28 June 2008
This morning, I made the rounds of the vendor room, checking in with Max Blankfeld of FamilyTreeDNA.com, standing in for Bennett Greenspan; David Liffert, WorldVitalRecords.com, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, Ancestry and Roots Television, Marcy Brown, Roots Television, and Suzanne Russo Adams, Ancestry/TGN.
Some snippets of talks I attended included George G. Morgan's session on getting the most out of attending a genealogy conference and Leland Meitzler's "The X Files: Dealing With Black Sheep in the Family Tree."
While I was initially confused as to why Steve Morse was doing a talk on DNA and genetics, I was much less confused after hearing it. Steve set out to learn a new topic as he wasn't sure about the technical bits himself. The result was a well-planned explanation (with his usual good humor) on genes, chromosomes, DNA and how everything is connected and how we can use this to discover relationships. As always, well done.
My Gen Blogging session was at 4.30pm and there was a nice crowd. It was also attended by gen-blogging colleagues Randy Seaver and Craig Manson. Lots of questions by participants and I hope the information was useful. And thanks to Adele from Ancestry/TGN who helped with the loan of one of their computers for my presentation. My computer is so old that it isn't reliable for powerpoint presentations. Definitely time for a new one!
The banquet speaker was Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak on "Right Annie, Wrong Annie" - her search for the first Ellis Island immigrant Annie Moore and the most recent update on a memorial. As Craig Manson on Geneablogie has already reported - he is fast! - Megan had a microphone incident that Craig has already immortalized. A great presentation, and a nice dinner with old and new friends.
Stay tuned for tomorrow!
Astoria student wins Family History Award at annual Illinois History Expo SPRINGFIELD - A student at Astoria Junior High School received the Genealogical/Family History Award during the annual Illinois History Expo held May 8 in Springfield. “This new award honors students who perform outstanding genealogical research for a paper that is entered in the History Expo,” said Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) Director Jan Grimes. The Agency sponsors Expo in cooperation with the Chicago Metro History Education Center. Bhrea Wright won the Genealogical/Family History Award for her paper, “The Biography of Dr. Russell R. Dohner.” More than 1,400 junior and senior high school students from across the state participated in the May 8 Expo. The students were winners selected during regional history fairs held earlier this year.Read more here. For more information on the Illinois program, click here. [NOTE: There was a glitch in the first posting of this item which resulted in repetition of some portions. The repeated portions have now been eliminated.]
Although New York state is working on legislation to deal with these issues, don't count on any results until at least next year.
Steve pointed to Stewart Ain's excellent article in the New York Jewish Week on the nightmarish situation faced by some families.
Sometimes societies, e.g. landsmanshaftn, go officially defunct without handing out deeds to individual burial plots to its members; sometime the society doesn't officially become defunct, but there is no society officer left to tell a cemetery that a person rightfully has a plot reserved. This can and has been a nightmare for many people over time. There are many variations of this problem, of course, and many stories to be told.According to Ain's article, defunct burial societies control thousands of unused graves in otherwise overcrowded cemeteries. Getting proof of a plot can be a family's worst nightmare.
There are thousands of empty plots, e.g., in New York area cemeteries, because many societies have become defunct, leaving many empty and unused plots. The cemetery isn't permitted to sell these graves to anyone else.
Many know that burial plots are running out here in New York and land is too expensive to build new cemeteries. The article said that recently, Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, home to 200,000 burials, sold its last empty gravesite.
After her husband's death in 1988, Florence Marmor of the City Line section of Brooklyn contacted her husband's family burial society and bought him a grave and another for herself.
After a few weeks, she called the cemetery, Mount Hebron in Flushing, Queens, and learned that the grave next to her husband's had not been reserved for her. She then called but failed to speak with the officer of the society, Trembowler True Sisters, who had deposited her check but never acknowledged it in writing or sent her a deed for the plot.
Marmor said she let the matter slip until four years ago when, at her family's urging, she tried again to contact the officer. This time, her letters were sent back and the officer's phone was disconnected.
The burial society, she learned through a lawyer, was effectively defunct though not formally dissolved. Marmor was at a crossroads. Plots in Jewish cemeteries throughout the city have been filling up quickly - in fact today the shortage of plots at a number of cemeteries is beginning to approach a crisis.
Read more to see how Marmor took over the society and solved her problem.
27 June 2008
I landed yesterday at Los Angeles after a very bumpy flight from New York and checked into the Jamboree hotel venue.
This year's trip has been fast moving and I haven't yet recovered completely from the Tel Aviv-New York jetlag.
I just spent three days at the American Jewish Press Association conference in Washington, DC, interacting with editors, their staff, and freelance writers. It was one of the most interesting AJPA conferences I have attended.
Particularly useful were several sessions on Newspaper Next 2.0. These excellent sessions covered the future of newspapers, focusing on how print media would evolve into interactive online portals for both consumers and businesses, while linking print and multi-media applications. There were several brainstorming sessions as we broke into small groups. For the first time, I was delighted to hear the words genealogy and family history when we discussed niche marketing.
Other sessions covered US politics, Israel, Iran and Jewish media topics.
Then it was back to New York, repack for the rest of my summer, and now I'm looking forward to this weekend. Many of my gen-blogging colleagues will be here. My program this afternoon is on gen-blogging, tomorrow is our first-ever Gen Bloggers' Summit and, on Sunday, I will speak on "Creating Hope" and how writing for a general readership informs people about the possibilities and achievements of Jewish family history research.
More to come as I report on other sessions of the Jamboree.
21 June 2008
At the 28th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (August 17-22) in Chicago, she'll be the banquet speaker and present "Who Towed Noah's Ark? An Evening of Urban Stories which Bring the Bible to Life."
Did you know Noah's ark got towed? Even got an apple computer? Get the inside scoop on these and other stories when Lisa Lipkin entertains us for an evening of original midrashim, designed to keep you laughing for forty days and forty nights.
Lipkin's been a featured artist on national public radio, NBC, CBS, and Public Television. Her articles and stories have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Self, Parents, Family Fun, Jerusalem Report, and Family Circle, as well as in a monthly column for The Forward. She is also a columnist with Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad, the Netherlands' oldest Jewish newspaper.
Bringing the Story Home: The Complete Guide to Storytelling for Parents (Norton 2000) is a "how-to " book for parents and educators with more than 100 original ideas and activities for integrating storytelling into home life.
On Thursday morning at the conference, Lipkin will present a session on "A Professional Storyteller's Tips and Tricks for Collecting Family Stories."
Attendees will learn how to tap into and share family secrets and stories. She will make use of her original and highly interactive techniques, helping educators, social workers, families, and individuals to find a safe and effective way to reawaken and share meaningful memories.
Attendees must register for the banquet (fee-added). For all conference details, including hotel, registration, full program schedule, Film Festival, computer workshops, luncheons and more, click here.
The Center will soon be putting the full content of its Yiddish books online. This will make all of Yiddish literature "virtually" available, and free to everyone with an Internet connection; readers can see each book page-by-page.
The Center is asking readers to help out by adopting a digital book in honor or memory of a loved one. Names and personal commemorations will appear forever on the title page of the book.
To earn more about the program or adopt a Yiddish book in your family’s name, click here. View the Adopt-a-book Honor Roll with donors' names and commemorations here.
The fourth annual Paper Bridge Summer Arts Festival will run July 6-17. Explore the range of modern Jewish culture, first-rate musical performances, unique documentary films, author talks, morning and afternoon screenings and workshops.
Attendees can come for just one show, enjoy a full day, or stay for the week. For more information, click here.
This year's presenters include filmmakers Jon and Andrew Cooke screening their documentary about Will Eisner; Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys with their blend of Appalachian fiddle tunes and klezmer melodies; Michael Wex, author of the bestseller Born to Kvetch; Tony Award nominee Eleanor Reissa presents a celebration of Yiddish music and humor, Klezmer-fusion musician SoCalled's eclectic mix of jazz, hip-hop and klezmer; Michael Alpert and Hankus Netsky's klezmer dance party.
