30 October 2007

New York: Roots film series

The Center for Jewish History will offer a series of films and discussions, entitled "Where Is Home?"

Unfortunately, we've missed the first one on October 25. In Russian with English subtitles, "Roots" is a 2004 comedy directed by Pavel Loungin, which follows the exploits of a Jewish con-artist who turns a small town in provincial Ukraine into a fake site of heritage tourism for unsuspecting Americans.

At 6.30pm November 1, see "Voyages," multi-lingual with English subtitles, directed by Emmanuel Finkel (1999). Three distinct but related sequences, set in France, Poland, and Israel, trace a moving interplay of stories of communion, memory, and language among Holocaust survivors.

At 6.30pm, Thursday, November 8, see "Return to Oulad Moumen" (French with English subtitles), directed by Izza Genini, who uses a family reunion to retrace her large family's history to its small Moroccan village.

Admission is $10; $5 for students/seniors.

Click here for more information

Poland: Finding the lost

The "hidden Jews" of Poland connect with their lost culture over three days in Krakow, 30 miles from Auschwitz.

The Israeli organization Shavei Israel, headed by Michael Freund, organized the event; it has worked for almost 10 years to bring back into the Jewish fold, what it terms "lost" or "hidden" Jews around the world.

Says Freund, "It's a connection that has survived persecution and repression, and now that the world is opening up so quickly, it's a connection that in many instances will become endangered."

Jacek Kujawa only learned he was Jewish two years ago. He had known about the German great-grandfather who served in Hitler's army, but his mother's revelation that the Wehrmacht soldier's wife was a Polish Jew set him off on a search for her lost world.

This weekend, with a Star of David around his neck and a yarmulke on his shaved head, Kujawa, 23, gathered with dozens of other Poles who, like him, have learned only recently of their Jewish roots and want to reconnect with a culture that nearly vanished in the Holocaust.

The event was held in the historic Jewish district, Kazimierz, began with lighting of Shabbat candles and on Sunday, it featured the launch of a new Polish-Yiddish dictionary.

Pre-Holocaust, nearly 3.5 million Jews called Poland home. Between ghettos and concentration camps, they were nearly wiped out. Surviving Jews suffered under repression and expulsion. Many fled, those who stayed hid their roots by marrying out and baptizing their children.

Since 1989, and the fall of communistm, parents and grandparents who remember are telling the family secrets. Each family story is unique and focuses on being Jewish in a not-so-friendly world.

Some of the hidden are halachically Jewish, with descent from a maternal grandmother or great-grandmother. Some have Jewish roots on the paternal line and convert. Some join youth groups and join in cultural events but don't go the religious route.

This AP article appeared in the International Herald Tribune; click here to read the entire story. And click here for more information on Shavei Israel.

Book: Southern Jewish Roots

Did your Jewish families settle in the American south? Here are two books - one recently published and one upcoming - which focus on southern Jewish roots.

Mark I. Greenberg and Marcie Cohen Ferris are the co-editors of the anthology Jewish Roots in Southern Soil: A New History (Brandis University Press, 2006), and Greenberg is the author of the upcoming Jews of Savannah Georgia (1733-1900).

Greenberg is at the University of South Florida, where he is associate librarian, Special Collections director, Florida Studies Center director and Oral History Program director. His focus is on Southern and immigrant/ethnic history, and particularly southern Jewish history.

For more on how he became interested in the Jewish history of the South, click here.

There are numerous review of the book at the site, and I liked this one by J.Book.com's Danny Miller:

"Jewish Roots in Southern Soil helped shatter my arrogant belief that Jewish culture in this country was invented by New Yorkers, Chicagoans, and other Northern Jews. The story of how the Jews of the South acculturated to their region while still holding onto their Jewish identity is a vitally important chapter in the history of American Jewry. The scholars represented in this excellent resource prove once and for all that being a Jew in the United States does not begin and end with a plate of lox and bagels but can also include a little gumbo, black-eyed peas, and some matzo-meal fried-green tomatoes."

Additionally, both this book and the upcoming Savannah-focused book, should prove interesting to Sephardic researchers, as many of the first Southern Jews were Sephardim from the Caribbean.

Digital wizardry: Photo editing software

Roots Television has a new video up with Rick Laxman, who will show what photo editing software can do for family photos.

The video covers common problems, and demonstrates what renaming and organizing software can do for digital image collections.

Click here for more information.

CA: How the Jews won the West, Nov. 11

The next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County (and surrounding areas) will focus on Jews in the Western states.

Western States Jewish History Journal (WSJHJ) editor/publisher Gladys Sturman will speak on "How the Jews Won the West: How the documentation of Western Jewish history began and why this is such a hot topic today."

The academic quarterly is in its 40th year and documents the early life of Jewish pioneers, the contributions Jews have made to settlement of the West and their impact on cultural, political and economic life.

Sturman holds a Jewish history degree from the University of Judaism and was the school's 2006 outstanding alumna. A multi-award winner and author, she has been an active participant in the Los Angeles Jewish Community for more than 49 years.

The meeting begins at 2pm Sunday, November 11, at Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks, CA. There is no charge.

For directions and more information, click here.

Seattle: Share family history creatively, Nov. 12

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State's next meeting will feature genealogist Steven Schwartz in a program focused on creative ways to share and preserve family history.

Schwartz became involved in genealogy as a hobby in 1997 when his oldest daughter researched her family tree for a school project. With his experience in computers and other technologies, he has experimented with a variety of ways to present genealogical information in interesting new formats, and his personal research has produced a database of more than 5,000 relatives.

The program will help attendees to organize and present collected information in a meaningful way.

He'll explore creative ways to share your family history, with an emphasis on using your computer. The focus will be on using tools that do not require advanced training in computers or video production. However, the results will enable you to tell your story using video, photos, maps, documents, and interviews, and to decorative family trees that you can frame for display. He will also explore how you can spruce up a traditional book format with photos and aerial views of shtetls using Windows’ Live Earth and Google.

The program is for both newcomers and more experienced researchers, and will begin at 7pm Monday, November 12, at the Stroum Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island. Free for members, $5 for others. Photo ID is required to enter the building.

For directions and more information, click here.

Spain: Jews of Catalunya conference

The MontJuic Institute presented the Third Conference on the Jews in Catalan-speaking lands over four days. On October 15-16, we were in Perpignan (French Catalunya), in Southern France, followed by October 17-18 in Barcelona.

Academic presenters came from universities and institutes in Vic, Toulouse, Berlin, Bourgogne, Sorbonne, Barcelona, Balearic Islands, Madrid, Konstanz, Girona, Trier, University of Massachusetts, Georgetown University, Hebrew University, Bar Ilan, Tel Aviv University, Paris, Vienna and Perpinya.

It was a journey into the places Jews lived in the Middle Ages, accessible archival records in very interesting locations , philosophy and personalities.

Stay tuned to Tracing the Tribe for the highlights.

If this topic is one of interest, mark your calendars now as the next one is in October 2010 in the city of Valencia.

London: JGSGB conference, part II

Before discussing another two of the sessions, I'd like to say thank you to the JGSGB board for an excellent day, including of course Lorna Kay, Martyn Woolf, the technical experts and all the volunteers.

It was wonderful seeing fellow Sephardic researcher George Anticoni, Antony Joseph of Birmingham (who so long ago connected me with my London Talalay family and thereby half our shared history), JewishGen's Michael Tobias, who came down from Glasgow, author Doreen Berger and so many others.

Jenny Thomas
The Making of the BBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?"

I must confess that Thomas sat in the front row as I gave my talk, and I wondered who she was - she was so enthusiastic.

She's now working on her fifth series of the popular show.

As a fan of the show (which we do see in repeats in Israel), I enjoyed her session on how the show is organized, how it deals with sworn-to-secrecy relatives, and how they insist on not telling the celebrities anything until the person sees the records.

She covered celebrities who insisted on bringing their dogs - one jumped into the National Archives fountains for a swim - to all shooting sessions, to the required search for a leech-wrangler for one episode, to hoping celebrities were dressed appropriately for outings.

I really wanted to know who reserved the parking places at the archives the celebrities visited, as there always appeared to be a nice spot right in front, but I didn't get a chance to ask.

She discussed what genealogy is and how it is related to sociology, history, economics, the best and worst of humanity and is intergenerational.

Thomas stressed the social history experience. Perhaps because the future is uncertain, she said, many look back to define their roots, to draw comfort in understanding a changing world. We understand the present from the past, she said, and our ancestors collectively made our history.

"We all have a past," she said, and we begin to question our own ideas in a new context.


Author/researcher Susan Fifer
Research Poland and Writing the new JGSGB Polish Guide: Taking My Own Advice

Sue Fifer has been researching her history since 1994, when she bought a computer program and entered details on her mother's many cousins. A former teacher, now in retirement, she maintains her interest in computers and family history. She teaches computer skills to older learners and has remained obsessive - aren't we all? - about genealogy.

A Shtetl Co-Op Coordinator for Kalisz which produced some 28,000 entires for the JRI Poland database project, Fifer is understandably very proud of this achievement.

She wrote the JGSGB's Research Guide to Poland, one of the society's neat compact guides. Today there is a great series; some older ones are being revised. She added that as soon as the Polish guide was printed, she began work on a revised edition because so many new resources are appearing.

Fifer compares old-fashioned genealogy to modern: "It's like harvesting a field by hand and then getting a combine harvester as a Chanukah present."

