31 October 2010

Southern California: Polish Jewish research, Nov. 8

Learn about Polish Jewish research at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Conejo Valley on Monday, November 8, in Thousand Oaks, California.
The program begins at 7pm at Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive.

Warren Blatt - JewishGen's managing director and editor-in-chief - will speak.

He will provide a general overview and introduction to researching Polish-Jewish ancestry. It will include: a history of Polish border changes, geography and place-name changes; how to find and locate your ancestral shtetl and historical information; the vital records-keeping system in Poland; how to find and translate birth, marriage and death records; Polish Jewish surnames and given names, language spelling and grammar issues; Yizkor books and landsmanschaftn; business directories; Polish Archives and Civil Registration Offices; using Mormon microfilms, Internet sources, and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) for Jewish genealogical research in Poland.

Also, Phoebe Frank, a JGSCV founding member, will demonstrate how she reproduced a 100-year-old challah cover for family members to use on Shabbat, in "Preserving heirlooms for future generations."
There is no fee to attend the meeting. For more information, send an email or see the JGSCV website.

Hungary, Austria: 'Spirit of Gradisce' website

Areas of western Hungary have been part of Austria since 1921. A website offers Jewish history and information about this geographical region.

Established by the former editor of the American Burgenland Bunch Newsletter - Hannes Graf - the website, Spirit of Gradisce, provides articles and stories about this region prior to and through the events of the Holocaust.

Sections include:

-- Jewish Lackenbach
-- Jewish Frauenkirchen
-- Jewish Kittsee
-- Jewish History Burgenland
-- Jewish Gattendorf
-- Destroyed Jewish Communities

The setions are interesting and provide much on the Jewish history of these places through the events of the Holocaust. Those with ancestral roots in this area should find information helpful to their general knowledge.

Visit the site at the link above for more.

30 October 2010

Connecticut: Memories of Romania, Nov. 7

Professor Mihai Grunfeld will discuss his book "Leaving: Memories of Romania," at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Connecticut on Sunday, November 7.

The meeting begins at 1.30pm at the Godfrey Memorial Library, 134 Newfield Street, Middletown.

Grunfeld is a professor of Latin American literature and Spanish language at Vassar College.

His book is the story of his childhood as the son of Holocaust survivors, an of experiences that propelled his escape from Romania in 1969. Before settling in the US, he lived in Israel, Italy, Sweden, Canada and South America.

His parents were unable to talk about their experiences in the concentration camps, but their lives, and the lives of their two sons, were decisively shaped by the untold stories. Grunfeld will talk about how the process of writing served to break the silence and begin the healing of the past.

For more information and directions, click on the JGS of Connecticut website. Formed in 1998, the society's library is housed at the Godfrey. JGSCT members may borrow items from the collection of books, periodicals, and audio and visual resources.

Florida: Internet goldmines for genealogists, Nov. 10

Gerald Naditch will present “Internet Goldmines for Genealogists” at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County on Wednesday, November 10.

The day begins with the Poland Special Interest Group from 11.30am–12.15 pm, a brick wall session at 12.30pm and the main program at 1pm, at the South County Civic Center, 16700 Jog Road, Delray Beach.

The presentation will review networking sites specifically directed to researchers of genealogy—blogs, e-zines, digests, forums, newsletters and more.

Some focus on helpful articles such as "How to Publish the Results of Your Genealogical Research" or "How to Make Proper Citations in Your Genealogy Program."

Others are in the form of a blog, which might be described as a stream of consciousness from a knowledgeable genealogist, often with comments from the general public.

Many are daily digests where researchers can exchange information, and websites such as Cyndi's List, a massive categorized and cross-referenced index to genealogical resources on the internet.

A computer expert, Naditch is the JGSPBC webmaster and vice-president of the Boca Raton Computer Society. He lectures frequently on topics of genealogical and computer interest.

Fee: JGSPBC members, free; others, $5.

The society is celebrating its 20th year. For more information, click here.

Boston: Belarus Jewish history, cemetery restoration, Nov. 7

Boston readers with roots in Belarus should not miss the next program of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston on Sunday, November 7.

The meeting starts at 1.30pm at the Gann Academy, 333 Forest Street, Waltham.

Speakers Michael Lozman and Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild will provide an inside look at the history of Jews in Belarus and the work being done on Jewish cemeteries.

Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild, a Research Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, will speak on the history of Belarus’ Jewish community, noting that there was always a large Jewish population in that area of the world but that Belarus did not come into existence as a separate country until 1991.

Dr. Michael Lozman will speak about his work in protecting, preserving and restoring Jewish cemeteries destroyed by the invading Nazis and further deteriorated by neglect due to the absence of returning Jews as a result of the Holocaust. He and his team have to date restored ten Jewish cemeteries in Belarus, and have more planned for future years.