The festival also features the Paper Bridge Workshops. This year's theme is Translate and Preserve Your Memories
Bookbinder and rare-book specialist Barbara Blumenthal will offer suggestions on the best ways to archive family letters, postcards, recipes and photographs so they’ll be protected for future generations.
Receive help in understanding Yiddish writing in family documents at the Translate Your Memories workshops. These will be conducted by teachers from the Summer Internship program: Yuri Vedenyapin grew up in Moscow and is a preceptor in Yiddish at Harvard; Ellen Kellman is assistant professor in Yiddish Language and Literature at Brandeis; and Naomi Seidman grew in a Yiddish-speaking home in Brooklyn and is currently the Koret Professor of Jewish Culture and the director of the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
Click here for details.
19 June 2008
My favorite European stopover is Zurich and I usually plan a few hours there so I can take the train into town, walk or tram down the Bahnhofstrasse - with its great shopping opportunities - to the lake and take a two-hour cruise to decompress. This is best done on a glorious sunny summer day.
Unfortunately, Zurich was wet and chilly - my raincoat and umbrella were in the checked baggage. On top of that, the flight to New York was delayed for three hours.
Travelers' hint: Zurich airport has dayrooms, which can be rented for segments of six hours or more. These single, double or triple rooms - with comfortable beds, duvets, showers, wake-up calls - are exceptionally clean, and the prices very affordable. I had a much needed rest as I'd been awake for nearly two days prior to flying out.
Eventually, however, I made it to JFK and our cousins picked me up. The plan was for one day in Great Neck and then into the city to see our daughter and my sister and her family. The Persian social whirl had different plans, which meant a bridal shower on Wednesday night.
Since I would be missing the wedding due to a conference, I was happy to attend this event. It was great fun to join in the festivities - including a Persian henna ceremony and other traditions - and see many relatives at a great party that went from about 4-11pm.
There are few family elders left, so it was good to see khaleh-jan (maternal aunt in Farsi) Mohtaram - the bride's grandmother - participating in the dancing at her advanced age!
Today, I'll head into the city for a few days and then to Washington, DC for my first conference, the American Jewish Press Association. From here on, my schedule sounds something like one of those rush tours throughout Europe (if it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium ... or Los Angeles ... or Houston ... or Chicago - you get the picture).
I'm hoping to get several posts up today and tomorrow.
15 June 2008
The meeting begins at 3pm Sunday, June 29, at Temple Adat Elohim, Thousand Oaks. There is no charge.
Landé is also speaking at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank over the weekend and will be at the JGSCV following his program at the conference.
His program, "Genealogical Records from the Holocaust – The Breakthrough??" will focus on the efforts to collect information on individuals persecuted during the Nazi regime, including in the Holocaust. These were centralized through an international agreement establishing the International Tracing Service (ITS) in 1955, in Bad Arolsen, Germany.
The international opening of the ITS archives, the largest collection of records on Holocaust victims and survivors, offers a new window for those seeking information on the fates of family members. While a tremendous step forward, researchers should not expect a panacea and there are still major holes in information on Eastern Europe.
He will cover what is (and isn’t) in the collection and how to access it given that it is not on the web. With 50 million name-cards, providing information on about 17 million people, there is much to do.
Landé has also been involved in a major project to identify and collect in a single computerized database the names of all Holocaust victims and survivors, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, as well as an inventory of thousands of sources of information on Holocaust victims and survivors. He was active in the ultimately successful international effort to open for public access the records of the ITS.
For more details and information on upcoming meetings, click here.
Dwindling from 7,500 Jews in the 1970s - about 80% Ashkenazim - today's community numbers only about 200. A small number of them are residents of the Bulawayo retirement home, Savyon Lodge.
In a Jerusalem Post article by David E. Kaplan, a July 11 reunion for former Zimbabweans in Israel may exceed the number of their countrymen back home. Some 700 former Zimbabweans now live in Israel.
Dave Bloom describes his community as a "shtetl in Africa," and believed it was time to "preserve the past before nothing was left or no one alive to tell the story." He started collecting material which is available here.
Bloom visited archives, made copies of newspaper articles, meeting minutes and photos. He found recordings with early Jewish pioneers, unpublished manuscripts and much more. Of Polish ancestry, he was determined to document all the Jewish graves in Zimbabwe; so far more than 4,500 headstones have been published and former Zimbabweans have contributed more than 250 family biographies.
Englishman Daniel Montague Kisch was the first Jew to feature in the history of Rhodesia. By 1860, he had become a prospector. "and so joined the expedition of diggers, mainly Australian, on the wearisome trek to a golden will-o'-the-wisp on the Tati Fields." Another English Jew was Moss Cohen.
Before its posting on Bloom's Web site, very few had seen Rosenthal's monumental work, commissioned by the Rhodesian Jewish Board of Deputies in 1949. Since its completion, it attracted little else than dust. "Very few even knew of its existence. Gems were coming out of the woodwork," Bloom told Metro. People all over the world were dusting off the past to reveal a treasure trove of Jewish history in central Africa, much of which is now available on his site.
There were also Sephardic immigrants. From Morocco, Marvyn Hatchuel; Behor Benatar from Rhodesia via Rhodes, as was the Alhadeff family.
Wandering off, Hatchuel continued, his father found himself pounding the port area of Alexandria. A ship bound for east Africa grabbed his attention and on the spur of the moment he bought a ticket to Mozambique. Disembarking at Beira, Hatchuel had insufficient money to pay for any further passage. So the young Moroccan followed the railway track and walked the breadth of Mozambique until he crossed over into Rhodesia and completed the last stretch to Penhalonga. "I believe when Behor Benatar saw my father enter his store, he nearly collapsed. Anyway, he gave him a job. At night and under candlelight Dad would sit with a dictionary and a newspaper and in that way taught himself English," Hatchuel related.
The reunion of former Rhodesians and Zimbabweans will be a brunch at 9.30am Friday, July 11, at the Ra'anana Lawn Bowls Club.
Read the complete article here and for contact information and reunion details.
The films include:
Line King: The Al Hirshfeld Story - documentary takes a look at works by renowned artist Al Hirshfeld, whose caricatures of celebrities were featured on playbills and in The New York Times.
The Power of Good: Nicholas Winton - documentary about the courage and determination of a young English stockbroker who saved the lives of 669 children between March 13 and Aug. 2, 1939.
Hester Street - film about a young Jewish woman who comes to America in the 1890s, only to discover that her husband has found a new life and is dating another woman. In English and Yiddish.
Partisans of Vilna - film chronicles the endeavors of Jewish resistance fighters during World War II and the Holocaust.
The Greenhouse - film about a professor who makes up a story to his granddaughter about how his son was heroically killed in World War II. In French with English subtitles.
Alan and Naomi - film is set in the 1940s and is about a young Jewish boy who helps a young girl come out of her shell after she watched her father die at the hands of the Nazis.
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg - film tells the story of baseball Hall-of-Famer Hank Greenberg, through archival footage and interviews with Jewish and nonJewish fans, former teammates, friends and his family.
The Boat is Full - film about refugees who sneak into Switzerland from Germany during World War II. They are allowed to stay at an inn if they pose as a family. In German with English subtitles.
The Tollbooth - film explores the life of a Jewish family in Brooklyn through the eyes of a struggling painter in her first year of art school.
Left Luggage - film about a rebellious student struggling with her relationship with her parents, who are concentration camp survivors. In English, Hebrew and Yiddish.
For the schedule and ticket prices, click here here.
When I located my great-grandfather's brother's will in Essex County, New Jersey, I learned the names of his children and grandchildren and was able to contact them.
Readers in the Los Angeles area may be interested in this program at the San Fernando Valley Genealogical Society, Granada Hills, at 7.30 pm, Friday, June 20. Click here for more details.
Speaker Randall J. Bunn will present "Tips on Researching Probate Records & Analyzing Wills "
Currently a Department of Defense attorney, Bunn retired from the US Air Force in 2005, where he was a judge advocate military attorney.
