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Creating Your Own KehilaLinks Site

Quick Links:
Main KehilaLinks Directory
KehilaLinks Project Policy
Form: Reserve a KehilaLinks site
Contact the KehilaLinks Coordinators

Thank you for joining the JewishGen KehilaLinks project.

Our goal is to use the power of the internet to link together resources and Jewish genealogy researchers of a particular town, city, or region.

Before you begin, check the KehilaLinks Directory to make sure that somebody has not already created a site for your town.  If someone has already created a site, please contact him or her and offer your information and assistance to make the site bigger and better.  Duplicate sites are allowed, but be sure you are not merely duplicating information available for your town.  If your town is not in the directory, please read the KehilaLinks Project Policy, and if you agree to abide by them, submit a Donor Agreement.  Again, this will avoid duplication of effort in case somebody else has already begun working on a site.  The KehilaLinks Coordinators act as a clearinghouse, so please submit the Donor Agreement to reserve your site before proceeding. Once you have submitted it, Contact us

Even if you've never created a web page before, you can do this!  Below and on the linked pages are detailed instructions to guide you through the process.  All you need for a basic page is an internet connection, a web browser, a word processor, and these directions.  If you run into difficulties, just contact the KehilaLinks Coordinators.

Please don't forget that unless you have completed and returned the Donor Form your site cannot go live.  The form can be found at: Donor Form.

Please give us feedback on this documentation and accompanying templates.  All suggestions and comments are welcomed.

Table of Contents

KehilaLinks Guidelines

KehilaLinks sites must follow the KehilaLinks Policy Guidelines.

If you have questions, kindly contact the KehilaLinks Coordinators.

Remember that all KehilaLinks sites will be reviewed regularly, and KehilaLinks reserves the right to remove inappropriate material / links.  Please be creative, but stay within the Guidelines.

Organizing Your Information Before You Begin

The main page or "home" page of your KehilaLinks site is like a "Table of Contents" or an outline for all the information on your site.  Along with the "home" page, you will likely have other pages (the name for any html document) that contain the details of the information.  For example, you might have photographs of the cemetery, school enrollment lists, historical articles, etc.  The home page, Table of Contents, or outline, is a guide to that information.  Gather whatever you can from a variety of sources.  Be sure to invite others who are also researching your town.  You can find them by searching the JGFF.  They may also have valuable and important data that you will want to include in your site.

Before you begin creating your KehilaLinks site, create an outline on paper or in a word processor.  There are some standard headings for KehilaLinks home pages, but each town site is a little different, depending upon the type of information that is available for it.  Let the information you want to provide help determine the structure of the table of contents.  The template file (KehilaLinks Template Source) shows some sample headings:

  • Other Names (alternate spellings or different languages)
  • Mapquest (shows the location of the town on a map)
  • Pictures (scanned photographs)
  • Background (historical and bibliographic information)
  • Searchable databases (such as the JGFF, JewishGen's "All Country Databases", etc.)
  • Memoirs and family stories
  • Holocaust
  • Other links

The headings above are only suggestions.  The important thing is to create an outline with headings that will accommodate the kind of information you want to provide.

Please note that material from Yizkor Books may not be put onto KehilaLinks pages.  Contact the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project for their assistance.

When you have made your overall outline, start filling in what will go under each heading.  You can have as many headings and subheadings as you want, but keep in mind that you want to make it as easy as possible for users to find the information they are interested in.  Each item underneath will be its own page, or HTML file.


  • Background
  • History of the town
  • Bibliography
  • Resources available for further research
  • The three items under "Background" will each be a separate document, created either as a text file in a word processor or using web authoring software.  The "how-to" is detailed in another section of this document.  For now, you just need to know that you will be creating three different text files containing the information that will be shown on the screen when the user clicks on the requested subheading.

    When you have made a complete outline which contains a logical organization for all the different types of information that you want to provide on your site, designate a file name for each document. If your documents will be stored on the JewishGen server, you should use the extension ".html" for each file, and you should limit the first part of the file name to 8 characters.  If you are planning to store the files on another server, ask the service provider about whether you should use ".html" or ".htm" for the extension and whether there is any limitation on the number of characters.


    • Background
      • History of the town (history.html)
      • Bibliography (bibliogr.html)
      • Research Resources (research.html)

    Now you are ready to begin creating the home page (or Table of Contents) by copying the template and editing it.

    About the Template Pages

    To help you get started, we've created a template web page that you can modify to create your own KehilaLinks web pages.  Feel free to add to these templates and/or remove some items.  Remember that these template HTML files are only a start.  Feel free to create more web pages to describe your town and add to your KehilaLinks project.

