30 March 2007
The article also contains a link to a travel article about the Venice Jewish Cemetery. Although written in 2000, the latter article is still an interesting view of a cemetery restoration.
For more up-to-date information, go to the the Jewish Museum of Venice, which offers tours of the cemetery, information on the synagogues and the community library and archives.
"The Gefilte Fish Chronicles" (April 1, 7 p.m.) is the story of the DuBroff family who came to Brooklyn in 1904. They've been celebrating the seder together for about a century. Their three surviving daughters are filmed as they prepare the 2004 seder for about 60 relatives plus friends. Work begins right after Purim, and they make everything from scratch.
“The Hidden Child” (April 12, 10 p.m.; April 8): The story of Maude Peper Dahme, a hidden child who survived the war in the Netherlands, lives in New Jersey and is active in Holocaust education.
It’s a remarkable film about a remarkable life. But there is a discordant note. Maude married a German Christian and took her children to a Lutheran Church. It is an unexpected note, since she wears a Star of David throughout her one-on-one interviews with host Sara Lee Kessler. She considers herself Jewish —“I feel comfortable in both worlds”— but I can’t help but feel that while she survived, the Nazis managed to extinguish another Jewish soul.
Read the complete article here
I'm sure there are many of us who remember sitting through interminable seders while we children were starving and bored. Now there are plenty of seders that dare to be different, using toys that represent the plagues, masks, funny songs, skits and much more.
One memorable Persian seder we attended in Los Angeles was held in the old tradition, sitting on the floor around the sofreh (the set tablecloth), reclining on pillows. It was fun until we all tried to stand up. Thankfully, dinner was served at the table!
Among the tips in this article:
We had small children. I found a Haggadah that was a play — the story of Moses — that had puppets you could cut out. I sent the puppets to every person who was invited to the seder and told everyone they could not sit at the table unless they had a decorated puppet with them.
People cut out fabric to dress the puppets.
The kids were sheep. They would all say “baah, baah, baah.”
We had a blast.
29 March 2007
"Of the six million Jews that were killed during the Holocaust, two million were cremated and their remains are lost forever. But four million, their remains were placed in the ground in mass graves or small graves distributed throughout Europe," explains Hammer. "So today, as roads are being developed and shopping malls are being built, some of these bones are turning up today accidentally by people doing the construction and they don't know what to do with these bones."
He says identifying those remains is now possible, using DNA matching techniques developed in the aftermath of recent catastrophes. The devastation of 9/11 forced scientists to innovate ways to identify victims from badly damaged DNA. "These are people who died between 1933 and 1945, so their remains have been in the ground for a long time," says Hammer.
Mandelbaum says that among the people coming to the project are survivors who know where their families perished, and they would like to have remains extracted and brought to cemetery plots in the US, Israel or other countries.
If the database grows large enough, he writes, it might also link distant relatives, and reunite scattered families. At the war's end, more than 10,000 orphans went around the world. Many were ages five to 10 and had no knowledge on where their families were.
Mandelbaum says, "The work we do now is not just for this generation, because as remains continue to turn up in Europe there is potential for matching to take place. Remains will be turning up for the next millennium, as long as construction goes on in Europe."
He will speak on the project at the upcoming 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (July 15-20, 2007)
To read more about Mandelbaum and the project, click here.
For genealogists, the online Jewish Magazine is hitting home runs with its Passover issue. They have an article on our friend Joachim, written by Gary Carl Grassl.
Grassl is the author of The Search for the First English Settlement in America: America's First Science Center, which describes the technical and scientific equipment of the times. It can be purchased here.
The Prague-born Gans was, according to Grassl, "the first Jew in English America and probably the first documented, non-baptized Jew in the New World." Gans was chief technologist at what National Geographic Magazine calls "America's First Science Center." He was a relative of Prague Renaissance genius David Gans.
In 1585, Joachim Gans participated in Sir Walter Raleigh's expedition to establish an English settlement in Virginia.
The article details how he built a furnace from local bricks to test for silver content from copper obtained from the natives. The sole remaining artifacts made by this English settlement are the oven bricks and two copper nuggets smelted by Gans.
When Gans returned to England, writes Grassl, "a Christian minister goaded him into publicly denying the divinity of Jesus Christ. He was sent to the highest court of the land, the Queen's Privy Council."
To read more, click here.
By 1861 a third of all Jews in America lived in Louisiana.
Some say that more than 10,000 Jews fought for the Confederacy, with 2,000 of them being officers or in the Confederate Government. Others say that only 6,000 Jews served in the Union Army and as few as 2,000 Jews in the Confederacy.
I believe the number of Jews in the Confederacy was more likely to have been between 6,000 and 10,000. I believe that to be more likely because the Jewish population prospered more in the South, and the South was more tolerant to their religion than in the North.
The author includes the personal account of Joseph Goldsmith, known as the Jewish Confederate "chaplain." Goldsmith was a contractor for sidearms and material.
Ayres also addresses Union General Ulysses S. Grant's belief that the cotton 'black market' was organized by Jews:
General Grant issued his "General Order Number 11". This order expelled all Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.
The order said:
"The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department ('Department of the Tennessee,' an administrative district of the Union Army of occupation composed of Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi) within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.
Post commanders will see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any on returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters. No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application of trade permits."
There was enough backlash from residents for Lincoln to make a decision to have General Grant to revoke the "Order".
The article has information on Confederate members of the tribe, including West Point graduate Abraham Myers, classmate of Robert E. Lee; Major Adolph Proskauer of Mobile, Alabama; and the six Cohen brothers of North Carolina. The first Jewish Confederate soldier killed was Albert Lurie Moses of Charlotte, North Carolina. All-Jewish companies reported from Macon and Savannah, Georgia, while three Louisiana Jews were made Colonel; Moses Jacob Ezekiel of Richmond, Virginia; and Prussian immigrant and physcian Simon Baruch, Surgeon General of the Confederacy.
Yale-educated lawyer Judah Benjamin of Louisiana served the Confederacy as Attorney General, Secretary of War and Secretary of State. Before the Civil War, he had been one of the first Jewish U.S. Senators, and had been offered a Supreme Court seat, which he declined.
Researchers can now order online copies of marriage certificates for marriages under the auspices of the Chief Rabbi (1880-1906).
Checking JewishGen for London cemeteries, Landau noted that it is now possible to locate the position of a United Synagogue grave if the cemetery, first and last name and death year are known.
27 March 2007
Each conference begins with an intro of the resident expert and the topic. The speaker will present information in segments, and each segment will follow with a Q&A session.
Preregistration is required to obtain the call-in phone number and a PIN. Costs vary from free to $15 per session for the session and the PDF handout. Recordings of some sessions are available as MP3 and PDF downloads. See each topic page for details.
Upcoming sessions, all at 8 p.m. (ET) include:
Ancestral Cash - Finding Lost, Missing and Hiding Ancestors at GenealogyBank
DNA & Genealogy, Weird DNA for April Fool's Day!
Finding Mariners, Seafaring Ancestors, Ships and Maritime News with GenealogyBank
Emerging Online Resources and Technology Tools
Ask the Experts: General Problem Solving
Disaster Preparedness for Family Historians
Loyalists in the American Revolution: Resources, Indexes, Documents and Migrations
Map Research: Uncovering Clues in Your Ancestor's Neighborhoods
Migration Case Studies
New Genealogy Research Methodology: Electronic Sources and Resources
Other Sources with Genealogical Clues
Provenance and Ephemera: Information to Artifacts and Artifacts to Information
Reviews of Out of Print Genealogy Resources
Scholarly Writing for Any Genealogical Publication
Using Post Roads, U.S. Mail Contracts, Stagecoach Routes, Livery Stables
and Inns to Find Your Ancestors with GenealogyBank
Using Probate Records as a Shopping List for Other Sources
This feature focuses on Arminio Seiferheld of Moisesville. His father escaped Nazi Germany, moved to Argentina, traded three bicycles for three cows and began his new life. The town was founded in 1890 as one of the Baron Hirsch colonies.