He holds degrees from the University of California, Davis (History and Economics); Wright State University (Masters in Public History); Brigham Young University Law School (Juris Doctorate) and George Washington University Law School (Master of Laws in Government Procurement Law). Bunn is a member of both the California and Utah State Bars, and admitted to practice before the Eastern District of California, United States Court of Federal Claims, and the United States Supreme Court.
Bun has a long interest in genealogy and family history research, is website administrator for two MyFamily.com family history sites, and chairs a family organization that has been holding family reunions since the 1950s.
[NOTE: This is an update. My original headline said July 19. Wishful thinking, but there is only free access to the newspaper collection until June 19. Sorry about that.]
This announcement from Ancestry.com may help many researchers.
Ancestry.com has doubled the size of its newspaper collection - adding a billion names and 20 million images. Culled from a cross section of American newspapers, from large and small towns alike, this collection has newspapers beginning in the early 1800s and some extending into the 2000s.
Even better, the company is offering free access to its complete newspaper collection through June 19. Although free registration is required, no credit card is necessary, just an email address. So what are you waiting for?
Years vary by newspaper, and the collection includes such papers as
The Anniston Star (Anniston, AL)
Modesto Bee and Herald News (Modesto, CA)
Raleigh Register (Raleigh, NC)
Odessa American (Odessa, TX)
Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, OH)
Panama City Herald (Panama City, FL)
Chicago Daily News (Chicago, IL)
Delta Democrat Times (Greenville, MS)
Reno Gazette (Reno, NV)
Pocono Record (Stroudsburg, PA)
Northwest Arkansas Times (Fayetteville, AR)
Read all about it!
14 June 2008
Goldstein is professor of molecular genetics and director of the Institute for Genome Science and Policy’s Center for Population Genomics and Pharmacogenetics, Duke University (Durham, North Carolina).
After reading two reviews, it is now on my wish list and I'll pick it up when I'm in New York next week. Both reviews make the point that Goldstein distills a decade of scientific papers for a popular audience, avoids technical jargon and makes the science easy to understand, while covering the most topical issues in genetic and Jewish history.
The new book, according to one review, complements Abraham's Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People, by Jon Entine, which Tracing the Tribe has previously posted on.
Dr. Jerome Groopman, author of How Doctors Think, reviewed it at Powells Books, and it is also reviewed on Science Blog .
Groopman's review on Powells was in The New Republic Online, offers some of his own genealogy, the loss of historical memory, and why interest in genealogical research continues to grow.
As I read David B. Goldstein's important and illuminating book -- written with keen intelligence and deep love of its subject, without sacrificing scientific accuracy for the sake of tribal nostalgia -- my memory of my visit to my patient and his ancestors unexpectedly returned. I thought again about him, what kind of person he was and what he had accomplished, and how much of his character and behavior could have been a legacy of his long lineage. And perhaps I thought of him because, like most Jews I know, I have no such portrait gallery of my forebears. My paternal grandmother came from Vilna, worked in a sweatshop on Rivington Street, and married my grandfather, who had also fled the czar, first to Holland and then to New York, where he sold fruit in the streets. The known roots of the Groopmans reach only to the nineteenth century. My mother's family was from the Carpathian Mountains of Hungary, close relatives of the Hasidic rebbe of Satu Mare, or Satmar; but despite this prestigious status at least in certain Jewish circles, the family lost much of its historical memory during the Holocaust.
For many Americans, writes Groopman, traditions have been diluted, and heritage has become remote. There is a thirst among ethnic and racial groups to recapture the past, and this is the basis for the current popularity of genealogical research. The groups that seem most intent on finding links through time, he says, are those who were persecuted and driven into diaspora.
Genetic history is both more and less significant than it is depicted in popular accounts. It is less significant because the historical insights that can be achieved with genetics are always very specific and often fairly modest. Caught up as it is in the excitement of modern science, genetic history's power and importance are often overstated, whereas the real grandeur and detail of human history can only be seen in the context of our archeological and written legacies and, of course, our memories. But at times genetic history stretches the boundaries of its scientific formalism and hints at answers to bigger questions: What makes a people a people? What binds them together through time? What alienates them from some and aligns them to others?
In his discussion of Kohanim, Goldstein considers two scenarios: adoption versus genetic continuity of the priestly line. While recognizing that today's oral tradition of the Kohanim is largely correct, transmitted from father to son over thousands of years, producing a cultural and genetic continuous line from priests who survived the destruction of the second Temple, there is also evidence of the post of high priest having been sold by Antiochus.
The Jews have long carried with them the story of the priests, and at some point in their history these stories could have motivated people to assume, or adopt, priestly status, regardless of their genetic ancestry. In other words, sometime after the dispersal in the first and second centuries C.E., a group of Jews (or maybe non-Jews) could have decided to adopt the title of priest or been awarded it. In time, this group could have come to be accepted as such. We know that in the Second Temple period the award of priestly status had everything to do with political expediency and relatively little to do with genealogy.
Goldstein hopes that readers of his book will understand that genes play a critical role in who we are but always in combination with the environment, and that in human populations, genetic and environmental contributions are hard to disentangle.
Genes, as Goldstein shows, are interesting to unravel and fun to study. But they are emphatically not destiny. We make existential choices about how we live and what we pass on as culture and values to our children. Judaism has long embraced this; indeed, it pioneered in the invention of tradition and the duty of its transmission.
On Science Blog:
David Goldstein's Jacob's Legacy: A Genetic View of Jewish History is a straightforward but dense exposition of just such a topic. In many ways this is a work which complements Jon Entine's Abraham's Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People; but while Entine exhibits the narrative flourishes and expansive curiosity of a writer, Goldstein's book is a focused extension of his particular line of research. In fact, there is little scientific content in Jacob's Legacy which couldn't be gleaned from the substantial number of papers which have addressed questions of Jewish genetics over the past 10 years.
Says the reviewer:
If I had to characterize Jacob's Legacy with a few pithy sentences, I would suggest that in many ways it is a series of discussion sections of scientific papers larded with personal insights which highlight the importance of interpersonal dynamics in the endeavour of science. The author attempts to describe a few of the technicalities of extracting and sequencing genes, but ultimately it is a superficial enough treatment that that aspect seems pro forma and might best be skimmed.
Jacob's Legacy is ultimately a Big Think book about a small but interesting topic. Time will tell if the questions and answers that have bubbled up from the exploration of Jewish genetics will serve simply as a trial run for what will come....
It takes place from 2-3pm (EDT, East Coast time) Wednesday, June 18. For Tracing the Tribe readers in Israel, that's only 9-10pm, a reasonable time slot.
Many ancestors - early immigrants and pioneers, slaves, women, native peoples, and others - do not have compiled biographies. They are invisible except in the historical record, through the census or other data collection entities. Where there are gaps in their history, the stories can be told through early travelogues, letters, diaries, other texts and printed ephemera, photographs and other visual media, and maps.
Join Library of Congress Digital Projects Coordinator, Judy Graves, and Local History & Genealogy Specialist, Anne Toohey, for ideas and strategies for combining physical and online materials that go beyond the data and recreate the stories of these individuals. We invite you to take this opportunity to sample the Library's online materials and locate items that will enrich the stories of those whom you would like to know better.
To participate, you'll need to download a small software plugin. Do this ahead of time and allow enough time for this in case you need some assistance, although installation should be quick, depending on the computer and connectivity. According to the LOC, all that's needed is a computer with Internet connection, sound card and speakers. A microphone will enable you to speak to the group. (Note: A Skype-type headphone should be fine.)
To attend, click OPAL:
1. Click the "Download Here" button in the light blue rectangle in the center of the screen.
2. Follow the directions to download and install the plugin.
3. Click the link in the orange rectangle to enter the room.
4. A gray box will appear with text asking permission to launch an external application, web conference plugin. When the grayed out text "Launch application" becomes black, click the Launch application button.
5. Type your name (no password required) and click "Log on" to enter the online conference.
Learn more about Digital Reference Section programs and the LOC's Local History and Genealogy Reading Room here.
13 June 2008
1. Introduction of US 6056, Preserving the American Historical Records Act which if enacted would provide funding for the US Archivist with funds to preserve and protect historical documents and doled out to the states who have made 50% matching funds .