Fee: JGSGB members, free; others, $5.

For directions, click here. For more on the JGSGB, click here.


December 12:
Aaron Ginsburg and a panel, "Finding relatives from the former Soviet Union."

January 16:
Robert Weinberg: “DNA of the Jewish People, Similarities and Differences”

29 October 2010

Ger Mandolin Orchestra: Plucking the strings

There are as many reasons for researching our families as there are genealogists.

For Avner Yohai, an Israeli living in Northern California's Silicon Valley, it was the strings - the mandolin strings, to be more specific.

I first met Avner at a board meeting of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, held at my friend Rosanne Leeson's home in Los Altos early this past summer. We connected again in August at the 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, in Los Angeles.

The photo (above left) is of the Ger Mandolin Orchestra in the 1930s.

Tablet Magazine, which always offers a good read, carried a story by Alexander Gelfand, on Avner's family and research, and the "Aha!" moment that kickstarted Avner's interest in family history.

Have you ever had one of those moments—one of those epiphanies—when everything is illuminated?

Avner Yonai did. And it came, fittingly enough, while he was watching the film Everything Is Illuminated, based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer. Which led, of course, to the mandolins.

But first, the epiphany.

In 1932, his father's family went from Poland to Palestine. In 1935, members of his mother's family followed the same trip. The ancestral town was Gora Kalwaria - Ger, in Yiddish. Those who didn't leave, died in Treblinka.

His family didn't talk about Poland, and he himself didn't think about it until he saw "Illuminated." Most of the town's residents died in a massacre on March 18, 1942. Avner was born on March 18. Do you hear Twilight Zone music?

In two weeks, he was in Ger, looking for family information. A 94-year-old survivor showed Avner the Ger Yizkor book and showed him the photo of his grandfather, great-uncles and a cousin, from the 1930s. That was the photo above, also on Avner's business cards.

Mandolin orchestras were all over in the early 20th century, mostly performed by immigrants (and amateur musicians) who kept their memories of home alive through familiar music.

However, the instrument is not a new one and dates to 15th century Italy with lots of Baroque and classical music. It spread rapidly across Europe, where many countries each have their own style of music.

In the 19th century, mandolins were made in various sizes, each with a different "voice," just like string quartets and larger ensembles. The sizes sounded like a viola (mandolina), a cello (mandocello) or a bass (mandobass), providing musical richness to the sound.

In the story, author Gelfand relates his own experience with mandolin music in Montreal. His maternal grandfather was from Krynki (Krinek), some 150 miles northeast of Yohai's ancestral town of Ger.

The photo spurred Avner to "lost" relatives in Israel, much more detailed research and to recreate the group.

But Yonai is not one to give up easily. He has used the genealogy website JewishGen and the YIVO archives to find contacts and archival materials among the scattered descendants of the Jews of Ger. He has hired a doctoral candidate in ethnological studies at the University of Warsaw to pore over old newspapers, sheet music, record catalogs—anything that might hint at the mandolin orchestra’s repertoire. Together with the Israeli mandolinist Benny Bilsky, who has volunteered to act as music director for the project, he has even visited the large community of Gerrer Hasidim in Bnei Brak, Israel, searching for tunes that might have found their way into the orchestra’s book.
Thanks to Avner, a newly recreated Mandolin Orchestra of Ger will perform in March at the 26th Jewish Music Festival.

Now, as you look for your family's heirlooms and photos, keep an eye out for old mandolin music as well, and let Avner know.

Read the complete story at the Tablet link above.

Miami: Write your autobiography, Nov. 7

Ever thought about writing your autobiography? Wouldn't it be a great legacy for your future descendants?

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Miami thought this would be a good thing, so their next meeting - Sunday, November 7 - is devoted to just that topic with author Liz Coursen ("The Complete Biography Workbook."

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

Have you reached this stage? "I've been working on my autobiography but I'm stuck and need direction." Or even toying with the idea of writing one? Coursen will discuss how to organize and compose your autobiography. The Workbook received a recent rave review on C-Span's Book TV.

She will offer advice and guidance on how to leave a personal legacy for your children and grandchildren.

The focus of the program is to encourage people to record - on paper for their families and descendants - their first-person stories of struggle and sacrifice and delayed gratification covering WWII, the Depression, immigration, segregation, discrimination and success. Think about all the important stories that are lost every day. A question and answer session will follow.

The meeting is free. For direction and secure parking instructions, click here.