Additionally, her talk covered top tips for family historians:

-Ask family members for papers. Be specific, as they don't always understand a document's significance.

-Don't assume spellings are correct.

-You don't have to be a linguist to do Polish research, but you have to give yourself a fighting chance by acquiring old dictionaries and travel guides and other helpful resources. She recommends searching through the books at various charity organization thrift shops (particularly mentioning Oxfam, which UK readers will recognize).

-Review your old research. Taking a more modern look may reveal that you now know more or have more resources to access.

-Make use of others' expertise, but also volunteer yourself.

-Become familiar with new technology and resources.


Again, congratulations to the JGSGB for a very interesting day!

London: JGSGB conference, Part I

I enjoyed my quick trip to London and spent time with family and friends, although the main reason was to speak at the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain's annual conference.

The Sunday event was sold out at 150 people. The five-person lineup included geneticist Dr. Ian Ellis, author/editor Andrew Miller, Who Do You Think You Are's Jenny Thomas, JGSGB's Polish research guide author Sue Fifer. My contribution was "Creating Hope," how writing for a broad global audience helps people become involved in family history by presenting success stories, resources and other facets.


Geneticist Dr. Ian Ellis
Jewish Genes - What Makes Us Jewish?

Dr. Ian Ellis - senior lecturer in clinical genetics at the University of Liperpool, clinical director for the Medical Genetics Directorate and several other groups - developed a national screening programme to identify Tay-Sachs carriers in the UK Jewish community. He is part of NoWGEN, the North West Genetics Knowledge Park , which concerns ethical and legal issues of DNA storage, testing and ownership within an e-bio community. Additionally, in 2002, he organized the first Genetics and Law Conference in London in 2002.

His talk centered on the common bond among Jews around the world. What is it that makes us Jewish, he asked, as he provided clues to detailed culture, shared religious practice, or something older, something handed down, that has kept us together for thousands of years. What are the markers that make us a race or people? What about blood group B?

Ellis presented many aspects of genetics, such as founder effects, bottlenecks, genetic drift, selective advantage and other influences - and made it sound so simple.

Topics included the Kohanim Project, which discovered the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH), the Levite Project and Jon Entine's new book on Abraham's Children. Djerba, Tunisia was discussed; all Djerba men, said Ellis, exhibit CMH which fits their oral tradition: The first settlers of Djerba were priests in the Temple, who escaped carrying one of the doors with them.

The Levites were part of the program as well, along with the fact that only some 50% of Levites have the CMH. The bottom line: Jews are more heterogenous and there is no single marker, but it is not random. Documented history is reflected in our genes and there are genetic links.

As he was summing up, Ellis offered his personal tribute to genealogists and provided a quote from the UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: "History tells us what happened; memory tells who we are. History is his story - happened some time to someone else; memory is my story. Memory is personal."


Author Andrew Miller
Writing Family History: The Earl of Petticoat Lane

Andrew Miller of London is the political editor of The Economist magazine. Until recently he lived and worked in Moscow, and has also written about contemporary immigration to Britain. He studied literature at Cambridge and Princeton.

His talk on "Writing Family History" centered on his 2006 book, "The Earl of Petticoat Lane." It is a family history about Jewish immigration, London's East End, love, friendship, class, the Blitz and the underwear industry.

Based on original 19th-20th century family correspondence in various languages, he reconstructs the Jewish East End in the interwar years and his family's Galicianer shtetls, which he visited.

The New Statesman review said the book "a fantastically interesting and well-written story."

Although I have no UK connection and my family did not experience East End life, Miller's anecdotes made those times come alive and can easily be transferred to those whose families settled in New York's Lower East Side or other large immigrant cities. His East End anecdotes and issues relating to the family saga were topical to all genealogists:

A man in the East End died, and his angry creditors gathered to discuss what could be done. One said they shouldn't be too hard on him, as the deceased had given lots of money to Israel, whereupon another creditor said, "Yes, to Morrie Israel, the bookie."

Or about his family's underwear business: Underwear was cut on the kitchen table. It couldn't be any other article of clothing as the table wasn't big enough.

The Yiddish playbill for a Shakespeare play stressed "Expanded & Improved."

Along with the humor were the problems: What to disclose? What to do about secrets? He spoke of the axiom of genealogy: The information we find raises as many questions as it answers.

But, along the way, we learn about people, where they lived, how they lived - not just names and dates. Miller stressed that if he learned one thing, it is that "everybody's life is fascinating."

I read through some of Miller's book last night and can confirm the fascinating detail which Miller offers. I'm looking forward to thoroughly reading the "Earl of Petticoat Lane."

29 October 2007

UK: Researchers dismayed at records restriction

Today's Guardian (UK) offers a story about locking away of paper records before a planned online version - plagued by delays - is ready.

Researchers are understandably upset.

For years, genealogists and family historians have pored over the massive green and maroon ledgers at the Family Records Centre in London, searching for details of more than 150 years of births, marriages and deaths. But there was anger or outright incredulity this weekend as professional and amateur researchers arrived to find most of the shelves bare.

There will never again be public access to the paper records, the index to where in the country all the births, marriages and deaths were registered, but - as so often with government IT projects - the timetable for the online version intended to replace them has collapsed. According to a spokesman for the Office for National Statistics, which is responsible for the General Records Office, "the present target is to have the online index available by mid-2009".

Researchers can use microfiche, however, although it is difficult, and two people called it "an absolute disgrace." Another comment focused on the loss to genealogists of both paper records and the ability of researchers working together and sharing tricks of the trade.

The digitizing work was outsourced to India and has fallen behind. Microfiche - proposed as a resource until the online version is available - has its own problems, most importantly image quality.

"It's deplorable," said Maggie Loughran, administrator of the Federation of Family History Societies. "The removal of the paper records and the closure of these facilities is happening ahead of time, but nobody knows when the digital version will be available."

Sarah Williams, editor of the new BBC magazine Who Do You Think You Are?, launched on the back of the success of the television series and the growing craze for amateur genealogy, said: "The sweetener was that the paper records would be replaced by a superior digital version. But to lose one before the other is ready is a highly questionable decision."

The records will be sent to a warehouse and the public access system may take two years to become operational. The Family Records Centre opened a decade ago, with the now-closed General Records Office on the ground floor, and a National Archives reading room above that. There are four sets of microfiche in the NA room. In March 2008, the entire building will be closed to the public and researchers must work online.

Read the complete article here.

General Grant, Order 11 and the Jews

A book from 1909 is now online detailing General Ulysses S. Grant's infamous Order 11 against the Jews. Additionally, here's information on how to access Google Book's offerings using different online sources if you are located out of the U.S.

In 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant expelled Jews from areas of Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee where his troops were stationed. Another law allowed only Christians to serve as military chaplains. Troops forced 30 Jewish families out of Paducah, Kentucky.

Some 25,000 of the country's 150,000 Jews lived down South as loyal Confederates according to a 2005 Library of Congress exhibit. Grant complained that some Jewish merchants would "roam through the country contrary to government regulations."

Regional Jewish leaders appealed to President Abraham Lincoln who rescinded the order.

"Abraham Lincoln and the Jews," by Isaac Markens (1909) is considered the fullest account of Lincoln's dealings with Jews before and during the Civil War, and covers the outrage in the US Senate and newspapers about Order 11. General Henry Halleck was told to tell Grant the order was unacceptable:

"The President has no objection to your expelling traitors and Jew peddlers, which I suppose was the object of your order," Halleck wrote, according to Markens' account, "but as in terms proscribed an entire religious class, some of whom are fighting in our ranks, the President deems it necessary to revoke it."

The book is now available online through Google Books, according to a recent issue of Secrecy News, the publication of the Federation of American Scientists.

Be aware that - as with all Google Book offerings - readers in locations outside the U.S. may be restricted in their access to download or read certain offerings. I'm now in London UK and could not view this book.

However, for this book and many others, there are work-arounds.

The Google Book entry indicated it came from the University of Michigan, which has its own digital location - Mirlyn - for its books. In this case, searching MBooks for this volume directed me to the full online text here, where the volume can be viewed as image, full-text and PDF formats, saved, downloaded, printed, etc.


'Abraham's Children' and Jon Entine

It was standing-room only with more people in the hall crowding the open door when author Jon Entine spoke about his upcoming book at the 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Salt Lake City a few months ago.

Entine was carrying a pre-publication proof with him and I was among the lucky few who had an opportunity to skim through its pages. For your own sneak peek, his presentation on "Abraham's Children: Race, Identity and the DNA of the Chosen People," was taped by Roots Television. See it here.

The just-published book addresses the human migration of the Y-chromosome, three major genetic groupings of Jews, origins of Ethiopian Jews and the migration of mtDNA.

In August, The Forward published a story about the book. Read it here.

Some early reviews:

Kirkus Review: "Engaging and informative reading for Jews and non-Jews alike," describing it as "an epic tale of 'The Chosen People'."

Library Journal: "[Jon Entine's] explorations take him from his own Jewish family members' cancer diagnoses to genetic labs and commercial the history of Israel and Zionism, and the split between social anthropology and biological anthropology."

Publisher's Weekly: "presents fascinating evidence from DNA studies" on vexing questions of "religion, history, culture and sometimes politics."

The Association of Jewish Libraries: "a fascinating popular read. Highly recommended."

The newest is the October 28 review by Sol Schindler in the Washington Times (Washington, DC) here.

I'm told my copy has arrived on my desk, and I'm looking forward to reading it when I arrive home next week.