2. Connecticut HB 5808 which has been signed into law and becomes effective October 1 and restricts access to vital records with Social Security numbers. As CT had existing law that permitted genealogists full access to vital records, this is a major change for genealogists and others. The issue is the interpretation of a US Code by the CT Attorney General that opines that access to records with Social Security numbers after a certain date, violates federal code. This may cause concern with other states that provide access to records with Social Security numbers. For more information, please see the IAJGS Latest Alert.
3. Iowa HF 2548 would open records after specified number of years - no action taken as yet.
4. New York AB 10595 would open death records if Social Security numbers on death records were redacted. No action taken yet.
5. New Hampshire SB 461 was signed into law opening vital records after specified number of years.
There has been no further action since the last update on New Jersey A 326 affecting access to vital records or Pennsylvania SB 1296 which would open vital records after specified number of years. The Legislatures are still in session, therefore action is still possible.
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Michigan (JGSMI) will address this issue at its next meeting when Gary S. Frohlich, a genetics counselor and patient care liaison at Genzyme Therapeutics, will speak on "Our Heritage and Our Health-Facts About Genetic Conditions Among the Ashkenazim, The Importance of Being Informed."
The 23rd annual Morris (z'l) and Betty Starkman Lecture and Luncheon will begin at 11.30am Sunday, June 22 at Congregation Dovid Ben Nuchim, in Oak Park. Election of officers for the new year will also take place.
The program will provide information about genetic conditions which occur more frequently in Jews of Ashkenazi descent. Most people have heard about Tay Sachs; but how many have heard about Gaucher's disease?
A genetics counselor for 30 years - he has seen more than 26,000 couples - Frohlich holds a BA in biology and a Master's degree (Rutgers University) in human genetics and genetics counseling in 1973
Ashkenazi Jews have a significantly higher incidence for many genetic disorders and this program will provide up-to-date information on the genetic conditions which occur more frequently in Jews of Ashkenazi descent.
Each disorder can be devastating, not only to individuals, but to their families. He will explore the diagnosis, management and treatment of 11 Ashkenazi Jewishg genetic conditions, focusing on the most common, Gaucher's disease.
More than 9 out of 10 Jewish Americans are unaware of the disease, about 1 in 450 may have it, and the carrier rate is about 1 in 14. It is two-and-a-half times more common than Tay Sachs.
Participants will learn about “Founder Effect” among Ashkenazim, learn about 11 genetic conditions, understand the signs and symptoms of Gaucher, and learn about living with a chronic disease.
Lunch is sponsored by Genzyme Therapeutics; event registration is $25 per person. For details, click here.
12 June 2008
The meeting takes place 10:30am-2pm at Congregation Bais Menachem Chabad, across from Portland's Mittleman Jewish Community Center.
Steve will present two programs, "A Potpourri of Genealogical Search Tools," which covers his One-Step Web page tools that we all use, as well as the rather funny "The Jewish Calendar Demystified," presenting the Jewish calendar through Adam and Eve's eyes.
An amateur genealogist who has researched his Russian-Jewish origins since he was a boy, he has developed many web-based searching aides used by genealogists around the world, and has won more than a few awards and recognition from major genealogy organizations. The One-Step website began as an aid for finding passengers in the Ellis Island database and grew from there to more than 100 web-based tools in 13 categories.
A computer professional with a doctorate in electrical engineering (NYU), Steve has held research positions at Bell Labs, IBM Watson Research Lab, GE Corporate R&D, and Compagnie Internationale pour l'Informatique in France; and in development at Intel Corp, Alsys Inc, and Netscape. He's also taught at CCNY, Pratt Institute, UC Berkeley, SUNY Albany, Stanford University and San Francisco State University, authored technical papers, written textbooks and holds four patents. He is best known as the architect of the Intel 8086 (the granddaddy of today's Pentium processor) which sparked the PC revolution 25 years ago.
The brunch requires RSVPs; click here for more information.
This Ynetnews story covers Hannah Menashe who was 21 when she was kidnapped from her Baghdad family before they immigrated to Israel. Now 76, she is finally making aliyah and rejoining her family.
Fifty-five years after she was abducted from her family's home in Baghdad by her Muslim neighbor and forced to renounce her Judaism, Hannah Menashe managed to flee Iraq and find her way to one of Israel’s European embassies. Her long, exhausting journey is finally coming to an end these days, as she will soon be reunited with he family in Israel, who thought her murdered all these years.
Hannah’s fascinating story begins in the 1950s, when her Baghdad-native family – parents and seven siblings – decided to immigrate to Israel. Hannah, already married to a Jewish Iraqi, was also planning to make aliyah, when fate struck: A Muslim neighbor, who was aware of the family’s plans to immigrate, kidnapped the striking Hannah to keep her by his side. Her siblings only have a vague recollection of that horrible day. They went looking for Hannah, they say, but the earth had swallowed her.
Decades passed, the siblings made aliyah and the family expanded, all the while keeping their bitter secret to themselves. Shortly after arriving in Israel, Hannah’s mother died at 37, her heart broken by losing her child.
However, six months ago, the family received a surprising phone call from Ravit Topol of the Ministry of Interior who wanted to confirm a story.
Hannah's husband died a year ago and she escaped Baghdad, reached Europe and located an Israeli embassy.
“I am Jewish, I want to go to Israel,” she said in fluent Arabic and with great excitement. The embassy found it hard to believe her story; but when she named her relatives in Israel, the embassy officials realized the truly incredible nature of the story unfolding before their very eyes and quickly contacted the Ministry of Interior’s population administration.
Read more here.
The production group volunteers, according to the site, say:
We are linked by a single purpose: to produce an event which celebrates Jewish life and culture. We are committed to this project because of our resolve that Jewish identity must be based, in part, on a tangible positive feeling about Jewish life, especially for children.
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois will have a booth at the event.
Started in 1980, it is today the largest Jewish cultural event in Chicago and the largest ongoing Jewish festival in America. The community production is called the "Heart and Soul of Jewish Chicago" because attendees can find everything that is Jewish in Chicago.
The day brings together the best of the community's professional and amateur singers, dancers and artists. There are seven hours of entertainment on four stages, including music, dance, theater and storytelling, as well as a children's stage, a hands-on activity area, art fair, craft fair, ethnic food fair and organization information booths.
Produced by the non-profit Jewish Production Organization for Cultural Events and Theater (POCET), the festival attracts people from all over to attend, sell and to perform. For more information, click here.
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia will host Beau at their next meeting at 7.30pm Monday, June 16, at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, in Elkins Park. Note that the date is a departure from their regularly scheduled meetings.
The topic is Jewish Research on Footnote.com.
I've heard Beau speak at many conferences - his talks are always valuable and presented with great humor. I highly recommend attending his talks.
Footnote is a great resource. If you haven't used it yet, look at Tracing the Tribe's right column and see the FootNote search widget. My latest find on FootNote is a record of a relative in Moscow who was head of an auditing committee and was giving testimony which had been translated into English. I just located this a few days ago - it was completely unexpected! As always, be creative in your spelling of family names.
JGSGP members, free; others, $2. For more information, click here.
Genealogy Online (which does business as Everton Publishers) is the Helper's publisher also publishes the best-seller guidebook for family history researchers - Handybook for Genealogists - now in its 11th edition.
Helper editor Leland K. Meitzler - he also writes the Genealogy Blog - has just sent information about a new venture.
A major portion of the Helper is now focused on Internet family history. This very popular section began in the September-October 2006 issue. In-depth reviews are included on websites that the Helper considers to be the best on the Internet. These are grouped by topic, and a special issue on genealogy blogs is planned for the January-February 2009 issue.
What makes this new venture more important is that the Helper will have an online edition in addition to the print version.
The online edition will launch July 1, at an annual subscription of a mere $10 until that date ($12 later). It is an identical copy of the 176-page traditional print edition - but complete with hotlinks to hundreds of website addresses. Current print edition subscribers will have complete free access to the magazine - no extra fees. For more information, click here.
The Net Family History section is a magazine within a magazine. New information specific to using the Internet for genealogy is always found in this part of the bimonthly publication, along with extensive website reviews and articles dealing with Internet-related activities.