New York: "Rebuilding Polish Lithuania 1919-1939," Nov. 8

Are your roots in Poland or Lithuania? Learn about a little-known period when American Jews helped rebuild Polish Lithuania, on Monday, November 8.

The program begins at 3pm, sponsored by The Podbrodz Society at YIVO, at the Center for Jewish History.

Assistant Professor of History Rebecca Kobrin (Columbia University) will speak on "Empire of Charity: American Jews and the Rebuilding of Polish Lithuania, 1919-1939."

From 1919-1939, Jewish emigres in the United States sent millions of dollars to rebuild their former homes throughout Polish Lithuania.

Kobrin's talk will focus on the role Jewish emigres and their philanthropy played in reshaping political, social and economic life in Brisk and Vilna, the two centers of Lithuanian Jewry.

The talk is free, but reservations are required.
Between 1919 and 1939, Jewish émigrés in the United States sent millions of dollars to rebuild their former homes scattered throughout Polish Lithuania. This talk focuses on the role Jewish émigrés and their philanthropy played in reshaping political, social, and economic life in Brisk and Vilna, the two historic intellectual centers of Lithuanian Jewry.

While the stated goal of Jewish émigré generosity was to relieve economic distress, it often caused a reshaping of Jews' understanding of their place in the new nation-states of Eastern Europe during this era of political and economic upheaval.

28 October 2010

Poland: JRI-Poland, Museum of History of Polish Jews sign agreement

In a new development, Jewish Records Indexing-Poland and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews have signed an agreement which will enable each of JRI-Poland's "Your Town" pages.

JRI-Poland executive director Stanley Diamond of Montreal announced the new agreement:
We are delighted to announce that Jewish Records Indexing-Poland and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews have signed an agreement where each of JRI-Poland's "Your Town" pages will have a link to the Museum's Virtual Shtetl pages for the same towns -- and vice versa.

This will enable those reading about their town in the Museum's Virtual Shtetl site to learn about surviving records for their families by clicking on the link to the JRI-Poland page for the same town.

There will be more than 1,000 linked towns and villages.
JRI-Poland contains an index to more than 4 million records of the Jewish presence in Poland - mostly birth, marriage and death records.

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews will open in 2012 on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto.

For more information on the agreement, click here and here.

New York: More than the basics with John Colletta, Nov. 6

New Yorkers should put this special full-day program with John Philip Colletta on their calendars for Saturday, Nov. 6.

Colletta is presenting a special "beyond the basics" day from 10am-4.30pm at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B), at the South Court Auditorium, New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York.

One of  the country's most popular genealogical speakers, Colletta is based in Washington DC. For 20 years, he conducted workshops for the National Archives and taught at the Smithsonian Institute. He is a faculty member of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy.

This program is for whose who want to know more than the basics.

The day includes: 

-- Advanced problem solving with US passenger arrival records (1820-1950s).

-- Advanced problem solving with US naturalization records (1790-1920s).
-- Turning biographical facts into real-life events: How to build historical context

-- Breaking through brick walls: Use your head!

The cost to NYG&B members is $60, and $90 for others. Readers who are members of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York will also receive the discounted rate.

For more information, or to register, click here or send an email.

FamilyTreeDNA.com: New customer sale!

Trying to decide whether to get involved in genetic genealogy?

Perhaps this special sale will help you make that leap.

For a limited-time only, new customers of FamilyTreeDNA.com can take advantage of a two special bundles:
Family Finder + Y-DNA12 (Regular Price: $388) - NOW $299

Family Finder + mtDNA (Regular Price: $388) - NOW $299
See what the Family Finder can do for you! Regardless of gender, it can find cousins back to six generations on an individual's paternal and maternal lines.

The regular Family Finder price alone is $289, so for only $10 more (a total of $299), test for Y-DNA 12 (for males only) or mtDNA (HVR1) (for males and females).

Only credit card payments will be accepted for this special offer.

For more information, click here, and scroll down to "Combined tests for male and female lines."

27 October 2010

New York: Dona Gracia Nasi, Nov. 2

The American Sephardi Federation is co-sponsoring the 500th birthday celebration of the famed Dona Gracia Nasi (c1510-2010) on  Tuesday, November 2.

The program begins at 7pm at the JCC in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Avent (76th St.); a reception follows.

Andree Aelion Brooks, award-winning author of "The Woman Who Defied Kings," continues the incredible journey of Dona Gracia, a 16th century woman banker whose escape network saved thousands of fellow conversos from the terrors of the Inquisition.

The Dona Gracia Project seeks to bring public recognition and honor to the memory of this famed woman leader of the Jewish world. For more information, contact Harriet Porto.

The event is also co-sponsored by the JCC and Congregation Shearith Israel. Tickets are $15/$10.