23 October 2007

The genealogy of New York deli

Visiting beautiful, sunny Barcelona and reading about New York deli ... the only thing better would be savoring a piled-high fresh-roasted turkey breast on rye, slathered with Russian dressing, a side of cole slaw, a really sour pickle and maybe a few deli fries.

No such thing in Barcelona ... although bagels have arrived!

The New York Times' story - "A counter history" - on the great families of the deli world was simply too delicious to read!

Here's the genealogical and gastronomical scoop on two grand families of the Second Avenue Deli (the Lebewohls) and Russ & Daughters (the Federmans) - the borsht is in their blood.

The Jews who immigrated here during the first half of the last century ate at delis - most of them kosher - regularly. Eventually they moved to the suburbs and traded salami for salad. In the 1960s there were 300 kosher delis in the city and suburbs and a Greater New York Delicatessen Dealers’ Association. That group is long defunct, and you can count the number of marquee delis left in Manhattan on one hand: Carnegie, Katz's and Stage, none of them kosher. Assimilation is one reason; also, the need to separate dairy from meat limits menu choices (kosher meat is more expensive besides), and New Yorkers do not like limits. The staples of deli food, like matzoh-ball soup and corned beef, migrated in nonkosher form to diners and coffee shops decades ago; you need to be Jewish to eat deli the same way you need to be Italian to eat pizza. But for aficionados of the real thing, the high-quality, old-school kosher renditions of brisket or flanken or center-cut tongue like silk, the Second Avenue Deli was it.

Steve Cohen - the Second Avenue Deli's manager for 24 years - says his favorite experience was "when we had five nuns eating matzoh balls served by a Lebanese waiter - in a kosher deli. That's New York."

Read all about it here , but don't drool on your keyboard.

Major Sephardic genealogy site expanded

Sephardic genealogist and award-winning author Dr. Jeffrey Malka has revamped and expanded his Sephardic resources website, first created in 1998.

SephardicGen.com is the comprehensive website for this specialized subject.

Mathilde Tagger of Jerusalem - award-winning co-author of "Guidebook for Sephardic and Oriental Genealogical Sources in Israel" - has, according to Malka, decided to place the many databases she has created on the new website.

Writes Malka:

To facilitate access to the information in Mathilde Tagger's work I created special search engines that help locate names of people and places in the many databases. The list of new databases (plus links to other databases of Sephardic Genealogy interest on the web) can be found at www.SephardicGen.com/databases/databases.html

I particularly wish to thank Steve Morse (another IAJGS award winner) for his generous help and expert advice without which the search engines would not have been possible.

The site is designed to provide not only extensive help for both the new and more experienced Sephardic genealogist, but also provides links to all the other main Sephardic genealogy resources available on the web. From its home page, readers can access the several sections of an extensive website devoted completely to Sephardic genealogy.

Among its resources:

Sephardic History: Articles and links on Sephardic History

Sephardic Genealogy: Articles and links on Sephardic Genealogy

Websites by country: Links to Sephardic websites and archives by country.

Search Databases: The new section hosting Tagger's databases with search engines. Click here. Among the resources is a new searchable annotated index of some 3,000 names in Abraham Galante's "Histoire des Juifs de Turquie," and links to other databases of interest.

Sephardic Surnames: Articles and lists of Sephardic surnames plus links to other websites that contain lists of names.

Sephardic Gazetteer: Search for places Sephardic Jews lived by modern, alternative and older names, with map links.

Archives: List of useful archives (also see archives listed under country resources).

Books: Extensive bibliography of Sephardic books sorted by topic and country.

How to start: Advice on how to start in Sephardic genealogy.

Sephardic Family Trees: Links to family trees online.

Genealogy Forms: Essential forms for the genealogist.

Sephardic Newslists: Links to specialized newslists.

Calendar Conversion: Tools to convert dates to and from the Hebrew, Gregorian, Islamic, Turkish and other calendars.

Frequently Asked Questions: To assist visitors.

Malka always welcomes comments, additions or suggestions. He is the author of "Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering Your Sephardic Ancestors and Their World."

UK: Jewish cultural guide available

The autumn-winter edition of "Jewish London" - the fifth edition of the guide to the city's Jewish culture events - has been published by Jewish Culture UK. It features a wide variety of events and activities at London's museums, galleries and theaters that will interest Tracing the Tribe's readers.

Among organizations featured: The London Jewish Cultural Center; the Jewish Museum; the Jewish Historical Society of England; the UK Jewish Film Festival; Spiro Ark; Springboard Education Trust; the Jewish Music Institute; the Jewish Community Center for London; the Jewish Council for Racial Equality; the London Jewish Forum; European Day of Jewish Heritage and Culture; Jewish Renaissance magazine and Yad Vashem UK Foundation.

Some events spotlighted: Hanukka celebrations at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a commemoration of Jewish ex-servicemen and -women at the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall, the UK Jewish Film Festival; an Iraqi-Jewish band performing in Hebrew and Arabic, as well as events for children and families.

The guide, according to the Jerusalem Post story, is one of many activities and events organized by the mayor of London to highlight the contribution of Jewish Londoners to the capital, the Mayor's Office said.

Read the entire story here.

Atlanta: There Once Was a Town, Nov. 11

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Georgia's annual movie meeting is set for 2pm, Sunday, November 11, at the Cuba Genealogy Center at the Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, in Atlanta.

The 90-minute film is "There Once Was a Town," focuses on Dr. Yaffa Eliach's return to her hometown of Eishyshok, Poland, where 3,500 Jews were murdered in 1941. Eliach takes a busload of survivors back to their town.

For more information and directions, click here or here. No charge to members; $5 for others.

If you have access to Eliach's remarkably detailed book of the same title, do read it to understand the town, the region, the history of the peoples, religions, cultures and daily life.

Washington DC: Preserve family treasures, Nov. 11

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington's next meeting will present Wendy Turman on "Preserving Your Family's or Synagogue's History: Tips on safeguarding family treasures."

The meeting will begin at 1.30pm, Sunday, November 11, at Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington, DC. No charge for members, $5 for others.

For more details, click here.

22 October 2007

Newspaper archives teleconference, Oct. 28

Sharon Sergeant of Ancestral Manor offers a variety of genealogical teleconferences. The next one - Finding and Using Newspaper Sources - is free and will be held Sunday evening October 28.

Historical newspaper archives provide a tremendous resource for all types of researchers. Escalating digitization programs and search capabilities are making millions of pages of this content rich resource more readily accessible.

There are also microfilms of non-digitized issues available through interlibrary loan, and many repositories with bound volumes of newspaper issues, as well as antiquarian newspaper dealers who have millions of original issues at inexpensive prices.

This teleconference series begins with resources for understanding historical newspaper value and creating an research inventory of what newspapers may be of use in your research.

For the time and to register, click here.

19 October 2007

Poland: Jewish veterinarians, 1931

According to Alexander Sharon, the Digital Library of Wielkopolska has published a list of all veterinarians in Poland in 1931. Click here for more information.

There were many Jews in the list of 1,364 Polish veterinarians.

At the website, go to page 34 in the PDF for an alphabetical listing.

Information includes: Surname, first name; practice affiliation (district - powiat; regional - sejmik, town - miasto); town location; district location; date of birth; religion (Jewish - mojzeszowa); nationality; graduation year; and university.

Sharon says that several Jewish veterinarians have native Polish-sounding surnames and first names, but that their religion is listed in column 7.

Hungary: Database update adds 90,000 records

Those researching Jewish roots in Hungary should know that JewishGen's All-Hungarian Database has been updated with some 90,000 new vital records.

The database now holds nearly 700,000 records (100,000 birth, 35,000 death and 12,500 marriage), for Bercel, Chropo, Debrecen, Galszecs, Gyor, Homonna, Kiskunfelegyhaza, Kisvarda, Mandok, Nagykallo, Nyirbator, Nyirkarasz, Szinyer-varalji, Tarcal, Tokaj and Tolcsva.

Additionally, Budapest births through 1864 and the majority of Miskolchave births have been completed.

Additional towns being worked on now include Budapest, Eger, Gyongyos, Kosice, Miskolc, Moson, Presov and Stropkov.

Such projects depend on numerous volunteers who contribute time and effort to make records available to researchers of today and tomorrow.

To learn more or volunteer in some aspect of the project, click here.

Roots Travel: Munich, Germany

Terese Loeb Kreuzer writes in the Post Gazette about her travel to Munich in search of family, history and stories.

This city is pretty and very jolly. People sit shoulder to shoulder in sunny beer gardens, drinking from mugs the size of small wastebaskets. Marienplatz, the square in the center of town, bustles day and night. The ubiquitous pastry shops are so tempting. The Baroque palaces and churches are stunning. The city's art museums, particularly the Alte Pinakothek, are among the best in Europe. In a city of 1.3 million, there are two opera houses and three symphony orchestras.

But Munich is also where Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party got started.

During the Nazi regime, Munich's synagogues were smashed and 4,500 Munich Jews were murdered.

Kreuzer provides details on one of her great-grandfathers - Adolph Ullman - born there in 1858 and whose family lived in the Jewish Quarter. He, his brother and sister emigrated to the United States. A family album with some 19th century Munich photos was brought by Ullman, and she was curious to see where he came from.

Although initially reluctant to return, Kreuzer returns when a new synagogue and a Jewish Museum open in the city.