That first year I watched people fill two or three carts with products ranging from Passover marshmallows, potato chips, jalapeno gefilte fish (for real - it was their biggest seller that year!), Israeli and domestic specialty items of all kinds. One friend bought out their entire supply of chocolate-covered marshmallow twists and froze them!
I even remember another long-time Vegas resident, just standing in front of the display, weeping tears of amazement at the variety.
Following Chabad's arrival in town, fresh kosher meat was sold in several supermarkets in areas of greater Las Vegas area where most Jewish families lived. This was a major improvement over having meat shipped in from Los Angeles or Phoenix.
Florida Jews, according to this story, appear to be the beneficiaries of a supermarket struggle over the market for kosher food, with chains including Winn-Dixie, Publix and Albertsons adding kosher delis and kosher bakeries in addition to kosher meats.
In July 1947, the ship was boarded by the British and its 4,500 passengers were turned away only a few miles from its destination. The passengers returned to German detention camps.
The situation made headlines around the world and helped develop support for Israel's creation.
And, although the Exodus has been featured in movies and books, many details are still unknown. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is embarking on a campaign to gather all the information.
For the voyage's 60th anniversary, the museum is attempting to compile a complete passenger manifest for the first time.
In Israel, the Exodus Survivors Convention Committee has a list of some 1,800 refugees who settled there, but the committee and the museum want to find the names of the other 2,700 who eventually settled in Europe, South America, Canada and the United States.
The new names will be added to the USHMM registry, a database with more than 195,000 records of Holocaust survivors and their families - "Only five people in the registry have identified themselves as Exodus passengers." The museum also hopes to collect photographs, film, testimony and artifacts from the voyage.
The story provides the historical details of the aging steamboat, named the President Warfield, which became the Exodus. It sold for $40,000 in October 1946 to a company fronting for the Haganah.
Baltimore native Leon Uris authored Exodus, the basis for the Paul Newman film.
Do you have information about the passengers? If so, contact U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum curator Genya Markon; call 202-488-6108, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the museum.
He's been assaulted and accosted on the streets, but also jokes that he oversees "one of the most vibrant, dysfunctional communities in Europe."
He tells stories of Poles who discover their Jewish roots by accident, such as the skinhead teenagers who got married out of high school, had a baby and discovered they were both Jewish.
Community leaders estimate some that 20,000 Poles identify as Jews, and 2,000 are active in communities located in Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz and five other cities. Warsaw has a Jewish elementary school, Jewish kindergartens, youth centers and summer camps. Today there are eight rabbis; in 2004, Schudrich was the only one.
During a long-ago visit to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I discovered a resource that finally proved that place had existed, and offered details on other ancestral locations.
The original title of this resource is Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich, which translates to The Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic Countries.
The 15 volumes were published between 1880-1902, and it is the resource to go to if you want to locate places in both present and past Poland, such as former Polish provinces of Russia, localities in former Austro-Hungary such as Galicia (now divided between Poland and the Ukraine), Belorussian provinces of the Russian Empire (now in Belarus), significant localities in Russia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. Additionally, information is also available from the provinces of Poznan, West Prussia, East Prussia, Silesia and Pomerania.
While Mogilev, Belarus ran to columns and columns, and Skom Bobole was only 3 lines, there were also short items on Vorotinschtina (our agricultural colony outside Mogilev) and my grandfather's Austro-Hungarian (today Ukraine) shtetl of Suchastow.
Now, researchers can sit at home and click on this wonderful resource, online since February 2007.
Pamela Weisberger of Los Angeles gets credit for letting me know about this one. She wrote to me, "What's funny is that I also didn't know this was online - quite new as you can see (February) - but I discovered this in my Google search to respond to a JewishGen query, which shows how one good turn often leads to something good for oneself!" How true!
Entries can be very detailed and provide the history of each place, down to how many Jews lived there, as well as details about crops, houses, synagogues, schools and much more. One can even learn which nobles owned the towns and who (including Jews) had estates in that area.
Two Web sites that have free browsing and image downloading from this resource are the Polish-only The University of Warsaw and The Digital Library of Malopolska.
A special browser plug-in - Djvu - is required to read the pages. The latest Web browsers generally have this tool installed, but if you need to download it, click on Lizardtech.
An example of information is the Kolbuszowa entry: "Kolbuszowa was part of the Ostróg estate, then belonged to the Lubomirski princes, and currently the major estate is the property of Count Zdzis. Tyszkiewicz. In the 17th century there was a famous palace here, beautifully constructed, all of wood with headless nails wrought by the local ironworkers; but in the course of time it deteriorated and was finally torn down on the order of Count Jerzy Tyszkiewicz."
Many Jews worked for the landowners. For suggestions on how to get more specific information, go to Gayle Schlissel Riley's Web site: "The Magnate Landowners Records of Poland."
The resource guide is written in Polish, but two online guides can help to decipher the entries:
The Polish Genealogical Society of America provides an excellent guide to translating these entries and the many abbreviations used, while Polish Roots, provides screen shots of pages and helpful hints, and additional resources.
For entries already translated into English, click here, and for a glossary of unfamiliar English terms used, click here.
25 March 2007
Despite nine generations of living in the Holy Land, it is still very German blood that runs through the veins of Noshing and family. ...
Come mid-February, Frau Noshing and her own mother, Noshing’s grandmother, would meet to commence planning. Like Allied generals discussing an imminent attack on the beaches of Europe they would divide up responsibilities, sketch out timelines and part with a mutual commitment to attack the problem at hand mercilessly and effectively.
The recipe in the article is a great Vietnamese chicken soup called Pho Ga, or "in its Hebraized, special-for-Passover name — Pharoah Ga."
And in a nod to another regional Passover tradition, don't forget to buy a bushel - at least - of long scallions (piaz-che in Farsi) which Persians use to joyfully whip each other at the seder during Dayenu, in memory of the Egyptian taskmasters. Ask any Persian about their favorite holiday tradition, and he or she will certainly reply with this one. In all my years of Dardashti Persian seders, we've never sung Dayenu all the way through. The first syllable of that one word is the key to a free-for-all. When you consider that most Persians are at seders with 40-60 or more guests, the chaos can be very interesting!
His theory is at the root of "Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Comic Jewish Satire," which will be performed in New York City by the Dark Lady Players. In it, the Bard's most-performed comedy is treated as a Jewish lampoon of the Christian Gospels.
A.L. Rowse, an eminent British historian, first claimed in 1973 that Amelia Bassano Lanyer was the enigmatic "dark lady" often assumed to be of African descent who is mentioned in a number of Shakespearean sonnets. Hudson takes this idea much farther to argue that the "dark lady" actually wrote the sonnets, along with the plays, despite the fact that they were composed at a time when Jews had been expelled from England and women were legally barred from publishing their own works.
To prove his case in his 800-page, as-yet-unpublished book, Hudson insists that the "dark lady" possessed exactly the kind of wide-ranging knowledge — of such diverse fields as the Bible, law, music, Italian, falconry and the geography of Denmark — that he is certain Shakespeare lacked. Hudson also depends on the research of Florence Amit, an American-born scholar now living in Israel, who claims to have found hundreds of Hebrew words and phrases in Shakespeare’s works.
According to the article, Bassano Lanyer was born into an Italian Jewish family in 1569 London, adopted into a royal family at age 7, and at 13 became the mistress of Lord Hunsdon, who was Lord Chamberlain in charge of the English stage.
She was the first published female writer in England in 1611 with Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (Hail God, King of the Jews).
Scholars have often sought to attribute Shakespeare's works to other writers. In making his case for Bassano Lanyer, Hudson has supporters as well as skeptics.
In the article, he says: "My mother was a hidden child during the war. I care about this hidden story. These are the works upon which Western culture was based. I don’t want this to be covered up."
Mark your calendars now for:
April 16, 2-4.30 p.m.: Reference library (books, CDs, maps) will be open.