    This is a skeleton page containing the basic elements you will need to create your own home page.  The links on this template page will show you how to connect to maps, photos, lists, and even search databases for you.  It all sounds impressive and very difficult to create, but when you look at the template page, you'll see it's all plain text (except for the KehilaLinks logo, which we supply for you).

    Take a look at a sample KehilaLinks home page now, and follow some of the links to get a sense of what a KehilaLinks site can be.  Use the Back button or command to return to this page.  View the Minkovt'sy page (Ukraine).

    That's the beauty of the World Wide Web and this template page: someone else has already done most of the work for you.  Your changes can be major or minor; you can add some original work you've done or search the Web for other peoples' work.  Of course, you are not restricted to using this format, provided your site meets our policy guidelines.

    Getting a Copy of the Templates

    Now let's look at how you can edit these templates for your own purposes.  When you click on the "Home Page" selection in the list below, the template web page will appear on your web browser.  Pull down the "File" menu on your web browser and you should see an option to "Save As".  When downloading the page using the Save As option, leave the file type as Web Page but rename the file to "index" or "default". Place it in a folder named for the Kehilalinks site you are creating. This will be the file that you will making the changes/additions needed for your KehilaLinks site. As soon as you've saved or emailed the source code, use the "Back" button at the top of your browser window to return to this page.


    See the Scanning Photos and Documents section for more information about photos.

    A Quick Word About Software Tools

    HTML stands for "Hyper Text Markup Language".  Although it is not exactly a programming language, HTML is a series of codes which have to be typed into the text you want to display, that tell the browser how to display it.  You can either type these codes directly into your text editor, or use a software package, called an "HTML editor" or "web authoring tool".  Web authoring software allows you to create and edit basic web pages in a "WYSIWYG" format ("what you see is what you get").  You can highlight a word and then click on "Bold" instead of typing the word with HTML tags surrounding it (<B>Bold</B>).  The software will take what you've typed and write the HTML codes for you.  The software allows you to insert tables, graphics, and other elements without your having to deal directly with HTML.

    Some packages also include some site management tools which will check your pages for errors, make sure that links to other pages are correct, etc.

    So, what's the catch?  Between $89 and $139 usually.  If you think you might create other web pages in the future, or if you really are phobic about learning HTML, or if you just want the whole process to be quicker and easier, it might be worth your while to purchase a web authoring software package.  Some examples (not endorsements, just so you know what to ask for):

    • Mozilla's SeaMonkey
    • Web Easy
    • Kompozer
    • WebPlus

    How to Edit the Home Page Template

    Once you have saved the template's source code to a file, you can either use your favorite text editor to edit the files, or use web authoring software, such as SeaMonkey or WebEasy.  For instructions on editing the page:

    Testing Your Page(s)

    When you have made your changes, it is important to test each and every link to make sure that everything works.  In order to do that, you can use your web browser.  Under the "File" menu, you should be able to choose "Open File" and then choose the file you have just created.  Your page should display on the screen the same way it will be seen on the internet.  While you are testing your site, make sure you are connected to the internet so that you will be able to connect to the sites you have links to.  Remember that if you make changes to your page file in your editor while you are viewing it in your browser, you'll need to "refresh" or "reload" the page in the browser in order to see the changes.

    Technical Checklist

    If you go through the list before submitting your site, or before you upload, you will save a lot of time and energy.  If you need further explanation of any of the items below, don't hesitate to contact us at

    Please fill out the Readiness Checklist.

    1. Is the KehilaLinks logo visible at the top of your page?  The name of the image file should be: /images/KehilaLinksLogo.jpg or /images/KehilaLinksLogo.transparent.png.  (It is important to use this path for the KehilaLinks logo, because in the event that the logo changes, we can do this globally for the site.)  Additionly, we do not want the logo's image file replicated multiple times across the KehilaLinks sites.

    2. Make sure that all your links work properly.  If there are ongoing timeout problems or the server is not reachable, you should remove the link.  If you have a link to a database lookup, make sure that actual data is returned.  If the lookup returns a "no data available" message or something similar, check to see if your search syntax is correct.  If there is really no relevant data available, then the link should be removed.

    3. If you have a button to search the appropriate All Country Database or JGFF, does it work correctly?  There should be no error messages (such as "bad date: 0") anywhere on the screen, and there should be names on the list.  The correct code for the JGFF search can be found at: JGFF search. Details of the All Country Database search is found at: All Country Search

    4. If you have a link to MapQuest, did you get the coordinates right?  The correct code for Mapquest can be found at: Mapquest.