The synagogue, the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Museum are in the heart of the town, where a centuries-old market was located. It was an 18th century ghetto and, after the war, a parking lot. She visits the old Jewish cemetery:

The next day I went to the old Jewish cemetery on Thalkirchnerstrasse in Sendling on the outskirts of Munich. The first burial in this cemetery was on March 24, 1816 - a 7-day-old boy. He was the twin brother of my great-great grandmother, Terese Neustaetter Ullmann.

Caretaker Frau Johanna Angermeier has a register from 1882 listing grave locations from 1816. She finds Kreuzer's great-great-great grandfather Israel Neustaetter (1833) and her great-great grandfather Nathan Ullmann (1863), Terese's husband, and shows her the graves.

I thought about Nathan's descendents in America -- lawyers, writers, artists, businessmen, inventors (including Carl Sontheimer, the founder of Cuisinart) -- and how remarkable it was that around 130 years after my great-grandfather had left Munich, I was able to return and find Nathan. When I got up, I placed a small stone on his tomb to show that I'd been there.

Angermeier's in-laws were the cemetery caretakers during the Nazi era, and smuggled the burial register to a relative in Bavaria who hid it during the war. There were many Ullmans, Neustaetters and Obermayers in the register.

For the complete story, click here.

FYI: FGS conference in September

If the 28th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (August 17-22, Chicago) isn't enough for you this summer, the 2008 Federation of Genealogical Societies conference will take place September 3-6, in Philadelphia.

Subtitled "Footprints of Family History," the four-day conference will honor the city where ancestors of millions of Americans first set foot.

The FGS conference committee has set up a blog to provide breaking news, updates, program announcements and much more, and information from the genealogical, archival and historical communities.

Click here for more information.

A question on Hebrew gravestones

Grace Dobush of Family Tree Magazine asked if I'd assist in answering a question they had received. I was happy to help.

Secular and Hebrew Dates on Jewish Tombstones

Q While exploring a Jewish cemetery in Cincinnati recently I noticed much variation among the inscriptions on tombstones. Is there a particular date when families started using Gregorian dates rather than Hebrew dates on graves?

A Whether gravestones bear secular or Hebrew dates depends on a few things: historical period, location, and the family's affiliation and level of religious observance.

Learn about these and other factors, and find date conversion tools, on the Now What? blog. Scroll down to Monday, October 15, 2007. Of course, the date conversion tools include Steve Morse's helpful utility.

Egypt: One family's roots in film

Do you think your family's roots are complicated?

An interesting take on one Egyptian family's mixed background resulted in a film shown recently at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival:

Egyptian director Nadia Kamel, worried by messages of religious war her young nephew was hearing from Cairo mosques, decided to show him their own family's history of mixed marriage in a journey that takes her from Italy to Israel.

The film focuses on the elderly grandmother Mary. She is half-Egyptian Jew, half-Italian Christian and married to an Egyptian Muslim. A Communist and staunch supporter of Palestinian rights, she has shunned contact with Jewish relatives since they moved in 1946 to British-mandate Palestine, two years before Israel was created. The film follows her as she decides to face disapproval of Muslim relatives in Egypt by visiting relatives in Israel.

In the 1930s-40s, Egypt was multi-ethnic, multi-religious - with thriving communities of Jews, Italians, Greeks and others. Her story shows that the divisions that appear so intractable now did not exist two generations ago.

The film shows the similarities between the Muslim family in Egypt, the Christian family in Italy and the Jewish family in Israel. They look similar, their homes are similar and they speak to each other in a mix of Arabic, Italian and French.

Mary's brother went to Italy as life in Egypt became hard for foreigners. Her parents stayed. Her cousin went to fight for Israel's creation but other relatives left Egypt out of fear.

One Jewish relative still listened to music by Egypt's late diva Om Kalthoum. His wife told of her warm ties with her Muslim neighbours in Cairo, who treated her daughter like their own.

That girl's sons are now in the Israeli army. Their photos in uniform hang in the same room where Om Kalthoum's voice rings out.

For the complete story, click here.

Afghanistan: A Jewish family's journey

According to a press release, there's a new book out on a little-known community:

Journey Among Nations is the history of a Jewish family that left their homeland in Afghanistan for Israel and then to the United States. It is a story lovingly related about tradition and sacred ceremonies, the values that hold a family together, and the events of war that forever altered their lives.

Says Kabul-born author Michael Cohen:

"I started to compare our current situation to the one we left in Kabul. My heart was crying, especially for my father who was a prominent personality in Kabul and other cities of Afghanistan…. Then he came to the Holy Land close to retirement age to wander with a shovel and dig holes just like the Jewish people when they were slaves in Egypt…. I wondered if he would have done this move had he known the consequences in advance. We left a state where everything was in abundance. It was a Diaspora indeed, but the Jews there adapted very well, especially in Kabul where the people are generous, noble, and respectful of others. I did not know of even one Jew there who worked as a plain laborer."

Cohen has headed two Afghan-Jewish delegations in meetings with Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai, and helps to bridge religions and enhance American, Afghan and Israeli ties. He and his family live in New York.

For more information, click here.

Hunting for history

When author Daniel Mendelsohn spoke in Forest Hills, Queens about his book and the search for people from Bolechov, Ukraine, three people raised their hands to recount their ties to the town, according to a story in the New York Times Ledger.

Professor of humanities at Bard College, his book "The Lost" won the 2006 National Book Critics' Circle Award, the National Jewish Book Award and the American Library Association Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Jewish Literature.

When his grandfather died, the family's silence finally began to make sense, said Mendolsohn. Opening the ostrich skin wallet his grandfather had always carried in his breast pocket, he found "a whole series of letters written in German from Shmiel in 1939 begging for help" to escape from the growing threat from the advancing German army. Mendelsohn said it must have been a tremendous sense of guilt at his inability to save his brother and his brother's family that kept his garrulous grandfather quiet for decades.

He struck up a friendship online with a man in Ukraine who specialized in finding genealogy documents and records for Jews , Mendelsohn said. A year passed with no word, and then one day a box arrived at Mendelsohn's Upper West Side address, bearing "120 records of my family going back to 1724. Not only were they living in the same town for 150 years, they were in the same house," he said.

Read the complete story here.

Humor: What would you do for information?

Chris Dunham offers a very tongue-in-cheek entry discussing methods used by researchers to extract family information from unwilling or forgetful relatives.

Tracing the Tribe does not recommend these methods, but does recommend Chris's blog, The Genealogue for a look at the lighter side of genealogy.

A memo leaked to The Washington Post last week revealed that AGA guidelines permit "enhanced interrogation techniques" when questioning relatives. Allegations of inappropriate interviewing methods have since come to light. An elderly man in Miami was placed in a "stress position" by an AGA member and deprived of sleep for two days because the name of his father's first wife had slipped his mind. A Connecticut woman who refused to give her date of birth was forced to listen to Britney Spears' latest single for seventeen hours straight.

"We do not torture," repeats Hanscom. When asked for his definition of "torture," he replies, "Whatever it is that we don't do."

Read the complete post here.

Kutsher's century of lox and love

In 1825, according to a story in the New York Jewish Week, writer Washington Irving wrote:

"Whoever has made a voyage up the Hudson must remember the Kaatskill Mountains. ... Every change of season, every change of weather, indeed, every hour of the day produces some change in the magical hues and shapes of these mountains."

And so begins a story about lots of lox and love about the last of the great Borscht Belt properties, Kutsher's in Monticello, New York.

Tracing the Tribe's regular readers will already know about my connection to Sullivan County - "the country" - and specifically to Kauneonga Lake. Although I spent many summers at my grandparents' bungalow colony, I had never stayed at any of the iconic hotels such as Grossinger's, the Concord or Kutsher's, which is celebrating the century mark this year and still going strong.

At the Catskills Institute conference in August 2006, I finally had an opportunity to make up for those summers. I finally understood what it must have been like in its heyday, as those sharing our table included a couple who had returned every summer since they met as teenagers.

In 1907, immigrants Louis and Max Kutsher opened a small place for the High Holidays. Max wasn't well and they hoped the clean air would make him healthy.

The "Jewish Alps" were an escape from the crowded hot streets of the city, and the first Kutsher's was a kochalein (Yiddish: cook alone), where guests shared a kitchen to cook their own meals.

The Kutsher Brothers Farm House grew to 1,400 acres of meadows, lake, forest; a main building with 400 rooms, two adjacent bungalow colonies, sports camp, golf course and beach.

Today, Mark (Louis's grandson) and Helen (Milton's widow) Kutsher run the resort and things haven't changed. There's an amazing array of kosher food, entertainment, land and water sports, activities for kids.

The place still draws hundreds of former guests for the high holidays. According to Helen Kutsher:

"It’s a combination of four L’s - a lot of lox [at breakfast], a lot of labor [constant attention to every aspect of the hotel business], a lot of luck and a lot of love. My mother used to say: ‘Reach for their hands. Look in their eyes. People need to know that you are paying attention to them.’"

For more information on the hotel, click here.

Helen and Mark Kutsher talk about the old days when some 1,000 hotels were operating - click here to listen.

Read the complete story here .

13 October 2007

On the road again - Barcelona, London

Tracing the Tribe has been quiet for a few days because I'm attending a conference on "The Jews of Catalan-speaking Lands."

The first two days were in Perpignan in southern France - which in medieval times was French Catalunya - and the second two days are in Barcelona. Tomorrow is the last day and will run from 9am-10pm with a multitude of interesting topics.

I'll be preparing a series of postings on the conference, as well as some new books I've acquired. Plans include a visit to archives in Girona and other towns, and visits to Tarrega and Tarragona.