April 29, 2-4 p.m.: A beginners' tutorial will help newcomers use the JGSGB and JewishGen websites. Reservation required.
May 21, 2-4.30p.m.: A workshop, theme to be announced.
June 3, 10 a.m.-4.30p.m.: Annual conference, five speakers, morning refreshments, lunch and information pack.
June 24, 2-4 p.m.: Tutorial on the National Archives and London Gazette websites. Reservations required.
For tutorial reservations, e-mail Manchester Regional chair Lorna Kay through the link on the Web site above.
Other JGSGB regional groups are in Oxford, South Coast, SW London, East of London, Leeds and the Chilterns. For more information on each, click here.
And, of course, for the main London group happenings, read all about it here.
The site lists 219 burials; some entries include photographs of the gravestones. The names are both Ashkenazi and Sephardic. For the names, click here.
Click here to read how Vittorio (Vico) Levi and his son Robert have renovated the cemetery.
For photos of the cemetery before renovation, click here. For contrast, click here to see how the cemetery looks now.
Argentina's Sephardic Jewish Association was founded on November 2, 1929, and Temple "La Paz" Chalom held its first service on Rosh Hashanah 1937.
For a list of 1,118 marriages at the synagogue - from 1937-1996 - click here.
The names are both Sephardic and Ashkenazi.
The synagogue has an 800-year-old Torah scroll written in Spain. The scroll survived the 1492 expulsion and was brought by Spanish exiles to the island of Rhodes, where it survived the Nazis. It was donated by the Jewish Community of Rhodes to the Chalom Community Center.
For the history of this Torah and how it survived, click here.
Additionally, some issues of the synagogue's newsletter are online. They include interesting articles in Spanish or Ladino on a range of topics, including "Jewish Doctors of Salonika."
23 March 2007
Nancy Holden is editor of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles's journal, Roots-Key.
She is planning a special issue focused on "Recreating Your Shtetl." It will be an analysis of the ways genealogists tell the story of a family or group of families in one place at one time. This issue will focus on Belarus.
Not all archives in Belarus are easy accessed as primary records, so secondary sources must often be used to recreate our family shtetls. Happily, many researchers have created family trees, conducted surname searches and built Web sites to encourage networking with others whose families lived in the same areas.
Roots-Key is soliciting articles on the techniques used in putting together the socio-economic culture, the history and the life and times of your Belarus shtetl. Did you:
- Create Excel spreadsheets from collected family trees?
- Search the Internet to create and analyze lists of resources, records, and record groups?
- Form a common interest group? Collect archival data together?
- Put up a Web site? What information did you want to share and what information did it bring to you and others?
- Create a cousin tree from South Africa or South America to Southern California?
- Use the JewishGen Family Finder and online White Pages, search passenger lists or create common surname data?
Nancy would like to hear from you if you have made the transition from your family story to documenting the common story.
If so, here's an opportunity to share your work in unraveling the mysteries of recreating your family in time and place.
Send all enquiries and articles to Nancy Holden.
The records are in text - a thumbnail of the page is also there. The project is ongoing -- records through 1913 will eventually be added. Today's data contains 101,102 trials, and an additional 100,000 trials (from 1834-1913) will be added by September 2008.
The Proceedings was a periodical. It was published each time the court was in session (eight times a year) for 160 years. The name changed in 1834, but publication continued until 1913.
For very interesting information on the history of the records, click here.
This database, says Plotz, is highly relevant to British Jewish genealogy, as its entries start shortly after the readmission of Jews to England by Cromwell and will run through the Victorian period. His search for Cohen yielded 200 hits and, for Levy, 377. I know of at least one Israeli researcher who discovered the name of relative through the database -- a great-great-great-granduncle cited in an 1833 record.
You can search by keyword, name, date, place and map, crime, verdict and punishment, and other criteria.
A search for "Jew" or "Jewish" turns up more than a thousand references.
It appears, according to the database, that some members of the tribe were sent to American colonies such as Maryland as a sentence for various crimes. While the transport of Jewish prisoners to Australia is relatively well know, the American destination doesn't seem to have been nearly as thoroughly explored by scholars.
Of specific interest to researchers of Jewish families is the community page, which provides search strategies. Topics include Sephardi, Ashkenazi, legal context, bibliographies and more.
Solomon Spring, William Bartholomew, Samuel Bushel, theft: burglary, 22 Feb 1688.
... Solomon Spring, William Bartholomew, and Samuel Bushel, all of the Parish of Hornsey, were Indicted for Breaking open the House of Seigniour Alvaro de Costo a Jew, on the 20th. of January last, at One of the Clock in the Night, and stealing thence three Holland Shirts ...
For additional examples from the Old Bailey Records, read here . And to read about Jewish Lawmen of London, click here . Thanks to Ann Rabinowitz for these links.
19 March 2007
He discussed his journeys to Sydney, Tel Aviv, Copenhagen and Stockholm to interview 12 of the 48 surviving Jews of Bolechow - some 6,000 Jews lived there before WWII. Since those interviews, five of the individuals Mendelsohn spoke with have died.
How many of us have elderly relatives whom we have not yet interviewed? What stories and experiences remain to be told? What clues to our unique family histories remain to be uncovered?
If you have not yet read the book, the following excerpt from this review should inspire you to rush out and obtain a copy.
As a child growing up in a New York Jewish family Daniel Mendelsohn would overhear fragments of whispered conversation about six relatives who perished in the Holocaust. When, at 12, he dared ask his mother what happened to his great-uncle Shmiel Jager, great-aunt Ester, and their four daughters - Bronia, Frydka, Ruchele and Lorka - she replied flatly: "They raped them and they killed them all."
Yet his querying mind was not stilled. For one, his resemblance to his murdered great-uncle "killed by the Nazis" was so striking that he'd sometimes inadvertently cause members of his extended family to cry. And he was passionate about history, researching archeology and teaching himself Egyptian hieroglyphics and ancient Greek by age 12. As a precociously curious child obsessed with lost worlds, the silence which shrouded his slain relatives spurred, rather than impeded, his imagination.
By 13, Mendelsohn had became the family's unofficial genealogist, compulsively amassing data about his family tree. He also recorded conversations with his loquacious maternal grandfather, whose sinuous tales of prewar shtetl life awakened his love of storytelling. Yet his grandfather never discussed his brother's murdered family.
Mendelsohn's book about his five-year quest recently earned a National Book Critics Circle award for autobiography.
Londoner Giles Higgitt writes that his "work is a combination of the skills of a private investigator and a genealogist." He is a professional investigator who can be hired, of course, but his blog and weekly newsletter are free of charge and provide many interesting tips and resources.
Although geared to those searching in the UK, his insights, tips and advice are useful to researchers in any country.
Tips include searching for people through their work, searching through blogs and online communities, how UK and US searching differs, first-contact letters, reunions, the "investigative mind" and much more. Do check his archives from January for very interesting topics.
From a simple e-mail to the JewishGen discussion group written by a young Polish woman in Warsaw, forwarded to a dedicated researcher in Ra'anana, Israel, this story continues to evolve as more details are investigated.
The story connects Poland, Israel and the U.S., and may eventually connect families in London, Paris and Antwerp. Polish TV is making a documentary about the story.
My complete story about this saga can be read here
in the Jerusalem Post's Online Edition.
"Non-stop sleuthing produces a story that twists at every turn: Wilno, Warsaw, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, a Righteous Gentile, a hidden slip of paper in a candlestick, the Exodus, American uncles, an illustrious rabbinical family and more.
Enter Warsaw's Marianna Hoszowska, 23, who volunteers to assist members of the Children of the Holocaust Society; Maria Kowalska (Masha Fajnsztejn), 68, a toddler saved by her Righteous Gentile nanny Stanislawa Butkiewicz; and former Londoner, researcher Patricia (Trisher) Wilson, 59, of Ra'anana. ... ..."
17 March 2007
A quick search turned up three births of my (Talalay) Tollin family in Springfield: Abraham in 1904, Bessie in 1908 and Sarah in 1910. There were also Schulman and Shulman in Boston and others.
