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Trying to establish family connections can be complicated, particularly with distant cousins. Methods of counting often vary between cultures.

One standard in the United States of identifying the distance between cousins involves counting the generations from the children of the siblings and then accounting for the disparity between generations.

So the children of two siblings are first cousins who share the same grandparents. The children of the first cousins are second cousins. The relationship between the child of a first cousin and his parent’s first cousin is first cousin, once removed to.

Thus, the difference between your first cousin thrice removed and a third cousin once removed, is that the first is the great-grandchild of your first cousin while the second is the child of your third cousin, who shares the same set of great-great grandparents.

In the case of the Herzl family, most people identified as his cousins have to go back to their great-great grandparents before finding a connection to the Zionist visionary, thus being fourth cousins.

While he did have first cousins in Hungary who had children, relatives in Israel do not know the fate of this nearest branch to Theodor Herzl in the family tree. Miriam Hasenfrantz, 79, says that although her family was invited to Theodor Herzl’s wedding which was held in her grandparents’ house − suggesting the older generation maintained contact with that side of the family − she was not in touch with Herzl’s first and second cousins.