30 April 2007

One magazine, four stories

Visit the Jewish Magazine's latest issue for four interesting stories on Newark's Jewish community, the Project of Hope, Sephardic Jewry and a family's trek to America:

I enjoyed reading Jay Levinson's "This City is Just Memories: Remembering a Forgotten Jewish Community" about Newark, New Jersey, as my maternal great-grandparents settled there in 1905.

Syd Mandelbaum's "Project of Hope" discusses finding Holocaust Survivors with DNA. Mandelbaum will be speaking on his project at the 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, along with other DNA and genetics experts on a variety of subjects.

Sephardic Jewry is a favorite subject, as regular readers of Tracing the Tribe already know. Manuel Azevedo has contributed "How the Portuguese Secret Jews Saved England." There's an interesting link to Ladina: Aspiring to give a voice to our heritage with numerous relevant postings on Spanish and Portuguese Jews; some postings are in Spanish and Portuguese, most are in English.

"Continuing The Walk: Walking through generations" by Richard Steinberg, a New York Times and international best-selling author, is the story of his own family's Exodus from a central Russian "nameless" shtetl through Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany, Belgium, England and finally to America.

While it is an evocative piece, Steinberg perpetuates the number one myth of immigration. He writes

"Here I stand, in the footsteps of David and Philip Meister (become Steinberg, when the Immigration Officer at Ellis Island couldn't pronounce their last name, and so gave them a new one off of an approved list)."

This is untrue. Ellis Island immigration officers spoke some 60 languages and had translators for additional languages. The officers worked off passenger manifests that were prepared before the ship sailed. No immigrant's name was changed at an officer's whim at Ellis Island, and MEISTER would have been one of the simplest names the officers had seen that day.

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