31 March 2010

Miami: "I chose life," April 4

Author Mildred Nitzberg - "I Chose Life" - is the speaker at the JGS of Greater Miami's meeting on Sunday, April 4.

The meeting begins at 10am at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, 4200 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami.

Nitzberg's riveting story is about her husband who survived Auschwitz and the Holocaust and his 33-year search to find his missing brother. It also describes how her husband experienced a world of unmitigated evil and yet emerged with his sense of humanity intact.
"I Chose Life draws a picture of the struggle of my husband, Saul I. Nitzberg, M.D., as his privileged and peaceful life in a small town in eastern Poland was shattered by the inferno of World War II. From 1939 to 1945 he experienced life under Russian occupation, the Pruzhany ghetto, and Auschwitz. Following liberation from the concentration camp he worked prodigiously to rebuild his personal and professional life. Yet he was left with a lingering sense of a life not quite fulfilled, a gnawing ache that led him on a daunting journey to the Soviet Union in search of an elusive peace. He sought to find his brother, the sole remaining member of his family. Still unresolved, he returned to Auschwitz to face his nightmare years, to recite the Kaddish at that vast gravesite where his beloved parents were buried."
Nitzberg has been collecting oral histories of survivors for many years, and has spoken to other JGSs, the Miami Book Fair and Meet the Author at the Holocaust Center in Hollywood.

For more information please see her website.

If available, David Hirschorn will also be here to discuss the latest on Yad Vashem. He is also very involved with Pages of Testimony. Guests and friends are always welcome. There is no admission fee.

JGSLA 2010: Full schedule to come soon!

This year is certainly speeding by.

JGSLA 2010 is set for July 11-16 in Los Angeles. The full program will be announced in about a week, so stay tuned for news.

Have you registered? Have you reserved your rooms? Investigated airline tickets? There is even a special limited block of rooms set aside on a low floor for Shabbat-observant attendees. Checking in early? There will be special activities for you!

To keep up with all details and announcements, visit JGSLA 2010. Subscribe to the newsletter and read the conference blog.

Sneak preview:

Professor Vincent Cannato of the University of Massachusetts-Boston will give the Lucille Gudis Memorial Lecture this year, which will focus on his new book: "American Passage: The History of Ellis Island."

The first full history of America’s landmark port of entry from immigration post to deportation center to mythical icon, American Passage captures a time and place unparalleled in American immigration and history.

His work articulates the dramatic and bittersweet accounts of the immigrants, officials, interpreters, and social reformers who all played important roles in Ellis Island's chronicle.

Read about his book here.

Southern California: "Hitler's Hidden Holocaust," April 11

A special screening of "Hitler's Hidden Holocaust," is the program for Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) at a meeting co-sponsored by the Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County, and Temple Adat Elohim, on Sunday, April 11.

The event begins at 1.30pm at Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks.

The documentary is a production of the National Geographic Channel and the American Red Cross Holocaust Tracing Services.

Before the death camps were the killing fields - mass graves of executed men, women and children. The Einsatzgruppen (German word meaning action–groups) became an organized killing machine, roaming through Poland, Ukraine and Belarus, murdering an estimated 1.5 million Jews and partisans, prior to the establishment of concentration camps. The Einsatzgruppen were created to combat those considered hostile to the Reich, including Jews, Communists,and others.

Father Patrick Desbois, author of Holocaust by Bullets, (the story of discovering mass gravesites of Jews exterminated in the Ukraine) is shown interviewing people in the FSU to gather information about the mass killings. The documentary is woven together with harrowing testimonials from survivors, witnesses and experts with rare video footage.

Following the screening, American Red Cross Holocaust Tracing Services-Ventura Chapter's Bob Rich will address the tracing services which research the fate of loved ones missing since the Holocaust and its aftermath. The ARC assists US residents searching for information on themselves, family members, and friends regarding: proof of internment, forced/slave labor, or evacuation from Europe and the former Soviet territories. These services are free and involve partner organizations worldwide.

There is no charge to attend.

For more information and directions, visit the JGSCV site.

WDYTYA: Library feedback and more

Our friend at Ancestry, society partnership manager Suzanne Russo Adams sent Tracing the Tribe some feedback received from libraries and how the Who Do You Think You Are? series is helping them.

Midwest Genealogy Center (Independence, Missouri):

We have seen an increase in foot traffic in our center. We usually don’t start our busy time of year this early. We have had lots of first-time patrons and are handing out many beginning genealogy materials. The television show is hitting people at an emotional level and they, too, want to find out about their ancestry. Our staff has spent many one-on-one hours with these ancestor hunters and has found it to be a rewarding experience.
Denver Public Library (Denver, Colorado):

Denver Public Library has seen a lot of foot traffic in the past few weeks. With the airing of “Who Do You Think You Are?”…our use statistics have spiked. Not only are many of our “regulars” excited by the program but there are many fresh faces coming in full of expectations.
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center (Ohio):

We had a meeting Tuesday night, and one member presented an idea about the “Who Do You Think You Are?” series…. An officer of the Seneca County (OH) Genealogical Society thought we could find 3 – 5 “celebrities” of our county and ask them if they would like us to dig into their genealogy…. After we get permission…[we] will do some research and track down what we can on each individual. Then we would have them come to a meeting of the Society and present our findings to them. We have already discussed this with the local newspaper feature writer and she was interested.
Tracing the Tribe thought this idea was particularly useful, and could be utilized by societies around the world. Ask a local celebrity to participate and get a lot of local publicity!

Suzanne also noted a change in the episode schedule. Here's the new schedule:

April 2 – Brooke Shields
April 9 – Sarah Jessica Parker (Repeat)
April 16 – No episode
April 23 – Susan Sarandon
April 30 – Spike Lee
Here's some info on this week's episode with Brooke Shields:

Brooke Shields’ episode is the most royal of the series, taking viewers to New Jersey, Rome, and Paris. In the episode, Brooke seeks to learn more about her father’s aristocratic roots and to learn the origins of the “Torlonia” family name. Watch for Brooke’s visit to the New Jersey State Archives in Newark and the New York Historical Society.

Check out the
teaser featuring Brooke Shields, and tune into NBC for the full episode on Friday at 8/7c.
Last Week’s Episode – Matthew Broderick

In last week’s episode, award-winning actor and performer Matthew Broderick set out to learn more about his father’s side of the family. Matthew begins his journey by visiting battlefield grounds of north-eastern France, where he finds out his grandfather served as a medic in World War I. Matthew is surprised to learn that through his grandfather’s heroic military sacrifice, he was awarded the Purple Heart and recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross. But Matthew’s military roots don’t stop there. On a trip to Connecticut, Matthew discovers his great-great-grandfather served in the Civil War and fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. The last leg of Matthew’s journey leads him to Marietta, Georgia, where he visits his great-great-grandfather’s grave site and also solves a 150-year-old mystery.
If you missed the episode, watch it here. [CAVEAT: The link doesn't work if your computer is located outside the permitted geographic area of the US and its territories. See Tracing the Tribe's earlier post explaining the limitations. Tracing the Tribe wonders if those in the permitted area can download it to a CD and send out the CD? Is there some sort of tech coding that would prevent such a CD from playing on an "internationally located" computer? Anyone up for the challenge?]