Next week I will be in London to speak at the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain seminar on October 28, and visit with Talalay and Dardashti cousins. A few more days in Barcelona and then finally back home.

New York: Steve Morse will speak October 28

Dr. Stephen P. Morse of San Francisco is on the road again - this time at the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island.

Brooklyn-born, Steve is an amateur genealogist who has been researching his Russian-Jewish origins for several years. He's a computer professional who has spent a career alternately doing research, development, teaching, consulting and writing. He's the creator of the creator of the One-Step website with so many helpful utilities which made his name a household world among international genealogists.

He will present the "Jewish Calendar Demystified" and "Searching the New York Census with Fewer Tears," beginning at 2pm Sunday, October 28, at the Mid-Island Y JCC in Plainview.

The Jewish calendar session is important because Jewish vital carvings. This talk will present the calendar in an easy-to-understand fashion.

Steve authored an excellent article on this topic in the current issue of the Association of Professional Genealogists magazine.

The New York State Censuses of 1905, 1915 and 1925 provide much information about immigrant relatives during the largest wave of immigration. He'll discuss census schedules, the city district enumeration, why the 1925 Census was the last and more.

His One-Step website has attracted attention worldwide, and Steve received the IAJGS 2006 Outstanding Contribution and Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Award of Merit from the National Genealogy Society. In his other life, Steve is a computer professional with a doctorate degree in electrical engineering and is the designer of the Intel 8086 microprocessor.

Admission is free. For more information, click here.

You can also catch him in New York at these sessions:
Saturday, October 27 – Patchogue Public Library – One Step Web Pages Wednesday, October 31 – Huntington Historical Society – One Step Web Pages Saturday, November 3 – Joint meeting Italian Genealogy Group and Irish Family History Forum – What Color Ellis Island Search Should I Use? – Playing Hide and Seek in the U. S. Census

Florida: Meet the Rivlins, October 28

Are you a Rivlin? Do you know about the family's 1980 reunion attended by more than 2,500 extended family members, and that another event is being planned?

If you're looking for Rivlins and live in South Florida, the Jewish Genealogical Scoiety of Broward County's next meeting is for you.

Dr. Jeffrey Shoulson will screen a documentary film about the 1980 Rivlin Family Reunion in Jerusalem. Associate professor of English and Judaic studies at the University of Miami, his presentation raises interesting questions about the value and purpose of genealogical research.

The free meeting will begin at 1pm Sunday, October 28, at the Soref Jewish Community Center in Plantation.

For more details, click here. The website also offers an interesting history of Jewish life in Broward County by Bernard Israelite Kouchel here, along with a bibliography for more reading.

Israel: Family Tree Maker session, Oct. 17

The Israel Genealogical Society's English section meets in Jerusalem. The group's next meeting at 7.30pm Wednesday, October 17, will focus on Family Tree Maker genealogy software with professional genealogist Michael Goldstein.

The session will help attendees find their way around this software program, with specific illustrations using its features. Learn how to get the most from the program, why and how to do it.

Goldstein will help with the following questions: Why bother with a software program to record and organize your family history data? Are you puzzled/confused as to which software program to use? Are you overwhelmed, don't know how to begin what seems to be a Herculean task? Do you have Family Tree Maker and need help learning how to use it? Are you already using a program, encountering problems, and getting stuck and/or discouraged? Do you want to learn about the latest advances and getting the very most out of the program?

Barbara Siegel is the English section coordinator. The program will be held at Beit Frankfurter in Jerusalem. For more details, click here.

New Jersey: Write your family history, October 18

"Writing Your Family History," with Susan Amsterdam, is the topic of the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of North New Jersey.

Amsterdam will offer suggestions for organizing what may seem like an overwhelming mass of information obtained from many sources and provide ideas for conducting oral histories and writing one's own autobiography. Learn how to deal with sensitive family information and how to tell the story in an interesting way.

The meeting begins at 7.30pm Thursday, October 18, at the YM-YWHA in Wayne. For more information, click here.

Canada: New website and research tool

For those researching family in Canada, a new research tool has been announced by the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec (BAnQ) in partnership with Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

A new website, www.thatsmyfamily.info (English) and www.voicimafamille.info (French), provides a free search engine for researchers.

Here's the announcement:

an Innovative Tool Designed for Genealogy Enthusiasts

MONTREAL, Oct. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is pleased to annonce a new Web site dedicated to genealogical research. Launched by BAnQ in partnership with Library and Archives Canada (LAC), www.thatsmyfamily.info, also available in French at www.voicimafamille.info, provides the public with a user-friendly and innovative federated search engine free of charge.

Uncovering one's roots and family history is increasingly popular with people of all ages. Though genealogy enthusiasts abound and dedicated Web sites are numerous, genealogical research remains an interest that requires some knowledge of search techniques. Until now, a number of different sites had to be consulted in order to pursue one's research successfully. This long and tedious process was enough to discourage a great many. Designed to respond to the growing public interest in genealogy, www.thatsmyfamily.info features a set of search tools that even beginners can master rapidly. Maintained by BAnQ, the new search engine allows genealogists to conduct searches against several databases at once.

Most of the interface-compatible databases brought together at www.thatsmyfamily.info are hosted by federal, provincial or territorial Canadian libraries or archives centres. The project's leading partners are BAnQ, LAC and the Council of Provincial and Territorial Archivists of Canada.

Accessible at all times, free of charge:
www.thatsmyfamily.info and www.voicimafamille.info

About BAnQ

BAnQ's mission is to acquire, preserve and disseminate the publications, archival documents and films constituting Québec and Québec-related documentary heritage. It also offers all Quebecers free access on site, on the Internet and through interlibrary loan to vast universal collections and to the services of a major public library. BAnQ encompasses nine archives centres in Montréal, Québec City, Gatineau, Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, Saguenay, Sept-Iles, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières, as well as a preservation centre (Centre de conservation) and the Grande Bibliothèque.

12 October 2007

Secrets of the shoebox: Photo detectives

Maureen Taylor AKA the Photo Detective made page 1 of the Wall Street Journal's weekend edition today. The story also mentions forensic photo sleuth Colleen Fitzpatrick. The graphics are also good with images showing clues Taylor identified and a video of Fitzpatrick as she analyzes two photos.

Do you want to know how Taylor and other photo detectives unlock the secrets of the shoebox? This detailed article reveals some techniques.

Although the story's focus is Taylor, there's also information on optical scientist and genealogist Fitzpatrick, who uses handwriting, shadows and photo dimensions to help solve puzzles.

With millions of Americans obsessively tracing their roots, Ms. Taylor has emerged as the nation's foremost historical photo detective. During a recent meeting of the Maine Genealogical Society, attendees lined up a dozen deep as she handled their images with a cotton glove and peered at the details through a photographer's loupe. One man offered a portrait photo and asked if it could be of his great grandmother, who died in 1890. "It's not," Ms. Taylor said after about 15 seconds; she'd dated the hairstyle and billowy blouse to the early 20th century. When another attendee asked why her great-great-grandfather was wearing small hoops in his ears in a portrait, Ms. Taylor explained, "He was in the maritime trade."

Taylor says she's worked with about 10,000 photos in the decade she's been in business from her home, and receives about 30 requests a week. She's also sought out by collectors, historians and TV producers.

Clues to photographs are given:

A photograph of a baby in a carriage from the 1860s might not be a birth announcement, but a death card; in that period of high infant mortality, dead infants were commonly photographed in carriages. A 19th-century woman with unusually short hair may have had scarlet fever, because it was common to shave a victim's head.

The article offers information on photo types and processing, websites selling "instant" ancestors, and deadfred.com's database of "more than 70,000 abandoned photos dating back as far as 1840; more than 1,100 have been identified."

I wasn't surprised to learn that Taylor is a compulsive collector of obscure reference books and has bookcases filled with every conceivable sort of guide and encyclopedia. She's always on the look-out for old photos, collecting them from flea markets, antique fairs and online sites.

Read much more here.

A related post is on the WSJ's Independent Street blog which discusses commercial sites for scanning photographs. This blog by staffer Wendy Bounds addresses the aspirations, challenges and opportunity of entrepreneurship.

Photo-service entrepreneurs saw the future a while ago and invested in equipment to make it less painful for the rest of us. Foremost among them are photo retail veterans Mitch Goldstone and his partner Carl Berman of 30 Minute Photos Etc. in Irvine, Calif. Through their Web site scanmyphotos.com anyone in the U.S. can pay $99.95 for a flat, prepaid box from the U.S. Postal Service, fill it with as many photos as they can (roughly 1,600 4x6″ photos) and send it to 30 Minute Photos. It will scan the images and mail them and a DVD back in a day. Enhancements and restoration cost extra.

Comments from readers are interesting as she invites them to comment on services, technology and tricks they have used to preserve their photos.

Read more here.

And if you want to learn more about Taylor with links to additional information, see the Family Tree Magazine blog here.

The Subbotnik Jews

Michael Freund is director of Shavei Israel, an Israeli group that assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people. He has spoken in the past to JFRA Israel on his work, and writes frequently in the Jerusalem Post on various issues.

His latest article concerns the Subbotnik Jews:

The Subbotniks' ancestors were Russian peasants who heroically converted to Judaism despite Czarist persecution more than two centuries ago. They referred to themselves as "the Gerim," using the Hebrew word for converts, but historians labeled them "Subbotniks" because of their observance of the Subbot, or Jewish Sabbath.