Cleveland: Fir Street Cemetery renovation, Nov. 3

The renovation of one of Cleveland's oldest Jewish cemeteries will be discussed at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland on Wednesday, November 3.

The program will begin at 7.30pm at Menorah Park in Beachwood.

The speakers will be Cleveland Municipal Housing Court Judge Ray Pianka, and the chair of the "Lorain to Fir Block Club" Jonathon Holody. The topic is "Community Building and the Fir Street Cemetery.

The two men spearheaded the neighborhood project to successfully renovate one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the city.

There is no charge.

For more information and directions, click here.

22 October 2010

New York: Slovakia's Jewish Heritage Route, Nov. 1

Dr. Maroš Borský launched, in 2007, the Slovak Jewish Heritage Route.

It links 24 important Jewish heritage sites around Slovakia, including synagogues, Museum of Jewish culture branches, historic Jewish cemeteries, Holocaust memorials and Jewish history.

He will speak about the current project at 2pm, on Monday, November 1, at the Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th Street, New York, NY.

Learn more about the Slovak Jewish Heritage Route and see the interactive map for more information.

The project is complex, and includes research, educational and promotional activities, all aimed at preservation of Jewish heritage in Slovakia. Activities are based on results of the Synagoga Slovaca documentation project of synagogues (2001-2006). This survey (including architectural plans, photographs, descriptions) was used to create an audience for Jewish culture in Slovakia, shape cultural policies and contribute towards better management of Jewish heritage sites.

There is an extensive section on Jewish history of the area, including the following:

... While evidence exists of Jewish migration to the territory of today's Slovakia from Bohemia, Austria, and Germany in the 11th century, and of the founding of the first Jewish community in Bratislava (Pressburg, Pozsony) in the late 13th century, the migrations and settlements of the 17th and 18th centuries had the most significant impact on the subsequent development of the Jewish community. Encouraged by the Hungarian aristocracy, Jews migrating to northern Hungary from Moravia, Galicia and Bukovina, and Lower Austria tended to settle near the borders of the states from which they had come, and to maintain religious, communal, and linguistic ties with Jewish communities across the borders. ...
Admission is free, but reservations are required.

16 October 2010

Sacramento: Intro to Jewish genealogy, October 17

An introduction to Jewish genealogy is the focus of the next Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento, on Sunday, October 17.

Tracing the Tribe apologizes the the late notice of this interesting program, which will be presented by Dale Friedman at 10am, at the Albert Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright St., Sacramento.

If you've wanted to begin researching your family tree, this meeting might be a good place to start.

Dale will discuss what "Jewish genealogy" really is and what you might learn about yourself by doing family history research. He'll explore the "Jewish" in Jewish genealogy and share what he's learned.

How did my ancestors shape me? Jewish genealogy is one way to help answer the question of how our ancestors shaped us. Using personal examples, Dale will suggest research methods to begin your quest.

A board member of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogy Society, Dale has been exploring the family history of all four sides of his family and of his wife's family.

Book opportunity: The Sacramento society recently received donations of Jewish genealogy research books and other materials. Some were added to the society library, some are duplicates or cannot be kept due to space limitations.

The books and magazines that cannot be kept will be available to society members. All in excellent condition, some are literally new. The materials will be given away free, but only to Sacramento society members.

Early arrivals at tomorrow's meeting get first choice. This is another great benefit of membership!

The meeting is open to all. Click the link above for directions and more information.

Tucson: Jewish centennial celebration, Oct. 24

Tucson, Arizona will celebrate the Jewish community's centennial on October 24, when the cornerstone placed in the first synagogue building will be removed and opened.

Following the opening of the original capsule, a new 2010 Centennial Time Capsule will be placed into the original space, the cornerstone will be replaced and sealed. It will be opened at the bicentennial in 2110.

For more information on the Jewish History Museum event, click here.

The Jews of southern Arizona began gathering in the 1880s. In 1884, the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society was formed. Twenty years later, they took up the challenge to aise funds for a permanent synagogue. Jewish settlers in other communities, such as Globe, Bisbee and Nogales also contributed.

On June 20, 1910, the grand lodge of Arizona Masons laid the Temple’s cornerstone. The first services were held on Rosh HaShanah, October 3, 1910. Built before Arizona achieved statehood, the synagogue served as an important center of Jewish community for the entire Southwest US.

Temple Emanu-El grew significantly and moved from Stone Avenue in September 1949. Over the years, the original building was used for other purposes.

In 1982, the Temple reclaimed its roots at a ceremony sponsored by the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission, the Arizona Heritage Center, and the southern Arizona chapter of the Arizona Jewish Historical Society.