Suzanne also sent along more on Matthew Broderick's episode and how the team of genealogists discovered his military heritage. Here's some insider information:

Go-to resources: U.S. military records, U.S. Federal Census

How they helped

Matthew Broderick knew little about “Joe the postman” – his grandfather – at the start of this family history journey. But a conversation with his own sister provided Matthew with a valuable clue: their quiet, somewhat ill-tempered grandfather served in World War I and was said to have received money because he got “gassed.” What else could Matthew learn about this side of the family – a side that rarely mentioned its past?

Resource #1: 1919 military service record
Searching through military records at the National Archives in New York City, Matthew learns his grandfather was stationed in France and transferred to the medical department while there. But what did Joe do in the war?
Resource #2: Purple Heart citation and Distinguished Service Cross recommendation
On a French battlefield, Matthew learns more about his grandfather’s job in World War I – he tried to save people. Joe the postman was to go through the battlefields and attend to the wounded while waiting for the stretcher bearers and other medical personnel to arrive. Because of an injury sustained while performing his duties, Matthew’s grandfather was awarded a Purple Heart and recommended for a Distinguished Service Cross, neither of which Matthew nor his sister had known about.
Resource #3: 1910 U.S. Federal Census at Ancestry.com

Matthew decides to take a look at the family of Joe’s wife, Mary, as well. In the 1910 census, Mary is living in an orphanage, another fact of which Matthew and his sister were unaware. Orphanage records explain how Mary’s father, William, died in a work-related accident. Were there more stories about the family that this generation could uncover?
Resource #4: 1850 and 1870 U.S. Federal Census

Matthew continues his search for this side of the family through the census. In 1870, great-grandfather William is living in the same house with his mother and siblings. But where is William’s father? Searching the 1860 census turns up no trace of the family, but the 1850 census does. In that year, William is living at home with both his mother and his father, Robert. What happened between 1850 and 1870?
Resource #5: Civil War enlistment record

The 1860s raise a red flag: Civil War. Was Matthew’s great-great-grandfather involved? An index of individuals from Connecticut who served in the Civil War indicates that yes, Robert did serve in the Civil War, and enlistment records for Robert go a step further, giving a physical description of him and his date of enlistment. Civil War service records and muster rolls place Robert in the Battle of Gettysburg, but that wasn’t the end of the line.
Resource #6: Inventory of Effects from Final Statements
An Inventory of Effects offers the final details: Matthew’s great-great-grandfather died at the Battle of Peachtree Creek.
Why didn’t the “gassed” story steer the research off course?
Matthew mentions at the start of the show that it’s easy to lose family history connections when you don’t write them down. But you can also lose the true stories to faulty memory and recounting, which may have been what happened over the years as the tale of Matthew’s grandfather’s military service became progressively fuzzier.

It’s easy to get hung up on the small stuff, but if Matthew had limited his search to battles in which Germans employed chemical warfare in World War I, he may have never discovered the place where his own grandfather was injured. However, using the “gassed” story as a starting point did trigger Matthew’s search into military records and helped Matthew make a very important discovery: that his grandfather was more than Joe the postman – he was also an American military hero.
Check out www.ancestry.com/spreadtheword for materials you can use to tell others about the series.

WDYTYA: Matthew Broderick's story, a caveat

Geneabloggers learn about each WDYTYA episode and the individual research process from Ancestry's PR & Events Manager Anastasia Tyler.

CAVEAT:Tracing the Tribe reminds international viewers that although the episodes will be online at NBC.com until September 18, 2010, the video links do not work for those outside the US and territories. Personally, we believe this is a very shortsighted NBC policy, when so many people around the world are interested in family history. Perhaps Anastasia might want to get involved in rectifying this situation?

The NBC FAQ clearly states:

Can I watch episodes outside the United States?

At this time, full episodes on NBC.com can only be viewed within the United States and the organized U.S. territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Another section reads:

Can I get NBC Direct outside of the United States?

At this time, NBC Direct is only available within the United States and the organized U.S. territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. If you attempt to connect to the service outside these areas, you will not be able to download any new videos but you can download while in the U.S. and view it outside the U.S. until the license has expired.
And, in case you might have thought of asking someone in the permitted areas to download and send you the episodes:
Can I play downloaded videos on any computer?

NBC Direct videos will only play on the computer where the download request originated.
Here's what she provided about Matthew Broderick's episode for vicarious international readers.

Matthew Broderick’s first step in this week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? was to talk to his sister, who shared details about his paternal grandparents and started him on his journey. Information from family members can be priceless when researching family trees, but what happens when family members aren’t immediately accessible? That’s the scenario the research team faced when they started researching Matthew Broderick’s tree.

One of the fantastic things about the format of Who Do You Think You Are? is that the celebrities really are starting out with what they know. We watch them on screen learning information from their families or from records for the first time. Likewise, the research team started out only with the information that the celebrity knew.

A Common Ancestor
For Matthew Broderick’s tree, the researchers had the name of his paternal grandfather – Joseph Broderick – and a few other clues about Joseph’s life. Using these facts, the researchers set out to discover more about Joseph Broderick.

They quickly ran into somewhat of a brick wall. “When we started the research for Matthew’s tree, all we knew was that his paternal grandparents were Joseph Broderick and May Martindale,” says genealogist Krysten Baca of Ancestry.com. “We were quickly stuck; there were many Joseph Brodericks and not enough information to determine who the correct ancestral Joseph was.”

Don’t Overlook Anything
But Matthew was able to provide the research team additional clues – his grandfather Joseph Broderick was a postman in New Hampshire . The occupation was a small, perhaps seemingly insignificant detail, but in this case it broke down the brick wall. Immediately after learning this information, the team found a record for a James Joseph Broderick working in the Post Office in Manchester , New Hampshire .

This record matched Matthew’s tree in three ways: (1) the name Joseph Broderick, (2) the location of New Hampshire , (3) the occupation of postal worker. In addition, Matthew’s father was named James Broderick. Based on these pieces of information, the team hypothesized that James Joseph Broderick was the ancestral Joseph Broderick, Matthew’s grandfather.

Breaking through the Brick Walls
Focusing on this hunch, the researchers looked for additional records about James Joseph Broderick of Manchester , New Hampshire . The records they found matched the few additional details known about the ancestral Joseph Broderick and allowed the researchers to confirm that James Joseph Broderick was indeed Matthew’s paternal grandfather.

The records gave the team another brick-wall-breaking clue – an alternate name for Joseph’s wife. Previously the researchers knew her only as May; the additional records listed her as Mary. This information allowed further discoveries about Mary and her life before she married James Joseph Broderick.