    5. Is your email address easily findable on the main page? (required).  Test the link by sending an actual email.

    6. Do you have a link back to the KehilaLinks directory? (required).

    7. Do you have a link to JewishGen-erosity? (required).

    8. Did you include a keywords and description metatags, and how effective are they?  This is not required, but strongly suggested.  See for more information.

    9. Page title: does it make sense?  Make sure it isn't something like "\WINDOWS\webclass\lesson5\mypage.htm".  The standard title is "KehilaLinks Site for Hoozitz, Ukraine" or something similar.

    10. General design/legibility issues — is the background too busy and interfering with reading the text?  Are the margins consistent, the text not broken up with arbitrary tags?

    11. Images — how large are the files?  Wherever possible, the images should not be more than 30 or 40K.  If you really have to have a huge photo, there should be a clickable thumbnail rather than loading the whole image indiscriminately.  Refer to: Scanning for more information.  If you don't know how to reduce the size of your image files, contact the KehilaLinks volunteer staff for help.

    12. Footer stuff: each page should have a copyright notice (required) at the bottom.  The correct format can be found at: copyright.  The main page should have a "last update" date that is current.

    13. Latitude and longitudes should contain the proper degree and minutes marks (required).  These can be copied and pasted from the template page, or the HTML equivalents can be used — see Lat & Long.

    Remember that all KehilaLinks sites will be reviewed regularly, and KehilaLinks reserves the right to remove inappropriate material / links.  Please be creative, but stay within the Guidelines.

    Uploading Your Page(s)

    Once you have thoroughly tested your page(s), upload the page(s) using the SFTP Username/Password that you have been provided.  Instructions on how to SFTP to the KehilaLinks server are found here. If you need assistance, contact us for help in uploading it to the JewishGen KehilaLinks website.

    Letting the World Know About Your New KehilaLinks Site

    After you have created your new site, the world will not beat a path to it until you have done some "marketing".  There is a number of things that you should do in order to publicize your site.

    KehilaLinks Directory

    If you have been in contact with the KehilaLinks coordinators, and they have helped to upload your site, it should now appear in the KehilaLinks Directory.  If you don't see it there, please follow up with the KehilaLinks Coordinators.

    Postings to JewishGen

    Publicize your new site to the JewishGen Discussion Group.  Make sure to put your town name in the subject line.  An example might be: "Subject: Check out NEW KehilaLinks site for town".

    Postings to SIG Mailing Lists

    Depending upon the area of the world your town belongs to, there may be a relevant SIG (Special Interest Group) on JewishGen.  Check the Regional Special Interest Groups page for other possible contacts, and join the mailing lists so that you can send an announcement to the membership.

    Search Engines

    "Search engines" are sites which keep lists of other sites.  There are many different search engines that organize their information in various ways and allow users to search for sites containing information that is of use to them.  Examples are Yahoo!, Google, Altavista, Webcrawler.  If anyone in the world performs a search for any sites having to do with your town, you want your site to be on those lists.  Unfortunately, your site might not get automatically indexed.  In order to make sure it will show up in these search engines, you will need to submit your URL and a description to as many as possible.

    The Art of Business Website Promotion has a good explanation of how the search engines work and how to optimize your META tags for them.  It also has links to all the major submission pages.  Or, just go to this site.  You'll need to read the directions for each one, as they vary.


    There are several specialized print journals for Jewish genealogy, such as Landsmen for the Suwalk-Lomza region.  Contact the editors of any appropriate journals, to see if they will carry an article or a notice about your new site.

    Make Contacts with JGFF Researchers

    If you have not done so already, get the email addresses of all the people in the JGFF who are interested in your town.  Send out a notice that you have created a KehilaLinks site and that you welcome their comments and submissions.  Depending upon your resources, you might also want to do a postal snail-mailing to those who don't have an email address listed.

    Periodic Maintenance

    Once your site has been online for a while, you might get comments or suggestions or some of the sites you have links to might move and the links will no longer work.  You can make changes to your template at any time, test them and then have them uploaded. Whenever you make changes, you should change the date at the bottom of the page so that you know the most current version is online.  It also helps to generate more interest if you show repeat visitors that something has changed since their last visit.  If nothing ever changes, they might not come back.

    You should also make a habit of personally testing your site thoroughly every month.  The web is a dynamic place, and links that worked fine yesterday might not work today.  There are also periodic enhancements on the JewishGen website that can have repercussions on your site.  You cannot rely upon visitors to let you know if something is broken.  Most people will just move on without bothering to inform you.  It is your responsibility to keep your site up-to-date and functioning properly.  If you have technical problems that you need help with, contact the KehilaLinks coordinators.

    Secrets of the Web

    HTML Programming

    WWW — Special Characters

    KehilaLinks Main Page
    Last update October 27, 2023   rLb
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