31 July 2009

Germany: Learning to farm in the 1930s

My eyes are always looking for Sullivan County (New York) news, and here's one about a Loch Sheldrake exhibit at Sullivan County Community College. It details the story of the Gross Breesen agricultural training camp.

The exhibit is not your typical Holocaust exhibit, but focuses on the pictures and words of young men and women learning to farm, despite the chaos around them in 1930s Germany. It was created by Dr. Curt Bondy who saw it as a way to counter Nazi oppression, to create a place where young people could learn skills and languages which would allow them to emigrate.

The project gathered the stories and photos of the 130 young men and women who found refuge there.
The farm has been an obsession of Steve Strauss for nine years.

Strauss, a photographer who used to work for "60 Minutes" and now splits his time between New York City and Sullivan County, started the project when he met George Landecker, a farmer from upstate New York who is a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp and a former student at Gross Breesen.

Strauss began to restore and blow up for display Landecker's nearly microscopic photographs of the farm.

The result is "Learning Seeds," a multimedia exhibit, portions of which are on display for the next few weeks at the Sullivan college.
According to Strauss:

"The majority of (the Gross Breeseners) survived the Holocaust and went on to contribute great things all over the world," Strauss said. But he said an accounting of all 130 wasn't possible.After Kristallnacht, the Nazis took over Gross Breesen. They sent all the 18-year-olds to concentration camps and essentially made the farm a prison for the rest. But most had learned the skills to survive.

The exhibit will move to the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture later this year.

Read the complete article here. Learn more about Gross Breesen here.

Tennessee: Jewish history spotlighted

A free exhibit on Tennessee's Jewish history will run from August 10-September 16 at Chattanooga State Community Colege's Kolwyck Library.

"Bagels & Barbeque: The Jewish Experience in Tennessee" documents the history of Jewish immigration to the state, according to Chattanooga.com

The exhibit is a joint project of the Tennessee State Museum in collaboration with the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, Jewish Community Federation of Greater Chattanooga, Knoxville Jewish Alliance, and Memphis Jewish Federation, with the participation of other Jewish communities around the state. The exhibit’s statewide tour is supported in part by a grant from Humanities The exhibit will tour various communiities.

It opens with early Jewish settlers emigrating from Europe where most suffered religious persecution. In the 1770s, some of them traveled into East Tennessee and, by the 1820s, Jewish families were moving west into middle Tennessee. By 1870, there were thriving communities in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga; they were building synagogues and acquiring land for cemeteries.

It highlights historic contributions Jews made during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Stories of interest include the beginnings of one of America’s most respected newspaper empires, which began when 20 year-old Adolph Ochs, son of Julius and Bertha Ochs from Knoxville, bought The Chattanooga Times in 1878. In 1896, Adolph Ochs purchased The New York Times, which is still today a family-controlled enterprise.
It continues with major immigration wave from 1880 to 1923, as Jews fled pogroms, persecution and anti-Semitism. World War II's section accounts some of the more than 1,000 Tennessee Jews who served in the armed forces.

It also covers the secret Manhattan Project and the arrival of many Jewish scientists in 1943 to Oak Ridge. The families built a synagogue by hand, and Holocaust refugees and survivors also were welcomed to the state.

The state's Jewish ppulation declined to less than 17,000 in 1960 as young people left. During the Civil Rights Era, the Jewish communities lived through intoleranve and other challenges such as the bombing of the Nashville Jewish Community Center in 1958, and the 1977 bombing of a Chattanooga synagogue.

The exhibit looks at the contempporary community with an influx of Jewish residents from around the world to work in such areas as health, music, univesities and art.

You might have heard of the Six Million Paper Clips project. This project was developed in Whitwell in 1998 to help non-Jewish middle-school children understand the Holocaust. An award-winning film, "Paperclips," was the outcome. -sided Jewish experience in Tennessee.

Read the complete article at the link above, and more information, click here.

Crete: The Etz Hayyim synagogue

Crete's Jewish history is ancient - some 2,000 years old.

Nazis arrested the Chania community of 263 Jews on May 29, 1944. As Jewish residents were imprisoned in nearby Ayas, the little Romaniote Etz Hayyim (one of the two congregations) synagogue was already being vandalized by the Nazis and townspeople.

The prisoners were sent to Heraklion and put on the Tanais, which was torpedoed by a British submarine the next day (June 9). It sank with no survivors. The prisoners were likely being sent to Auschwitz.

The Guardian posted a story by Antony Lerman about the restoration of Etz Hayyim, which he calls a synagogue with an extraordinary history.

The building was occupied by squatters who were forced to finally leave in 1957, and the building became the property of the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece. Portions of the small site were taken by adjacent property owners.

The former Jewish quarter underwent a revival; were built, but the synagogue became a dumping ground.

Enter Dr. Nikos Stavroulakis. I first became acquainted with him through his Greek Jewish cookbook with its marvelous illustrations and fascinating recipes. He decided that the synagogue had to be reconstructed and renovated and become a living congregation again despite the lack of any known Jews living on Crete.

Stavroulakis is a man of many talents: a Jewish art historian, museum designer and curator, author, theatrical costume designer, artist, cookery writer and more.
He returned to his late father's besides, who had returned to his late father's house in Chania, persuaded the World Monuments Fund and some wealthy donors to back a plan to rebuild Etz Hayyim. On 10 October 1999, after five years' work, 350 people assembled to witness the rededication of the synagogue.
He wanted more than a memorial to the Jews who had perished and more than a small museum focused on Crete's Jewish history.

Lerman attended a recent Friday night service - for visiting American Jews - and Nikos spoke:
He recalled a line of Kafka's, "a cage went in search of a bird", and said this is what happened with the synagogue – and the bird came.

Not that he meant Etz Hayyim's "community" is in any way captive, but the very rebirth of the synagogue opened up the possibility for an incredibly diverse number of people to find some new meaning in their lives through the presence of the synagogue and their various connections with it.
The building serves as a synagogue but other events are held there such as concerts, lectures, community meals and exhibits. Jews with Crete connections have used its library and resources for genealogy purposes, while others have conducted private research.

The Crete community is transient, representing all streams of Judaism or none at all; some stay for days, weeks or months. Only rarely is there a minyan. Lerman calls Etz Hayyim as being at the frontier of modern Jewish experience,

Read the complete article at the link above for more of Lerman's insights on his recent visit.

JewishGen's new look

If you haven't accessed JewishGen.org recently, be prepared for its new look. You might think you're looking at Ancestry.com.

This is understandable as per the relationship of JewishGen and Ancestry (which figures prominently at the top of the page, "Powered by Ancestry.com").
For those who prefer the traditional JewishGen look, just click the photo on the new design. The traditional JewishGen logo and top bar still appear on the site's interior pages.

Site stats have been updated to include 1997-2008's numbers.

In the past, requests for these numbers were met with such answers as "that's proprietary information" or "we don't give out those numbers." During other years, the stats were updated publicly, so it's good to see that the update is now public once again.

Here are a few examples (data is unavailable for some years) comparing some of the major components:

JewishGen users
2004: 115,556; 2008: 366,693.

JewishGen Family Finder
Submitters: 1997: 7,400; 2008: 85,400.
Entries: 1997: 61,400; 2008: 437,470.
Searches: 1997: 365,677; 2008: 9,590,822.

Family Tree of the Jewish People
Submitters: 1998: 235; 2008: 3,708.
Searches: 1999: 184,245; 2008: 2,365,815.

Yizkor Book Project
Books Online: 1997: 9; 2008: 490.
Translations: 1997: 9; 2008: 873.
If you are new to Jewish genealogy, do check out the many valuable resources available.

Happy hunting!

Poland: No restitution legislation yet

The Canadian Jewish News covered the private property issue in Poland, which has not yet passed restitution legislation to compensate Poles for lost private property.

Among issues covered by reporter Sheldon Kirshner:

Jews comprised about 10% of the pre-war population, but are nearly 20% of claimants.

Poland has begun to return communal property under a 1997 agreement. But according to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany,Poland is the only major country in the former Soviet bloc not to have settled the problem. The former Polish prime minister and Poland's ambassador to Israel both promised last year to work on a law to settle the issue. None exists yet.

According to Stanislaw Krajewski, a member of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, and a foun­der of the Polish-Israeli Friendship Society, there have been 10 attempts to resolve the issue since Poland’s peaceful passage to democracy in 1989.

Eight years ago, the then-president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, ve­toed such a bill, saying it violated the constitution and would be too cost­ly to bear. In 2006, the Polish government submitted draft legislation proposing compensation for confiscated private property. But the bill was limited in scope, not including properties in War­saw, the capital, and offering only 20 cents per dollar.

“It’s a massive problem because millions of people are involved,” said Krajewski, a Warsaw University philosophy professor. “It would be a huge financial burden on Poland.”

By one estimate, Jewish property claims run the gamut from $30 to $40 billion (US), this at a time when Poland is struggling with a deepening recession that is expected to grow still worse in 2010.
Complicating the task is that about half of Warsaw was destroyed during wartime, replaced by new construction, and Jewish neighborhoods pre-1939 are now outside the country's border.

In a position paper, the World Jewish Restitution Organization said, “Assets taken over or expropriated must be given back, otherwise the wrong committed is not redressed. The international community demands it. Morality requires it.” It added, “Poland should attempt to have all private properties confiscated from 1939 to the end of the Communist regime restituted to their former owners or their heirs, even if many such properties are currently possessed by third parties.”
Polish-Jewish journalist Konstany Gebert - director of the US-based Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture - says that "Poland will face an ava­lanche of lawsuits should action not be taken."

The story discusses possible lawsuits by survivors, such as French survivor Henryk Pikielny who wanted to challenge Poland's refusal to return his father's Lodz factory.

The situation is impacting Poland's image around the world, according to officials, but they claim the financial crisis is a cause of the inaction.

Post-war border changes mean that some properties claimed are now in Ukraine, Belarus and Germany, thus clouding the issue for Poland's return of property no longer under its control or authority.

Read the complete story at the link above.

30 July 2009

Philly 2009: Hate group protest planned

While our annual Jewish genealogy conferences are always exciting for many reasons - usually focusing on family history - this year's edition may have a bit more.

Daniel Sieradski, digital media editor at JTA.org, sent me a press release he had received concerning a planned protest at the conference by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas.

Yes, the name is familiar and you've seen them on the news. Led by Fred Phelps, it is the same group that spouts anti-gay, anti-Jewish and anti-black rhetoric. The ADL lists it as a hate group.

Tracing the Tribe was simply going to ignore it, not wanting to give them any publicity.

However, the Jewish Exponent just posted a story on the planned protest this weekend in Philadelphia, which will target the conference, area synagogues and Jewish institutions. Tracing the Tribe felt its readers should be informed.

According to the press release, Philadelphia is on their radar because of the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, at the Sheraton City Center Hotel. They plan to protest for 45 minutes mid-day Saturday and for 30 minutes very early Sunday morning.

As soon as Tracing the Tribe received the information, conference co-chair David Mink was informed.

Why are they targeting a Jewish genealogy conference?

The conference is co-hosted by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS). According to the hate group, it is targeting the IAJGS. In the church's words:

"Yes. Israel has dealt treacherously with the Lord, and long ago trashed (thereby invalidating) His ancient covenant with her. The Jews killed Christ, and the genealogical lines of the 12 tribes and the Levitical priesthood are lost, until Christ returns and saves 144,000 (12,000 from each tribe). Hence, the IAJGS is a fraud."
The Exponent spoke to the hate group's attorney:

Shirley Phelps-Roper, an attorney for the group, who was contacted by phone, said that church members are targeting Jewish institutions in as many cities as they can get to, and that their message to Jews is clear: "You killed Christ, and you are not going to get away with that and you know it."
Philadelphia's police department spokesman was interviewed by the Exponent:
Captain William Fisher, a police department spokesman, said that nearly two weeks ago, the church informed police of its plans. Fisher noted that officers will be stationed at each of the designated buildings.

"They themselves are not a violent group of people, although some of the things they protest for can infuriate other citizens. They use the First Amendment greatly to their advantage," said the officer, who added that Westboro members have shown up in town numerous times in the past decade to protest various events.

"They don't just protest against Jewish people. They protest against Catholics, gays and government, and everything in between," said Fisher, adding that the Jewish community appeared well-informed and prepared for the demonstrations.
Some Greater Philadelphia synagogues have received more than 20 faxes from the church.

ADL associate regional director Nancy Baron-Baer told the Exponent that it just seems like their primary goal is to gain publicity for themselves.

She also provided good advice to conference attendees and to other sites where protests may take place:
Baron-Baer stressed that Jewish groups should not organize any counterprotests and that individuals attending services or other events should not speak to the protesters.

"My advice would be not to react, don't directly engage them or confront them. Just go about your business," said Baron-Baer, who added that any instance of hate speech can be made into a teachable moment about spreading a message of respect.
Read the complete Jewish Exponent story at the link above.

See you in Philadelphia!

Music: Jewish Sound Archives news

Housed at Florida Atlantic University (Florida), the Jewish Sound Archives has just sent out its newsletter.

Among the topics:

- Jack Saul's record collection

Jack Saul (Cleveland, Ohio) played a major role in that city's music community, but was very well known as a record collector. His collection grew until his home was crammed with recordings, filling the basement, dining room, hallways and other rooms. No one has ever tried to count them, but JSA founder/director Nathan Tinanoff estimates there are some 150,000 recordings.

At 86, Saul died May 1, with his wife Hinda, and children Marlene, Howard and Ken. Just a few months earlier, during a February visit to JSA, he told his family that the archives would be a good place for the collection's Judaica section.

About one third of Saul's collection will go to FAU libraries. Some 6,000 recordings (about 12%) is going to the JSA, and includes Jewish performers, composers, conductors and Jewish content. About 85% will be used to create a vintage 78rpm collection at the FAU Libraries and the rest will be added to the library's jazz collection.

According to Tinanoff, this is the largest single donation of Judaica records the archives has received, and is one of the finest private US collections.

Tracing the Tribe's food for thought: Do you own some sort of collection with a Judaic focus? Do you know an older relative who might have amassed a collection? What will happen to those collections? Have you or they made provisions of the disposition of those collections to archives, libraries, universities, historical societies or other locations? Do your families know of your wishes? Perhaps it's time to start thinking of what will happen to your collections?

- Recordings sought

JSA is looking for recordings featuring Marvin Hamlish, Stephen Sondheim, Burt Bacharach and Aaron Copeland. The archives wants recordings by all Jewish performers, composers and conductors for its collection. It also wants to expand its Sephardic and European record collections.

- JSA Home Page

The archives' home page allows visitors to access more than 7,000 songs by more than 40 performers and performance groups.

Cick PERFORMERS tab for collections by specific performers.
Click RECORD LABELS tab for collections by recording label producers.
Click COLLECTIONS tab for a drop-down list of specific genres, ranging from Cantorial to Yiddish, and available recordings within the genre or language.

Happy listening!

29 July 2009

Jewish orphanages site updated

A website offering information on U.S. Jewish orphanages has been updated.

HNOH-Jewish Orphanages additions include:

The Welcome Page: A link to "Adoption Agencies, Orphanages and Maternity Homes: An Historical Directory." Volumes 1 and 2 are searchable, listing all U.S. and Canadian orphanages of all religious, ethnic, fraternal and governmental auspices.

Photo Album Page: Correction to the 1939-1940 Bar Mitzvah photo.

Memorial Page: Dates and names added.

Pride of Judea Page: Link to a Pride of Judea Video, circa 1955

Jewish Orphanage Page: Bellfaire URL correction, HOA Finding Aids for Orphanages,new URL for Home for Destitute Jewish Children

Alumni Search Page: New search requests for Shield of David, Bronx, NY; Bellfaire Children's Home, Chicago, IL; Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum, Brooklyn, NY

Orphans & Foundling Burials Page: Four new foundling burials listed in the Deborah Nursery Plot, Bayside Cemetery

Federal & State Census Page: (four new Federal Censuses added) 1900 Helping Hand Temporary Home for Destitute Jewish Children,Roxbury, MA (63 names); 1910 Helping Hand Temporary Home for Destitute Jewish Children, Roxbury, MA (76 names); 1920 Home for Destitute Jewish Children Dorchester, MA (176 names);
1930 Home for Destitute Jewish Children Dorchester, MA (106 names).

Jewish Resources Page: New URLs corrected/added.

Other Resources Page: New URLs corrected/added.

For more information, send an email.

Canadian naturalizations: More information

Stanley Diamond, president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal, has provided more information on the Canadian Naturalization records (1914-1932), previously reported by Tracing the Tribe.

The new database includes more than 200,000 people who were naturalized during this period. They came from about 80 countries, and we estimate that about 1/3 of them were Jewish.

This new index has taken many years to get to this stage, from the time when we first heard about the printed records, which are very difficult to search and only available in fragile books at a few libraries in Canada. Although a finding-aid was created by our society several years ago, this new search engine makes finding records much easier.

We are grateful to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Ottawa which funded original scanning of these records, and to the years of work by society members Ruth Diamond, who did the vast bulk of the data entry, and Alan Greenberg, who managed the project and handled the image processing and database creation.

And we are particularly appreciative of the efforts of the Canadian Genealogy Centre (CGC) within Library and Archives Canada for creating such a great home for the naturalization database.
Search the database here.

The work is not yet over, adds Stan.

The JGS of Montreal has scanned a similar collection of records (1932-1952) with some 400,000 additional naturalizations, which will need to be indexed. The group is double-entering the 1914-32 records to ensure no errors and that all individual are properly indexed. This project will soon start.

To order copies of the full naturalization (application) files for your ancestors, see the research guide on the JGS-Montreal site.

According to Stan, naturalization records prior to 1914/16 are generally not available, but there is a major exception - records have been preserved for those naturalized in the Montreal Superior Court and they are also indexed on the CGC. The JGS-Montreal web site also has a research guide for those records.

The site has been redone recently and contains much information for those searching family in Montreal or Canada, in general.

Ohio: What's in Bubbe's attic? August 5

The next meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland will host the Western Reserve Historical Society's Jewish history associate curator Sean Martin.

The program, at 7.30pm, Wednesday, August 5, will take place in Menorah Park's Miller Board Room, in Beachwood.

Martin's program - "What was that in Bubbe's Attic?" - is a cross between "Show and Tell" and "The Antiques Roadshow."

Attendees are invited to bring old documents, photographs, books, etc. and learn about them. Martin will also answer questions.

The program is free.

Jews in the News: Check out smaller towns

While many American towns had small Jewish communities, there were others in which only a handful of families might have settled, working as craftsmen, merchants or in other businesses. It is always worth a check of historic papers to see where an elusive relative or two might have settled.

After seeing the list of new papers just added to the subscription site NewspaperARCHIVE.com's collections, I decided to search for members of the tribe (MoTs) - the Frozen Chosen - in Alaska during the years 1910-1915. When checking new databases for MoTs, I start with COHEN. Of course, not all those named COHEN are Jewish, but it's a good starting place.

Here is some of what I discovered:

In the Fairbanks Sunday Times (August 18, 1912) is a short story by Scott MacCraig starring Ikey Cohen as the main character:
This time It was Ikey Cohen, an old sawed-off sourdough In "th' general merchan' bls'nlss," with the bullet head and jaw of a pug— never other than cropped close and clean shaven as If he was proud ofthem—which perhaps paved way for the fact that he had mushed from Skagway to Nome, with many a wide criss-cross between, and never the bugaboos supposed to be so common In Alaska getting him. And, let me tell you, you couldn't soak Ikey on furs! ...
Are you looking for a missing Abe Cohen of Providence, Rhode Island?? In the Fairbanks Daily Times (January 28, 1914), the headline reads "Mother Anxious to Locate Abe Cohen":
For more than three years, Abe Cohen, who was in Fairbanks in June, 1910, has not been heard from by his relatives, and they are anxious to locate his present whereabouts.

In the last mail from the Outside, Mayor Murray C. Smith received a letter from Mrs. I. Cohen, of 388 North Main street, Providence, Rhode Island, in which the woman stated that she had not seen her son in five years, and was anxious to get into communication with him if he is still alive.

The missing man is of Hebraic extraction, 26 years of age, 5 feet 7 inches in height, light complexion, and blue eyes.

In the letter from Mrs. Cohen there was an enclosure, which was the last word received from the missing- man. It was a letter, written on the stationery of the Eagle saloon, and dated June 3, 1910. The letter contained many references to
the stampede to the Iditarod, and it is thought that he went there.

Anyone having any knowledge of his whereabouts is requested to communicate with the chief of police.
In the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (March 10, 1910) there's a notice:
Meets first Sunday in each month.
t. BAYLES, Pres.
R. BLOOM, Secretary.
On the same page, the paper described a February 19 article in the Juneau Record in the wreck of the Yucatan, which hit an iceberg and passengers landed on Goose Island. In the story we read about Ira Cohen:

Purser Ira Cohen is declared by the passengers to have been tireless in his efforts to make things comfortable tor everyone. As soon as the ship struck Mr. Cohen got busy and continued hard at work until everyone had been looked after on Goose Island.
And here's a small notice from the Alaska Citizen (February 17, 1913), there's this small notice:
Albert Cohen, representative of Schwabacher Brothers of Seattle arrived on last Monday's stage, for his annual trip of the north.
NewspaperARCHIVE has just added a host of new papers to its collections.

ALASKA: Fairbanks
CALIFORNIA: Covina, Ukiah
ILLINOIS: Carbondale
INDIANA: Logansport
IOWA: Ackley, Algona, Estherville, Glenwoo, Humboldt, Lenox, Malvern, Rock Valley, Sioux Center, Sumner, Wapello, Williamsburg.
MARYLAND: Cumberland, Hagerstown
MICHIGAN: Ironwood, Marshall
MISSOURI: Jefferson City
OHIO: Massillon, Piqua, Xenia
PENNSYLVANIA: Greenville, Lebanon
TEXAS: Denton, Lubbock, Mexia, Weimar
Click here to see all the new content at NewspaperARCHIVE.

28 July 2009

Philly 2009: PJAC revised information

Corrections have been made to the post, Philly 2009: Resource Room adds more records, as communicated by Sarah Sherman.

Sarah's information has been incorporated into that post, but for the sake of clarity and reducing confusion, please note the following:

The address of Paley Library is 1210 West Berks.

Conference attendees visiting the Philadelphia Jewish Archives should note that, the PJAC will be operating out of the Lecture Hall in Paley Library, where resources will be. Both the Lecture Hall and Urban Archives (PJAC's new administrative home) are in the basement of Paley Library, Temple's main library, at the address above.


REVISED HOURS: Tuesday-Thursday, August 4-6, from 1-5pm. (No Monday hours).

ACCESS: Each visitor will need to present a photo ID (such as a driver's license) to enter Paley and to use materials.

PROCEDURE: Visitors should inform Paley Library entrance attendants that they want to go to Urban Archives. Visitors will be asked to show ID and sign-in. They may use microfilm one reel at a time, after handing their photo ID to Urban Archives personnel. Urban Archives personnel will search cards for relevant names. Copying will be done by Urban Archives personnel.

For more information on what records will be in the Resource Room at the hotel and what records will be accessible Tuesday-Thursday afternoons at Urban Archives at the Library, see the post at the link above.

Tracing the Tribe thanks Sarah Sherman for the updated information.

Philly 2009: Conference check-in details

As is normal for this annual conference, attendees will be checking in from several days prior to opening day or during the week for day visitors.

Here are the hours for conference check-in or on-site registration:

Saturday, August 1: 9:01-11pm (begins after Shabbat ends)
Sunday-Thursday, August 2-6: 7am-5pm
Friday, August 7: 7am-10am
Registration location: Liberty Ballroom level.

With so many people checking in early, Saturday night registration will be very busy. However, anyone on line before 11pm will be registered. If you show up later, you'll have to come back Sunday morning, so plan accordingly.

There will be six registration lines, so things should go smoothly.

Also, no tickets will be sold Saturday night. To purchase available tickets, attendees must return Sunday afternoon.

Remember: Bring a government-issued photo ID to register.

Did you order a printed syllabus or an extra syllabus CD? After you register, visit the special table to pick up those items.

See you in Philly!

New Jersey: A Sephardic center

With the corruption scandal focused on the Sephardic community in New Jersey, the New York Times featured a story explaining how the state became a magnet for Jews,and specifically, the Sephardic (and Syrian) community.

According to the story

A century ago, Deal, a seaside resort carved from New Jersey farmland, was known as a playground for tycoons and magnates like Isidor Straus and Benjamin Guggenheim and celebrities who visited, including Mark Twain. At lavish “summer cottages,” garden parties raised money for the favorite charities of residents, predominantly Irish Catholics and Ashkenazic Jews who summered there.

By the 1940s, some of the shine had worn off, and the fabulously rich were replaced by the merely wealthy. In the late 1960s, Sephardic Jews who lived in Brooklyn and spent summers in nearby Bradley Beach began buying land in Deal; by 1973, more than 100 families had bought property in the town. By the mid-1990s, thousands of Sephardic Jews were flocking to the town during the summers, and today, local historians estimate, they make up 80 percent of the population.
The influx has led to tensions among the Syrians and the general community in Deal and environs.

The town - with some 1,000 residents - is much larger during the summer, and its streets are lined with kosher delis and Syrian grocers as well as other community essentials for the Orthodox who live there or visit.

This is all relatively new, as 35 years ago, only a pioneering group left Brooklyn for the "frontier," and quickly set up organizations and businesses.

Dr. Richard G. Fernicola, a physician and local historian, said the first Sephardic Jew in the area might well have been Benjamin N. Cardozo, the Supreme Court justice, who had a house in neighboring Allenhurst in the 1930s. The first Syrian Jewish family in Deal arrived in 1939, moving into a home that the singer Enrico Caruso had once regularly visited, said Jim Foley, the town’s historian.
The older generation still speaks Arabic and the Sephardic summer scene is focused on the large houses and properties.

Read the complete story at the link above.

Holocaust databases: 93,000 new records

Almost every Jewish genealogy researcher will - at some point in time - find that s/he had relatives caught up in the tragedy of the Holocaust.

It is easier today to find more information concerning those individuals as Holocaust databases grow with new record additions.

For example, the JewishGen Holocaust Database has been increased this year by 93,000 new records, bringing the total to more than two million records.

Since last year's conference in Chicago, additions to this database have included 26 new component databases (bringing the total to 160) and five necrologies. A search at the link above automatically searches all components. Scroll down at the link above and see notes for each component, with descriptions and links to the introduction.

Thanks to the partnership with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem, the collection continues to grow. JewishGen users and academics are now also submitting original research.

Each component introduction provides more details about the historical background, location of the original document, data fields, translation helps and acknowledgements of those who helped in many ways.

This year's additions have included:

Miranda de Ebro Prisoners (Miranda de Ebro, Spain). The Spanish central camp for foreign prisoners - 15,000+ records.

Radom Prison Records (Radom, Poland). Jewish/non-Jewish records of prisoners (1939-1944) – 14,000+ records.

1942 Arad Census (Arad, Transylvania, Romania). No other Jewish census exists for other towns and most of Arad's Jews survived - 9.600+ records.

Lublin Lists (Lublin, Poland). Two lists added: Initial Registration of Lublin’s Jews, October 1939 and January 1940) and Stettin (Szczecin) Jewish deportations into the Lublin area – 7,600+ records.

Lodz Ghetto Work Cards (Lodz, Poland). Work ID cards for 5,600+ Lodz Ghetto residents. More will be added.

Riese and Gross Rosen Records (Riese/Gross Rosen, Germany/Poland). Five lists with data on 4,800+ forced laborers and prisoner transports involving Riese, Gross Rosen, Auschwitz and Tannhausen camps.

French Hidden Children. Partial listing of 4,000+ children from Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) records, a French Jewish humanitarian organization that saved hundreds of refugee children during WW II.

Cernăuţi, Romania/Chernivsti, Ukraine Lists. Nearly 4,000 records from 61 different lists regarding town residents (1940-1943).

Polish Jewish Prisoners of War. Nearly 3,000 records from Warsaw's Jewish Historical Institute (JHI) of German-captured soldiers held at various Wehrmacht camps.

Yizkor Book Necrologies. 8,000+ records from Belarus (Pinsk and Shchuchyn), Poland (Suwalki and Lublin) and Ukraine (Konotop).

Check the databases at the link above.

Tracing the Tribe readers who are interested in assisting data entry or who have a database appropriate for the site are invited to contact Nolan Altman, JewishGen Holocaust Database coordinator and JewishGen vice president of data acquisition.

27 July 2009

Gesher Galicia: More databases!

Four new searchable databases have been added to the Gesher Galicia website, under Galician Landowner and School Records Indexes.

Kolomyya (Kolomea), Ukraine 1858 Homeowners Database
Sniatyn, Ukraine 1858 Homeowners Database
Sniatyn, Ukraine 1934 Boys' School Students Database
Sniatyn, Ukraine 1934 Girls' School Students' Database
Access them here.

In the next few weeks, according to Pamela Weisberger, landowner records databases will be uploaded for these towns: Bucacz, Zbaraz, Grzymalow, Jarowow, Uroz and Krystynopol.

The group will distribute digital images of more than 30 other towns - part of Phase 3 - in the Gesher Galicia Landowner Records and Cadastral Map Project to town leaders, who will inform their town group of the results. additionally, there are new town inventories to be added to the searchable inventory database.

For Gesher Galicia members, the next issue of "The Galitzianer" journal will contain more information on this project. To receive the journal, you must be a member.

Gesher Galicia SIG will meet on Monday, August 3 at the Philadelphia conference. Pamela will provide more details abut the new databases, maps and records, which serve as an adjunct to vital records research, placing your family in a town at a specific point in time. Currently these records cover the 18th-20th century in more than 50 towns which today are in Poland and Ukraine.

Special thanks goes to new Gesher Galicia board member Brooke Schreier Ganz, for creating the databases and getting them online quickly with Steve Morse's One-Step Search Tool Generator.

If Galicia is on your personal research radar screen, check out the new databases and view other resources at the SIG website.

Philly 2009: MAC users to meet

Doris Loeb Nabel of Connecticut has planned another annual MAC users get-together at this year's conference. Join them on Tuesday, August 4, from 11.15am-12.30pm.

She's the Queen of Macs, having used one since 1991 (and JewishGen since 2000). She first organized informal Mac groups (meeting in lobbies and hallways) at several conferences. The group met officially for the first time at last year's Chicago conference.

From that birds-of-a-feather group, it has grown to the "gen-mac_users-schmoozers" and a Yahoo group, which facilitates discussions, uploads, questions and answers, as well as a forum for members to stay in touch and make progress.

Doris looks forward to seeing her old and new friends in Philadelphia.

Write to her privately to learn more about the meeting or to join the Yahoo group. She'd like to have your Philadelphia contact info (if you will be attending the conference), your proficiency levels as a genealogy researcher and Mac user; subjects you'd like to see on the meeting agenda on Tuesday and what evening/s (Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday) might be good for a dinner get-together.

Doris is the publicity chair and webmaster of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Connecticut.

Index: Jewish history and literature articles, 1665-1900

The Jewish Theological Seminary library blog, JTSLibrary Takeaway, offers interesting items.

This recent post concerns a 19th century index of printed articles that might help your search. the blogger reminds readers that everyone has been caught up in full-text digital access, but that it's also important to remember the "oldies but goodies."

One such tool is Moise Schwab's Index of Articles Relative to Jewish History and Literature Published in Periodicals, from 1665 to 1900. [JTS Library Location: REF Z 6367 S41] An augmented edition edited by Zosa Szajkowski was published by Ktav in 1971. The original edition (Part I) had been published in 1899 as Repertoire des Articles, and subsequent Parts and editions were published over the next 25 years.

Most of the articles listed were published in Jewish and secular scholarly journals of the 19th century. The majority of the articles were written in German and French, although many are also in Hebrew, English, and other languages. More than 100 publications were indexed, and articles from a few feschriften are also included.
Most articles are arranged by authors' name, along with a limited subject index. Subjects are in French and the text is handwritten. There is also a Hebrew word index (Hebrew alphabet), which also serves as a subject index.

Abbreviations are explained in three locations (titles of journals, general abbreviations and Hebrew abbreviations of authors' names).

Moise Schwab was an accomplished scholar in a wide variety of fields, both in Jewish and secular studies. His Index was the first attempt to publish an all-inclusive Jewish studies periodical index. This volume provides a key to serious Jewish studies research of the 1800’s and before. It is also useful as a guide to primary source material for current researchers of Jewish history, biography and historiography.
Read more at the link above.

Yiddish: Register for this online class

Want to learn mamaloshen (Yiddish)? No time during the day? No place to take it near home?

Here's the solution: an online Yiddish class which you can do from home no matter where in the world you live.

You can also receive optional academic credit from the University of Massachusetts, as you study with the National Yiddish Book Center's faculty and explore Yiddish culture through literature, film, theater and music.

The course is for students who wish to explore the language and culture of Ashkenazic Jewry. There are no prerequisites, and no knowledge of any Jewish language or the Jewish alphabet is expected. Over the course of the semester, students will learn to read, write, and converse in Yiddish and will be introduced to a number of Yiddish songs, poems, and folktales. By the end of the term, students should be able to converse in Yiddish on a variety of topics and to read simple Yiddish texts.
Online registration is now open for this new class.

Yiddish has been spoken by most European Ashkenazi Jews for nearly 1,000 years. It went from the Rhineland (today's Germany) east to Slavic lands, and then went along for the ride with immigrants who resettled in the Americas, Australia, South Africa and elsewhere.

According to the Center:

This course will give students an opportunity to experience the richness of Yiddish literature—and Yiddish humor—in the original; to learn about the Hasidic world through tales and songs; and to speak, write, and read in Yiddish while exploring American and East European Yiddish literature, film, theater and klezmer music.
Instructor Yuri Vedenyapin is the academic director of the National Yiddish Book Center's Summer Yiddish Program.

He teaches Yiddish language and culture at Harvard University, and his interests include old and modern Yiddish literature, Eastern European Jewish folklore, the history of Yiddish dialects and literary standards, as well as ethnographic fieldwork. He's conducted interviews with Yiddish writers, actors, and members of Hasidic communities.

With a BA (Harvard University) and MA (Columbia University), he has also taught Yiddish at Columbia University, Moscow State University, and the Yiddish Summer Program in Warsaw, Poland. Additionally, he also performs in Yiddish, Russian and Polish.

Click here for more information and to register for the class (for academic credit or not). The cost isn't unexpensive ($600, or $570 for National Yiddish Book Center members), but there are many advantages to learning online and the instructor is tops in his field. The class runs from September-December.

26 July 2009

Philly 2009: Vienna databases

And here's an addition to the Resource Room that Tracing the Tribe neglected to report on when announced:

Those researching Vienna will be happy to know that the Vienna IKG databases will be available in the Resource Room.

For security reasons, they will not be on Resource Room computers, but only on Wolf-Erich Eckstein's laptop. Eckstein is the Vienna Jewish Community's Records Office manager.

Georg Gaugusch has covered the major Jewish families of Vienna in regards to genealogical and biographical data, and he will also be on hand.

Eckstein and Gaugusch will be in the Resource Room according to the following schedule:

Sunday, August 2: Eckstein, 3-5pm
Monday, August 3: Eckstein & Gaugusch, 11-12.30pm
Tuesday, August 4: Eckstein & Gaugusch, 7-9:30pm
Wednesday, August 5: Gaugusch, 2-4pm
The appearance of both men at the conference has been funded by E. Randol and Pamela Schoenberg for the Austria-Czech SIG.

Bring a thumbdrive/flashdrive/USB drive with you to the conference and do your part to save paper by directly downloading data! The conference is trying to be "green" this year.

See you in Philly!

Philly 2009: Resource Room adds more records

UPDATE: Corrections re PJAC address, hours, ID and access, microfilms and copying and provided by Sarah Sherman, in bold below.

We are only a week away from Philly 2009 and, even now, additional resources are being added to aid conference attendees.

Note the following information will be on hand in the conference Resource Room, through an arrangement with the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center (PJAC):

- All Philadelphia Jewish Ethnic Bank records.

The indices to these records are online: Blitzstein Bank, Lipshutz Bank, and the Rosenbaum Bank.

Save time by checking the index, create your list and bring it to Philly to see the actual records.

If you won't be at the conference, request records from the PJAC at their new address:

Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center
Temple University Urban Archives
Samuel Paley Library
1210 West Berks St
Philadelphia, PA 19122-6088

NOTE: Sarah writes that for those conference attendees planning to visit the archives, the resources will be in the Lecture Hall in the Paley Library, which is the university's main library. Both the Lecture Hall and Urban Archives (the PJAC's new administrative home) are in the Library's basement.

- HIAS records in the Resource Room will include:

HIAS Passenger Lists 1884 - 1892
HIAS Arrival Records by Ship
HIAS Naturalization Cards
HIAS Port Cards
HIAS Immigration Records
- WPA - Jewish Congregation Survey - 1930s

UPDATE NOTES: Conference attendees planning to visit the PJAC should pay careful attention to this updated information, as communicated by Sarah Sherman:

1. HOURS: Conference attendees may visit PJAC personally from 1-5pm, Tuesday Thursday, August 4-6, (not on Monday) to access the records below:

2. USE INFO: Each visitor will need a photo ID card (e.g. driver's license) to enter Paley Library to use materials. Inform entrance attendants at Paley Library that you want to go to Urban Archives. You will be asked to show ID and sign-in.

3. MICROFILM: can be used one reel at a time, after giving Urban Archives Personnel your photo ID.

4. SEARCHING: Urban Archives Personnel will search the cards for relevant names.

5. COPIES: Copying will be done by Urban Archives personnel.

6. RECORDS at PJAC include:

Neighborhood Centre records: Regarding aid to families in crisis or with special needs.

National Council of Jewish Women records: Cards created when aiding immigrants in the naturalization process. They sometimes contain more information than the naturalization documents.

The Resource Room at the conference venue is always a busy place, but this year may be even busier with so many records and indexes available.

Tracing the Tribe plans to be there looking for records of the TALALAY family who became FEINSTEIN (taking the name of the four brothers' sister's husband after he helped bring them to Philadelphia).

See you in Philly!

25 July 2009

Hungary: 9,000 Jewish census records added

Hungarian researchers now have access to 9,000 additional Jewish Census Records (1770-1850) to the database.

Here are the counties and years for the new records:

Abauj 1773
Arad 1773
Arva 1774-5
Bacs-Bodrog 1773-4
Barany 1775
Bihar 1816, 1820-21
Fejer (Alba) 1774
Gyor (Jaur) 1770, 1774
Hont 1770, 1775
Komarom 1771, 1774, 1775
Moson 1770, 1773
Pozsony 1770, 1773, 1774
Szatmar 1771
Zala 1770, 1773
Zemplen 1771, 1774
Additional counties are being transcribed for the same time period.

The majority of names in these records use patronymics instead of surnames, which may be a challenge to researchers unless they know where their families lived. Use the link below to learn much more about the Hungarian records and also to see which towns are included in the records for the counties listed.

A boon to researchers is that the census recorded whether or not the person was born in Hungary, and if not, how long they had lived there.

According to the Other Hungarian Census Project coordinator Eric M. Bloch, there are cases showing a person in Hungary in the 1690s.

View the database here.

Philly 2009: Opening session schedule

The conference's opening session schedule for Sunday evening, August 2, has been announced by program co-chair Mark Halpern:

Book sale, Father Desbois' "The Holocaust by Bullets" (TBA)
Opening Session, with Father Desbois' keynote address ( Liberty Ballroom C/D)
Opening Reception (Liberty Foyer); book sale/signing by Father Desbois (TBA)
Screening, "Hitler's Hidden Holocaust" (Liberty Ballroom C/D)

Some time ago, Mark had announced that the National Geographic Channel was going to premiere the one-hour special - "Hitler's Hidden Holocaust" - on Sunday night, August 2. the conference has been able to acquire a copy and permission to screen it as part of the opening session.

The documentary, in part, follows Father Desbois in his quest to find still unknown killing sites throughout Ukraine and document the crimes through witness accounts. Included are interviews with Museum of Jewish Heritage director Dr. David Marwell.

Marwell previously served as Chief of Investigative Research for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Investigations, and was responsible for conducting historical and forensic research in support of Justice Department prosecution of Nazi war criminals.

He will introduce Father Desbois and moderate the Q&A following his keynote talk and screen the documentary.

24 July 2009

Book: Translating 19th-century Polish records

If your family research centers on Poland or areas where Polish was the language of record, here's a book which may help your quest. It has been around for some time, but this new third edition (August 2009) has been expanded and enhanced.

"A Translation Guide to 19th-Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents (including Birth, Marriage and Death Records" is the full title, but many refer to it simply as "The Guide," by Judith R, Frazin.

It is more than what the title indicates. The book helps readers locate Polish ancestral towns on a modern map, determine if old vital records exist, learn how to acquire them and decipher and translate the records.

- Suggestions on how to locate an old Polish town on modern maps
- Tips: finding 19th-century documents/indexes from Polish towns
- Sample vital-record documents - script/block-letter versions
- Step-by-step guide to extracting data from documents
- List of given names in 19th-century documents
- Tips: find out what records are at the Polish State Archives
- Information: how the Polish language works
- Translations: column headings in old Polish census records
- Model sentences in Polish for genealogical correspondence
- 15 vocabulary lists (Age, Family, Occupations, etc.)
- Hundreds of new words and phrases
Both the author and the book will be at the Philly 2009 conference. Frazin will present a workshop - Discovering the Treasures in 19th-Century Polish-Language Records - on the conference's opening day (Sunday, August 2) at 10am, followed by a book signing at 1.30pm.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois is publishing the 472-page book; the price is $41. See sample pages here (PDF format), including the full table of contents.

Read more here, and find out how to order it.

Israel: 19th century Hebrew help needed

Tracing the Tribe's readers are an esoteric bunch with unusual knowledge, so we are hoping that you can help with the following puzzles.

The Israel Genealogical Society (IGS), in conjunction with London's Montefiore Endowment, is transcribing, translating and digitizing the five 19th century Jewish population censuses (1839, 1849, 1855, 1866 and 1875) conducted in Eretz Israel, commissioned by Sir Moses Montefiore.

Data fields include head of household names, ages, birthplace, names/ages of wives and children, property/financial standing, occupation and diverse comments.
Every adult and child mentioned in the census, even if listed without a name, is listed individually in the database. In the case of children, the names of the parents, when available, were added to the child's listing. The term orphan is used when the father has passed away but not necessarily the mother. In most instances orphans were listed separately, which can be somewhat misleading as it does not always allow a connection to be found between the orphan and the mother who is listed in a separate list of widows.
Sephardic community members generally have surnames, while few Ashkenazim do. To make it easier to enable a search engine, extra fields were added to the database for father's name, mother's name and husband's name instead of merely including that in the "comments" field.

Not all details are given for each record, but the available information will be extremely valuable to researchers, historians and sociologists. For more information, click here for extensive information on the project, data field descriptions, and links to two completed databases (1839-40) and their statistics.

The completed, searchable database will be in Hebrew and English.

Although handwritten in Hebrew, the records also contain many words of Yiddish, Arabic and other languages.

Currently, the group is translating the 1855 census and have discovered some words and abbreviations that have defied translation.

1. talal trevlier (Hebrew letters: tet aleph lamed aleph lamed - tet resh ayin vav vav lamed yod ayin resh). This phrase appeared four times, twice with only the first word, once for a widow, and as an occupation in the Hassidim Vollin Kollel.
We think it is Yiddish, possibly of Arabic and/or French origin. None of our Yiddish speakers recognize the words, although some suggested that the second word may be traveller. The birthplaces of the people involved include Tysmenytsya and Rzeszow.
2. p"ch (peh chet). This abbreviation refers to a Rabbi Yitzchak from Vilna and his son and granddaughter. They were from Jerusalem's Prushim Kollel.

The son and granddaughter were listed as descendants of Rabbi Yitzchak P"ch (PACH?), and his son wanted to learn his father's craft. The Rabbi's listing did not include a surname. Rather, p"ch was listed as his occupation. The question: What is P"ch? Is it a surname, or an occupation abbreviation (and if so, for what)?
All ideas and suggestions will be appreciated IGS census project coordinator Billie Stein.

UK: Crossword puzzles for genealogists

Do you love doing the New York Times crossword puzzle? Do you love genealogy?

Tracing the Tribe assumes you love family history research or you wouldn't be reading this.

But if crossword puzzles are also a passion, the UK gen mag Your Family Tree offers one each month for free download. The current puzzle is here. Answers are in the following month's edition.

You might need a crash course in British genealogy to get through it, though, as definitions have a definite UK slant

There's a forum for questions and discussions, prizes, free software and much more, in addition to articles. A feature article of the current edition is on tracking female relatives.

The magazine's website offers resources for tracking insolvent ancestors, Caribbean ancestors, notices of new online databases, genealogical thriller books and much more, so check it out!

23 July 2009

New York: Traveling again!

Tracing the Tribe arrived very early this morning in typical muggy weather.

It's summertime in New York, after all!

Hometown errands were on today's must-do list and I tried to get everything done before the heavens opened. Dodging raindrops, I managed to make it back to my sister's Upper Westside apartment.

My netbook's now fired up and I'm playing catch up with my day of traveling from northern California.

Stay tuned!

Philadelphia: Hi-tech aids genealogy buzz

Philly 2009 was a lead feature today in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.

Conference program co-chair Mark Halpern informed me last week that writer Hillel Kuttler had interviewed both he and conference co-chair David Mink.

The story - read it here - focused on how technology has contributed to the popularity of genealogy pursuits in the US and around the world.
Three years ago, David Mink began volunteering at the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center, helping to index its microfilmed collection of ledgers from the city's long-defunct Rosenbaum, Blitzstein, Lipschutz and Rosenbluth banks. The early 20th-century banks doubled as agencies to facilitate immigrants' money transfers to relatives in Europe to book ship passage here.

A fellow volunteer eventually pointed out some interesting information to Mink: A March 26, 1923 entry had been made for $98 that Mink's grandfather, Jacob Pseny, had paid to bring over a cousin, Fraitel Szklarz of Moselle, France. Another entry showed Pseny's transfer of $104 to his grandmother's brother, Avrum Gruber, of Siemiatis, Poland. Neither relative bought the ticket -- probably because of U.S. immigration restrictions, Mink speculated -- and Pseny received a refund.

"I was absolutely flabbergasted," Mink said of the discoveries.
Due to the ever-expanding Internet, researchers today can find many resources while sitting at home. More and more resources are available each day on JewishGen, Ancestry.com and many other websites which hold Jewish records and collections of diverse documents.

A focus of the story is the 29th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, which runs August 2-7, in Philadelphia. The story will likely encourage Philadelphia-area newcomers to attend.

Technology is always on the menu at these annual events and, according to Mark, this year there are sessions on using Google to the max, as well as Google Earth and Google Translate to aid in searching, tracking and contacting family around the world.

Social media is also helping family researchers - who have been successful using Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other sites.

Genealogy in the US received a major break with the televising of "Roots" in the 1970s. Although it concentrated on an African-American family, other ethnic groups soon caught the bug.
Such books as Arthur Kurzweil's From Generation to Generation and Finding Our Fathers by Philadelphian Dan Rottenberg soon sent Jewish genealogists to the National Archives, Ellis Island and municipal offices throughout Europe to document their ancestors' lives.

Jewish genealogy societies quickly developed throughout North America, Israel, Europe and Russia, and international Jewish genealogy conferences were convened.
The fall of communism in Eastern Europe made archival research much more accessible. Access combined with the rise of personal computers and digitized Internet resources and databases have made genealogy even more popular. Additional collections will continue to fuel increased interest.

The participation of archival directors from previously off-limit archives is something researchers look forward to each year.

Philly 2009 will feature, for the first time, the attendance of the Romanian national archives director Dr. Dorin Dobrincu, which was confirmed while I was in California - although it had not yet been confirmed when the Exponent story was published.