Of course, Matthew’s sister held some of this information all along. But similar to many researchers’ experiences, sometimes research begins before family members can be consulted. “If this case proves anything,” says Krysten, “it’s that even the smallest clue could be the key to unlocking a family tree.”

If you missed this episode, you can watch it online at www.nbc.com/who-do-you-think-you-are - but only if you live in the permitted geographical areas. Some have indicated that the episodes can also be viewed on http://www.hulu.com/, but that site is also unavailable to international viewers.

Holocaust: Czech Jews documentary

Several years ago, when I was still writing "It's All Relative" for the Jerusalem Post, it was my pleasure to meet a young filmmaker and director Lukas Pribyl of Prague.

A detailed story in the Jerusalem Post was the result of our Tel Aviv meetings. Lukas and Jakub shared a Persian dinner at our home. They later traveled to Australia, where my cousins - Bob and Di Conley of Sydney - took good care of them while the young men interviewed more survivors.

Lukas, born in 1973 in Ostrava, was one of the first young Czech students allowed to attend high school and university in the US, following the Velvet Revolution.

He studied at Philips Andover Academy, followed by political science, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and History at Brandeis University, Columbia and Central European University. His interest in World War II and Jewish history resulted in a number of published studies on various chapters of the Holocaust and exhibits in the Jewish Museum in Prague.

Lukas became interested in the Holocaust as a direct result of his own family's experiences (his grandfather survived a little-known camps) and devastation. He spent 10 years researching, photographing and collecting archive material to document exactly what happened to them. It took a long time, but he eventually persuaded almost all the survivors to share their stories. For most of them, it was the first time they had spoken.

The series of four feature-length (90-minute) documentary films on virtually unknown concentration camps and ghettos and little known modes of survival is Lukas's directorial debut.

The four segments have been screened on their own at various venues in the past, but the full six-hour series was shown in its entirety at its US premiere Sunday at the Legacy of Shoah Film Festival (John Jay College, Manhattan). Read Joseph Berger's review of "Survival Tales Told in Snapshots: Czech Jews Enduring the Holocaust" in the New York Times. It details the survivors and how they survived.
The survivors sometimes chuckle as they look back in disbelief. Mr. Pribyl said he felt that survivors had a sense of humor and an optimistic outlook in common. But ultimately, Mr. Pribyl said, his research proved that “the only recipe for survival is to have a lot of goodluck.”
The four segments are "To Poland," To Latvia, To Belarus, and To Estonia.

Two have already won awards: 2008 Academia Film Olomouc - Dějiny a současnost magazine Award for Best Czech Documentary Film in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Forgotten Transports: To Belarus); 2007 Czech Film and Television Association's Trilobit Award for Best Czech Documentary (Forgotten Transports: To Latvia).

He and his team have traveled the world, interviewing the few remaining Czech survivors and hearing their stories.

The segments trace the experiences of 76 of 270 survivors among thousands of Czech Jews deported to rarely-mentioned camps like Jagala and Kaiserwald. The documentary process produced more than 260 hours of interviews, collected in 30 countries. Each tells the story of the people deported to a particular destination, as well as a different method of survival.

Each is based on the experience of Jews sent to virtually unknown camps and ghettos - in Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and the Lublin region of eastern Poland. Almost all of them were sent to places where nearly everyone perished. The locations of Ereda, Maly Trostinec, Salaspils and Sawin don't appear in most Holocaust histories as hardly any people survived to tell what had happened.

Read more about it at the film's website:
It is not just that the tragic events depicted are almost unknown, even to specialist historians. Just as significant is the way they have been recreated. Instead of a detached outsider’s narrative, each film is built from the gripping stories of individual survivors, seen through their own eyes and told entirely in their own words. While they speak only of what they experienced themselves, their impressions weave together to form a poignant picture of ordinary individuals caught up in an era of atrocity and terrible violence. Every detail of what they describe is illustrated and confirmed through contemporary photographs and other visual material, most of it previously unseen, meticulously sourced everywhere from official archives to the garages of former SS men.
The films illuminate a neglected chapter of the Holocaust, as well as spotlight the tactics adopted by people who suffered such persecution and terror. Importantly, those who survived relied on many strategies including self-reliance, family loyalty and solidarity.

According to the website, it is thrilling to hear a handful of elderly survivors - who defied all Nazi attempts to kill them - who still tell their stories. It also reveals much about the sheer lust for life of human beings everywhere.

Check your local film festivals and other venues to see if the segments or the entire series will be screened.

30 March 2010

UK: Manchester conference, May 9

The Eighth Northern Conference of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain is set for Sunday, May 9, in Manchester.

Organized by the JGSGB's Manchester Regional Group, it will take place at the Greater Manchester Police Training College (Prestwich).

In addition to the excellent roster of expert speakers, there will be a display of some outstanding family history research and family trees produced by group members.

See complete details - including detailed speaker bios and topic abstracts - of this year's program in the event newsletter here, including registration form, venue directions and more.

Speakers are:

Anthony Joseph
JGSGB President

-- "In Search of Jewish Ancestry"

Petra Laidlaw
Architect of the 1851 Anglo-Jewry Database

-- "1851 and Manchester"

Elizabeth Wilburn
Greater Manchester Police Museum and Archives

-- "Alien Registration Books"

David Lewis
Assisted with reorganisation/cataloguing, Hull Jewish Archives

-- "Treasures of the Hull Jewish Archives"

John Cowell
Manchester Regional Group committee member

-- "Researching the Preston Jewish Community - surprises and discoveries"

Michael Tobias
JewishGen vice president

-- "JewishGen: Overview of main databases, and how lesser sources can lead to major breakthroughs"
Tickets are £20 for the full day, including refreshments and buffet lunch. The registration form is included in the newsletter. Tracing the Tribe readers who live in or near Manchester should enjoy this full-day event.

Moment Magazine: Passover Fix

Tracing the Tribe loves Moment Magazine for its many interesting stories.

If you are already a subscriber or friend of the mag, you'll be receiving regular roundups, news items and quirky stories noticed by the editors. Readers can sign up for this free newsletter service here.

Mondays will focus on politics; Wednesday, culture; and Friday, religion.

Here's the Pesach special!

The first is on my favorite nostalgic Haggada; the second, a peek at silverscreen seders; and the third, on eyewatering chrein (horseradish). Click on the links below:


Maxwell House started publishing Haggadahs in 1934 to give out free with the purchase of a can of coffee. It’s wide reach into American society “did more to codify Jewish liturgy than any force in history,” says one scholar. Approximately 50 million copies have been printed over the past 75 years. How did the Maxwell House Haggadah come to reign supreme in American Passover Seders for so many decades? Learn the true story in Moment’s intellectual food feast Talk of The Table.

As any movie-goer should know, the Passover-table is the showcase for Jewish dysfunctional families. From Marjorie Morningstar to Woody Allen, Moment’s Film Watch spotlights some great Seder films!

