to Jewish Genealogy” Program: Being Ready for Surprises, Sylvia Abrams
  3. Projects That Draw Youth to Ancestral Roots, Eli Rabinowitz
11:30–12:30 Three workshop sessions
  1. DNA as a Genealogy Tool, Gil Bardige
  2. JewishGen—Everything You Need to Know, Phyllis Kramer
  3. How to Get Kids Involved in Family History, Daniel Horowitz
12:30–1:15 Lunch and “tachlis” how to implement ideas
1:15–2:45 Participation in SHARE Fair and Exhibits
2:45–4:00 Education track participants are invited to the conference keynote address
Title of the Presentation  Projects That Will Draw Our Youth Back To Their Shtetl 
Short Title  Visit the shtetl: the virtual way forward! 
Type of Session  Presentation 
Topic or Category  Jewish History and Culture 
Methodology and Mechanics 
Telling Your Family Story 
Using Technology for Research 
Brief Abstract of Your Presentation  Since 2011, and after nine trips to Poland and Lithuania, as well as travel to Belarus, Germany, Russia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Turkey and Israel, I have compiled a sizeable collection of information, stories, photos and contacts. My focus is not only about my own family history, but that of Jewish cultural history, general history, as well as contemporary Jewish life. Working with schools in these countries, I have been able to bring students together online to collaborate and to exchange information about the lands of their heritage.

My presentation takes you on a tour of how you can use this body of work to further your own knowledge on family research, Jewish cultural heritage and Jewish life. This includes a tour of my 86 JewishGen KehilaLink websites, including 55 in Europe, plus over 600 posts and pages on my Tangential Travel and Jewish Life website and associated social media. 
Presentation is best suited for  All skills 
How will your presentation help your intended audience?  Expand research skills 
Develop interview skills 
Teach best practices 
Expand social media skills 
Teach innovative strategies 
Assist with personal research 
Second Talk – Tuesday 30 July 2019
Title of the Presentation  WE ARE HERE! Project: Becoming An Upstander Rather Than A Bystander 
Short Title  How Jewish Partisans Inspire Our Youth To Stand Up 
Type of Session  Presentation 
Topic or Category  Genealogy and Jewish History Related to WW2 
Jewish History and Culture 
Methodology and Mechanics 
Preserving our Jewish Past 
Brief Abstract of Your Presentation  WE ARE HERE! Project
This project seeks to inspire in young people the confidence and ability to stand up in the face of prejudice and oppression.
Encourages and inspires Upstanders through the stories of Jewish Partisans and the learning of Zog Nit Keynmol
Provides role models for standing up for yourself in the face of prejudice, hatred, violence and evil
Shows that an individual can make a difference – regardless of their personal circumstances
Translates the stories of Jewish Partisans and the words of Zog Nit Keynmol into a universal message of hope and inspiration for all who are victims of prejudice and oppression
Empowers young people to create the change they want to see in their communities and the world.
Teaches that while the partisans used weapons – they were fighting the Nazis – you can fight oppression with only your voice and presence 
Presentation is best suited for  All skills 
How will your presentation help your intended audience?  Teach best practices 
Expand social media skills 
Teach innovative strategies 

With Heather Blumenthal and Richard Freedman at the Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre