25 April 2008

Seattle: Jeff Malka speaks, May 12

Seattle's genealogical and Sephardic communities are in for a great treat when Sephardic genealogy pioneer researcher Dr. Jeffrey S. Malka speaks there in a few weeks.

The event begins at 7pm Monday, May 12, at the Ezra Bessaroth congregation and co-sponsored by Sephardic Bikur Holim, presented by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State.

I've known Jeff for years and he's a fascinating speaker with a great grasp of the subject. He will focus on "Sephardic Genealogy Resources and the Historical Importance of Ancient Sephardic Surnames."

The presentation will include an overview of Sephardic genealogy resources, what they have in common with traditional Ashkenazi genealogy resources, and how they differ.

Because Sephardic surnames are often so ancient, they are very important to Sephardic genealogy. Records and other resources in various selected countries include the vast volume of pre-expulsion Spanish documents, with illustrations that demonstrate how useful and relevant these are in documenting the persistence of old surnames.

Also shown will be tools to help decipher the marked differences in Hebrew script found in Sephardic documents that make them undecipherable, even to native Hebrew speakers born in Israel and to most academics.

A retired professor of orthopedic surgery in the Washington DC area, Dr. Jeffrey Malka is the author of the award-winning book "Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering Your Sephardic Ancestors and Their World" (Avotaynu, 2002) and the creator of JewishGen's Sephardic SIG website based on his previous Sephardic Genealogy Resources website, now updated and renamed SephardicGen.com.

Descended from a long line of Sephardic rabbis going back to 14th century Kabbalists and authors (as well as Catalan blacksmiths and money lenders), he is one of the pioneers of Sephardic genealogy in the United States and a well-known lecturer on the subject.

Jeff has been an invited lecturer at the Library of Congress, several IAJGS annual conferences, the Washington Jewish Historical Society, and numerous Jewish Genealogy Societies in the U.S., Canada. His appearance in Barcelona, Spain two years ago drew an audience of more than 100, a cross-section of the Jewish community as well as a wide general audience.

For more information, email programs@jgsws.org or click here. I note that kosher refreshments will be served and hope they are the gastronomic handiwork of the Ladies Auxiliary's amazing cooks. There is nothing more delicious than Sephardic delicacies.

For more on the congregation, click here, and if you'd like to hear Ein Kelohenu in Hebrew and Ladino as sung by Hazzan Isaac Azose, click here. I look forward to seeing jovial Ike Azose each time I visit Seattle. I'm hoping to see all our Seattle cousins and friends in late July.

Free admission for JGSWS members; $5 for non-members.

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