Horseradish has not always come in jars. A Moment writer recalls her grandmother’s horseradish garden and how growing and serving horseradish at the Seder following her death, she commemorates her grandmother’s legacy.
The print/online March/April 2010 issue can be viewed here. Among the stories: An eggplant journey, Matzah Man, Haggadah art, and many others.

Sign up for the free newsletter.

29 March 2010

Catskills Institute: New website, new content

Tracing the Tribe is delighted to announce that the new website of The Catskills Institute, created by Professor Phil Brown - its president - is now ready.

Phil, a Brown University sociology professor, and I met years ago when our daughter attended the school.

He's a Catskills kid whose parents were involved in the White Lake hotel industry, while my grandparents built a large, popular bungalow colony - Kauneonga Park - at the other end of the lake.

He also spoke at the IAJGS New York 2006 conference to a packed room.

Visit the new website here.

The Catskills Institute is very grateful to Brown University for its support through the Scholarly Technology Group and the Center for Digital Scholarship. Elli Mylonas, Ann Caldwell, Robin Ness, and Kerri Hicks spent countless hours developing this new archive and its website.

Thousands of items from the Catskills Institute Archives have been scanned in at high resolution, and accompanying metadata provides much useful background information.

Visitors can now search for all sort of materials by hotel or bungalow colony name, by type of object (e.g. menu, postcard, stationery) or by thumbnail.

Alfred Landis created beautiful drawings of Catskill properties for postcards and a whole section of the site is devoted to Landis' art. We know there was a Landis card for Kauneonga Park but no one seems to have a copy of it.

Catskills "kids" can post comments and queries on the bulletin board - no telling whom you might find from your childhood summers in the mountains!

Phil and many others have created this new archive and website which preserves the legacy of the Jewish Catskills. So many of us grew up there, either as annual summer visitors from the city or as year-round residents. Geneabloggers.com's Thomas MacEntee grew up in Liberty, not far from Kauneonga Lake.

There are plans to keep adding more material, so donations are always in order to provide for the addition of many additional origial materials and make more resources accessible.

Take a look at the site and leave a comment, ask a question, enjoy the site and its resources.

Library of Congress: Indian, Israeli book talk, March 31

"Being Indian, Being Israeli: Migration, Ethnicity and Gender in the Jewish Homeland" is the title of a book talk by Maina Chawla Singh on Wednesday, March 31.

The event begins at noon in the Asian Reading Room Foyer in the Jefferson Building.

In contemporary Israel, the bulk of Indian Jews live in Israeli periphery, where they were settled by the state from the 1950s to early 1970s.

For the first time, this book presents a deeply researched analysis of three Jewish communities from India, studying them holistically as Indian-Israelis with shared histories of migration, acculturation and identity in the Jewish Homeland.

Based on fieldwork and ethnographic research conducted 2005-2008 among Indian Jews across Israel, the book reflects the authors deep engagement and familiarity with Israeli society and the complexities of ethnicity and class that underlie the cleavages within Israeli Jewish society.

Maina Chawla Singh is Associate Professor, University of Delhi. From 2005-2008, she researched and lectured at Bar Ilan, Haifa and Tel Aviv universities. In 2008, she was Scholar-in-Residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and, in 2009, was a Fellow at Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, Brandeis University. Currently, she is Scholar-in-Residence at American University, Washington DC.

The talk is sponsored by the LOC's Asian Division, the Asian Division Friends Society and the Embassy of India.

For more information, send an email.

28 March 2010

JewishGen: ShteLinks additions

Check out these geographic locations below. Are any of them part of your unique family history?

If so, view the pages, contact the site creator or compiler and add your family's information. This is one way to create a living memorial to your ancestors.
(NOTE: N=new site, U=updated)

Baligrod (N)
Created: Maurice I. Kessler
Webmaster: Arie Schwartz.

Ilza (Drildz) (N)
Created: Barbara Sontz

Debrecen (N)
Compiled: Eugene Katz
Created/Webpage Design: Marshall J. Katz

Tiszafured (N)
Compiled: Dr. Agnes (nee Szego) Orbanne
Created/Webpage Design: Marshall J. Katz

Hodmezovasarhely (U)

Iasi (N)
Created: Robert Zavos

Lackenbach (Lakompak) (U)
You, too, can create a new ShtetLinks webpage for your ancestral shtetl or adopt an existing page that has been "orphaned" and requires a dedicated person to maintain it.

If you are interested in starting such a project but need help with website design, a team of volunteers is available to help you.

For more information, send an email.

Tracing the Tribe is always available to ShtelLink site creators to help the Jewish genealogy world learn about your project and find more descendants who may wish to get involved.

27 March 2010

Tracing the Tribe is back!!!

Hello, loyal readers.

Tracing the Tribe arrived back in the early hours of Friday morning and has spent two days recovering from jet lag.

Tons of things piled up to work on, so expect a busy week - despite the holiday!

Enjoy your Passover holiday with your family and friends.

-- Make your favorite ethnic Passover dishes.

-- Remember to talk about your own family's unique journey geographically to where you live today. Recall your ancestors, talk about their experiences.

-- Involve the younger generations.

-- When you gather for your seders, also make time to go over family photographs.

-- Ask your seder guests to each bring an old family photo (a copy, please, as wine stains don't really improve old photos) for "show and tell."

-- Try various means to transmit your family's journey: Maps, photos, names, dates, countries, photos of ships that your family traveled on to wherever they went, funny stories and more.

-- Tell Tracing the Tribe about your seder experiences in the comment section. Share your nostalgia, the good times and the sad.

-- Remember to take pictures of your seders and everyone who attends them, video as well as still photos. It's a good holiday habit to get into!

With best wishes to all my readers
at this very special time of year,


25 March 2010

Hong Kong: On a clear day....

Doesn't it always happen like this?

You visit a new place and weather conditions are such that you can't see more than a few buildings down the road. Then, on the last day, everything is beautiful and clear.

On both my visits, I could barely see the harbor from the hotel window. Today, I could see the hills on the far side.

At least I have this great shot!

Hong Kong has been a great experience and I am grateful to the Jewish Community Center events committee for making it happen. Mira, Tara, Erica, Howard and everyone else were most gracious and very kind.

This trip afforded many opportunities to talk genealogy with so many diverse individuals and I hope that they may go on searching their own ancestry, whatever it might be.

My visit to Australia was a dream come true as well. Ziva and Sam Fain were very caring hosts and it was hard to tear myself away from them (and the two dogs); the conference was excellent and I thank everyone on the committee who made it possible.

Meeting my Melbourne cousins from Bobruisk (Alex, Jenny, Nelly, Leon, Fleur) was a wonderful experience, and my Sydney cousins Bob and Di were delightful, as usual.

Meeting up with geneablogging colleague Randy Seaver and his wife just added to the overall good memories of Sydney. That's Randy and me on beautiful Manley Beach (right).

It was a great pleasure making in-person connections with gen colleagues Kerry Farmer and Carole Riley in Sydney, and finally meeting Linde Wolters, a member of MyHeritage.com's farflung family.

I will always remember the great people I met on this trip, talking genealogy in two countries and with fellow passengers. I'd like to travel there again for the Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival in November. We'll see!

For now, it is back to Tel Aviv tonight, attempt to get ready for Pesach, and to catch up on a huge pile of work for upcoming conferences and other events.

Tracing the Tribe wishes a Happy Pesach to all readers who celebrate this special holiday.

24 March 2010

WDYTYA: Back to Belarus with Lisa

From Suzanne Russo Adams at Ancestry.com, comes a detailed report on March 19's episode on Lisa Kudrow and her search for information in Belarus and Poland:

Kudrow's episode was one of the most riveting of the series, says Suzanne. In it, Lisa visits the small shtetl of Ilya, Belarus, where her great-grandmother was murdered during the Holocaust.

Lisa’s father, Dr. Lee Kudrow, always wondered what happened to Yuri, a cousin who had escaped to Poland and who told about Lisa’s great-grandmother’s death. Yuri was never heard from again.

On a visit to Gdynia, Poland, to discover Yuri’s true fate, Lisa is shocked to learn that Yuri was still alive! Despite the tragic history, there is a beautiful reunion between two families separated by the Holocaust.

If you missed the episode, watch it here. (CAVEAT: Unfortunately, the link only works in the US, and not in Hong Kong or Australia, where I most recently attempted to watch it via online links.)

Suzanne provides tips (additional comments by Tracing the Tribe are included) for those curious about how the team of genealogists for this episode found out more about Lisa's Jewish family.

Here are resources to help newcomers better understand Jewish family history research.

Go-to resources: U.S. passenger lists, Yad Vashem, Ancestry.com, JewishGen.org

How they helped: Lisa Kudrow’s US family heard about her great-grandmother's death from a cousin named Yuri who visited Lisa’s dad and grandmother in the late 1940s. Lisa's research goal is to discover where her great-grandmother was buried and learn more about Yuri. Her visit to Belarus and online resources help her achieve that goal.

Resource #1: List of Jews murdered in Ilya massacre
Lisa’s family knew her great-grandmother was killed, but through a list of victims in Ilya, she sees the proof. Written next to her name are the words “killed and burned.”

Resource #2: Yizkor book: "A Tale of Struggling, Toil, and Tears," by David Rubin
While visiting Ilya, Lisa reviews a translated Yizkor (memorial) book about the massacre of 900 Jews in March 1942. The town’s Jewish population came to an end that day. Lisa walks the same path her great-grandmother was forced to walk 68 years ago. At the gravesite is a memorial to the murdered Jews.

Resource #3: Passenger list
Looking for some positive news on her trip, Lisa turns her search toward the one relative she knows survived – Yuri - who visited her father in the late 1940s. An Ancestry passenger list shows a man with the same surname but the given name Boleslaw. Are Yuri and Boleslaw the same person?

Resource #4: Registry card
In Gdynia , Poland, Lisa sees Boleslaw’s city registry card. Yuri changed his name to a Polish name for assimilation. His wife and son are registered.

Resource #5: Phone directory
The phone director lists Boleslaw, who is still alive.

Weren’t Eastern European records all destroyed?
The records from Eastern Europe that Lisa’s family found aren’t uncommon. Although millions of Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, records did survive.

Are you following US Jewish lines? Follow step -by-step through the US, including census records, passenger lists, citizenship records, vital records and more at various sites such as Ancestry and Footnote.com. Once you've found all the US records, then jump to European records.

Learn about your family's towns and villages, immigration data and clues to other relatives.

Check out sites such as JewishGen for a town's Yizkor book or its Special Interest Groups (SIGs), Yad Vashem for other Holocaust-related documents, Ancestry's holdings, Footnote.com's Holocaust collection (and other records), the Ancestry.com Jewish Family History Collection, and, of course, Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog.

Never give up, and keep searching.

Israel: JFRA, IGS merge

Tracing the Tribe previously noted the merger of the Israel Genealogical Society and the Jewish Family Research Association as of January.

Here is the official announcement by IGS president Michael Goldstein and JFRA president Ingrid Rockberger:

Michael Goldstein, President of the Israel Genealogical Society (IGS) and Ingrid Rockberger, President of Jewish Family Research Association, Israel (JFRA) are delighted to announce the merger of their two societies.

The joint organization now has 10 branches throughout Israel and will be pooling all its resources to further genealogical services and activities in Israel and to create a large, vibrant and forward-looking society.

A wide range of programs is now available in both Hebrew and English - with other language groups being planned.

The annual one-day seminar is being expanded and plans are already underway for the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Israel in July 2014.

The society will be pleased to welcome guests from abroad at our meetings, which are posted on our website.

We also invite speakers visiting Israel to give a lecture or presentation at one of our branches. Please contact us in advance so we can coordinate date and location.

The organization will continue to be known as the Israel Genealogical Society (IGS) in English. [NOTE: The merger is reflected in the organization's Hebrew name]

Wishing everyone a Happy Pesach,
Michael Goldstein
Ingrid Rockberger
Tracing the Tribe looks forward to this new endeavor.

22 March 2010

Passover: The perfect genealogy holiday!

As we read the Haggada during our seders, we are reminded that each of us is considered to have come out of Egypt into the Land of Israel.

For many of our families, it was only one stop on the immigration trail.

If our ancestors had not left their homes in many countries, we might not be here today celebrating this ancient holiday.

Here are two resources to consider for this holiday.

Looking for a way to bring some humor into your seder?

Jacob Richman has a list of 108 Passover YouTube videos at his website. It runs from serious to wacky to satiric to just fun - with something for everyone. Here are some of them:
Matzo Man
Matzah Madness
The Passover Seder Symbols Song
20 Things To Do With Matzah
Ask Moses: Why eat Matzah on Passover?
Who Let The Jews Out
Passover Blues
Get Down with Moses
Japanese Passover Tip
The Story of Passover in 7 minutes
Ofra Haza - Deliver Us
Shlock Rock - "Seder Too"
Moshe's Rap
The Gefilte Fish Chronicles
Passover Recipe - Kosher Brownies
The Aviv Matzha Story
The Barry Sisters Tribute - Passover Yiddish Medley
Sixty Second Seder
Aish: The Great Escape
Dayeinu (Hebrew, Sephardi)
Hand Made Matza Baking with David Sussman
Chad Gadya in Hebrew, Chava Alberstein
Had Gadya in Arabic (Moroccan singer)
Chad Gadya in Yiddish by Moishe Oysher
For a cyber exhibit of non-traditional Haggadot from the National Library of Israel, click here. Unfortunately, I can only find the section in Hebrew. However, there is a number on the right for each of the 28 items. Click on each and view the online exhibit or hit the PDF file on the right for each and see the Haggada that way, page by page. Videos and songs are lower down on the list.

Since the early 20th century, there has been a shift to non-traditional Haggadah - the text that provides the order of the Passover seder - which uses only some of the traditional text and has various additions.

It reflects changes in society, culture, Jewish history, new trends, the creation of Israel and more.

The Library has more than 600 non-traditional Haggadot. Of these, 28 have been chosen for the online exhibit. They represent various types: kibbutzim, youth movements, the Jewish Brigade, satirical Haggadot etc.

It also includes videos (kibbutz Passover and Omer ceremony) and recordings of seder songs.

Enjoy! And search previous Passover postings here on Tracing the Tribe.

21 March 2010

DNA: Disease analysis or genealogy?

According to a New York Times article, analyzing DNA for disease risk isn't as popular as its providers thought it might be.

There's a big difference between those consumer segments who participate in genetic genealogy testing rather than disease analysis.

Andrew Pollack's story focused on 23&Me but also mentioned Navigenics and DeCode Genetics, in the article which discussed the lack of paying customers and small numbers of paying customers.

Connected to Google by both love and money, 23andMe seems the epitome of a 21st-century company — a cutting-edge merging of biotechnology and the Internet, with a dash of celebrity thrown in.

The scarce ingredient so far is customers.
23&Me is the most prominent, founded in 2007 by the wife (Anne Wojcicki) of Google's cofounder Sergey Brin. It launched with celebrity "spit parties" to market personal genomics services. Individuals' DNA is scanned and promises to provide the risks for developing many diseases.

However, 23&Me has gone through two series of layoffs (from 70 to 40 employees). According to the story, it has only 35,000 customers and about 25% were tested for free or $25. Normally the teats run from $300-2,000. The other two companies mentioned have even fewer customer.

Professional geneticists call it a "wonderful form of recreation," but that its practical value is "premature."

On its third CEO in a year, Navigenics has had layoffs and now sells to doctors and corporate wellness programs instead of the public. Insiders say there are only about 20,000 customers, and 5,000 received large discounts to participate.

DeCode Genetics only attracted fewer than 10,000 customers to its personal genomics service, and went through bankruptcy.

Read the complete story at the link above for more.

Archives, records, libraries: Finding resources

My current travels have contributed to a dearth of resource investigations. However, our Geneablogger colleague Amy Coffin is producing a series of prompts called 52 Weeks To Better Genealogy.

I couldn't resist Challenge 12: Check out the web sites for the Society of American Archivists, ARMA International, and the American Library Association.

Genealogists can benefit from the educational opportunities and publications of other information-based organizations. You may not be an archivist, records manager or librarian, but you share the same interests. Look at the events these associations hold. Find the books they publish and see if you can request them through your library via Inter-Library Loan.

You may also want to check out your state’s (or country’s) library association. If you’re a genealogy blogger, write about your impressions of one or more of these organizations.

After a long trip from Melbourne to Hong Kong on Sunday, I grabbed some dinner and then had a good sleep. This morning, I'm rested and up for Amy's challenge.

Each of the organizations she named holds information for individual genealogists and family history researchers as well as genealogical and historical societies.

The Society of American Archivists holds an annual conference at which diverse topics are presented. At the 2009 event, held in August in Chicago, some of these topics (online with slides, abstracts, presenter bios and more) may well interest individual researchers as well as Jewish genealogical and historical societies.

For example, Audra Eagle (Forsyth County Public Library, Winston-Salem, North Carolina) presented "Sharing for the Greater Good: Outreach and collaboration from the perspective of community-based archives."

The presentation (slides, abstract and bio are online) focused on collaborative efforts by larger archives from the perspective of a community-based archives and local history collection. Methods for and approaches to outreach were discussed, and centered on contacting and collaborating with organizations to create better access to community-based primary sources.

A slide showing the collaboration across collaboration, education and funding was of great interest in demonstrating how the community-based archives can be introduced to a larger audience.

Collaboration: Shared programming at public events, shared materials (traveling archives, inter-archival loan), Archival deposits (storage off-site), alliances (regional networks, roundtables, etc.).

Education: Training manuals, local workshops, continuing education, resources (websites, regional centedrs), and standards.

Funding: Government grants, memberships.
Perhaps the most important aspects under funding were supportive activities, such as digitization projects, educational programs, shared publications and collaborative efforts.

Stressed were the C's: Contact, Cooperation, Coordination, Collaboration and Convergence, as well as understanding how each impacts investment, risk and benefit.

Interesting quote:

"[A] people cannot truly be masters of their own history and understand their identity unless they have access to their records." (Jeannette Bastian, "Owning Memory: How a Caribbean Community Lost Its Archives and Found Its History," 84)
Also relevant was the discussion of how acquisition of local collections by larger archives and special collections departments can lead to cultural displacement, leaving some material inaccessible through what can be termed "territorial" issues. Transferring of materials also leads to backlogs during which materials cannot be accessed by those who need them.

Eagle provided information on how The North Carolina Room at Forsyth County Public Library benefits from collaborative efforts of larger repositories to educate staff and share resources allowing local archival resources to remain in community hands.

Tracing the Tribe enjoyed reading how two large digitization grants (to Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Digital Forsyth and North Carolina Maps) provided resources for collaboration with smaller repositories.

Importantly, through sharing technical resources, equipment, and expertise without attempting to acquire archival materials for their own collections, the large repositories are helping to preserve the community's cultural assets and to respect the value of materials remaining in geographic and cultural context.

Two other notable presentations:

-- The University of Michigan's Paul Conway presented "How do Experts use Digitized Photographs?" Included was information on types of users (scholar, avocation, occupation), as well as the classes of users, such as serious challenging users, and their motivations (affiliations, process and outcome) and photo-based projects. There is an accompanying list of references and a bibliography for those interested in more on this field.

-- Sam Meister's "Recordkeeping in a Small Non-Profit Organization," which focused on how a recordkeeping system can be implemented in a limited resource environment. It addressed such actions as investigate, analyze, identify, assess, strategize, design, implement, and review.

ARMA International was established in 1955, and has some 11,000 members representing records managers, archivists, corporate librarians, imaging specialists, legal professionals, IT managers, consultants and educators who work in many industries, such as government, legal, healthcare, financial services, and petroleum in the US, Canada, and 30-plus other countries.

It also publishes bi-monthly the only professional journal - Information Management Magazine - for these individuals, and organizes annual conferences.

It offers webinars, podcasts and more that could prove valuable to keepers of records.

The American Library Association's mission is to promote library service and librarianship, and to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship to enhance learning and ensure access to information.

Its website resources include the program guide to the last midwinter ALA meeting in January 2010, in Boston. The daily schedule begins on page 68 and runs through page 87.

You thought the annual IAJGS conferences were busy? Check out this one held in simulltaneous multiple venues which covered an enormous range of resources and information!

Holocaust: Galician deportation films now online

The Museum of Family History's Film Series short films will be online through April 4.

The first film incorporates three geographic locations; one is allegedly a Galician village during he war. The last 90 seconds appears to be the deportation from the Lodz Ghetto.

Steve Lasky of the Museum of Family History is asking Tracing the Tribe readers for confirmation of these details:

"While watching the end of this film, I felt that I was in the railroad car as people were boarding.

"It's one thing to read about the deportations, or see still photos, or even see films about the Lodz Ghetto, but another to see actual footage.

"I am hoping that someone who once lived in these areas or is otherwise familiar with the landmarks in these towns will be able to identify the town."
If you can do this for Steve, he will send another post and inform everyone.

Also, while it is unlikely that readers may recognize anyone in the film, one never knows, so do take a look.

The 8 1/2-minute clip name is "Deportations of Jews" (aka "Deportation to the Death Camps"), and was allegedly shot by a Nazi cameraman.

The second film is 3 1/2-minutes and shows deportation of Jews to the Krakow Ghetto. The title is "Deportation to the Krakow Ghetto."

Take a look at both clips. If you can help Steve, send him an email. You can also access Steve's blog.

19 March 2010

Kangaroos, koalas and wombats - Oh my!

This non-genealogical morning was devoted to Australia's unusual animals.

My first animal encounter (below) was with a joey - a baby kangaroo - named Blossom.

What did I see? Kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos, echidnia (porcupine-ish), wombats, emus, many colorful birds and many koalas, of course. There was a strange white long-feathered white chicken.

Koalas were next up.

Sorry I didn't get this one's name (right).

There were lots of free-hopping wallabies, which are a smaller marsupial than kangaroos. Visitors can buy ice-cream cones filled with their feed.

Not sure what this bird is called.

However, he sports yellow feathers on his head which look exactly like a long blonde wig - kind of a rocker bird.

Fairy penguins - the smallest variety - were enjoying the water today - except for these two!

Australia: Visiting Sydney, Day 1

Ziva drove me to the airport, before dawn, to catch an early morning flight to Sydney to see my cousins.

Bob and Di met me at the airport and, since time was so limited, they drove me around to get a feeling for this beautiful city. The weather was sunny and breezy and Bob shared his love for the city where he has lived for more than three decades.

For lunch, we went to the Sydney Fish Market for fish and chips. An amazing building full of fresh everything that can say "glub glub."

Some of them were still speaking!

Name a creature of the water and it is on ice or in a tank somewhere here. There are also other kiosks inside (sushi and more).

At 2pm, Bob and Di dropped me off at the Kent Street site of the Society of Australian Genealogists, where I met the SAG program director Carole Riley, a GenClass.com colleague Kerry Farmer and MyHeritage.com's Linde Wolters (who lives in Sydney). From left, Carole, Kerry and Linde:

We had a quick tour of the excellent facilities, library (there is another archive offsite), talked genealogy - what else? - and went for refreshment to the cafe across the street. First it was 3.20pm and the next time we checked it was 4pm. If I wasn't being picked up by my cousins, we could have gone for several more hours.

For dinner, we went to a Lebanese restaurant with our cousins' friends and had a great time talking genealogy, DNA and much more.

Tomorrow, say my cousins, I'll get to see koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, emus and other unusual animals. Looking forward to that!

18 March 2010

Vienna: Searching JASSNIGER

At the Bendigo Famiy History Expo, attendee Margaret Brown told me about her JASSNIGER relatives from Vienna, and even went home to bring me the birth and death certificates.

Click on each image to see them better. Each holds detailed information on various individuas, including maiden names of mother and grandmother, etc.

If you are researching Margaret's father's rare name, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with her. Some dozen burials are in Vienna; she knows there was a US branch but has not yet checked for it.

16 March 2010

Australia: Bendigo family history expo

On Sunday, we drove up to Gold Rush country for the Bendigo Family History Expo, visited the famous Hanging Rock, saw my first wallaby, and saw the view from Mt. Macedon (left).

The easy ride from Melbourne went through gently rolling green hills, populated by cows, sheep and horses. There were many wineries, historic towns and mineral springs along the way, but no time, unfortunately, to stop and smell the grapes!

At the expo, there were some 60 experts, local groups and societies filling a large hall at the Bendigo Leisure Center (community center, in the US), but there were no classes or workshops as is usual at similar US events There was a steady stream of visitors all day.

Within 15 minutes of putting up two signs (Jewish Research and MyHeritage.com), and starting a MyHeritage overview looping powerpoint presentation, several people had come over to ask questions about both.

Questions included where to find more information about the families SIMEON (Liverpool, UK) and ISRAELOWITZ (Melbourne), while others shared information about postcards from Israel (pre-state)brought back by fathers and grandfathers who had served in the British and Australian armies.

I learned about Jews who had settled in Avoca, a small area community, and met a man who carried his 13,000-name family tree on his iPhone (using Reunion software).

One young woman stopped by to ask about her great-grandparents named ENGLANDER and MOVRIN (both from Germany). I offered various websites for her to access.

Margaret Brown told me about her JASSNIGER relatives from Vienna (see separate post).

Unfortunately, there was no Internet access at the expo or I could have helped more people directly.

As people came up and asked questions, I wrote down websites for them to access at home, including JewishGen and its many components, Ancestry and others. All public libraries in Victoria carry the Ancestry Library Edition, making it easier for researchers.

Here's my first in-person long-distance wallaby (left). A mob of them were eating grass at the Hanging Rock racecourse.

New York: Jewish Polish tavernkeepers, March 23

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research will host a seminar on "Jewish Tavernkeepers and Liquor Traders in 19th century Poland," at the Center of Jewish History on Tuesday, March 23.

Meet the faculty at 6pm; the program begins at 6.30pm. Advance registration is required.

Speakers are:

-- Sarah Lawrence College Professor of Judaic Studies Glenn Dynner, author of "Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society (Oxford University Press, 2006). Dynner spoke on that book at the New York 2006 IAJGS conference

-- Bar Ilan University Professor Jewish History Moshe Rosman, who is the Horace Goldsmith Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at Yale University.

According to YIVO's description of the event:

By the end of the 18th century, Jews comprised the vast majority of tavernkeepers in Poland-Lithuania, leasing taverns and distilleries from the nobility. According to most historians, Polish Jews were driven out of the liquor trade over the course of the next century.

Yet 19th-century archival sources, including an invaluable collection of personal petitions (kvitlakh) sent to R. Eliyahu Guttmacher, housed in the YIVO Archives, provide evidence of the continued existence of Polish Jewish liquor traders, both open and surreptitious.

The involvement of Jews in this sector of the Polish economy during this later period points to the fact that traces of the feudal economic system survived amidst a period of rapid industrialization and modernization.

While Jewish tavernkeeping was vigorously opposed by powerful groups in Polish society, one crucial group continued to provide them with cover: the very local Christians they were accused of victimizing. This talk analyzes the robust but technically illegal Polish Jewish liquor trade during the 19th century.

Dynner teaches Judaic Studies at Sarah Lawrence College and is author of Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society (Oxford University Press, 2006). He is the latest recipient of the YIVO Workmen's Circle/Dr. Emanuel Patt Visiting Professorship, as well as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University. Currently, he is writing a monograph on the subject of Jews in the Polish liquor trade. He is also editor of a forthcoming book on Jewish and Christian mysticism in Eastern Europe. Dynner holds a BA and PhD (Brandeis University), and an MA (McGill University).