Meitzler adds that because some of the most exciting genealogical resource advances are taking place online, it is important that this information should be provided to the Helper's thousands of readers in every issue. Readers will be able to go from the paper edition to the hotlinked online edition to access any included website.
The online edition will be in PDf format (Adobe Acrobat Reader required) and it will be hosted by FamilyLink.com, Inc. (parent company of World Vital Records).
The Helper also offers, in addition to the Internet section, how-to and historical articles, genealogical sharing, extensive book and CD-ROM reviews and announcements, queries, the most complete event calendar anywhere, and hundreds of ads for new products and services.
In addition, subscribers will also have access to the new updated, hotlinked Directory of Genealogical and Historical Societies – coming in the Sept/Oct and Nov-Dec issues! Edited by Leland K. Meitzler, the Helper is guaranteed to help you extend your lines and fill in those blanks in your family tree.
What will you get for your $10 (before July 1)? You'll have the print magazine and online access for less than 3 cents per page. What a deal!
According to Micheline Gutmann, the June 2008 table of contents includes the following topics:
- Do you know our forum?
- Sulzburg in Baden and the list of adoptions of names
- A Rabbi Kahn of Ribeauville in Vichtinetz, descendents in France.
- Families Weijl in the Netherlands
- Rabbi Samuel Sanvil Weyls children, complete list
- Mannheim: Michael Mays children
- Genetics, genealogy and adultery
- News for genealogical research in U.K.
- Reopening of the Pavillon Osiris of Rueil-Malmaison
- Communications and mails
- Acquisitions (Acht Jahrhunderte Juden in Basel, Jews in France in 1898)
- Genealogical reviews
- It happened in ... Short trip in time and space (1308, 1408, 1508, 1708, 1808)
- General Research in UK
For more information on how to subscribe, click here.
11 June 2008
Southern Africa Special Interest Group (SA-SIG) vice president Roy Ogus will speak at 7pm, Monday, June 16, at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills.
South Africa’s Jewish community is large and important. Although we may not know it, many of us have South African connections because our ancestors’ siblings or cousins emigrated there. During the great wave of emigration from Eastern Europe (1881-1930s), many Jews, especially Lithuanians, left for the economic opportunity and freedom of South Africa. Following the recent emigration of many South African Jews during periods of political unrest in the country, the end of apartheid in 1994 has revitalized our cousins’ homeland.
The program is a summary of key sources of documentation and genealogically valuable information of genealogical value that can be found in South Africa, and how to access them. It will also provide an overview of South African history for the discussion of Jewish migration.
For more information, click here.
This may help sweeten the deal: Win two free tickets from FamilyLink.com (parent of WorldVitalRecords.com), a Jamboree sponsor.
How to enter:
Describe a favorite experience you have had while researching your ancestors on WorldVitalRecords.com, FamilyLink.com, or We're Related on Facebook. Email your entry to Whitney at Whitney@familylink.com
The winner will receive two free tickets ($180 value) to the SCGS Jamboree - the largest genealogy conference on the West Coast. Entries are due 8pm (MST) Friday, June 20, and the winner will be notified Monday June 23. If the winner has already registered for Jamboree, he or she will be reimbursed. Note: All submissions become the property of FamilyLink.com, Inc. and may be used for promotional purposes.
Don't want to enter the contest but still want to attend? Sign up now as pre-registration closes June 15; until then, also register for special events, such as the Friday night banquet with Megan Smolyanek Smolyanek, the Saturday dinner with Dick Eastman, etc.
This year's program offers speakers and topics of interest to researchers of Jewish, Eastern European and German roots. These include Peter Lande on "Holocaust Records as a Source for All Genealogists," which includes how to obtain records from Bad Arolsen; Steve Morse on "One-Step Webpages," and other familiar faces from past IAJGS International Conferences on Jewish Genealogy, such as Pamela Weisberger, Stephanie Weiner and others.
Well-known professional genealogists will speak about online and traditional resources, tech applications for genealogy, including several DNA talks, German ancestry, genealogy applications for today, such as family health histories, dealing with family secrets and black sheep, finding living relatives, and more.
I am looking forward to participating in the first-ever Blogger Summit, chaired by Leland Meitzler (GenealogyBlog.com), along with Dick Eastman (Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter); Steve Danko (Steve's Genealogy Blog); George G. Morgan, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (Megan's Roots World and RootsTelevision) and Randy Seaver (Genea-Musings).
For full descriptions of speakers, lectures, evening events, and registration details here. Read the Jamboree blog here.
10 June 2008
What's JBlog? It's the Jewish Blog Network where blog readers can vote for blogs and postings. I hope you will support Tracing the Tribe by voting.
Clicking JBlog Me brings you to Tracing the Tribe's page, which displays 15 of the most recent posts. Clicking on a post's title brings you to that post's page, with a rating box (1-5) on the right, above the title.
If you'd like to find additional Tracing the Tribe posts on JBlog, put the keyword genealogy in the top right search box.
Why should you vote? Blogs and postings receiving numerous votes are highlighted on the JBlog home page. This means a large number of general readers will learn - possibly for the first time - about resources and tools for Jewish genealogy and family history research. Perhaps some new readers will become inspired to begin their own journeys down discovery road.
Enjoy and thank you for your support!
An overview of this case and the lessons was presented by Sharon Sergeant, in April, at the Massachusetts Genealogical Council Annual Meeting and Seminar.
A film of the presentation is now available to any Public Access Television station, genealogical society or library as long as the program is free and open to the public. It was produced by David T. Robertson (contact email@example.com) and the Framingham, Massachusetts Public Access Televison station, which recently premiered the film.
To order a DVD, there's A $10 fee covering DVD production and mailing.
Robertson, in this article, talks about his feelings on genealogy.
There's more to genealogy than dead people.
"Genealogy helps you understand the world around you," and a professional genealogist's job can be proving a person's Daughters of the American Revolution credentials or proving who's the rightful owner of something stolen in 1938.
"We do things like heir searching. You want to find the person who gets the money," said Robertson, a former president of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists. "You're not working with ancient history," but "the same methods apply."
A few years ago, he was hired by a German legal firm to track down what happened to a former stockholder last known to live in Newton. The company was required to make reparations for Jewish clients' assets that were frozen or stolen during World War II.
After some digging, Robertson found "the only person left is his mistress in Florida," except for a niece who received "$100 and the residual from his estate" in the man's will.
The interesting story goes on to detail many of his cases and what he's discovered over the years, his views on what's available on the internet "just the tip of the iceberg," solving problems and finding the paper with the answers.
But if your story doesn't check out, beware.
"In the business, we have a saying: You can lie to your priest, but you can't lie to a genealogist."
The presentation outline:
The Misha Defonseca Holocaust Fraud:
Forensic Genealogy Lessons for Your Own Family History
Connecting the Right Dots ... Names, dates, places, events, relationships and activities can create many stories. The true story can be mixed in with other stories.
Forensic Genealogy in the Defonseca Case Study: Photograph Analysis, Database Mining, DNA Analysis
"Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years," By Misha Defonseca.
The Story that Misha Told - According to Misha in the 1997 US Version.
Misha also published a 1997 best-selling French version "Survivre avec les Loups" (Surviving with the Wolves).
In the US 10 Years Later. Finding the Truth - Real Hidden Children, US Public Records, Story Changes, Other Experts, Belgian Archives.
Photo Time Line Focus: Real Name, Age and Family?
Data Mining: Negative and Positive Proofs in the Data Time Line.
The Truth Revealed: Belgian baptismal certificate, naming patterns, school records.
What if Misha had not confessed? Planning for DNA analysis.
Forensic Techniques Can Change the Way You Research Your Own Family History
"Rock Around the Clock," "Bobbie's Girl," "You Really Got Me" or "See You In September" ?
And, just in case you were going to ask: Yes, even the beginnings of rock and roll connect to Jewish history and genealogy.
We know these songs because Edward Kassner, born in 1920 Austria, wanted to become a composer but Hitler's annexation of Austria changed his plans.