The Subbotnik Jews observed Shabbat and kept kosher, prayed three times daily and donned tefillin (phylacteries). They celebrated all the Jewish holidays, from Yom Kippur to Lag Ba'omer, baked their own matza for Pessah, and even managed in some cases to send their children off to study at the great Lithuanian yeshivot in the 19th century.

Subbotnik Jews mingled and married with Russian Ashkenazi Jews in nearby cities such as Voronezh, as well as with Bukharan and other Jews in the Caucasus region.

Over the years, the Subbotnik Jews clung to their faith with a stubbornness and tenacity that overcame Czarist oppression, Soviet subjugation and Nazi cruelty, defying their tormentors to remain true to the laws of Moses and Israel. Even after many were exiled to the far reaches of Siberia, they continued to practice Judaism as best they could.

Freund addresses the problems of some 20,000 Subbotnik Jews wishing to come to Israel, categorizing them as the "new refuseniks" of our time.

To read the complete article, click here

New Blog: Women's Lens

I've just discovered Women's Lens, a blog that covers news relating to worldwide Jewry with "a specific slant on those originating from Egypt," as well as women's rights and their status worldwide, regardless of religious affiliations.

Blogger Aimée Dassa Kligman is an Egyptian-born Sephardic Jew who has lived in in New York City since 1962. She's discovering, through the web, a long lost family on her father's side. Though most of her formal schooling was in English, French is still her native language and numerous links on the site are for French language resources, and there are many links for international news sources. The blog began in May 2007.

Her cousin in Montreal is searching for their Dassa (AKA Deza) family roots and reported to Aimee that he found Deza in medieval Spain, along with their family crest. I also need to tell her that I searched Pere Bonnin's book, Sangre Judia, and found both Deza (1480 Toledo) and Daza (1483 Toledo) listed.

Take a look at Women's Lens here.

Italy: Jewish names of Sicily

There were Jewish settlements in Sicily since early Roman times, when Jews were brought there as slaves by the Roman armies, according to an interesting website, The Jews of Sicily.

An essay on The Jews of Sicily by a Dr. Cipolla is quoted here.

"The largest number of them was brought back by Pompey after he sacked Jerusalem in 63 BC and by Roman Proconsul Crassus who is said to have sold 30,000 of them as slaves." By the time of the Spanish Inquisition there were Jewish settlements, or so-called "Giudeccas" in 50 cities and towns of Sicily, as well as on some of the islands off the coast of Sicily. They varied in size from about 350 to about 5,000 people."

Another section of this site concerns Jewish names and provides detailed lists of family and given names. Click here for given names for 156 individuals. These are the family names represented:


At the same page, there's a pre-1492 list of 67 Jewish surnames and given names used in Sicily before 1492. These are the surnames:


These names were extracted from a six-page paper - The Jews of Messina - by Professor Giuseppe Martino, who lives and works in Messina. The paper is in Italian (left column) with English translation (right column). He address documents in Sicily's archives 1200s-1400s, as well as some found in the Cairo Geniza concerning Sicilian Jewish families. Archival documents discussed are dated from the 1200s-1400s. One 1338 record concerns Jewish butchers in Messina. A 1475 indicates that every Messinan Jew who wanted to go to the Holy Land was assured safe passage after paying 200 ounces of gold. In 1468, plague killed 400 in the Jewish quarter.

When the Sicilian Jews were expelled in 1493, according to the article, some Messinan Jews went to Calabria, Naples and Rome, but the majority went to Constantinople, with other Sicilian communities, Calabrian and Puglian. In Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), there were three Sicilian-origin communities. The numbers indicate heads of families; the first number is the year 1603 and the second, 1623: Grande Sicilia (67,86), Piccola Sicilia (19, 92), Messina (72, 4).

There were many conversions, and some converts later ran afoul of the Inquisition: 1,149 were sent to jail, 441 burned at the stake. In Messina, there are 175 documented cases. Many converted only outwardly and secretly practiced Judaism for at least a century.

This is a very interesting site with extensive information on this community. An earlier Tracing the Tribe post on Sicily's Jewish connections is here.

A bungalow colony in Aspen

The Catskills iconic bungalow colony moves west to Aspen, Colorado in this story by Brandeis sociology Professor Shulamit Reinharz on the children of Marjorie Morningstar.

Reinharz discusses several films focusing on the Catskills experience (1930s-1970s) and mentions the Catskill Institute, founded by Professor Phil Brown at Brown University, which holds an annual conference in late August.

Reinharz focuses on the new bungalow colony:

Another favorite spot of the new Jewish family – Marjorie’s children and grandchildren – seems to be Aspen. That’s where I go one week each summer. For the past several years, Harold Grinspoon and his wife, Diane Troderman, have invited Jewish academics, philanthropists, federation leaders, and more to Aspen.

What started as a get-together with 15 people has grown to a gathering of about 50, with some attendees buying time-shares (or fractional ownerships) in order to be in Colorado when the colony comes to town.

They come from all over the world; this year we had people from throughout the United States, a couple from England, a woman from Israel, and a man from Moscow! Unlike the bungalow colonies, we don’t come from one neighborhood. Our neighborhood is the Jewish world.

The group breakfasts together, packs lunches and goes off on a hike or bike ride. In the evening, there's a group dinner and an after-dinner talk or discussion. Reinharz's group is not the only one in Aspen and sometimes the groups invite each other.

As the week drew to a close, I asked a few participants in this new “bungalow colony” what had been most interesting for them. One woman talked about the passion with which people expressed their ideas. Another spoke about the synergy among the different projects that people support. A third focused on the diversity of our group ...

Read more here.

Kids and connections

Read "Constructing the family tree" in Boston's Jewish Advocate.

Judy Bolton-Fasman describes her son Adam's homework assignment to make a family tree and along the way discusses her origins and those of her husband, recalls family stories and delineates the connection of the generations through this project.

I connected with this story because my own genealogical journey came about through our daughter's Hebrew School assignment in 1989. More schools, and specifically more Jewish education programs, should emphasize family trees as an important method of preserving continuity and identity.

Last year, Adam came to me with glue stick in hand to help him with a homework assignment. He had to plant a family tree – a tree of life – in the middle of an 11 by 14 inch poster board. I suggested that we get a handle on things by decorating the tree with flags from the places where we came from and where we have now settled.

Her maternal family was expelled from Spain and they lived in Greece, Turkey and Cuba, while her paternal family had vague origins in Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania.

“It’s not as easy as it looks to fill in this tree,” Adam said, standing beside me as I typed the names. His hand was on my shoulder, already the hand of a big kid – a nine-year-old – who rock climbs and fields baseballs.

“What makes it so hard?” I asked my boy.

He thought for a moment, eyes narrowing behind his round wire frame glasses. “There’s so much to remember about these people.”

Bolton-Fasman's son was not only after the names, but wanted stories and history. And we know how hard it is to flesh out our ancestors' personalities, the little things that made them human and help them come to life once more.

I think everyone will relate to the author's feelings about past, present and future.

My parents are joined together in one deceptively simple line on the family tree, and from there another line drops down to me, their first-born child – Judith Frances. My name sat next to Kenneth Howard’s on Adam’s tree and I saw, literally saw, how miraculous it was that we were side-by-side there. How blessed we were that in between our names is a line that dropped down to a new line with the names of our children: Anna Paulina and Adam Gabriel.

Looking at the intricate and idiosyncratic network of connections that bloomed on Adam’s family tree made me dizzy in a pleasant way, like when I spun around a room as a child. I handed Adam the freshly printed family tree and he noticed that my mom’s Hebrew name is Mazal Tov. Adam thought that was very funny. “How does she know if someone is congratulating her or calling her name?” he asked.

Read the complete story here.

Roots Travel: Return to Havana

Return to Havana with this roots travel story in Boston's Jewish Advocate.

Brookline resident Steve Denker recently returned from a licensed, two-week trip to Havana, Cuba, with a suitcase full of photographs, not cigars. Denker, who traveled with his wife, was granted approval to visit Cuba to research his family, which lived in post World War I, pre-Castro, Cuba from 1928 to 1938.

His mother and maternal grandparents arrived in Cuba, opened an underwear factory and lived in Havana through the political unrest of the Machada and Batista regimes, leaving for New York in 1938. Denker had always wanted to visit the places where his family lived, walked and worked. "I was too dumb to ask my mother more questions."

Arranging the trip proved challenging, however. In addition to obtaining their own United States Treasury License because of U.S. travel restrictions, Denker and his wife – who are Orthodox – needed to arrange kosher food for the trip.

“It was exhausting,” said Denker, who began planning the trip months in advance. “We visited Miami, met other Cuban-Americans who had been to Cuba, searched consular records and old Havana phonebooks, sent thousands of e-mails, learned Spanish, and found some time to pack.”

Once they arrived in Havana, the rest was "easy," he says, with local friends to guide them. They brought and cooked their own food, prayed at the Orthodox synagogue and interacted with the Cubans. Denker called it a total immersion experience.

They spent mornings at the Jewish Cemetery in Guanaboca, documenting and photographing the 1,600 gravestones, but the story doesn't say where this resource will be archived for access by other researchers also searching Cuba for family records.

The family's successful business was sold, in part due to growing unrest, and they left in November 1938 for New York. He's the first to return since then.

Read the story here

German emigration and debunking a myth

Ben G. Frank, in Boston's Jewish Advocate, begins by providing details about his grandfather's voyage to America.

Like thousands of Jewish immigrants that year, on Aug. 4, 1900, Benni Freiden, along with his family, boarded a ship in Bremenhaven, Germany, for the long voyage to Baltimore, Md.

And like thousands of Jewish immigrants at the turn of the century – whether by design or the whims of immigration officials – Benni Freiden, a tall, distinguished looking man with a white beard, who always wore a large, black yarmulke, would change his last name to Frank.

Frank describes the German Emigration Center in Bremerhaven, which garnered the award of 2007 European Museum of the Year. It is purportedly the largest and most modern museum dedicated to emigration in Europe. It opened in 2005 and a half-million visitors have toured it. Other features are multimedia productions of emigration history over 200 years, as well as on contemporary global migration.

Biographies of past emigrants are available, with four representing those millions of Jews who left their homes willingly or by force due to various reasons. The four are Carl Laemmle, Erich Koch-Weser, Hertha Nathorff, and Hannah Lewinsky-Koevary.

According to Frank, the museum is trying to organize a cooperative-travel program with Berlin's Jewish Museum.

Frank is the author of A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe 3rd edition, A Travel Guide to Jewish Russia and Ukraine, and the new A Travel Guide to the Jewish Caribbean and South America.

Read the article here.

Although the story describes a genealogically relevant museum and its environs, Frank does perpetuate mythological name changing at arrival ports ("the whims of immigration officials"). Let's try debunking this myth again: Not one documented case of a name change at a US port has been found. Passenger manifests were prepared before embarkation. American immigration officials spoke many languages to help in processing immigrants. However, nothing stopped the immigrant from changing his name - at his own whim - the minute he left the immigration processing center ... and many did.

Some were told by earlier immigrants about their family's new American name, and began using it as soon as they landed; others adopted completely different names for a host of reasons. Some kept changing their names for decades before the spelling finally stabilized. This can be seen when tracing some families through years of city directories.

Names were changed by many immigrants, not only those bearing long complicated names with few vowels.

Our relatively simple TALALAY became TOLOLAY, TOLOLAI, TOLIN, TOLINI (must have been in his Italian period!), TOLLIN, TALLIN, TOLL, TALL, TAYLOR and the impossible-to-find FEINSTEINs in Philadelphia. It took six years to find my great-grandfather's naturalization certificate in New Jersey as he had used a very strange spelling of the name - discovered quite by accident.

11 October 2007

Hungary: A time now gone

If you are searching for Hungarian ancestors or want to know more about how they lived, One Must Also Be Hungarian by Adam Biro appears to be a good source.

The Jewish Exponent's literary editor, Robert Leiter, reviewed the book here

Adam Biro's One Must Also Be Hungarian, recently published by Chicago University Press, is a short book -- topping out at just 168 small pages -- but it contains multitudes. Within its series of portraits, it tells the long, wondrous but ultimately tragic history of Hungary's Jews through the lens of the author's family, following them from the 19th century, on to the dislocations caused by the first World War, as well as through the devastations wrought by Nazism and Stalinism.

Biro offers profiles of a number of his spirited and resourceful forebears, all of the material adding up to a moving family portrait that also manages to tell much about the greater Jewish experience in Central Europe over the course of two centuries.

Biro is founder and owner of the art-book publishing house Biro Éditeur in Paris and, in the English edition introduction, writes "I wanted to tell the story of a world and a time now gone."

Writes Leiter, Biro begins by discussing the earliest relative he found, Abraham Finkelstein, born in 1806, discovered when Biro was going through his late father's papers:

There are wonderful bits of sadness and even touches of absurdity strewn throughout these early pages. Finkelstein Jakab, Biro's great-grandfather, a cart driver and seltzer water deliverer, was so poor he couldn't afford to raise his children, so that Biro's grandfather, born Finkelstein Jenö, was put up for adoption.

The story continues through World War II, a story of life and tragedy.

The family history turns tragic, as the Nazi period looms up, and members of Biro's clan are subjected to acts of barbarity that horrified and sickened me. The pages devoted to that horrific period -- where the author never flinches from the truth -- will be etched in my memory forever.

Read the complete review here.

Brazil: Jews of the Amazon

Here's a Jewish Exponent (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) story on the Jewish history of Brazil and the first synagogue in the New World - Kahal Zur in Recife - in 1646.

And yet, although the Jewish community in Brazil numbers less than 150,000 residents -- compared to the total population of 185 million -- it has always played an important role in Brazilian life.

Professor Anita Novinsky, a specialist on Jewish culture at the University of Sao Paulo, says proudly, "Brazil was made by the Jews."

The association of the Jewish people and Brazil began in the late 1500s. During the voyages of Christopher Columbus, Gaspar de Gama (who was Jewish by birth) accompanied Portuguese Adm. Pedro Alvares Cabral to Brazil. Soon after, a 500-year Jewish presence in Brazil began, adding greatly to the history of the New World.

In 1645, there were some 1,500 Jews in the Dutch-controlled northeastern areas. By 1646, there were some 50,000 European Jews - mostly conversos. Many were involved in sugar mills and plantations. The Dutch had no problem with Jewish migration or the public practice of Judaism, and the community prospered economically and religiously with a school, charity fund and executive committee.

In the Portuguese area, Isaac de Castro was arrested in 1647 for Judaizing, deported to Portugal to be burned at the stake. In 1654, the Portuguese nine-year war began, eventually driving out the Dutch to Curacao, New York and Europe. The Recife synagogue closed in 1655.

Not until 1773 did the Portuguese abolish Jewish discrimination, and in 1822, Brazil became independent and more Jewish communities were established:

Belem, in northern Brazil, saw its first synagogue opened in 1824 by the Moroccan Jews. It was called the Porta Do Ceu ("Gate of Heaven") synagogue, and Manaus, a city on the Amazon River, had a Sephardic community by the beginning of World War I.

In southern Brazil, the Jewish Colonization Association formed the Santa Maria agricultural settlement in 1902, followed by other settlements; all were sold because of various difficulties.

By the beginning of World War I, there were 7,000 Jews in Brazil; these were joined by more than 30,000 Western European Jews around 1920. There were 20 Jewish schools in operation at this time. The numbers were later increased by the arrival of another 3,500 North African Jews.

The story brings Jewish history in Brazil up to the current day.

Read the entire story here.

Digitized Ladino Library at Stanford University

Thanks to Joy Rich, who noted this on one of her many lists:

Sephardic researcher Aron Rodrigue - director of the Mediterranean Studies Forum and chair of the Department of History - is a professor Jewish studies and history at Stanford University.

Rodrigue announced the inauguration of the Digitized Ladino Library by the Sephardi Studies Project at Stanford's Taube Center for Jewish Studies and the Mediterranean Studies Forum.

Periodic additions are expected.

The Sephardi Studies Project will explore the history and culture of Sephardi and Eastern Jewries and develop a website to representative samples of writings in various Judeo languages of the Sephardim over the ages, starting with Ladino.

The Digitized Ladino Library introduction was written by Isaac Jerusalmi, Professor of Bible and Semitic Languages at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio: "The purpose of this Digitized Ladino Library is to place on the Internet a corpus of Ladino printed books, or even a few manuscripts, for easy access by scholars as well as students of Ladino throughout the world."

Currently online:

*Kanunnâme de Penas - the Ladino translation by Judge Yehezkel Gabbay of the first Ottoman Legal Code adopted in 1860. It appears in Hebrew characters and in Romanized form with a full glossary of all legal Turkish terms. The original Ottoman-Turkish text in Arabic characters and transliteration into Modern Turkish characters is being prepared.

*Poezias Ebraikas de Rosh ha-Shana i Yom Kippur - a popular Ladino compilation by Rabbi Reuven Eliyahu Yisrael of High Holiday piyyutim. Rabbi Yisrael was born in Rhodes, spent his life in Kraiova, Rumania and returned to Rhodes as its last Chief Rabbi. Writes Jerusalmi, "His Ladino is saturated with Gallicisms made fashionable by those educated in the schools of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, yet universally derided by those who had not been exposed to it. He even provides a brief glossary for those with no knowledge of French!"

*From Ottoman Turkish to Ladino - a unique Ladino pamphlet on morality by Gabbay (see above), the founder of the Djurnal Yisraelit.
Gabbay's Ladino had to be forced to express Turkish concepts.

*The Selihoth of the Sepharadim - self-published by Joseph Alschech in Vienna (1865), is, to Jerusalmi's knowledge, the first bilingual, Hebrew-Ladino Sephardic Selihoth book produced by Eastern Sepharadim. Its methodology is the traditional verbum e verbo or palavra por palavra approach used by Jews since the days of the Septuagint in Alexandria and continued in the various Targumim throughout the ages.

*The Song of Songs - was intended as a textbook for the study of the Aramaic Targum of the Song of Songs. The Ladino version of this Targum in Roman characters - Paraphrasis Caldaica was printed in Amsterdam (1664). Jerusalmi includes fully vocalized square Hebrew letters as well as the text in Rashi letters and Romanized versions. The Ladino version is from Salonika (1600). There is also a Ladino-English Glossary.

For much more information, click here.

Take a look at the texts and transliterations, which are fascinating.

Could this happen to your research?

Have you thought about what will happen to your genealogical papers and photographs in the future?

Do each of us have a plan for the disposition of our family history archive? Will our work go to a specialized archive, a genealogical society, a library? Are we sure the destination selected will accept our material?

Maureen Taylor writes the Photo Detective blog for Family Tree magazine. An expert on analyzing old photos for genealogical and historical clues, she brought up a valid point in a recent post, "Could this happen to your family history treasures?"