A trilingual brass plaque (Hebrew, Spanish, and English) was set and plans made for rehabilation and preservation, although those plans were not completed.

Eventually, the Historic Stone Avenue Temple was taken over by the Jewish History Museum.

For more information on the early history, click here.

14 October 2010

Israel: Montefiore Censuses online database launched

The online website of the 19th-century Montefiore Censuses of the Jewish population of the Holy Land, Alexandria, Beirut and Sidon has been launched.

There are five censuses of the Holy Land (including Beirut and Sidon), and one of Alexandria. Currently, the censuses of 1839, 1840 (Alexandria) and 1855 are online. Work continues on the remaining censuses.

The Montefiore Endowment had the censuses scanned in stages.

In 2008, it commissioned the Israel Genealogical Society to transcribe them into a modern Hebrew font, transliterate names and translate data into English. IGS genealogists Mathilde Tagger, Rose Feldman and Billie Stein are in charge. The project is being conducted by teams of dedicated volunteers with good language skills and knowledge of Hebrew scripts.

For more information and to search the database, click here. It can be searched in English or Hebrew, making it accessible to linguistically-challenged researchers. Each entry is linked to the original scans permitting researchers to view the transcribed Hebrew and English in addition to the original document. Families are cross-referenced where relevant.


These censuses were compiled by Sir Moses Montefiore during his visits to the area, 1839-1875.  between the years 1839 and 1875. Recorded details include personal and family information, occupations, countries of origin, and surveys of Jewish religious institutions. Together, this database is a unique sociological and genealogical record of Jewish life in the area at a specific time.

Montefiore Endowment chair Lucien Gubbay said “The censuses are unusually comprehensive as it is estimated that fewer than 1% of the Jewish inhabitants of Eretz Israel refused to participate because of religious scruples.”

Sir Moses had undertaken to distribute charitable funds collected throughout the world, together with money of his own, to the Jewish poor. Each applicant received a gift of coins (Spanish dollars), according to a fixed scale, from Sir Moses himself. The documents indicate that almost all members of each community participated, not just the poorer ones.

The handwritten manuscripts, in a variety of scripts, belong to the Endowment and can be seen by appointment at its London library. Many entries are difficult to read and - without an index - lacking an index - tracing of individuals is very difficult.

Each entry is linked to the original scans giving the user ability to see not only the transcribed Hebrew and English script but the original document as well. Cross references are also used to link one family with another where relevant.

In all, there are 5 censuses of the Holy Land (including Beirut and Sidon), and one of Alexandria. At present, the censuses of 1839, 1840 (Alexandria) and 1855 are on line. Work is continuing on the remaining censuses.

Montefiore's census of 1839 is probably the first head count of the Jewish population in Eretz Israel since biblical times. He sent standardized forms for information collection but not all the registrars used them. Thus information varies from town to town and community to community. Other censuses were conducted in 1849, 1855, 1866 and 1875, with Alexandria in 1840.


Every adult and child mentioned - even without a name - is listed individually. Parents, if known, were added to the child's listing.

To read more about the various fields and explanations, click the IGS link above. There are notes on orphans, widows, sages and leaders of communities, abbreviations used as surnames, spelling, various languages and accents. For example, the name Yehuda is spelled at least three ways: יהודה, יהודא, יאודה. Hebrew spellings were kept as the scribe wrote it.

Most Sephardim have surnames, while Ashkenazim rarely do. Names of birthplaces of Sephardim changed little over years, while Ashkenazi birthplaces changed many times, due to historical events.

13 October 2010

DC 2011 Conference: Call for papers opens October 17

More than 1,200 genealogists from the US and more than 30 countries are expected to attend the summer 2011 international conference on Jewish genealogy in Washington DC.

This event will offer some 160 lectures, panels, workshops and breakfast sessions, a film festival, repository fair, vendor room, gala banquet, and much more.

The 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be hosted by the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington (JGSGW), August 14-19, 2011, at the Grand Hyatt.

The Call for Papers opens October 17, so get out your thinking caps now. Presenters with unique expertise and experience are invited to submit proposals covering an unlimited range of relevant themes and programs.

To submit a program proposal, click here, click on “Call for Papers,” read the instructions and FAQ. The submission deadline is January 15, 2011. Accepted speakers will be notified on March 15, and will receive free conference registration.

Suggested topics topics cover Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi, while geographic areas cover the world (Russia, UK, Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, Austria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Israel, Australia, Ukraine, Romania, Czech Republic, India and elsewhere).

• Research using records of the International Tracing Service (ITS)
• Jewish life in the southern US
• Repositories in the Greater DC area
• Getting the most out of the 1940 census
• Technology and computer workshops
• Publishing family histories,
• DNA and genealogy,
• Cemetery research,
• Geographical/historical resources and methodology,

Click here for a complete list of geographic and topic categories. For more specific information, contact conference co-chair Marlene Katz Bishow or program coordinator Dr. Jeffrey Malka.

The JGSGW was founded 30 years ago and its members come mainly from DC, Maryland and Virginia. The society is very experienced in producing these annual conferences, as they have done so with great success in 1982, 1984, 1988, 1995 and 2003. In addition to monthly meetings, and its quarterly journal (Mishpacha), it also publishes “Capital Collections: Resources for Jewish Genealogical Research in the Washington, DC-area.” Its library has more than 2,000 books, recordings and unpublished items.

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies ( IAJGS) is an organization of organizations formed in 1988 to provide a common voice for issues of significance to its members, to advance our genealogical avocation, and to lend its name and expertise to such areas as the annual Jewish genealogy conferences.

10 October 2010

Geneabloggers: 12 new geneablogs found this week

Geneabloggers.com's Thomas MacEntee has discovered another 12 genealogy and family-history related blogs. The site now counts 1,315 geneablogs.

Among the topics are: surnames, individual family history, Australia, genealogy education, professional genealogists, death records, obituaries, Midwest US, Nebraska, UK, New York, Scotland, and even - would you believe? - one purportedly written by a dachshund named Tika.

Buggy Name History
Surname blog

Day’s Days
Individual family history

Family History 4u
Australian genealogy, Genealogy education

Family History Research
Australian genealogy, Genealogy education, Professional genealogists

Gems of the Past
Individual family history

Graveyard Obit
Death Records and Obituary blogs, Midwest genealogy, Nebraska genealogy

Kith and Kin Research: The Blog
Individual family research, UK genealogy

My Other Blog
Individual family history

New York History
New York genealogy

The Canty Quest
Individual family history

Tika’s Thoughts and Teachings
Genealogy education

Walking My Tree
Individual family history

Your Scottish Ancestry
Professional genealogists, Scottish genealogy

To read more about the new blogs, click here.

Facebook: Finding family

Tracing the Tribe remembers when Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers.com encouraged all geneabloggers to join Facebook.

I did and, to my surprise, two sets of Russian cousins living in different European cities found me within the first few days. For one group - in Mainz, Germany - I knew their names but not where they lived and certainly not that they were in Germany.

While we were happily shocked at that time, we weren't the only ones. Facebook is an excellent tool for rooting out relatives used by many genealogists and family history researchers.

The Montreal Gazette's story on "The new face of genealogy," by Danielle Murray, covers the experiences of several Canadian researchers and what they found on Facebook, including the experiences of Murray herself.
Forty years ago, long before genealogy became trendy, my great Uncle Milt put together our family tree. He spent years scouring census reports, pouring over church and military records and ship passenger lists, reading old newspapers and searching through graveyards. He even travelled overseas. When it was done, he presented my grandmother and their siblings with a complete database and chart of the entire family going back some 300 years.

Last year, I received a message on Facebook from a long-lost Murray on my grandfather's side, the only side of my family I never knew. "Are we related?" he asked. Could be, I thought, seeing as he lived in my father's hometown. In the next email, we determined our connection -his dad and my grandfather were brothers.

Jay soon drove to Montreal to see us. Not only did he and my dad share a resemblance, they had the same dry sense of humour. The day passed quickly, and we heard lots of stories. The only thing missing was the rest of the family.
Murray found even more. Within one month she connected with 50 first and second cousins, and by the end of the year, some 178 direct descendants of her paternal grandfather and siblings had been charted. During this summer, the family held  a reunion.

Of course, Facebook research is a bunny slipper activity, Murray explains:

And I know had it not been for Facebook, it just wouldn't have happened. Sure, I could have done it on my own, but the thing is, I wouldn't have. With Facebook, all I did was plug names into a computer. I paid nothing. I never left the house. I barely lifted a finger.
There are other internet family history sites, of course, to help find living relatives.

A Facebook spokesperson is quoted as saying the site doesn't keep statistics on the number of actual and virtual family reunion groups created. Perhaps they should?

The story detailed the experiences of several "Facebook Family Finders" (Murray's term) who have created family pages, discovered relatives in cyberspace and held real-time reunions.

Are you looking for family? Another great site for connecting with relatives is MyHeritage.com. Do try it! While Facebook is a general social networking site, MyHeritage is a genealogy social networking site, raising your targeted search by several levels.