Rosman is professor in the Department of Jewish History, Bar Ilan University in Israel and currently serves as the Horace Goldsmith Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies, Yale University. He has conducted extensive research in Eastern European archives on the social and economic history of the Jews in early modern Poland and specializes in integrating Jewish, Polish, and other sources. His books include "The Lords' Jews: Jews and Magnates in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth" (Harvard 1990, Polish National Library 2005); "Founder of Hasidism: A Quest for the Historical Ba’al Shem Tov" (University of California 1996, Shazar Center, Jerusalem 2000); and "How Jewish Is Jewish History?" (Littman Library, Oxford 2007). His latest research project is a history of Jewish women in Poland.

The Center for Jewish History is located at 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY.

New York: Sephardic Research with Jeff Malka, March 21

Sephardic research expert and author Dr. Jeffrey S. Malka will speak at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island (New York) on Sunday, March 21.

The program is set for 2pm at the Mid-island Y-JCC, 45 Manetto Hill Road, Plainview.

Whether you have Sephardic roots or not, you'll enjoy Jeff's expert knowledge in this field. When he spoke in Barcelona, Spain a few years ago, more than 100 people of all backgrounds attended, including Tracing the Tribe.

An American pioneer of Sephardic genealogy, he'll offer an overview of Sephardic genealogy resources, how Sephardic names have evolved, their importance in archival research, review of pre-Expulsion Spanish archives, Inquisition archives and other Spanish notarial documents.

The creator of SephardicGen.com - an essential site for Sephardic researchers - and author of the award-winning book (Avotaynu, revised/expanded second edition, 2009) "Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering your Sephardic Ancestors and their World," Jeff is descended from a long line of rabbis back to 14th century. His grandfather was the chief rabbi of Sudan (1906-1949).

As most Sephardi researchers know, the tools and resources for Sephardi genealogy differ from those for Ashkenazi research. Languages, countries, available records are different, as well as the places to which they immigrated. Time and historical events impacting Sephardi research mean that different methodology is required in different countries and at different times.

Contemporary research has shown that Sephardim immigrated to Eastern Europe in larger numbers than previously thought, and DNA genetic genealogy has shown the links between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, confirming the stories in numerous Eastern European families who passed down Sephardic oral histories.

Although Sephardim, like Ashkenazim, were impacted by the Holocaust, other historical events, such as the Inquisition and 1492 Exile, must also be investigated.

Jeff authored several Sephardic genealogy articles in Etsi, the Journal of the Sephardi Genealogical and Historical Society, and several chapters in the Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy. He has spoken at several IAJGS conferences, at the Library of Congress, to many Jewish genealogical societies and internationally (US, Canada, Spain, Istanbul).

A retired orthopedic surgeon, Jeff was an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Georgetown University, and chairman of the Inova Fairfax Hospital (Virginia) department of orthopedic surgery.

15 March 2010

Israel: WDYTYA producer speaks

Yes, there's a lot of buzz about the US-version of WDYTYA. But another series - the Israeli version is also screening now.

On March 9, the local Jewish Family Research Association/Israel Genealogical Society branch in Ra'anana hosted director Zafrir Kochanowsky of the six-episode Israeli version, shown on Thursday evenings.

He explained that "it was not easy" to get subjects. The program planners and researchers wanted people with a variety of backgrounds and a mixture of men and women.

As in the UK and US versions, well-known personalities were approached. However, some 85% of the Israeli celebs refused!

Eventually, six people agreed and research was done mainly in Russia, Poland, Hungary and Germany. Each person was taken on a "roots trail," resulting in some cases with the discovery of documents written in ancestors' handwriting and, in others, discovering previously unknown living family members.

One of the biggest problems was keeping everything a secret. Although Israel is so security-minded, word travels fast in this small country.

The producers wanted to maintain the "surprise" element; when the personalities set off from Ben Gurion Airport, they didn't know where they were going or what they were going to find!

Genealogical assistance to the series was provided by Arnon Hershkovitz, who moderates an on-line Hebrew Family Roots forum.

Kochanowsky announced that plans to produce a DVD of the episodes - with English subtitles - are in the pipeline.

Thanks to JFRA/IGS' Ingrid Rockberger for this report.

We'll report on the availability of the DVD as soon as we learn more.

14 March 2010

Webinar: Make the most of a gen conference, March 27

Are you a first-timer planning to attend a genealogy conference? If so, don't miss this free expert webinar on Saturday, March 27.

Participating in a large-scale event can be overwhelming if you don't know what to expect or what to do.

Whether you'll be attending the Southern California Jamboree, the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, or any other gen conference, learn how to get the most out of such an event.

After all, you're making an investment of your time and money!

George C. Morgan of The Genealogy Guys Podcast will present a free webinar to help you get the most out of any genealogy conference - one of the best ways to enhance your research skills, learn new techniques, resources and strategies for finding ancestors.

It may even provide new ideas to those who have attended conferences in the past.

George will cover the folowing:

-- Registering for the conference

-- Planning your conference schedule

-- Planning your attack on the exhibit hall (from preliminary research on company websites to a shopping list)

-- Utilizing the program and syllabus in the best use

-- Networking and socializing to make connections

-- Encouraging cousins to attend.

-- Travel arrangements
George will also provide activity suggestions once your at the conference: meeting other attendees, arranging one-on-one time with favorite speakers, and how to work exhibit hal vendors to gather new information.

The original broadcast of the March 27 webinar is limited to 100 "live" attendees, but the program will be available for download or viewing anytime at the Southern California Genealogical Society.

"How to Get the Most out of a Genealogy Conference" is set for Saturday, March 27, from 10-11am PDT. Register here. After registration, you'll receive a confirmation email with detailed information on how to participate.

13 March 2010

Footnote: Free census access ... for awhile!

Footnote.com is making all of its US census documents accessible for free for a limited time.

No end date was announced, and the Interactive Census Collection is available to all after a simple registration.

According to Footnote.com, this collection provides a unique ability to connect people related to ancestors found on the historical documents. By clicking the “I’m Related” button for a name on the document will identify you as a descendant and also list others that have done the same.

Click here to get started, and you too may find a record bearing an ancestor's name and your own personal connection to the past.

Interactive tools on Footnote allow viewers to enhance documents and add photos, stories, comments and other records.

Each contribution from a Footnote member means that people can find each other and connect to exchange information about their mutual ancestors.

Footnote CEO Russell Wilding says, “TV programs including ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ on NBC and ‘Faces of America’ on PBS will surely increase the interest in family history in the United States.”

He believes that the interactive census collection is a great way to get started for newcomers to family history research.

If you haven't checked out Footnote.com recently, there are now 63 million historical records, including military documents, historical newspapers, city directories and naturalization records.

Check out the census collection for free now - you just might find some interesting connections!