Lantos speaks about his experiences before, during and after the war, his family and his book, Parallel Lines.
Margaret Throsby is the interviewer, and the piece contains several interludes of music selected for specific reasons by Lantos, from Duke Ellington's Take the A Train to the Largo movement of Bach's Double Violin Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin.
Of Ellington, Lantos says, after the Hungarian Revolution he listened to the Voice of America's music programs, and the jazz took him from Communist Hungary to more open horizons.
To hear the interview, click here. Go to Recent Interviews and scroll to Peter Lantos.
The Laub's story began in Probuzna (formerly part of Galicia; today Ukraine).
The Laubs then traveled with the kids to a children's home in Avelka, a village in Chelbinski province. There were 120 children, 44 of them Jewish but unaware of their religion.
The article, which strangely is in the site's Travel section, is mainly a collection of photographs, taken by Abraham, from those days.
Ynewnews indicates that this is the first of three parts of the the story of "Sarah's Children." One hopes Ynewnews has the remaining articles better translated.
The photographs include the homes of Probuzna (which looks eerily like a Catskills bungalow colony), synagogue, study center, market, funerals, community groups (such as Keren Kayemet), Hebrew school, summer camp, and the children in Avelka with Abraham and Sarah.
To see the photos, click here.
The article offers insights by Hamann into the relationship between the two men, and she adds that Bloch was protected by the Gestapo on Hitler's orders, kept his apartment, received coupons for clothing and other things -- the only Jew in Austria to do so. "And, especially, he was able to stay in Linz as long as he wanted."
Bloch and his wife arrived in New York in 1941. Block died in 1945, but his wife lived to age 90.
The interviewer asks, "Did Bloch say anything about how his patient turned out?" Replies Hamann, "He could not understand it, remembering a modest, polite boy and with such a good mother."
To read more about historian Brigitte Hamann's new project, click here
He was a proponent of Yiddish culture and wrote "Grandfather's Acres," which was set in Galicia during the 1880s to 1922. His book, translated into English by Gefen, helps make the world of our ancestors a bit more accessible to those interested in family history.
The focus is on Orthodox Jewish farmers in Metzker's home shtetl of Yanovitz. The book is dedicated to his father, his sisters and their families, who all perished in the Holocaust.
I'm adding this book to my must-read list as well. When will I get the house ready for Passover if I read all the books on this growing list?
Read the review here.
Although I am wary of the viewpoint of the reviewer, Allan Nadler, who is described in his bio as a "nonviolent Canadian Litvak," I'm putting this book on my to-read list. It's got all the elements of a major movie.
A Murder in Lemberg: Politics, Religion, and Violence in Modern Jewish History, by Michael Stanislawski(Princeton University Press, 2007).
On September 6, 1848, a young Orthodox Jew with the very inauspicious name of A.B. Pilpel (Hebrew for pepper), bearded with sidelocks and dressed in a black hat and a long caftan, entered the kitchen of the district rabbi of Lemberg, Abraham Cohen, and, pretending to light his cigar from the stove, poured arsenic into the Cohen family’s soup. Within hours of their supper later that evening, the entire Cohen family was severely ill. And by 3 o’clock the next morning, Rabbi Cohen and his infant daughter, Teresa, were dead. Rabbi Cohen’s wife, Magdalena, and his four older children survived the poisoning. The rabbi is reported to have said, as he lay dying, that “no Jew has done this.”
Author Michael Stanislawski, writes Nadler, demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt in his riveting new book that the rabbi was wrong.
This controversial, liberal, Hapsburg government-appointed rabbi of the capital of Jewish Galicia (Galitsia), Lemberg (Lwów, in Polish; today the Ukrainian city of Lviv), became the first Jewish leader to be assassinated by a fellow Jew since the second-century Judean revolt against the Romans.
Readers will be introduced to the Jewish religious and political culture of 19th-century Austrian Galicia, where many of our ancestors lived.
The book also debunks myths about Galitsianers, such as that they were primitive and uneducated Hasidim in contrast to the Yekke German Jews or the Litvaks of Lithuania.
Nadler, a Drew University professor of religious studies and director of the Jewish studies program, calls the saga an important historical morality tale about the dangers of religious extremism.
Read the entire review here.
“How could people last for 4,000 years in the most inhospitable climate on earth if they weren’t geniuses?” he demanded rhetorically at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, where “The Journals of Knud Rasmussen,” a film he co-directed with Zacharias Kunuk, was the opening attraction.
“The Inuit figured out how to turn bones into tools, how to turn skin into warm clothing, how to feed their families for generations. And when things go wrong in that environment, you’d better laugh, because what [else] are you going to do?” (Cohn professes not to see a similarity between Inuit and Jewish humor, but a Jewish sage advises, “When you’re hungry, sing; when you’re hurt, laugh.”)
His work with two Inuit video "explorers," and their film, focuses on the loss of culture, of being taught that their culture was bad, and of being forbidden to practice their religion and transmit traditions.
We can relate to that.
Read more here .
The traveling exhibit - Anne Frank: A History for Today - will be at the Bosque Redondo State Monument, which commemorates the Long Walk, from April 4-May 11. What's the Long Walk?
During the early years of the Civil War, as settlers pushed westward through the territory of New Mexico, the American army forcibly relocated some 9,000 Navajo and Mescalero Apache to Fort Sumner and the surrounding Bosque Redondo reservation, where they were held captive until 1868. Thousands died during the journey and incarceration.
"The Anne Frank exhibit," said Mary Ann Cortese, president of the Friends of Bosque Redondo, "will help connect the tragic events at Fort Sumner to the larger context of human rights abuses that have taken place across the globe."
The long Southwestern history of Jewish-Native American interaction begins with the the arrival of Spanish and Converso settlers in the 16th century and connects to contemporary Jewish communities in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Henry Tobias (A History of the Jews in New Mexico, UNM Press 1990) comments that the relationship was historically more intimate.
"Jewish peddlers did a lot of trading with the Indians,” he said, pointing to the Jewish pioneer Solomon Bibo, who in the mid 1880s became the first non-Indian governor of the pueblo of Acamo. “He wasn’t the chief,” Tobias cautioned, “but he was an ambassador.”
A good friend of mine, Dr. Stanley Hordes has been writing on the Southwestern Conversos for decades. His recent book To the End of the Earth (Columbia 2006) focuses on the crypto-Jews of New Mexico, and includes excellent genealogical and archival sleuthing to prove the origins of the settlers. It's on my highly-recommended list for readers who wish to know more about this issue.
“Nobody has a monopoly on being victims of genocide,” said Hordes, the author of a recently-published book on New Mexico’s crypto-Jews. “What happened to the Navajos in the 1860s and what happened to the Jews in the 1930s inevitably begs that kind of comparison.”
One of the most interesting people in the story is University of Minnesota professor of English and fiction writer David Treuer. His father is a Viennese Jew left Austria in 1938, and his mother is an Ojibwe tribal judge. He certainly bridges the subject of the article.
"The Holocaust," he said, "is unique. It’s special, if you can call it that. It has its own special brand of horror. But, if anything good can come of something like that, it is by drawing attention to other ongoing processes."
Do read the entire article here.
Among the 40 million pages are what could be explosive records uncovering which companies had a hand in the atrocities.
Black writes about what is in the secret archives.
Only an estimated 25 percent of the prodigious collection relates to Jews. The remainder covers the fate of Gypsies, Poles, Dutch, and other groups targeted for oppression and destruction. Taken as a whole, the documents provide details of how the Nazis masterminded the elimination of European Jewry and other enemies of the Third Reich.
It offers vast additional proof of IBM’s minute-to-minute involvement in the 12-year Holocaust, new insights into the corporate beneficiaries of Germany’s slave and forced labor programs, an explosion of evidence that insurance companies participated in and benefited from the decimation of the Jews, and the dark details of persecution suffered by millions of individuals who would have otherwise disappeared into the bleak vastness of Hitler’s war against humanity.
