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 Chaiken Family of Nezhin
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 Geffen Family of Vilkomir
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 Zavelsky Family of Glukhov
Click Here to see the first three generations of the Geffen Tree
View The Geffen Family Tree.
Click here to take you to the Geffen Family Tree on our site. You can scroll through the tree to find your name or you can use your browsers Edit / Find command to locate a person by the first name.
#1..Toiba Geffen Lipschutz and her family. Toiba was born in Vilkomir 1869, the daughter of Moshe Abram Geffen and Ita Feiga Popilsky. Photograph 1920

"Researching the Geffen family has been a fascinating project which will continue on for quite a while."

My great grandmother, Toiba Geffen Lipschutz, was a vague memory to me, but a very vital part of my mother's life. After completing a family history book on my mother's family, I decided to see if I could obtain more information on Toiba's family. I knew none of her relatives and nothing about her pertaining to the "old country."

As is my usual practice, the first place I looked for information was at the cemetery. On Toiba's tombstone I found the name of her father, Moshe Abram, along with the name of her husband, David Lipschutz's father.

Next, death certificates provided me with the name of her mother which was Ita Popilsky or Popofsky and the town where she was born, Vilkomir, Lithuania.

On the Internet I looked up all the Geffens listed in the white pages and sent out 250 form letters. When I received over fifty answers, many confirming Vilkomir and all confirming Lithuania, I knew I was on my way.

I was very fortunate to receive the tree compiled on the descendants of Tuvia Geffen from Joel Ziff. This gave me a working basis to start adding names to. Also, I received information on the records in the Lithuanian State Archives that provided information on several branches of the family from Thom Montgomery. We did an additional search of the Lithuanian records and came up with more Geffen names in Vilkomir and surrounding areas.

The Internet, and JewishGen in particular, provides many database with genealogical information. There are the resources from the federal government where ship manifests, naturalization records and census information is available.

Slowly we were able to start building a large family tree. We determined that there were at least six branches of the family dating back to the original David, born circa 1758. Personal conversations gave us many clues as to which family members knew others and who were deemed cousins.

Research showed us, that if a surname was Geffen, and the family had Lithuanian roots, they were part of our tree. Thusly, our tree branched out and has grown to over 2600 family members.

We also learned that the six branches of the tree were very diverse. Among the descendants of Tuvia Geffen were many Rabbis. The descendants of Barouch included the wine makers and religious book publishers. The descendants of Kusel were shopkeepers, innkeepers and tradesmen.

The research is continuing. There are many Geffens in South Africa whom we know are part of our tree as well as many that we have to research to connect. We have now accomplished part of this quest and have added over 200 of our ancestors and their descendants who resided in South Africa.

Family legend has told us that the Geffen family originated in Portugal. We are trying to research where the family might have settled after The Spanish Inquisition. At first we were certain that the family settled in the town of Geffen in The Netherlands. This proved to be incorrect. Presently, we believe they settled in Germany and are doing research there.

We welcome information and input that anyone can provide.

New information will be posted on this site as it is found.

Please see the resources listed on the Bibliography Page for credits.

Research Project Updates..May 14, 2007

South African Geffens...We have completed adding all of the known Geffens from South Africa. We have made contact with several of the families, who have been very helpful. There still remains a few families not connected and we are working on these.
Geffens in Ukraine...We believe that the family of Mikhel Geffen (Gyfain) emigrated fom Lithuania to Ukraine and first settled in the Uman area. Mikhel was quite possibly a brother of our first known David. Please see Relationship of the name Gefen to Gafanovich below. A family tree has been prepared from archival Ukranian documents for this family
Vilna Archives Documents...We have seen the listings for many Vilna documents. Please see Relationship of the name Gefen to Gafanovich below.
Relationship of the name Gefen to Gafanovich...We believe the Geffen family came from Portugal. We do not know as of yet where they settled after expulsion from Portugal, but do know that Kupiskis, Lithuania was a hub for settlement. The name Gafanovich was seen among many Kupiskis documents. It is quite possible that our original name was Gafanovich. There are many similarities of names and dates among the various Lithuanian records that show cross overs of names and birth dates. Through translations of the various records the name is shown with a variety of spellings.

It is also a possibility that our first David Geffen was actually named David Benzion (or Bentzel) Gafanovich. We also see the possibility of our David having at least three brothers: Mikel Gyfain b.1732, who settled in Uman, Ukraine, Movsha Vaynshtok b.c.1743 and remained in Kupiskis, Izrael Geyban b.c.1750 settled in Kedani, Kuanas, Lithuania and Lazer Gafanovich b.c.1755 from Kupiskes. We are presently awaiting further research from Kupiskis.

Looking at the naming patterns of the above and of those of their descandants, it also seems possible that their father was named Itsko b.c.1710. This is a theory that needs more documentation, but it does seem certain that there were settlements of Geffens in several areas in the early 1800s. Our part of the family was certainly from Vilkomir but it appears that David's brothers may have each settled in a different town.

We have been working with Dr. Gerald Gaffin from London on the Gafanovich research. Gerald has done extensive research on his family and has most graciously shared it with us.

We invite you to look at the proposed combined Family Tree based solely upon my theory.

Working Research Projects

South African Geffen Family. We have now added some family groups to our tree

Migration from Portugal

Geffens in Germany

Geffens in Ukraine. We believe they are part of our family

Guiffans from Argentina have been connected to Ukraine Geffens

Geffen documents in Vilna Archives

Geffens in Canada

Relationship of the names of Gefen to Gafanovich

To view some of the Internet sources I used to research Geffens, click on the links below

All Lithuania Searchable Database

Litvak Sig

Portugal To Hamburg Year 1500 (in German)


Jewish Genealogy Links

The Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogical Center

Jewish Gen


The American Immigrant Wall of Honor

Family Tree Count
Geffen Tree Count...7688

*Geffen/Gafanovich Tree Count...8700

*Names not yet attached...248

Total Database...8948

The Name GEFEN
In our original research we only looked at the name GEFEN on documents. We now realize there were many ways the name was translated.

The description of the name GEFEN from the book, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames From The Russian Empire, by Alexander Beider, is :

"Gefen (Vilna, common in Vilkomir) A: grape, vine [Hebrew]"

Below are versions of the names we have found on documents and names of various family members.

  • Gaffan
  • Gaffin
  • Gefanas
  • Gefen
  • Geffan
  • Geffen
  • Geffin
  • Gefon
  • Gifan
  • Giffen
  • Gafan
  • Gafanovich
  • Gapanovich
  • Gafenovich
  • Gafinovich
  • Gofan
  • Goffan
  • Gofen
  • Goffan
  • Gofenovich
  • Geben
  • Gejfen
  • Gofan
  • Goffan
  • Gofanovich
  • Gofen
  • Goffan
  • Gofenovich
  • Gejfen
  • Guiffan
  • Gyfain
  • Kofein
  • Kofin