Tracing the Tribe will be the first to interview Dr. Dobrincu, so look forward to that fascinating post from the conference.

In the past, archive directors from Minsk and elsewhere have provided unique insight into their particular resources.

Dobrincu's appearance, according to Mark's comments in the story, would be an opportunity
"for him to see what we're doing, and for us to talk to him about the need to open up the records for Holocaust research, Jewish genealogy and historical research," explained Halpern. "This is something that researchers of Romania should be excited about."
The story also touches on DNA genetic testing.

Read the complete article at the link above.

Canada: Naturalization online database (1915-1932)

If your ancestors went to Canada and stayed, the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has posted a resource that may be most helpful to your personal quest: The new version of the Canadian Naturalization 1915-1932 Database.

LAC acknowledged the contributions of both the Jewish Genealogical Societies of Montreal and Ottawa and their volunteers whose support made this database possible.

It includes the names of 206,731 individuals who applied for and received status as naturalized Canadians in that time period, and is one of a few Canadian genealogical resources designed to benefit researchers with roots outside the British Commonwealth.

References in the database can be used to request copies of the actual naturalization records, which are held by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

View the database here.

Poland: Esperanto Center opens in Bialystok

Ludwik Zamenhof (born Eliezer Samenhof) was the inventor of the international language, Esperanto.

Born December 15, 1859, he was an ophthalmologist, philologist and created the language for international communication to encourage and promote peaceful interaction among diverse nations and cultures.

In 1910, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. A minor planet discovered in 1938 was named for him. He died on April 14, 1917, and is buried in the Warsaw Jewish cemetery.

An Esperanto Center will open in Bialystok as part of the 94th World Esperanto Congress begining on Saturday.

It is part of the Bialystok Cultural Center and will promote the city's multicultural aspect, popularize Esperanto and honor Zamenhof.

It will feature a permanent exhibit - "Bialystok of Young Zamenhof" - and temporary exhibits, such postage stamps featuring Esperanto.

In 2000, an estimated 1-15 million people worldwide spoke the language.

For more, read the original story here.

21 July 2009

Indiana: 5,600 Jewish graves databased

A three-year project in Indianapolis has documented 5,600 graves in the city's 11 old Jewish cemeteries on Kelly Street. The database is now online in JewishGen's Jewish Online Worldwide Burial Register (JOWBR).

Gloria Green recently completed effort has been hailed by genealogists and historians in the preservation of the city's Jewish past and was covered in this IndyStar.com story.

Green and volunteers sifted through handwritten congregational and mortuary records dating to 1935. And they went headstone to headstone through the crowded rows of graves. In some cases, Green dived into thickets searching for headstones lost to time and overgrowth.

The richest trove of new information may be the record of the dead buried by poorer ethnic immigrant groups whose recordkeeping was the spottiest -- those of Russian, Polish and Hungarian Jewish descent and one cemetery owned by a synagogue known simply as "the peddlers congregation."

The wave of Jewish immigration to Indianapolis began with a trickle of German Jews who arrived in the decade before the Civil War. Other groups followed. But at its peak in the 1920s, the area bounded by Bluff Road and South Meridian, McCarty and Raymond streets was a thriving Jewish enclave of merchants and tailors, butchers and scrap dealers -- roughly 6,000 in all.
In 1856, the city's first congregation -The Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation (IHC) - was established and recognized the need for a cemetery. The synagogue purchased land on Kelly Street alongside the Catholic and Lutheran cemeteries. In turn, it sold pieces of the cemetery to new congregations as they formed.

Older graves in the section that belongs to IHC's mostly German immigrants are spaced wide apart and sometimes feature towering monuments. But graves in the sections of poorer Poles, Russians and Hungarians -- cemeteries set aside for defunct congregations such as Shara Tefilo, Knesses Israel and Ohev Zedeck -- are wedged so close together there's barely room for a blade of grass.

"Poorer people have less space in this world and the next," said Rabbi Arnold Bienstock, whose Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in Carmel is the spiritual escendant of Shara Tefilo, Knesses Israel and the "peddler's congregation," Esras Achem.

Until Green's effort to document the burial sites, Bienstock's congregation had no records of its ancestors in the Kelly Street cemeteries.
Jewish burials are still conducted in the old Kelly Street cemeteries, but most burials today are in the newer cemeteries near today's center of Jewish life on the Northside and in Hamilton County; there are some 10,000 Jews in the Indianapolis area.

For Green, an office manager in a commercial real estate business, this journey into the past began during a meeting of her genealogy club at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck. A representative of a Jewish genealogy Web site said people from around the world would call for information about relatives buried in Indianapolis' Kelly Street cemeteries, but there was none to give. Green took up the cause.

The fruit of her labors -- and those of her volunteers -- is evident now that information is available on the Web site. As to why she took on the task, Green points to the song from "Fiddler on the Roof." It is all about "tradition," in this case, of honoring the dead.

Birth and death dates are recorded by the Hebrew calendar; some stones have only Hebrew, some have English on the back and there are Jewish symbols (Star of David and the menorah). Some stones bear black and white photos of the deceased.

Read the complete article at the link above.

Philly 2009: Jewish worldwide burial registry updated

The annual pre-conference update to JOWBR - JewishGen’s Online Worldwide Burial Registry database - includes more than 94,000 new records and some 12,000 new photos from 16 countries.

Currently, the database offers more than 1.2 million records from more than 2,400 cemeteries and sections in 46 countries.

Access the database here.

Major highlights:

- US National Cemetery Records: more than 23,000 records from 150 national cemeteries in 46 states and Puerto Records represent veterans with Stars of David on their markers.

- Iasi, Romania. Reuven Singer and his team have added more than 17,500 burial records translated from the Hebrew burial register (1888-1894) and women’s records (1915–1943).

- Bathurst, Ontario. Kevin Hanit and Allen Halberstadt (JGS of Canada-Toronto) have added more than 9,000 records from 60 sections of the cemetery.

- Krakow, Poland. Lili Haber and the Association of Cracowians in Israel have submitted more than 6,300 records from Krakow's Miodowa Street Cemetery.

- Vitsyebsk/Vitebsk, Belarus. Esther Herschman Rechtschafner has submitted more than 5,600 cemetery records created by the Jewish Museum of Maryland www.jewishmuseummd.org added 3,900 records from Baltimore area cemeteries.

- Uzhhorod, Ukraine (Ungvár, Hungary). Volunteers helped transcribe more than 3,900 burial records from the Hebrew burial register predominantly from pre-World War I Ungvár, Hungary. Al Silberman, Batya Gottlieb, Shaul Sharoni, Solomon Schlussel, Vivian Kahn, and Zygomnt Boxer have been working for almost a year, while Joseph Zajonc, Shula Laby, Yossi Gal and Richard Nemes have been working on a handwritten Yiddish register.

- Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Terry Lasky has submitted 3,500 new records and more than 3,900 photos. He has either these records or coordinated with other volunteers.

- Argentina. Yehuda Mathov coordinated and submitted more than 900 additional records from various Argentinean cemeteries.

- Wisconsin, Belarus and Lithuania. Joel Alpert added nearly 900 burial records from his ShtetLink pages for Sheboygan, Wisconsin; Lepel, Belarus; and Jurbarkas, Lithuania.

- Foreign Language Volunteers. The team of Hebrew and foreign language translators include David Rosen, Ernest Kallman, Gilberto Jugend, Nathen Gabriel, Osnat Hazan, Reuben Gross, Shay Meyer and Zygmont Boxer.

The next update will be made between late fall and end of December.

JewishGen vice president for Data Acquisition Nolan Altman (and JOWBR coordinator) writes:

We appreciate all the work our donors have done and encourage you to make additional submissions.

Whether you work on a cemetery / cemetery section individually or consider a group project for your local Society, temple or other group, it’s your submissions that help grow the JOWBR database and make it possible for researchers and family members to find answers they otherwise might not.

Please also consider other organizations you may be affiliated with that may already have done cemetery indexing that would consider having their records included in the JOWBR database.
Access the database at the link above.

See Tracing the Tribe's next post on the three-year effort to document 5,600 Jewish graves in Indianapolis, Indiana, now in JOWBR.

New York: Golf course gravestones

UPDATE: Ahron Weiner, who first found the gravestones, has today written a piece (with photos) for Tablet Magazine on his visit to Woodmere. Read his story here.

A troubling discovery of Jewish gravestones at Long Island's private Woodmere Club golf course was reported by the New York Post, and may spark an investigation.

Partially engraved Jewish tombstones are holding up parts of the golf course against Reynolds Channel, according to the story.

Some have Stars of David at the water's edge; others with such names as Morris Gutterman, Ira Feinberg and Hyman Friedman are near the clubhouse, while others have only monograms or single surnames. None have visible dates.

Jeffrey Markinson of Silver Monument Works -- a Jewish gravestone maker on Manhattan's Lower East Side -- believes they could be discarded pieces from a manufacturer.

"I would like to think that this was extra granite," he said.

While golfers at the predominantly Jewish club rarely see the macabre piles, maintenance staffers are well aware of them.

"I've been told that they've been here for 50 or 100 years," said one groundskeeper. "No one knows where they came from, but I think we inherited them."

The worker said that course staffers avoid mentioning the mysterious markers to club members to avoid any potential controversy.

Woodmere Club general manager Donald Mollitor said that he was not aware of the stones but would look into it.
The stones were discovered by Orthodox Jewish photographer Ahron Weiner, 38, of Hewlett, who said he was stunned. He added that the stones were reminiscent of what he saw in Europe where cemetery gravestones were used as building material by Nazis.

Read the complete story at the link above.

DNA: The wandering Jew

A gene-mapping project of the "wandering Jew" has been launched by Israel's Sheba Medical Center and New York University.