Before diving into this week’s identification, I have a question for you: Have you specified in your will who’ll receive your heritage photos after you’re no longer here? If not, your relatives could find themselves in a battle.

Carolanne, the owner of this week’s photo, has spent 17 years trying to gain ownership of her great-aunt’s pictures and family history materials. When Addie Mattilda Weed died in 1990 at age 106, the tenants in her house gave her manuscripts to a university and kept her photos.

Carolanne, Addie’s closest living relative, finally got the photos, but she’s still battling the university — which currently expects her to pay even to copy the papers. So, make sure you’ve planned for the future of your genealogy collection.

Read the posting for Taylor's analysis of two of the hard-won photographs in question, as she ascertains when the images were created and their format. Here's a snippet of how she does it.

From about 1869 to 1875 women wore high, ruffled collars, long curls and ties at the neckline just as in this portrait. Notice her neck ribbon. Since Gilman and Weed married in 1873, it’s possible this is an engagement or wedding portrait.

Read more here.

Taylor has authored several useful books on dating old photographs, see the website for more details and check the blog archives for many tips and strategies to understand the clues in these images.

10 October 2007

DNA: Nu? So who's a Q?

New Yorker Uzi Silber's opinion piece, "My Forefathers Were Yurt-Dwelling Siberians" in The Forward focuses on DNA and Jewish genealogy.

The thorny issue of just who belongs to the Chosen People is, in my opinion, likely to remain unresolved forever, or at least until the Messiah arrives with the answer. And to be honest, that’s just fine with me, since this whole issue doesn’t concern me directly. You see, I happen to boast an unassailable Jewish pedigree, so the question of “Who is a Jew?” has no resonance for me, at least on a personal level.

There is, however, another question not entirely unrelated that could potentially render brittle my strictly kosher certification. For me, the real question isn’t “Who is a Jew,” but rather “Who is a Q?”

Silber goes on to say that he was inspired to test after watching a "60 Minutes" segment some time ago about the Kohanim project.

In case you've been out of the genealogical loop for some time, the Kohanim project had its origins when Dr. Karl Skorecki of Haifa, at his regular Shabbat service, realized that the congregation's Ashkenazi and Yemeni Kohens, despite very different appearances, both claimed descent from Aaron (brother of Moses) who lived some 3,000 years ago.

The research focused on Y-DNA of Kohanim, the inherited Jewish priestly class, passed down through history through the male line; about 5% of the world's Jewish population of 12 million. Half the Kohanim carry a distinctive marker tracing their ancestry to a man who lived some 3,000 years ago, when Aaron lived in the Middle East.

Until genetic genealogy developed by connecting biology and anthropology there was no way to prove this. The result is genetic anthropology or genetic genealogy.

Middle Eastern populations were closely related genetically, writes Silber:

Research has shown that a major element of most contemporary Jewish populations worldwide were connected to ancient Middle Eastern Israelite populations, as well as that an ancient familial relationship existed between Jews and Eastern Mediterranean Arabs and that Jews were also closely related to Kurds in southeastern Turkey.

Silber discovered the National Geographic Society Genographic Project which could reveal his deep ancestry of thousands of years ago.

It seemed I’d finally be able to certify my kosher pedigree linking myself inextricably to King David and the prophet Isaiah. And so it came to pass that I sent away for what may be, at $100, the world’s most expensive swab, which I then rubbed inside my cheek and returned to a lab in Texas.

My test results appeared on the Genographic Web site three months later. The result? This glatt Jew was a member of a certain Haplogroup Q.

Nu? So what's a Q?

Q developed about 20,000 years ago in what is today Siberia, and Silber realized:

In other words, I am a direct descendant not of a swarthy Judahite shepherd or Galilean Bronze Age fig farmer, but of a burly yurt-dwelling Siberian sharing tundra turf with herds of still-extant mammoths.

Of course, Q also wandered around a bit, crossed the Bering Strait and became Native Americans.

His branch kept wandering; cousins of ancient ancestry went to Scandinavia and to current-day Poland and Hungary, where Silber's father was born.

He mentions the Khazars - Central Asians who converted to our crowd more than 1,000 years ago. Q is also one of the founding lineages of Ashkenazi Jewry.

Read more here.

This story also gave a head's-up to Family Tree DNA. He didn't mention the company by name, but we all know which DNA genetic genealogy company is in Texas, and that they do the testing for the National Geographic project, right?

San Francisco: Latin American Jewish film series

The Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) in San Francisco, California offers a multitude of programming with genealogical links. In 1854, the Jewish Education Society began operation at the height of the Gold Rush; some 40 years later, JES was teaching hundreds of Jewish children. In 1958, the name was changed to the BJE.

A film series on Jews in Latin America is set, although you've just missed the first one:

Tuesday, October 9, 7 pm
Autumn Sun (Sol de Otono), 1996 (Argentina)

In order to impress her Orthodox brother who will be visiting Buenos Aires from Boston, middle-aged Clara Bernstein takes out a personal ad seeking a Jewish man to pose as her fiancé. When the sole person to answer the ad turns out to be a gentile, Clara decides to tutor him in the art of being Jewish. Shown in video projection; discussion follows screening. 110 minutes, in Spanish with English subtitles.

Tuesday, November 6, 7pm
Like a Bride (Novia Que Te Vea), 1994 (Mexico)

Like a Bride follows two young Jewish women‹one the child of Turkish immigrants and the other the child of Eastern European refugees‹as they come of age in Mexico in the tumultuous 1960s. Shown in video projection; discussion follows screening. 115 minutes, in Spanish and Ladino with English subtitles. Co-sponsored by the International Latino Film Festival

Tuesday, December 11, 7pm
The Lost Embrace (El Abrazo Perdido), 2004 (Argentina)

The Lost Embrace presents the life of Once, Buenos Aires' old working class Jewish district, through the eyes of Ariel, a college dropout now working in his mother's lingerie shop. Feeling suffocated by his small world, he schemes to escape to Europe. Meanwhile, his emotional life remains dominated by the mysterious absence of his father, who abandoned the family for Israel when Ariel was a young child. Shown in video projection; discussion follows screening. 100 minutes, in Spanish with English subtitles.

Other programs of interest:

An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba:
A Reading and Talk by Ruth Behar
Monday, October 15, 7:30pm

Anthropologist Ruth Behar was born in Havana and left as a child, part of the exodus of Jews who emigrated en masse after the 1959 Revolution. In her memoir chronicling the obsessively recurring trips she made back as an adult, Behar describes her encounter with the Jews who stayed and the life that might have been hers had her family remained in Cuba.

The Jewish Gaucho and the Indigenous Jews of Entre Rios:
A Talk by Kitty Millet
Monday, December 3, 7:30pm

Alberto Gerchunoff is primarily known for his short narratives concerning the Jewish gauchos of the Pampas in Argentina, a community situated in the region of Entre Rios. Gerchunoff's stories mimic tales and aggadot familiar to a community well aware of its religious traditions, suggesting to them that Jewish identity emerges naturally from the Pampas.

And, from another corner of the Jewish world - India - don't miss

Dropped from Heaven:
A Reading and Talk with Sophie Judah
Tuesday, November 13, 7.30pm

In the mythical Indian village of Jwalanagar, the Jewish traditions of the Bene Israel have survived for more than 2,000 years, but the 20th century brings with it major change. In these 19 connected stories spanning more than a century, the families of one community find their traditional way of life altered forever.

BJE even offers one-on-one genealogy help, from noon-2pm on the following Sundays: October 7, November 11, December 2, January 6 and February 3

Jews in the American South

Did your family settle in the American South?

If you have Southern connections, consider attending the annual conference of the Southern Jewish Historical Society, November 1-4 in Washington, DC. This year's theme is "Honoring the Past for the Sake of the Future."

Speakers will address Jewish responses to Hurricane Katrina in historical perspective, the origins of American and particularly Southern Chanuka celebrations, as well as programs covering Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, Florida, Alabama and Kentucky; archives and resources, Jewish history and more:

*Bagels and Grits: A Jew on the Bayou, writer-painter Jennifer Moses, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

*Builders of the Mishkan: The Jewish Community and Jews in theCommunity of Greenbelt, MD, Sally Stokes

*Introduction to the Hebraic Section, Library of Congress , Peggy K. Pearlstein

*Alexander Ziskind Gurwitz, Hebrew Teacher and Yiddish Memoirist in Frontier Texas, Bryan Stone, Del Mar College, Corpus Christi, Texas

*Nathan Kallison, Ukrainian-trained Harness Maker and Texas Entrepreneur, Nick Kotz, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist

*Benjamin, Yulee/Levy, and Disraeli: Jewish Political Leaders in the 19th Century, Maury Wiseman, University of Florida, Tallahassee, Florida

*A Giving Spirit: The Galveston Movement and Civil Judaism, Wendy H. Bergoffen, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin

*The Impact of Hitler on Jews and Others in Alabama, Daniel Puckett, Troy State University, Troy, Alabama

*Schlesinger of Mobile: Synagogue Music in the Late 19th Century, John Baron, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

*Zion in the Fields of Kentucky: I.J. Schwartz’s Kentucky as Yiddish-American Epic, Julian Levinson, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

*Dixie Diaspora: An Anthology of Southern Jewish History, Mark K. Bauman (editor)

*Jewish Roots in Southern Soil: A New History, Marcie Cohen Ferris (co-editor with Mark I. Greenberg)

There's much more. To see the full program, click here.