“He was tipped off by his friends that they were rounding up Jewish boys,” says David Kassner, Edward’s eldest son and now MD of President. “He fled through Belgium and got caught trying to cross the border at Aachen twice. On the third occasion a German soldier caught him but let him go saying that he hadn’t signed up to shoot young boys.”
His parents both died in Auschwitz. Edward made it to England but was interned before being shipped to Australia alongside his fellow European refugees. Later allowed to return to the UK, he joined the British Army, serving in France and Germany as an interpreter.
The UK's Independent recently profiled Kassner's rise to fame, as he and his wife formed The Edward Kassner Music Company Ltd in 1944. Post-war, money was in printing and selling sheet music. Kassner acquired many copyrights and catalogues before buying one song that would change popular music forever, "Rock Around The Clock."
His son David's first memory is dancing to the Bill Haley version in the family's living room. The family moved to New York in the mid-50s and President Records, Inc. was formed in 1955. By 1961, it was a public corporation with Kassner the majority shareholder. He launched Seville Records and his 1962 hit was "Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out)", followed by "Bobby's Girl."
In 1963, Kassner relaunched President and his UK office, in 1964, hit it big with The Kinks and "You Really Got Me."
One of my all-time favorites - from my Catskill summers (1960s) - was "See You In September," for which he owned the publishing rights. The Happenings got to #3 in the US with it.
The label still releases reissues and compilations from their catalog.
Read more here.
"This is a landmark piece of living history," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. "In this small office, a man untrained to be a detective or an investigator brought to justice the most destructive mass murderers in the history of human civilization."
U.S. troops liberated Mauthausen (Austria) concentration camp on May 5, 1945; Wiesenthal was so weak that he collapsed. Just days later, he began on his lifelong quest to "bring to justice the major and minor Nazi killers who had exterminated 6 million of his fellow Jews and millions of Gypsies, Poles and other 'inferior' peoples."
Wiesenthal conducted his searches, for nearly five decades, from behind a dark wooden desk in Vienna, where he studied SS directories, photographs, city phone books and Holocaust survivors' letters to track offenders to the ends of the Earth. Biographers credit him with catching more than 1,000 war criminals.
Following his wife's death in 2003, he and Hier began discussing the possibility of moving the office to the museum, operated by the center, designed to teach visitors about the effects of racism and prejudice. Wiesenthal bequeathed the office contents to the center.
Susan Burden, the Center's chief financial officer, went to Vienna to organize the move; photographed every bookshelf, the desktop, framed commendations and even copies of newspaper clippings, packed about 1,500 books and videotapes, photos and medals. Six crates were shipped by air to Los Angeles, where archivists spent months cataloging the shipment.
"It was the most difficult assignment I ever had because I wanted to do it just right," Burden said. "It was emotionally tough. A lot of tears were shed."
The story recounts his search for Karl Silberbauer, thought to be the Austrian SS man who turned in Anne Frank and her family, and his years of research determining that Adolf Eichman faked his death so his wife could receive a pension. This helped Israel to capture Eichman in Argentina in 1960, and resulted in Wiesenthal's reopening of his Vienna center.
On the wall across from the desk is a giant map of Europe that enumerates the Nazis' victims by country: 627,000 Italians, 1.5 million French. Volumes by Aristotle and Ptolemy line the bookshelves, along with books about Vienna's Jews, German synagogues and Gestapo activities. Many of Wiesenthal's works are also there, including several translations of his 1976 book "The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness." Atop one case is a bouquet of cloth sunflowers that have accumulated years of dust -- Viennese dust, now behind a glass viewing wall in Los Angeles.
Read more here.
09 June 2008
Outgoing president Marlene Bishow announced that the family of the late Kenneth Poch has given to the JGSGW his extensive research on Jewish soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Poch had spent more than 10 years on site at the cemetery, eventually identifying more than 2,200 Jewish soldiers.
Inspired by "Where They Lie: Someone Should Say Kaddish" (1992) by Mel Young, he decided to visit the graves, say Kaddish (Jewish prayer for the dead) and place a small smooth stone on the headstones - a Jewish custom indicating that someone had visited the grave.
These visits encouraged him to inquire how many Jewish soldiers were actually buried at the famous national cemetery, which has more than 330,000 graves (as of January 2008). Not until after World War I were religious symbols permitted on the gravestones, so not all Jewish soldiers' graves bear a Star of David.
Although his life was brought to an early end by Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS), Poch spent his last decade as the self-appointed historian of Arlington's Jewish soldiers.
Research donated to JGSGW includes Poch's meticulously organized photos, letters, surveys and other items. After his death in December 2003, his family hastily gathered together his personal belongings, including his research binders and boxes, and stored them in his sister's Gaithersburg home.
JGSGW member Ernie Fine knew Poch and had discussed the Arlington project with him; he arranged for the transfer of the materials.
The society's first Cemetery Project (1988-1992) indexed and researched two of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the nation’s capital: Macpelah, the old cemetery of Washington Hebrew Congregation's old cemetery and the old cemetery of Adas Israel Congregation on Alabama Avenue in the southeast part of the city. This research was submitted to the Jewish Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR).
In December 2007, JGSGW launched their second Cemetery Research Project, with the goal of indexing all Jewish grave sites in the greater Washington DC area.
As part of the new project, JGSGW volunteers will visit the cemeteries and photograph the tombstones, gleaning from them and other sources, the information in the inscription, including the deceased's Hebrew name and his or her father’s name, if included.
Plans are being formalized as to how the ANC research materials will be presented, but the target date for the project completion is July 2011, when the JGSGW will host the 31st IAJGS International Conference of Jewish Genealogy.
According to the Arlington National Cemetery website:
In Section 13 there are five Jewish soldiers who fought and died during the Civil War serving in the Union Army.
At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 -- which saw brother against brother as well as Jew against Jew -- there were 150,000 Jews in the United States. Three thousand fought on the side of the Confederacy and 6,700 for the Union.
For more information (although numbers appear to need updating) on the history of Jews buried at Arlington, click here.
07 June 2008
The names conference is organised by Bar Ilan University's Prof. Aaron Demsky, of the Department of Jewish History Project for the Study of Jewish Names Faculty of Jewish Studies.
A call for papers in Hebrew or English closes June 15, 2008. For more details, click here.
The 2009 event has five divisions: The Bible and Its World;History of the Jewish People; Rabbinic Literature and Jewish Law and Jewish Thought; Languages, Literatures, and Arts; and Contemporary Jewish Society.
The last conference covered these fields of Jewish studies, including:
Archives, Art, Jewish Women Creativity and Learning, Contemporary Jewish Society, Demography, Folklore, Hebrew Language, History - Antiquity, History - Middle Ages, History - New era, Holcaust Studies. Jewish Education, Jewish Law, Jewish Music, Jewish Names, Jewish Thought, Ladino, Languages, Litereatures and Arts, Medieval Literature, New Hebrew Literature, Rabbinic Literature, Sociology, Talmud, The 19th Congress of Masoretic Studies, The Bible and Its World, The Historical Society of Israel, Theatre, Yiddish, and Zionism
Here are some examples of programs presented at the 14th Congress (see more, including the abstracts, here):
Jewish Names in Bialystok - Zofia Abramowicz
Hebrew Names in the Speech of Georgian Jews - Ruven Enoch
"Perlstecker" and "Golgstecker": Some Specialist Surnames in Tailoring - Bracha Yaniv
The Days of the Week As Jewish Surnames - Michael Falk
Name Changes During the British Mandate - Jean-Pierre Stroweis
Social Stratification and Topography According to the Names Contained in the Register of the Jewish Community of Rome - Yaakov Lattes
Double Given-Names Among Ashkenazic Jewry - Yosef Rivlin
From "Judaismo" to "Sefardismo": Dialectics of Fear in Northern Mexico - Schulamith C. Halevy
Yiddish Folksongs of Religious and National Content from the Collections of the Vernadsky Library in Kiev - Lyudmila Sholokhova
Sephardic Influences in the Liturgy of the Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews of London - Naomi Cohen Zentner
Jewish Personal Names in Fatimid Egypt During the 11th Century - Elinoar Bareket
Geographic Names in Jewish Sources from the Period of the Crusades - Israel Rozenson
Occupations of Bukharan Jews at the End of the 19th Century (Based on Nicknames and Family Names)- Chana Tolmas
Daily Life of Jewish Women in Ottoman Jerusalem During the 19th Century - Yaron Ben Naeh
In Search of Our Lost Spain and Other Sephardic Reflections - Ruth Baher
Engraved in Stone: The Female Voice on the Tombstones of Jewish Cemeteries in Istanbul and Salonika - Gila Hadar
The Immigration of Ladino Speaking Jews from the Ottman Empire to New York in the Early 20th Century - Daniel Florentin
This is only a very small portion of interesting programs. The breadth and depth of this conference should provide food for thought for the program committees of upcoming international conferences on Jewish genealogy.