The 18-month to two-year project is headed by Prof. Harry Ostrer, NYU Medical School's human genetics program director, who is recognized as an expert in the Jewish people's origins, and by Prof. Eitan Friedman of Sheba's clinical genetics unit.

The project will attempt to trace Jewish migration to and from Israel and in the Diaspora, according to the Jerusalem Post article. It may also be used in the future for specific genes for Jewish genetic conditions.

Volunteers whose parents and grandparents have the same ethnic origins - including Yemenites, Iraqis, Moroccans, Libyans, Ethiopians, Indians, Georgians, Bnei Menashe, Bukharans and others regarded as close to the Jews, such as Karaites - are being invited to give blood samples and fill out a short questionnaire. So far, 120 samples have been collected, but about 180 more are
It is called the "Jewish HapMap" project. Hap, in this instance, comes from haplotype - a term familiar to Jewish genealogists involved in genetic testing for genealogical purposes -. which is a group of closely linked genetic markers located on a single chromosome and inherited.

Sheba is collecting blood samples from Oriental, Sephardi or other non-Ashkenazi origin Jews, while Ostrer is collecting data from Ashkenazi Jews as well as Syrian and Iranian Jews. In fact, just a few months ago, Ostrer told me that he had collected many Iranian samples at a meeting in Great Neck, NY.

Friedman says it is a last chance to do this research, due to intermarriage among Jews of diverse ethnic origins and intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews.

Today, about 50 percent to 60% of Israelis are eligible to participate based on their background, but in another generation, that figure could decline to around 20%, the Israeli geneticist said. "We are studying normal genes, not mutations, to see what the various ethnic groups have in common and how much admixture there was," he said.
The project is funded by the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation; a major research article will follow the study's completion.

Volunteers give about a tablespoon of blood, which will be kept under lock and key. Participants will receive a summary of the research but only on the collective research, not their individual genomes.

Since 2002, according to the paper, there has been an Israeli law preventing employers, health funds and others from discriminating against those with genetic mutations,

The data will be computerized and compared among various Jewish ethnic groups, and between those Jews and non-Jews of the same geographical region.

I wish everyone volunteering in the study would also provide samples to FamilyTreeDNA.com to provide more data for the company's extensive comparative Jewish DNA databases.

20 July 2009

BBC: A Jewish family's journey

Readers in the UK - or elsewhere if your cable provider offers BBC access - make sure to watch the award-winning "Coast" program on September 1.

The episode details Jewish genealogist/journalist Howard Wolinsky of Chicago as he tracks his grandfather Hillel Sragan's 1892 journey from Lithuania to Hamburg to Hull (UK), and finally to Boston. The same path was followed by millions migrating to the US, Canada, South Africa and Australia.

Howard emailed me the following and it makes for a fascinating read:

Last year, BBC flew him to Hull to appear in a Coast segement about his grandfather's journey from Kedain to Boston. The network hired Nick Evans (of Who Do You Think You Are? fame) to research Howard's grandfather Hillel Sragan, who became Henry Wolinsky in Massachusetts.

That's an important, as each time I send a WOLINSKY researcher to Howard, he reminds me that they are really SRAGAN !

Nick found all kinds of interesting things, such as how my grandfather started on his journey just before a cholera outbreak that would close the ports in Europe. Nick found a clipping on a case of cholera diagnosed first in Paris, I think. Immigration was shut off for a time afterward. Had my grandfather been delayed, it's possible he never would have made it.
Nick was even able to describe the sights and smells his grandfather experienced on the small steamer (SS Sprite.)

The episode shows what immigrants experienced as they approached the port of Hull, were processed, stayed overnight and sent by train to Liverpool, where they continued their journeys.

The show helped Howard recreate his grandfather's journey by taking him out on the North Sea and then into Hull:

"...creating the journey through the town to a kosher eatery along cobblestone streets and on to the waiting area in a train station that is now a pub honoring the local soccer club. Nick was my guide, starting at the docks in Hull."
When Nick was in Chicago for the 2008 international Jewish genealogy conference, Howard was his guide, returning the favor and took Nick on a Chicago river tour of the genetic cousins which I also enjoyed as an "honorary" genetic cousin!

Howard also mentioned a major breakthrough following an unsuccessful 10-year search. Via tips on wildcard computer tricks from his genetic cousins, Rebekah Canada and Jill Whitehead, he discovered - despite the dreadful manglings of his grandfather's name - how and when he arrived in the US.

The episode should be fascinating for all genealogists, whether or not they have a link to Hull. Later in the year, Howard will be writing on the experience and research for both Ancestry and Avotaynu, so there's more to anticipate.

Howard will also appear in a BBC radio interview in Hull in conjunction with the show.

Unfortunately, Howard won't be able to see the televised episode as he'll be en route to New Zealand via Tahiti.

For more information on the program, click here:

Produced once again by BBC Birmingham, and co-produced by The Open University, the long-awaited new series will broaden Coast’s horizons still further. The eight programmes will continue to introduce the audience to fresh, untold stories around our own shores, but will also feature the coastlines of neighbouring countries, with whom Britain traditionally has had a close affinity.
For more on Howard's episode, click here:

Neil Oliver discovers how 19th century Hull became the Heathrow of its day, serving as a vital transit route to America for millions of refugees. Between 1870 and 1914, Hull was a lifeline for millions desperate to escape oppression in Eastern Europe, and make a fresh start on the other side of the world. Neil joins Howard Wolinsky on his journey to retrace the footsteps of his Jewish grandfather from Lithuania to Boston, via Hull, in a bid to escape the brutal repression of Czarist Russia. ... .
Mark your calendars for September 1 if you have BBC access.

19 July 2009

Book: An Ashkenazi given name handbook

Avotaynu has announced the publication of Alexander Beider's "Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants."

This softcover book is the dictionary section of his previously published and massive volume, "Dictionary of Ashkenazi Given Names." It does not contain Beider's 300-page introductory section - his doctoral thesis for the Department of History at the Sorbonne (Paris).

Included is the description of each name's origin and evolution, demonstrating how name variants are derived from the root name, with the indexes listing 15,000 name variants of the 735 root names.The three-part index is in the Latin alphabet, Cyrillic and Hebrew.

The 232-page softcover is $26 plus shipping. Avotaynu offers free shipping for orders of $50 or more in the US. If you will be attending Philly 2009 - the 29th IAJGS International Conference of Jewish Genealogy - and live outside the US, contact Avotaynu to reserve a copy for pick-up at the conference and save what can be a major international shipping charge.

Here's a very small portion of the full-page Yentl entry; view the complete entry here.

Several names with the same root gentil were used by Jews in various Romance countries. Since the Middle Ages, Gentile was a common name in Italy. Gentel appears in medieval documents from Spain. Migrants from these countries came to the Ottoman Empire and as a result ג׳ינטיליה and ג׳ינטיל were common names in that area. Gentil, Gentile, Gentila and Gentilia appear in medieval sources from southern and northern France, while ינטיל and יינטיל are quoted in Hebrew documents from England dating from the 13th century. Note that English Jews mainly originated from northern France. In old French, the adjective gentil(l)e meant noble. The use of the similar names in France, Italy and Spain could either be due to migrations between these countries or independent events. ...

For more information, click here; to see the 15,000-name index, click here.

Book: Sephardic Genealogy's new edition

Here's excellent news for Sephardic researchers!

Jeff Malka contacted me some time ago about the upcoming expanded and completely updated second edition of his award-winning book, "Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering Your Sephardic Ancestors and Their World" (Avotaynu).

The 2002 edition received the Association of Jewish Libraries "Best Judaica Reference Book." The original book is the most referenced Sephardic genealogy book in my library, along with Pere Bonnin's "Sangre Judia."

Avotaynu has just announced the new edition and I am happy to inform Tracing the Tribe's readers.

New in this edition:

- Some 100 pages have been added to include new data and updates on Internet and mail addresses.

- A new DNA chapter.

- New chapters on resources for the Sephardic communities of Portugal, England, Rhodes, Hamburg-Altona, and Vienna, Austria.

- A new chapter on how to research Spanish archives.

- Clues on deciphering old Spanish script.

- The Internet section is fully updated and now includes more than 300 links to sites with valuable information for Sephardic researchers. I'm happy to report that Tracing the Tribe is included.

- A more than 3,000-name surname index, bibliography, and appendixes.
With all these additions and improvements, the new book is even more valuable and should be on the wish list for all Sephardic researchers and indeed for all Jewish genealogists. You never know when a family of interest may have Sephardic roots.

The 472-page book costs $45.

I've known Jeff for many years and can attest to his dedication to Sephardic genealogy in all its aspects stemming from what he has learned on his own quest. Indeed, that journey of discovery has also resulted in the frequently updated, remarkably rich resources at his website, SephardicGen.com.

Over the years, we've collaborated and we both work with Maria Jose Surribas, a wonderful researcher in Barcelona, who was responsible for breakthroughs in both our projects. Jeff was also responsible for the creation of SefardSIG, now called SephardicSIG, and KahalLinks on JewishGen. KahalLinks was established after we convinced the website that Sephardic Jews did not live in shtetls - an Eastern European concept foreign to Sephardic communities.

A retired orthopedic surgeon who lives in the greater Washington DC area, multilingual Jeff grew up in Switzerland. His grandfather was the Chief Rabbi of Sudan (1906-1949). Jeff's expertise and dedication comes from researching his own roots. He is always helpful to newcomers stymied by the diverse challenges of Sephardic genealogical research.

Professionally, Jeff was an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery (Georgetown University), and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery chair (Inova Fairfax Hospital, Virginia).

Jeff also speaks at conferences, societies and the Library of Congress on Sephardic family names and their evolution through history and other topics.