Belarus: A few shtetl Jews survive

Many readers of Tracing the Tribe have roots in Belarus, where some 98% of rural Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Our TALALAI family lived in both Mogilev and in the agricultural colony Vorotinschtina adjacent to the hamlet of Zavarezhye - some 12 miles southwest of the major city of Mogilev, lost some 300 souls on one day in 1941. The only ones to survive - a mere handful - had been away that day. Other branches were murdered in Gorki, north of Mogilev. Some branches were evacuated to Tashkent and returned to find nothing. And, of course, there was the Minsk ghetto, where other members were murdered.

Fortunately, our closest family had immigrated to the US beginning in 1898 and through 1920. From family documents and partial family trees found among the earliest immigrants' belongings, we know they stayed in touch with family back home, and were aware of what happened.

When Minsk researcher Yuri Dorn visited the colony a few years ago, he sent me photos of still beautiful green fields, of dilapidated houses and also spoke to the few elderly people in the area. One elderly woman had remembered some of my relatives, whom she knew as a young girl.

Judith Maloff of The Forward recently traveled to Belarus and visited with some of the remaining elderly and ill shtetl Jews.

Her story offers historical facts of those times, along with the photos and stories of some of these individuals.
The interviews we see in Holocaust documentaries are but fragments of lives. Subjects talk about their horrendous concentration camp experiences, and the story ends. But suffering has continued in Belarus for many of the elderly, who are among the poorest Jews in the world. Unlike survivors who moved to relatively comfortable circumstances in Israel or the United States, those who remained in Belarus endured religious intolerance under the Soviets after the war. Now they are finishing their days with further deprivation.

It’s a lonely life for Jews who returned to their shtetls after nearly everyone else was massacred. More than 600,000, or 90%, of Belarusian Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. Today, most of these market towns have but a handful of Jews left struggling to get by on pensions so slim — sometimes no more than $120 a month — that they sometimes have to choose between heat and food. These survivors are often sickly, and unlike most Belarusian elderly, they lack extended family to take care of them.
The story mentions the Hesed welfare centers, supported by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which provides home visits, food and aid in the winter. The JDC also distributes compensation funds to Nazi victims.

These few souls are the remnants of nearly-vanished shtetl life.

Maloff interviewed them and Diana Markosian photographed them, in evocative black and white

-- Grigory Hosid, 86, of  Grodno. Prewar Jewish population was 21,000; today, 600.

-- Riva Lazarevna Katz, 85, of Ivenets. Prewar Jewish population was 1,200; today four.

-- Faina Paley, 75, of Bobruisk. Prewar Jewish population was 27,000; today, 1,260.

-- Grigory Kagan, 79, of Kirovsk. Prewar Jewish population unknown, today, one.

-- Ida Mikhailna Kaslova, 75, of Buda-Koshelevo. Prewar Jewish population was 500; today, one.

Do read the comments to the story, which also provides a link to the Survivor Mitzvah Project of Los Angeles, which provides additional help.

09 October 2010

Got a memoir? Moment Magazine wants yours!

Here's a great contest for genealogists!

Moment Magazine is holding a memoir contest and wants to hear yours. It is open to all individuals residing in or outside the US except where prohibited.

Everyone has a story...To celebrate the rich and diverse narratives of its readers, Moment is holding a memoir writing contest. We are looking for short personal essays/memoirs (no more than 3,500 words) about you or your family that have some kind of Jewish connection or content. Moment will review all submissions and award one first place award and two honorable mentions to works of outstanding writing.
Prizes: 1st place, $500+possible publication; two honorable mentions, $150 each.

Submissions must be postmarked by December 31, 2010. Download a signed copy of the contest's official rules (download, print, sign and send with your entry). Winners will be announced in 2011.

In case you're wondering:
No previously published works, or works already accepted for publication elsewhere, are eligible. Work may be under consideration elsewhere, but must be withdrawn from the competition if accepted for publication.
Moment editors will review winning stories and contact the winners if their stories are being considered for publication. And - in case you think that each of your words is golden and may never be changed - all selected material is subject to editing by the mag's editors.

A reader fee of $35 is required for each entry; multiple submissions accepted.

For the nitty gritty on what each entry must and must not include, the format, address to send to and other essential details, click here. That link will also provide the important official rules link.

[Note from Tracing the Tribe: Pretty please, do not send in an entry about how your family's name was changed at Ellis Island. Thank you.]

Jewish genealogy: Opportunities on the horizon?

A JTA blog provides food for thought as to how Jewish family history might gain more of a foothold in the larger Jewish world.

The Fundermentalist's Jacob Berkman provides weekly interesting tidbits on Jewish philanthropy in diverse areas.

How about this possibility for family history at Jewish clubs in public schools?