In this online radio show, host Lisa Louise Cooke — creator of the popular Genealogy Gems podcast — takes you behind the scenes to learn more about the topics covered in Family Tree Magazine.
Each 30-minute episode features interviews with genealogy experts and Family Tree Magazine editors on using genealogy Web sites, records and resources. Plus, editor Allison Stacy gives you sneak previews on upcoming issues and managing editor Diane Haddad delivers the scoop on the latest genealogy news.
Tune in here when you have time.
The Forward's story on "The Longest Running Salon, Still Going Strong," is by Marjorie Backman.
In 1943, two refugees from Nazi regimes — dissident writer Oscar Maria Graf from Germany and his Viennese Jewish friend George Harry Asher — bumped into each other and dined at a German restaurant in Manhattan. They decided to meet weekly, in the style of a Stammtisch, the German and Austrian custom of gathering a group regularly at a certain table in a restaurant, coffeehouse or bar.
“These were people who refused to let Hitler take their language away,” said Janet Gerson, a member of the group.
Graf, a Bavarian Catholic, had famously complained to the Nazis during the book burnings that the authorities should burn his works, too. After he was put on a list of intellectuals to be rescued, Graf arranged the same for Asher.
The group met at several Manhattan restaurants, then at Asher's home and then at the small Yorkville apartment of German Jewish émigré and former jewelry designer Gabrielle Glueckselig.
The group - numbering 9-30 - meets weekly; each brings a supper dish to share or pastries. At the ringing of a bell, newcomers introduce themselves and everyone discusses a topic.
Wiesbaden, Germany invited Glueckselig to return to her hometown to receive a medal for tracing her Jewish family history of gold- and silversmiths back to the 17th century. “Wiesbaden tried to make up for what the Nazis did,” Glueckselig said. Since she couldn’t travel, the town came to her, filling the residence of New York’s German consul with the Stammtisch in attendance. This spring, Glueckselig again celebrated with the Stammtisch, marking her 94th birthday.
The founders - Asher and Graf - are dead. Only Glueckselig is left from the early days. As members aged in the 1980s-90s, younger visitors appeared (writers, journalists, scholars).
In 1995, Yoash Tatari, an Iranian exile working for Cologne television, was so intrigued to discover World War II-era immigrants speaking German in New York that he created a film, “Glueckselig in New York. Der Stammtisch der Emigranten.”
Over the past decade, Austrians and Germans have discovered the group; some are in New York to perform alternative military service. Since 1991, the Gedenkdienst project, or the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service, has sent Austrians to help preserve Holocaust history. Some work at New York’s Leo Baeck Institute, which documents German Jewish history, while others in the German program work at Washington Heights' Isabella Geriatric Center, where some survivors live.
The elders of the group befriend the young foreigners, forming an island of intergenerational friendship.
“I would never have a chance to meet a 20-year-old from Austria or Germany,” said member Trudy Jeremias, 82, a jewelry designer. “Here there’s no age gap. We’re all friends.” Jeremias escaped to the United States from Vienna after Kristallnacht when her grandfather, a banker, was able to obtain affidavits for visas.
Other regulars include retired teacher and Theresienstadt survivor Miriam Merzbacher, 81, who attended religious school in Amsterdam with Anne Frank. Hilde Olsen was deported to Poland from Berlin, served as an industrialist's secretary, typed a list of Jews, added her name. She was on Schindler's List and could join the group. Kurt Sonnenfeld, 82, a Jewish refugee from Vienna fled on foot through Switzerland and France and became a social worker in New York.
Read more here.
The Los Angeles Jewish Journal's story on the historic structure in Newport, Rhode Island, also touched on other curiosities of history.
Built nearly 250 years ago, Touro - the oldest synagogue in the United States and the only one remaining from pre-Revolutionary times - is famous for its longevity, architectural elegance and status as a symbol of American civil liberty.
Any mention of the synagogue (for example, this one) must include a reference to the 1790 letter from George Washington assuring Touro's congregants and all "Children of the Stock of Abraham" that "happily the Government of the United States ... gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance."
Yet for most people, Touro is a tour stop, a footnote in American Jewish history, or at best, a chapter heading. Even Rabbi Mordechai Eskovitz, who had always included Touro (and Washington's letter) in the history classes he taught, "presumed it was just a museum," he said, "not a functioning synagogue."
That is, until he heard they were hiring.
"I thought, 'What a great opportunity to relive Jewish history,'" said the rabbi, who has led the congregation for the last 12 years.
With about 130 families, Congregation Jeshuat Israel's services are Orthodox Sephardic - men pray from benches surrounding the reading platform while women sit in the upstairs gallery. It is not affiliated with any major denomination. The congregation's family includes tourists, Newport Naval Station officers and local families. Some 30,000 visit each year on weekday tours. Attendees range from the Orthodox to liberal and Chasidim.
It is history in action. Set on one of the town's highest points, it faces east towards Jerusalem. In 1759, Dutch-born hazan Rev. Isaac Touro commissioned architect Peter Harrison to draw the plans. Records indicate Harrison never sent a bill, and called it a "labor of love."
Early day visitors included President George Washington and minister Ezra Stiles - who would become Yale University president - studied Hebrew with Touro's rabbis. During Stile's office, Hebrew was a requirement for all students and valedictory speeches were given in Hebrew and are part of the school's seal. More contemporary visitors included Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, and various Jewish celebrities.
According to the story, this year is the 350th anniversary of Newport's Jewish community - the second in North America. Its earliest founders came from Curacao, four years after a group of Jewish families arrived in New York in 1654.
The Jews of Rhode Island chose Roger Williams' colony because it was founded as a haven of religious tolerance more than 100 years before the American Revolution.
It is the National Park Service's only Jewish National Historic shrine. The rabbi says that many visitors rediscover their own connection to Judaism on a visit. Additionally, he says that Jews are building or buying summer homes near the synagogue and he's raising money to build a new mikva to replace the old one that has not functioned for 50 years.
Following a complete restoration in 2006, the sanctuary reopened with its original candelabra and candlesticks and inscriptions dating to the 1700s. A 500-year-old Torah scroll is displayed.
And also among the "artifacts" uncovered by the crew was the original light bulb from the ner tamid, which, when replaced in its socket, glowed once again -- a fitting symbol in a building that has always been a symbol.
Read more here
The subscription site offers access to more than 500 million records dating as far back as 1538, including military records, census, migration, occupation directories, current electoral roll data and original comprehensive birth, marriage and death records.
The experts are Elaine Collins - former editor of The National Archives' "Ancestors" magazine and author of the "Good Web Guide to Genealogy" - and professional genealogist Stephen Rigden is head of research at FindMyPast. Both will be available to answer questions on a wide range of genealogy topics, from how to get started to more knotty family history conundrums.
If you'd like to participate, send a question to Collins and Rigden - until June 18 - at the webchat link here.
You could, of course, just watch them when the webchat goes live.
In November 2006, FindMyPast launched AncestorsOnboard in association with The National Archives to publish outbound long-distance voyage passenger lists from all British ports, 1890-1960. The company was acquired in December 2007 by Scotland Online, which won The National Archives' tender to publish the 1911 census online.
Births, deaths, weddings, divorces, deaths - the history of an entire community, gone.