Black describes the four groups of documents, why the contents of each may prove explosive when made public, and when each might finally be opened to public scrutiny.
It is an eye-opener.
To read more, click here
Brasse, 92, is visiting London to see the film about his work and will participate in a Q&A session.
The film will be shown at the West London Synagogue on March 19, during the fifth Polish Film Festival. It is co-sponsored by Spiro Ark and the Polish Cultural Institute, and is being held at West London Synagogue.
Captured in southern Poland while he was trying to escape the Nazis and join the Polish army, Brasse was sent to Auschwitz in 1940 as a political prisoner and stayed there until the end of the war.
The SS ordered him to document the inmates. The day before the camp's evacuation, he risked his life to save most of the 100,000 pictures, among them children experimented on by Dr Josef Mengele.
For reservations and information, call Spiro Ark, 020-7723-9991.
To read more, click here
16 March 2007
He has even uploaded his first Learn Hebrew video to YouTube. Click here to view it.
Planning a trip to Israel to research your roots or visit family?
Building your vocabulary may prove helpful, so you may want to give this site a try. Learn the names of various family relationships, greetings, farewells, people, phrases and much more.
"Roots," the epic series that changed the face of television 30 years ago, will be seen again when the 12-hour event begins April 8.
The series - which garnered Emmy, Golden Globe and Peabody Awards - follows several generations of an enslaved family from Africa in the 1700s to emancipation during the Civil War.
The series is being shown on TV One, which is available on many cable and satellite providers. The channel's Web site lists the schedule of airing dates.
On your mark, get ready and set your VCRs to record!
Today's active Jewish genealogy community can trace its growth to the aftermath of the show, which was followed only a few months later by Dan Rottenberg's seminal Jewish genealogy book, "Finding Our Fathers."
14 March 2007
The first Jews arrived on July 11, 1733 on the William & Sarah, only five months after General James Edward Oglethorpe established the Georgia colony: 34 were Portuguese Jews; eight were members of two German families. The group met in London; the Spanish & Portuguese Bevis Marks Synagogue helped raise money to send them to Savannah.
From this small Jewish beginning came several prominent Americans. Among them was Dr. Samuel Nunes Ribiero, an infectious diseases physician imprisoned during the Inquisition for his successful efforts to return New Christians to the Jewish faith. He is considered the first hero of the Georgia colony for ending a 1733 epidemic. One of his descendants, Raphael Moses, planted peach orchards and developed technology for shipping fruit to distant markets.
A descendant of original colonist Shem Noah was New York sheriff Mordecai Manuel Noah, a founder of Tammany Hall's political machine and early Zionist. In 1825, he tried to establish a Jewish homeland called Ararat at Grand Island in the Niagara River. Another descendant of the original colonists was Commodore Uriah Phillips Levy, who rescued Monticello (President Thomas Jefferson’s home) from destruction and abolished flogging in the U.S. Navy. The new Jewish chapel at Annapolis is named in his honor.
Descendants of the Ashkenazi families of Abraham Minis and Benjamin Sheftall are still active in Mickve Israel.
On the weekend of July 11, 2008, the community will celebrate its 275th anniversary and host a reception for descendants of the first Jewish settlers. The community is actively searching for descendants and has asked the genealogical community for assistance.
For more information, see the Savannah Jewish Archives, whose collections include religion, education, culture, history and genealogy from the 1750s to today, and offer manuscripts, photographs, artifacts, books, pamphlets, audio-visuals, oral histories, and the Savannah Jewish News from 1945 through the present.
The following list of the original 42 Jewish settlers was compiled from various sources by the late Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern. The list is in his article, "New Light on the Jewish Settlement of Savannah" (American Jewish Historical Quarterly, LII, March 1963, #3, pp 169-199).
Are you a descendant of these individuals or do you know someone whose ancestor is on this list?
Dr. Samuel Nunes Ribeiro (in America, NUNES or NUNEZ). Converso, arrived in London about 1726, and remarried his wife Rebecca, who did not come to Savannah, in a Jewish ceremony; mother Zipporah, sons Daniel and Moses; daughter Sipra; servant, Shem Noah.
Isaac Nunes Henriques, wife Abigail (nee Sequeira); son Shem (or possibly Samuel, Abigail's brother); a son who died at sea.
Raphael Nunes Bernal, wife Rachel Bernal.
David [Lopez D'] Olivera; Jacob Lopez d'Olivera, married Amsterdam, 15 July 15 1717, to Judith (nee Velha); sons David and Isaac; daughter Leah.
Aaron De Pivia [De Paiba?].
Benjamin Gideon [Abudiente].
Jacob Lopez De Crasto (Castro?).
David Lopez De Pass, remarried London, wife Zipporah De Pass.
Isaac Da Costa Villareal.
Abraham De Molina.
David Rodrigues De Miranda, remarried London 11 Nisan, 1730, Rahel Nunes Miranda who stayed in London. He came to Savannah, died December 1733. She remarried 17 Kislev 1736 to Abraham Nunes Miranda; Jacob [Rodrigues De] Miranda.
David Cohen Delmonte; wife Rachel, son Isaac, daughters Abigail, Hannah, Grace.
Abraham Minis; wife Abigail; daughters Leah and Esther; Simon, Abraham's brother; Jacob Yowel.
Benjamin Sheftall; wife Perla.
Abraham De Lyon.
13 March 2007
The Finnish Jewish community dates back only to 1858, when Russian soldiers who had completed their required service were granted the right to settle anywhere in the Russian Empire, which then included Finland.
In 1917, following Finland's independence from Russia, its Parliament granted these soldiers and their descendants full citizenship. By 1939, about 2,000 Jews lived there.
During the 1940 war between Finland and Russia, known here as the Winter War, Finnish Jews fought alongside their countrymen. But most surprising to those unfamiliar with this nation's Jewish community could be the fact that Finnish Jews fought in World War II alongside Germany on the Russian front, as their country allied itself with the Nazis.
Even more unusual, the Finnish government afforded Jews full civil rights throughout the war despite strong pressure from the Nazis. Today's community has a memory of a “field synagogue” built by Finnish soldiers in which they could conduct services alongside SS units.
Most interesting, perhaps, is another local story of a Jewish soldier who defied death to rescue a battalion of SS soldiers pinned down by enemy fire. Offered an Iron Cross he refused, in flawless German.
When a German officer asked where he learned to speak so well, the soldier reportedly answered that he was Jewish, and that since Yiddish was his mother language, it was easy for him to speak German. He then marched out of the deathly silent tent. The Finnish government supported his refusal of the award.
To read the rest, click here
In a related story, FSU immigrants are again arriving in Finland, reviving a community that was dying out.
The future wasn't looking very good because the number of community members had been declining all the time," recalls Dan Kantor, executive director of the Jewish Community of Helsinki, or JCH.
The JCH runs the city's 100-year-old synagogue, which houses Finland's only Jewish day school, and operates the only kosher deli in Finland.
"Today we have about 1,200 members; in the 1980s we had about 800 members," Kantor said. "And if you look at the background of the schoolchildren," some 75 percent have one immigrant parent. "There, in very clear numbers, is what has happened."
To read more, click here
According to the USHMM, more than 1 million Jews from the FSU, including annexed territories of Eastern Poland, the Baltics, Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, passed through Tashkent as they fled before the German army.
Many evacuees reached Central Asia in this era. The USHMM database was prepared from the evacuees' card catalog in the Central State Archives of Uzbekistan in Tashkent.
From 2004 to 2006, Central Asia Research Project researchers, led by Prof. Saidjon Kurbanov, selected and digitized 152,000 cards of Jewish evacuees. The USHMM provided funding; Kurbanov and his team compiled the database and card images.
According to Kurbanov, the cards list only people whose initial stopping point in Uzbekistan was Tashkent. It does not include those who arrived after February 1942.