View the complete, detailed table of contents here.

Here are highlights:

Who Are the Sephardim?; Brief History of the Jews of Spain and Portugal; Spanish Diaspora; Andalusian-Moroccan Jewish Universe; Jews Under Islamic Rule; Jews in The Netherlands; Amazon Journey; Sephardic Languages; Sephardic surnames in Iberian Research.

How to Get Started; Sephardic Genealogy; DNA and Genealogy; Organizing and Documenting Records; Computers and the Internet; Genealogy Software; Periodicals.

Resources include history, archives, additional reading, country-specific information and much more: Algeria, Austria, Balkans, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Caribbean (Curaçao, St. Eustatia, St. Maarten, Jamaica, St. Croix, St. Thomas, and Nevis), Egypt, England, Germany (Hamburg/Altona and elsewhere), Iran (Persia), Iraq, Israel, Italy, Morocco, The Netherlands, Portugal, Rhodes, Salonica, South America (Argentina, Brazil, etc.), Spain, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Ottoman Empire.

Sephardic Websites; Sephardic Family Pages; Jewish Genealogy Websites- General; Jewish Genealogy Blogs [Tracing the Tribe is here]; Internet resources (Anusim/Crypto-Jews, Balkans and Greece, Caribbean, Egypt, France, Hamburg, Iraq and Syria, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, North Africa, Portugal, South America, Turkey, US, Gazetteers, People Search).

Etymology of Selected Sephardic Names; Sephardic Cursive Alphabet; Arabic Alphabet; Sephardic Documents (CAHJP); Sephardic Registers and Record Books (JNUL); Genealogy Forms; Jewish Names in Printed Sources; Moslem Calendar; Ottoman Records in Israel; Inquisition Tribunals in Spain; Tombstone Inscriptions from Small Egyptian Towns; Surnames & Synagogue Affiliations - 16th-Century Salonica; Example: Malka in pre-Expulsion Northern Spain; Glossary; Bibliography; Surname Index; Index

If you (or someone you know) have Sephardic ancestry, this book will definitely assist in your quest as a valuable, oft-consulted volume in your personal library.

Avotaynu will be exhibiting at Philly 2009 - the 29th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. Although Avotaynu offers free shipping in the US on orders of $50 or more, international shipping incurs a significant charge. If you're coming from outside the US to attend the Philly 2009 conference, and wish to purchase "Sephardic Genealogy," send an email to Avotaynu. Let them know to bring a copy for you to pick up.

18 July 2009

In the papers: A dash of Dardashti

It's funny what you find once you begin searching.

I generally search for my TOLLIN, TALALAY or FINK in newspaper databases, but rarely have I checked for the DARDASHTI clan. To make up for it, I decided to see what may be lurking in NewspaperARCHIVE.com - I was pleasantly surprised.

[NewspaperArchive is a subscription site. Check it out and see if it is right for you. It has helped me in my quest.]

In the Berkshire Eagle (Massachusetts) on Tuesday, September 25, 1973), I found that cousin Cantor David Dardashti would be officiating at Rosh Hashanah services at Temple Anshe Amunim in Pittsfield.

In the Bridgeport (Connecticut) Telegram for Monday, February 18, 1974, there was an announcement of the singing Dardashti brothers: David, his older brother (now Hazzan Farid) and younger brother (now Hazzan Hamid):

Hevra, the Jewish organization on campus [University of Bridgeport], will sponsor an evening with the Dardashti brothers, with music, dancing and slides Sunday from 8 p.m to midnight in the Carriage house, behind Bryant Hall, Park Avenue.
A few months later, cousin John was winning first place in a cooking contest, as reported in the Daily Times of June 23, 1974, in Salisbury, Maryland:

John Dardashti. of Wilmington, Del., the winner of the Delaware division of the Delmarva Chicken Cooking Contest Saturday now has his eyes on that National Contest coming up July 25 at Winston-Salem, N.C. For the past two years Delaware cooks have been national champs.

Mr. Dardashti, who grew up in Iran, said he used his Persian background, plus some of his own ideas to come up with "Chicken Shish-Kabob". He and only one other contestant cooked their chicken over hot charcoal out-of-doors. The flavor of Mr. Dardashti's recipe comes from a sauce brushed on the chicken when it is cooking.

His hobbies are cooking, tennis and art. His cooking interest started over a decade ago. Mr. Dardashti is an architect, and he and Mrs. Dardashti have two children. He was educated at the University of California.
And in the Berkshire Eagle for July 7, 1975) piece, there's a long article on cousin David, mentioned above, which offered many nostalgic memories as I remembered his parents, Yonah and Houri (in Iran, Israel and in the US), when his first child was born very close in age to our own daughter. There's a great photo of the very young David.

I'll be back to check out the other articles.

17 July 2009

New Mexico: Secret ancestry, hidden health risk

Hispanics in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado are more frequently uncovering a secret Jewish ancestry, as well as a hidden health risk.

The story mentions FamilyTreeDNA.com's Santa Fe DNA Project, Father Bill Sanchez (with a moving 30-minute video interview - see below) and others.

The story was at KRQE (Albuquerque, NM).

"Nothing survives but a name, a blood line, and curiously enough a tendency to contract certain auto-immune diseases," said University of New Mexico adjunct professor Stanley Hordes - author of the book "To the End of the Earth: A History of the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico".

"It's absolutely fascinating to see the intersection between the historical and the cultural and the genetic and the genealogical," Hordes said.

Research shows Sephardic Jews held on to their religion in secret after leaving Spain and Portugal during the Spanish inquisition in the late 15th century, which eventually followed them into the New World.

The people are finding out more about their history now than ever before. Quoted in the story is Albuquerque resident Bernadette Martinez:

"Our family had been in the Pojoaque Valley forever and ever and ever," said Albuquerque resident Bernadette Martinez. "We thought that we were just thedescendants of Spaniards that came into New Mexico."

Martinez confirmed she has Jewish blood, through DNA testing three years ago.

Other Hispanics are learning about their ancestry through genetic testing that is also revealing the health threat.

In Denver, Swedish Medical Center geneticist Kelly Topf says:

"We do bring up the fact that this is a mutation that is relatively common in Jewish ancestry."
While many refer to this as the Eastern European breast cancer gene, it is not confined to those individuals. The mutation - 185delAG - affects a gene designed to protect the body from cancer cells, and dates back some 2,000 years to Jews of the Holy Land , long before the community split into Ashkenazi and Sephardic branches.

Women with the mutation are at increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, and men who have it have increased risk of male breast cancer. Both men and women are at risk of colon and pancreatic cancer.

Rosie Trujillo, now of Washington state, whose family settled near Taos, learned in 2000 that she carried the mutation. It confirmed her family was really Sephardic. There's a long history of relatives who have died of breast cancer. Her daughter died of ovarian cancer in 2006.

"We try to spread the word out," Trujillo said. "I try to educate my family members by giving them brochures and by advising them to please, get tested. Don't be afraid."
The story also quotes some who are taking extreme actions when they learned they have the mutation, such as Melissa Martin who learned the testing results in June. She had a double mastectomy and hysterectomy in November, and is seeing the Denver geneticist. Trujillo's cousin also underwent the same procedure.

Very recently the cousin of a friend in New Mexico was diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctor asked the Hispanic family if there was any Ashkenazi or Eastern European heritage.They thought it was a strange question, and asked me. I explained to my friend's family about the gene and that it was just Jewish. I also sent them articles on the discovery - in Colorado's San Luis Valley - of a group of Hispanic women who presented with the gene. Historical and genealogical research proved the original settlers were Sephardic Conversos.

The KRQE site also has the complete 6:14-minute edited video segment, including a bit with Stan Hordes. The raw unedited interviews, on which the story was based, are also at the site.

Catholic Priest Bill Sanchez's erudite 30-minute interview is particularly compelling, as he discusses his family's genealogy, photos of his father wearing a kipah, and the testing of some 280 of his family members and parishiners, of his grandmother placing a menorah in the window and much more. He discusses the secret customs of his grandmother which came down to his mother and aunts and sisters; the round-about stories told to young children, who could not be trusted to keep the family secrets; his father's strange college experience and what he told Sanchez before he died, and a special tablecloth. He mentions the arrival of Ashkenazi Jews in the 1800s to Las Vegas, NM, which was heavily Sephardic and the first synagogue founding.

Ruben Duran's 9-minute interview talks about his 12-year journey and a Jerusalem museum docent who also had the name Duran and explained the family history to him. He also underwent DNA testing after anecdotal evidence in his family grew and eventually traced his connection to a 13th century rabbi.

Bernadette Martinez's 10-minute interview starts off with her genealogy search with her brother and reading Stan Hordes' book, which contained a family name. She found they were tied into six families in the book, and followed that with DNA testing. She's traveled to Israel some 20 times, and now understands her connection.

Rosie Trujillo's nearly 16-minute interview focuses on her family's cancer incidence. She mentions Marie Claire King's project at the University of Washington (Seattle) which has tested her family. From 28 cousins, 14 had cancer. Her father's generation, of 20, there were many cases. King did all their genealogy study and provided charts back to Turkey and that they were Sephardic Jews who came to South America, Mexico and New Mexico; 20 came to southern Colorado. She herself is a 30-year cancer survivor. She tries to educate her family and advising them to get tested. She mentioned that they were likely of Sephardic when they were tested, found the BRCA1, which confirmed their genetic and genealogical connection as Sephardim. Out of 334 on her genetic chart, 42 have been tested. Half of her living relatives have been tested including the fourth and fifth generations as they reach 18 years of age. "Genealogy mixed with genetics confirms everything."

There's a link to the Santa Fe DNA Project at FamilyTreeDna.com, as well as a link to the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

Read the complete article at the KRQE link above and view the videos for much more detail.