According to an appeal from a New York-based non-profit group - The Historical Society of Jews from Egypt - whose members are from the diaspora of Jews exiled from Egypt since the 1950s, this is what might happen if the new minister of culture has his way. He has offered to personally burn any Jewish books he finds in Egypt.
Descendants of this community number about a half-million.
According to the Egyptian Jewish group,
Years of requests to the Egyptian authorities for access and the right to photocopy the documents of the Jewish patrimony were met with obfuscation and silence. In view of the candidacy of Egypt's Minister of Culture to head the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Historical Society of Jews from Egypt (HSJE) has asked UNESCO to convince Egypt on its behalf and take custody of a copy of these archives under the Organization's World Heritage protection
In response to its members' expressions of concern at the controversy surrounding press reports of Minister Farouk Hosni's 10th of May statement that he "would himself, burn any Israeli book found in Egypt", HSJE has appealed directly to UNESCO.
The group states that registries and archives in Cairo and Alexandria represent the history and identity as Egyptian Jews. All attempts over the past decade, to get access from the Egyptian authorities to photocopy these documents, have failed.
UNESCO was urged "to take custody of this "intangible heritage" of the Jews from Egypt, by negotiating with Mr. Hosni to photocopy the registers and archives in Egypt and to hold these copies under UNESCO World Heritage protection.
For more information, click here.
I couldn't resist trying the last one first.
Arabic has been added to transliterators for Hebrew, Cyrillic and Greek. I couldn't resist checking it out with Farsi which more or less (there are differences) uses the same alphabet as Arabic. Results:
Dardashti produced DRDSHTY, DRDSHTI.
be zabon-e-farsi ("in the Farsi language"), produced BH ZBN FRSY.
entezar ta entekhabat, "waiting until the election"), produced a list of possibilities from ANTZR T ANTKHBT to the more correct NTZAR TA NTKHABAT, where the initial N ("en") is more correct than an initial A ("an") sound. I'll check it out with longer phrases and report back later. (Foreign Language section)
New Calendar Converters:
French Revolutionary, Muslim Calendar
The One-Step site already had a Jewish Calendar Converter. French Revolutionary Calendar and Muslim Calendar converters have been added. The French calendar is a decimal construction that is fascinating and it nearly caused another revolution on its own when people believed their weekends had been taken away. If you are searching Napoleanic-era records, this may be useful. The Muslim calendar is purely lunar, which means any holiday may fall at anytime without regard to season.
However, the Persian calendar is not yet included and is a completely different construct. I'll have to ask Steve about adding that one, which would be very useful for Persian researchers. (Calendar section)
Phonetic Name Matching
Steve Morse, with Alexander Beider, has developed a method of phonetic name matching with advantages over soundex name matching. Soundex considers the way the name is spelled, but phonetic matching considers the way the name is pronounced.
Pronunciation is language-specific; a determination of the language is made from the spelling. Consequently, a soundex search will result in a large number of false hits to examine, but a phonetic search will return relatively few false hits.
Phonetic name matching has been or is about to be included on several existing One-Step forms. These include the gold form for searching for passengers in the Ellis Island database (coming soon) as well as the One-Step Dachau Concentration Camp search form. It is also included in two new forms described below (Searching Naturalization Records and Searching Reference Books).
Following each description is the category in which the new form is found.
Searching Naturalization Records
FootNote.com (subscription), has collections of naturalization records (some 2 million) for several states. However, the search facility for finding people in these collections is limited. One-Step now offers flexible searching of these records. (Vital Records section)
Searching Reference Books
Several reference books with Jewish surnames have been published; most by Alexander Beider, one by Lars Menk. A new One-Step form has been added for searching names in these books. Results show which books contain the name, but not the full entry.(Holocaust and Eastern Europe section)
New Orleans Ship Records
Ancestry.com (subscription) has the ship records for major US ports (New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Galveston and San Francisco). One-Step had a trio of search forms for each port (simplify the passenger search, provide direct access to manifest microfilms if roll and frame number are known, or to determine roll and frame number for any ship arrival). One-Step now has these tools for New Orleans. (Other Ports section)
05 June 2008
Since 2002, the school's annual Project Preservation has restored cemeteries in Belarus (2002 Sopotskin, 2003 Indura, 2004 Kamenka, 2005 Lunna), Ukraine (2006 Druhzkapol and this year), and Lithuania (2007 Yurburg)
There's also a link to a podcast on the project with Rabbi Edward Boraz.
Established in 2002, Project Preservation is a Tucker Foundation cross cultural education and service project. It is organized and coordinated by Boraz, who explains that these European shtetlach (shtetls) were once mainly Jewish and now have no Jewish residents. Without people to care for them, they are neglected and overgrown.
Stojanov is the birthplace and former home of author Leon Wells, who appears to be the sole survivor from that town, who chronicled his life in the town and throughout the Holocaust in his books, Janowska Road (Macmillan Company 1963 and Halo Pr 1999) and Shattered Faith (University Press of Kentucky 1995).
Boraz says this year's trip is dedicated to Wells' work. The cemetery has no headstones because they were used for flooring for the collective farms in the Soviet era.
Before traveling, students design and implement a 10 week- week course focusing on understanding genocide, an emphasis on the Nazi period, impact on Europe and the history of the village they will be visiting that year. Following the course, students first visit Auschwitz, and then travels to the village to work on the cemetery. Usually assisted by villagers, the group cuts the vegetation, rights headstones, erects fences and holds a rededication ceremony.
"I am deeply moved that each year, a diverse group of students of different faith traditions and ethnicities are committed to and willing to confront first hand the legacy of one of the most tragic events in the history of western civilization, the genocide of the Jewish people of Europe," says Rabbi Boraz. "My own humanity and my own rabbinate have been transformed in many ways because of the nature of the encounters I have with students and with this program."
Some students have traveled to more than one town.
Boraz says that they receive calls to visit specific villages to work on the cemeteries after these years of visits. Sometimes requests come from people whose ancestors once lived there, and sometimes from the people now living in the town who want to preserve their history. "I hope we continue this work, because unfortunately, there is no shortage of Jewish cemeteries that need our help," he says.
Read more - including student comments and the podcast link - here.
See the photographs here.
In addition to the 227 graves, she's indexed the names of all burials on plaques at the entrance and added genealogical and biographical notes.
The site now includes all names of graves desecrated by the Nazis as well as post-Holocaust burials (1945-1949), for more than 600 indexed names. Some are quite distinctive.
I hope, as a result of this work, there will be some genealogical discoveries and some people may identify family members lost in the holocaust, but who actually died in Salzburg whilst in DP camps - [mostly Polish]. Salzburg Jewish cemetery is quite a *surprise*. This is because a high proportion of the graves suggest that the burials were of Polish and Galician Jews as well as Jews from Czernowitz, Bukowina and Romania. I have identified a few German Jews too and Jews coming from Vienna, Bohemia/ Moravia as well as the Burgenland.
Now, Celia has posted details on the graves of Jews from Bukowina, Czernowitz and some other Hungarian Jews. She notes that graves are arranged alphabetically by family name; click to enlarge the photograph. G
Go from "thumbnail" to "detail" and scroll through or choose a slide-show which will, at the fastest pace, take you just under an hour. This however is quicker than going to the cemetery itself and you get a free guided tour! You can superimpose my notes by clicking the letter *I* in the the centre of each picture.
Unreadable graves are grouped together and we gradually deciphering the Hebrew Script on them. Can you decipher this Hungarian grave?
Family names include ALTARAS, BALD, BERCEANER, BONYHADI, COWRIGARU/COVRIGARU, RACHMUTH, ROTH, SCHAFER, SCHORR, ZATAN/ZALAN; there be more not yet identified.
In Celia's "Missing Headstones" section, here are some of the names from post-Holocaust deaths: BOROWNIK, JODXINER, JANCORICS, JAKOBOWITZ, PULVERMACHER, FINGER, SCHLOMOWICZ, GILMOWITSCH, GARB, MUNITZ, PROVISOR, TAUC, GESUNDERMANN,
MIEDZYPORSKA, TAFFET, MAIDANEK, GRUBER.