Data on the front of the card includes: family name, given name, father's name, relationship to head of household, gender, year of birth (or age at registration), place of birth, profession (education), nationality (Jewish), former residence, work place before evacuation, position, current residence/address, current place of work (organization and position), and reference/registration number in the Registry books (list number, page number and individual number on the list).
The card reverse (if there is one) contains (for dependants under age 16): Family name, given name, father's name, relationship to head of household, year of birth (or age at registration). I also found one card in a different format for a minor male, age 14.
The search engine is excellent. Search by just the first letter of the first or last name or location. Text comes up for several fields in English and scrolling to the right will bring up the same text in Cyrillic. This is a great help for those researchers who may not know how to spell the names they are looking for in Russian. Spelling is not standardized so some creative thinking may be required.
Clicking on the left-most column will bring up a digital image of the front of the registration card and, in some cases, the back of the card.
A search for TALALAI produced eight cards. Two of them information on the back, listing additional family members and addresses. Some of these individuals had previously been in my records only as small children, with no other information.
Of the names I found in this database, I already knew about the family branches from Moscow and Bobruisk, but a branch in Romny, Sumskaia USSR was a new one for me, and had clues to additional information.
Only 1,000 search results are listed at one time. When I conducted a Mogilev, Belarus search, the results also included people from Mogilev gubernia, as well as Mogilev Podulsk which is nowhere near Mogilev, Belarus.
A worthwhile database to be sure. Search here.
Let's hope that Professor Kurbanov is hot on the trail of card catalogs in other Central Asian archives.
12 March 2007
From the opening session with Paul Shapiro's comments on the latest access update for ITS Archives-Bad Arolsen records, to the closing Banquet with Dan Rottenberg speaking about the 30th publication anniversary of "Finding Our Fathers," the rich program includes genetics, computing and technology, archival research, research techniques, and SIG (special interest groups) and BOF (birds of a feather) activities.
Complete details of the conference film festival will soon be posted, but see Tracing the Tribe's preview. For the latest breaking event news, sign up for the conference discussion group, hosted by JewishGen, to hear about the latest conference plans. Go here here and subscribe to "Salt Lake City 2007."
Click "Breaking News" to review previous bulletins, and for answers to questions concerning the hotel, registration and more, click "FAQ."
Register on-line (or print and mail a form, if you prefer). While registering, remember to sign up for popular extra-fee items, such as Breakfasts with the Experts, SIG luncheons, the closing Banquet and Computer Workshops. Seating is limited. If you've already registered, click “Registration Update” to add events. Or click to the Hilton's special conference site for deep-discounted rates.
The conference is the result of thousands of volunteer hours of effort. More help is always needed in preparation and during the event. If you'd like to assist - staff the hospitality or registration desks, stuff conference bags, introduce speakers, moderate sessions and more - email email@example.com.
The conference is set for July 15-20, 2007, in Salt Lake City.
"There's an illusion being created that all the world's knowledge is on the Web, but we haven't begun to glimpse what is out there in local archives and libraries," said Edward L. Ayers, a historian and dean of the college and graduate school of arts and sciences at the University of Virginia. "Material that is not digitized risks being neglected as it would not have been in the past, virtually lost to the great majority of potential users."
The story explains how cost is impacting projects, and offers this statistic: only 10% of 132 million Library of Congress objects will be digitized. The National Archives is in a similar position, and many local collections are on nondigital media.
LOC director of collections and services Jeremy E. Adamson is quoted:
"It's a crying shame," Mr. Adamson said, "as today's public is acutely visually literate and comfortable with pictures as a means to understand the past and experience for themselves the direct look and feel of history."
The reason for not digitizing these collections? "Not enough money," Mr. Adamson said.
Genealogists know that some resources are not yet online; this is stressed in the article by James J. Hastings, National Archives director of access programs who says that researchers who assume that the only valuable records are the online ones will miss major parts of the story or possibly the entire story.
Copyright law also is an important consideration. The story cites a study which indicates that about 84% of historical sound recordings made in the US from 1890-1964, have become "virtually inaccessible."
Read the story here.
10 March 2007
This year, the July 16 Gesher Galicia luncheon will feature NY Daily News reporter Erin Einhorn, who will share a fascinating family saga, spanning generations, that is of interest to all researchers.
When Einhorn found the family that hid her mother, as an infant, from the Nazis during the Holocaust, she thought she'd created a made-for-TV-reunion for two families thrown together by history. A man who knew her mother as a child threw his arms around her and told her the little girl had been like a sister to him.
But the initial embrace soon gave way to 50 years of hurt feelings and resentments. Einhorn found herself apologizing for choices made years before she was born, untangling a real estate deal made on a handshake by people no longer alive and struggling to prove the death of a great-grandfather born in 1868.
In a year spent living in Poland - the country where her mother was born - she found the only known photo of her grandmother and shocking news about how she might have died.
She met a rabbi who annually brings kosher Chinese food to Krakow for a ritual meal and a Polish nun who insists she's a Jew. She watched as 10,000 young Poles packed an outdoor plaza for a concert of Jewish klezmer music and made a life for herself in a country where she feared she'd be hated.
Now working on a book about her experiences, she tells what she learned, how she learned it, and how easy it was to debunk family memories and folklore with the help of documents tucked away in Polish archives.
To register for the conference and special events go to the conference Web site.
I'll be signing up for this talk.
The conference will take place in Salt Lake City, from July 15-20.
Among the offerings:
Belzec: The Documentary
Director Guillaume Moscovitz has created a chilling account about this horrifically efficient Nazi death camp. It was in operation for less than one year, but at least 600,000 Jews, most from Galicia, were murdered there.
Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness
Chiune and Yukiko Sugihara, at the beginning of World War II, by an ultimate act of altruism and self-sacrifice, risked their careers, their livelihood and their future to save the lives of more than 6,000 Jews in Kaunus, Lithuania. This selfless act resulted in the second largest number of Jews rescued from the Nazis.
The Ritchie Boys
A group of teenagers who escaped the Nazis were trained in intelligence work and psychological warfare at Camp Ritchie in Maryland, and returned to Europe as the American soldiers with the greatest motivation to fight.
West Bank Story
This year's Academy Award-winning short film about Israeli soldier David, an Israeli soldier, and Palestinian fast food cashier Fatima. The unlikely couple fall in love amidst the animosity of their families' dueling falafel stands in the West Bank. A musical comedy about the hope for peace.
Everything is Illuminated
Jonathan Safran Foer travels to Ukraine to visit his Jewish roots and to find the family that saved his grandfather from the Nazis.
Four films by klezmer musician and filmmaker Yale Strom will be featured: The Hungarian-themed Carpati: 50 miles, 50 years and The Man from Munkacs. Galician/Polish-themed Klezmer on Fish Street and The Last Klezmer: Leopold Kozlowski, His Life and Music.
A Torah Returns to Poland
A Torah written in 1876 in Alsace, France accompanied the deportation of its community to Auschwitz. It survived, was discovered in New York and eventually was returned to Poland's contemporary community.
From Kristallnacht to Crystal Day: A Synagogue in Wroclaw Glows Again
A retrospective of life in Wroclaw, Poland (formerly Breslau, Germany) from 1829 until today through the eyes of a synagogue.
Swiss Jewry: An Island in the Twentieth Century
Dormant bank accounts, Nazi gold and refugees through the eyes of the Swiss Jewish community.
Popular repeats from last year's festival:
Watermarks, an inspirational film about the Viennese women’s swimming team from the Hakoah sports club, Hakoah. Bernie about filmmaker Jay Heyman’s Grandpa Bernie who grew up in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City. Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust, director Menachem Daum travels to Poland to find the peasant family that hid his father-in-law.
Pamela Weisberger of Los Angeles, who coordinated the festival, said additional films will be announced later. The complete schedule is expected to be online in April. To learn more about the conference, go to the conference Web site.
According to an interesting story in the New York Times, there are no comprehensive statistics on the number of Chinese children who have been adopted by Jewish families. However, from 1991-1994, 1,300 were adopted, while from 1995-1999, some 17,000 arrived. According to the State Department, some 44,000 have been adopted since then.
Fu Qian, renamed Cecelia Nealon-Shapiro at 3 months, was one of the first Chinese children — most of them girls — taken in by American families after China opened its doors to international adoption in the early 1990s. Now, at 13, she is one of the first to complete the rite of passage into Jewish womanhood known as bat mitzvah.
She will not be the last. Across the country, many Jewish girls like her will be studying their Torah portions, struggling to master the plaintive singsong of Hebrew liturgy and trying to decide whether to wear Ann Taylor or a traditional Chinese outfit to the after-party."
09 March 2007
The class will take place on April 7, from noon to 3 p.m.
It was great to learn about the Genealogical Committee, an auxiliary of the Western Reserve Historical Society, which sponsors the Genealogical Institute 2007.
The committee's purpose is to further the study of genealogy through various activities, such as meetings, lectures, seminars and workshops; and to also provide financial support for materials and equipment acquisition for for the society's library.
For reservations and information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
She became interested in genealogy when she met a Holocaust survivor relative in a La Jolla restaurant.
She was recently interviewed about Ancestry.com, which was just added to the library's subscription databases so patrons can use it free of charge.
Stephanie says "genealogy is a cross between a treasure hunt and a jigsaw puzzle. We follow the clues to a piece of the puzzle and then find where the piece fits."
Other topics she touched on were identity theft, how genealogy works, Mormon records , the Bad Arolsen-International Tracing Service archives, Social Security records, and the challenges of genealogy.
Stephanie just offered Interactive Genealogy 101 at her library, to introduce patrons to Ancestry.com. Attendees provided family names and, using Ancestry.com, she demonstrated the information that could be found.
She will present "Tracing Adopted or Orphaned Family Members - A Methodological Approach" at the upcoming International Conference on Jewish Genealogy July 15-20 in Salt Lake City. Her talk will cover legislation, accessible information, survey of laws, search strategies and print/electronic research media.
"Lt. Gabriel Granatstein, 25, of Montreal, who has been serving with a peacekeeping mission since September, said in a telephone interview that a local municipal leader, Salko Rekanovic, a Muslim, approached Canadian and other international forces about helping fix up the cemetery.
"As the only Jew among the 11 Canadian soldiers serving with the European Union Force-led mission, Granatstein took up the challenge."
His group is stationed in Bihac, a largely Muslim area with no remaining Jewish residents. The cemetery is in Jezero-Privilica, about 15 minutes away.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was home to some 14,000 Jews before WWII. The community dates back to refugees of the 1492 exile from Spain. About 4,000 Jews survived the deportations and executions. Following the 1991 Yugoslav civil war hostilities, the JDC took 2,000 Bosnian Jews to Israel, where most have remained.
Says Granatstein about his recent visit with the Sarajevo Jewish community: “They treated me like family that had never left. It was a pretty powerful experience.”
Read more here.
His story in the Jerusalem Post about the Jewish community of Mumbai, formerly Bombay, caught my eye because a long-lost branch of our (Persian) Dardashti family moved to Bombay in the late 19th century before immigrating to the UK and Israel.
Mumbai's first Jews arrived from Iraq as early as the 18th century, and were augmented by those from Persia and other countries. Rockower's article focuses on Sir David Sassoon, who arrived in 1833, and his business empire as well as the Sassoon family's philanthropy.
The family is intertwined with the city: from the Sassoons came a library, the Mechanics Institute, a school for juvenile delinquents, the Magen David Synagogue, the Knesset Eliyahu Synagogue, a synagogue in Puneh, an elementary school and the Colaba docks.
Some 60 years ago, Mumbai had 15,000 Jews; today there are perhaps 5,000. Institutions include a shochet, mohel and kosher bakery, as well as a place for Jewish travelers to stay.
Those interested in this city will be happy to know that Hebrew University professor Dr. Shaul Sapir is working on a book about the Jewish community's mark on Mumbai.
08 March 2007
Lopez Levy will provide information on genealogical resources at the meeting.
The JGS of Colorado was formed in 1995, and its research library is housed at Congregation Emanuel. For those just starting out on learning about their roots, the group will hold a beginner's workshop on May 20.
Their Web site includes databases, issues of their newsletter, genealogical resources in the state and more.
For more information about the events, click here
Mere mortals are forbidden access to these locked-up records. Some Holocaust victims have waited for decades on a waiting list to receive information.
Last summer, genealogists and scholars were happy to hear that the commission, with representatives of 11 member nations, had agreed to make digital copies of records available; some digitization is underway, and the Swiss director who had blocked international efforts to open the archive was fired.
Sixty-two years after the end of the Second World War, how can there not be a sense of urgency about making record public, asks writer Anne Applebaum in a Washington Post article. "In whose interest can it possibly be to keep Holocaust archives closed?"
And "urgency" is the right word: Hundreds of thousands of people are still waiting to see documents, and more of them die every day. If discussions go the right way this week, digital copies of documents could be available for some of them to read, in their own countries, later this year. If not, they may never see them at all.
To read the complete story, click here
For more details, read this AP story
According to Ancestry.com.au's managing director, quoted in the Australian Daily Telegraph, 38% of the Web site's users were ages 15-24. Josh Hanna added that the number of users 35 and under grew significantly last year.
Reasons quoted were the popularity of reality gen shows such as the UK's "Who Do You Think You Are?", the fact that the world is getting smaller through technology, and an uptick in travel by young people to places where their ancestors lived.
Blum "puts these sleuthing and research skills to good use as someone who helps the Red Cross reunite members of families separated during the Holocaust."
He began to use his talents for others after he saw an advertisement in 2005 in none other than the Jewish Exponent.
The Red Cross was looking for a relative of one Shlomo Adelman, a Romanian Jew who had come to Israel in 1940. Always at the ready, Blum decided to lend his skills to the effort.
So he waded through Census records, Social Security death indexes, city directories, passenger-arrival indexes and naturalization records. Within two weeks, he had found Adelman's long-lost cousin: Bessie Zauber from Ventnor, N.J.
Says Blum, who is co-president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia: "with genealogy, you're never finished." Visit the site to learn about area resources and repositories.
Blum will speak on "Secrets of Finding People" at the JGSGP meeting on March 12 at 7:30 p.m. Click here for more information.
07 March 2007
SIG editor Barry Shay welcomes all comments and suggestions, and is looking for additional photographs and materials to add to the site.
The Latvian State Historical Archives hold vital records from 1854-1905. The complete inventory of Jewish records is at the Shtetlinks Riga Web site.
JewishGen's Latvia Database has about 95,000 entries and is frequently updated as more information becomes available. Major categories are Latvia, Livland Gubernia, Courland Gubernia and Vitebsk Gubernia, each with various components. Additional information is here.
For the information on Estonia, which utilizes Mark Ryback's site and additional articles, click here.
There's also a history of Jews in Latvia and Courland, a section on shtetl memories, the small "shtetlach" of Latvia, book reviews and links for more information.
For a book on Latvia and Estonia resources, click here
06 March 2007
Fortunately for Tracing the Tribe's readers, reporters are also talking to Jewish genealogists, such as Herb Huebscher of New York and to Bennett Greenspan, founder of Houston-based Family Tree DNA, the very first company to do genetic genealogy.
Thanks to recent stories by Matt Crenson of the Associated Press and Jamie Talan of Newsday, DNA - specifically Jewish DNA - is in the news. And Amy Harmon of the New York Times is working on another article in this vein.
And for those families of Eastern European origin with an oral family tradition of Sephardic roots, there is a just-established Family Tree DNA project called "Iberian Surnames of Ashkenaz," headed by Judy Simon. She writes "We are starting a geographical DNA project for male Ashkenazi Jews with a Spanish or Portuguese surname or an oral tradition of having Sephardic roots, who are interested in tracing their ancestry by DNA."
To read more about the project, click here. You may also e-mail Judy for more information, IberianAshkenaz@yahoo.com
If you want to learn even more about DNA in genealogy, the upcoming 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will feature a DNA and Genetics track. There will be programs by author Jon Entine, genetics counselor Gary Frolich and the Shoah Project with Syd Mandelbaum. Greenspan will speak on Genetic Genealogy 2007 and Huebscher will provide an update to his fascinating project linking a growing number of Galizianer (Austro-Hungary) and Litvak (Lithuanian) families to genetically matching Sephardic families, which may indicate a pre-Expulsion Sephardic origin for the entire group.
The conference program is now online, for all event details, registration and much more.
04 March 2007
The Philippines have a fascinating Jewish history.
A Web site sponsored by the Embassy of Israel in the Philippines provides an excellent exhibit that tells the little-known story of the history of Manila community from Spanish colonial days through to contemporary times, The community provided aid to so many refugees during the war years.
The islands were a Spanish colony from 1521-1898, and conversos accompanied Spanish adventurers who settled the islands, according to Harvard University history professor Jonathan Goldstein, who wrote a paper on Jewish merchants in Far Eastern ports.
New Christians Jorge and Domingo Rodriguez are the first recorded Jews to have arrived, reaching Manila in the 1590s. In 1593, both were tried and convicted at a Mexico City trial (called an auto-da-fe) because the Inquisition was not operating in the Philippines. At least eight other New Christians were also tried and convicted. Others with Jewish roots kept very quiet, settling in rural areas, living a precarious existence and keeping their traditions very secret in a very Catholic colony.
The Suez Canal opened in March 1869, cutting the travel time from Europe to the Philippines from three months to 40 days. In 1870, brothers Adolf, Charles and Rafael Levy arrived from Alsace-Lorraine, fleeing the Franco-Prussian War, and established a Manila jewelry store famous throughout the Philippines, La Estrella del Norte (The Northern Star). Their businesses eventually included general merchandise, gems, pharmaceuticals and automobiles. Leopold Kahn, also from Alsace, arrived in 1909 and joined them in business.
Later, Syrian Jew A.N. Hashim arrived with watches to sell and also established a jewelry business; Turkish and Egyptian Jews also came to Manila.
The community expanded during the period that the Philippines were under American control and during the Holocaust the community rescued many refugees. The community increased with SephardicBagdadi Jews from India, as well as an American/European Ashkenazi community, each with their own synagogues.
The exhibit was organized with the help of the San Diego Jewish Historical Society, Manila community members, archives of the Americal Historical Collection (Rizal LIbrary, Ateneo de Manila University), Archives of the Main Library at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, and the Israeli Embassy staff in the Philippines.
Click here to read the story of Cantor Cysner and more.
Some Sephardic discussion groups, such as Sephardim.org have messages from Filipinos discussing their Jewish backgrounds.
In the article, he describes how genealogists are inspired to begin their research: listening to family stories, looking for old documents and photographs, the never-ending Internet search, travel to the "old country" and rooting around dusty archives. We may then hit the inevitable brick wall, which is where DNA may be the only place to turn for more information.
"For many families, the story of how they got to where they are and what they have become consists of gathered tales from an uncle who served in World War II, a great-grandfather who somehow got from a village in the “old country” to Ellis Island, or some black sheep cousin last seen heading for the wilds of Canada.
"The more determined familial historian may have scoured family attics and the courthouses of the land. They seek out tattered newspaper clippings often filled with factual errors, portrait photos or fuzzy snapshots of unidentified and long forgotten relatives, simply to seek yet another piece of the puzzle.
"The most resolute may have made documenting family history a passion and went modern a decade ago, hitting the Internet or perhaps traveling to the ancestral homeland. In the end, the trail inevitably ran out within a few hundred years — if it had not been diverted by fire, flood or language barrier.
"Even the best genealogists might be able to tell you they have found family lines dating back to the 15th century, but after that, the mists of time seem to shroud all. Paper records were not kept or have not survived.
"There is little, if any, useful information in existence until the point that a society began to make use of surnames, a practice that did not come into use in some areas until the last 150 years."
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State is following up with author/researcher Colleen Fitzpatrick, a former NASA scientist, who will speak on "Forensic Genealogy," focusing on old photographs. For more information on the meeting on March 19, click here.
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County numbers some 300 members and just held a mini-conference.
The society's founder, Alfred Silberfeld, 85, has discovered 10,761 relatives with 4,000 different last names. He has found family branches in Argentina, Brazil, Italy, France, Poland and Belgium. He checks phone books wherever he goes to spot more.
A researcher for 31 years, Silberfeld claims his 27th great-grandfather is Rashi, the great Jewish sage of France (1040-1105). Since Rashi is a descendant of King David, he believes he can trace his ancestry to the great Jewish leader, even though there are 35 generations - without records - between David and Rashi.
Read the complete story here.
Some 17th-18th century Jewish families who settled in the area included the Hays (in New Rochelle), Marks (Greenburgh), Jacobs (Rye) and Davis (Northcastle) families.
In Newburgh, Lewis Gomez traded with Native Americans in 1712, while Abraham I. Abrahams went to Bedford and Philips Manor, through The Bronx, to perform brit milahs in the later 18th century.
Early Westchester Jews were members of Shearith Israel in Manhattan, and shlepped through the Bronx frontier to worship.
The first large group of Jews arrived from Germany and Hungary in the 1840s. An 1871 city directory lists no synagogues in the area of the Bronx. In 1884, the first Jewish institution opened - a Sunday school which later became Reform Temple Hand in Hand, the first synagogue in the Bronx. It was followed by Adath Israel in 1889 and Agudat Achim Anshe Podal in 1890. The first Hebrew school opened in 1896 and the first Talmud Torah in 1907.
For much more on Jews in the Bronx, including all the synagogues that were or are, go to the "Remembrance of Synagogues Past: The Lost Civilization of the Jewish South Bronx" Web site, founded by Seymour J. Perlin and Rita Perlin. Their site is fascinating. I recommend reading "Personal Impressions," recollections of those who lived in the area.
As a child of Parkchester, grandchild of the Bronx, and great-grandchild of the Grand Concourse, I was delighted to learn that the Perlins will speak on this topic at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York on March 18 at the Center for Jewish History. For more information, click here.
Joy Rich, editor of the society's journal Dorot, first became aware of the site after both her parents had passed away. She searched it for information and found the synagogue in which her parents had married - Temple Zion on the Concourse. "When I found it, I fell in love with Dr. Perlin for putting it online. I printed out the photo and practically hugged the piece of paper."
Joy's family moved to New Jersey when she was six, and she remembers driving to the Bronx to visit her grandmother and strolling with her father to Burnside Avenue to look in shop windows.
When she was 8 or 10, her father took her on "a train ride in the sky." Later, of course, she realized it was the El (elevated train), a part of the subway system. The El also took her to a magical place where you put coins in a slot and took food out from behind a glass door - the Horn and Hardart Automat. Likely, she recalls, it was the one at Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse.
For a picture of a different Horn and Hardart Automat, click here
I rememer going to H&H and eating coconut cream pie that came out of one of those little windows. Joy also suggests an interesting New York Public Library Web site - The Robert F. Byrnes Collection of Automat Memorabilia 1912-1990s bulk (1940-1960s).
If your grandparents lived in the Bronx, you might have had an experience similar to Joy's. "When I stayed with my grandmother for a few days, she'd say 'Let's go to the benches.'" These Burnside Avenue benches weren't on the sidewalk but on an island in the middle of a busy street, inhabited by her grandmother and her friends.
Ah, the nostalgia. Anyone with memories to share?
On March 20, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal is taking a field trip to the center. On hand to provide expert assistance will be the center's assistant director, Pam Stewart, and Quebec Family History Society president Gary Shroder. Resources available to visitors include online databases such as Ancestry.com. There is no charge for the visit.
The Montreal society will hold its monthly Family Tree workshop on March 11 at the Jewish Public Library. The informal workshops, for both beginners and experienced genealogists, provide one-on-one answers and help.
For information on the society's activities, click here.