The blog reported that The Jim Joseph Foundation has given the Jack E. and Rachel Gindi Jewish Student Union a $1.476 million grant to be paid out over the next three years to replicate in Westchester, N.Y. and southern Connecticut a pilot project in Chicago public high schools. The grant has been matched by the Wolfson Family of New York. The JSU will establish Jewish clubs at public schools in the area that will provide Jewish programming to students.
Or in conjunction with Jewish-focused museums:

The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust is set to open next week, according to the LA Jewish Journal.
Or cemetery projects: A new nonprofit in Berkeley protects Jewish cemeteries, reports Jweekly.com

Stephen Kinsey knows a lot about Jewish tradition, including the dictum that cemeteries matter more than synagogues.
And how about the first-ever Jewish Futures Conference which will focus on Jewish Education? Is anyone presenting Jewish family history at this event as a wonderful way to connect and maintain Jewish identity?

The Jewish Federations of North America's General Assembly will host the first Jewish Futures Conference in New Orleans on November 8. The conference, which will focus on re-imagining Jewish education, will be sponsored by the JFNA, JESNA, The Lippman Kanfer Institute, BJENY-SALES and the Covenant Foundation.
These and similar opportunities might provide an entry to present Jewish genealogy to a much wider - and younger - audience.

Who's up for the challenge?

Footnote.com: The Great Chicago Fire, 1871

Footnote.com is a wonderful resource for original documents.

October 8 was the anniversary of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire, and the site has a special collection of research material based on Chicago Tribune contemporary reports.

Primary sources available on Footnote.com for this historical event include:

--The original Chicago Tribune Article
-- Photo of Fire's destruction
-- Illustration of the Fire
-- Map of the Destruction
-- The Great Chicago Fire Footnote Page

Click here for more. Although Footnote.com is a subscription site, some collections are free and searches produce hits for free and fee materials. See what you can find in tthe site's extensive resources and you might find that a subscription could further your research.
On October 8, 1871, around nine o'clock in the evening, a fire started in the O'Leary's barn at 13 DeKoven Street and quickly spread throughout Chicago's business district.. Although legends hold O'Leary's cow responsible for causing the fire, the actual source is still unknown.

The blaze raged for two days, killing hundreds, destroying millions of dollars in property, leaving thousands homeless, and ravaging almost four square miles.

From the smoldering ashes, the citizens of Chicago began to rebuild and a new era began in the city's history. The resulting boom in building construction made Chicago one of the most populous, most economically profitable, and most modern cities in the United States. The Great Chicago Fire was a tragedy, but out of this disaster emerged the modern metropolis of Chicago.

08 October 2010

New York: Red Star Line emigrants, Oct. 17

Jewish emigrants of the Red Star Line will be the topic at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York, on Sunday, October 17.

The program begins at 2pm, at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, Manhattan.

Speaker Erwin Joos Erwin Joos is the curator of Belgium’s Eugeen Van Mieghem Museum and president of the non-profit Eugeen Van Mieghem Foundation, with more than 1,000 members.

A mass emigration of Eastern European Jews took place from Antwerp to America from 1873-1934. Most arrived after the pogroms (1900-1914). The grueling steerage journey to American ports took from seven to 14 days. Some 30-40% of Jewish Americans have ancestors who sailed with the Red Star Line, one of the most important American lines.

Many stories have been written about the emigration experience from Antwerp by such Jewish authors as Sholom Aleichem and Yuri Suhl. Some famous passengers were Irving Berlin, Golda Meir and Albert Einstein.

Antwerp artist Eugeen Van Mieghem created a collection of works of art about these emigrants. His parents' tavern was located on Montevideo Street opposite the Red Star Line warehouse.

Joos has spoken at international Jewish genealogy conferences, organized exhibits in numerous museums and has authored five major art books, including "Antwerp New York: Eugene Van Mieghem" and edited 12 albums.

Early arrivals for the program may use the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute from 11am for networking, access to research materials and the computers.

Long Island NY: 'Jewish genealogy 101' workshop, Nov. 7

Billed as "Four hours to your family roots," the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island will present its 20th family history workshop - Jewish Genealogy 101 - on Sunday, November 7.

Learn how to find many Jewish records in the US, Europe and Israel with expert instructors.

The workshop will run from 12.30-5pm, at the Mid-Island Y-JCC, 45 Manetto Hill Road, Plainview, NY.

The program is aimed at both beginners and family historians. Beginners want to learn about their roots, but don't know where to start. Family historians will be able to brush up or expand their knowledge.

Topics include: - Researching and recording a family tree - Interviewing relatives - Identifying ancestral towns - Holocaust research - Censuses, city directories, ship's manifests, naturalizations, vital records, and other US sources - European records - Computer and Internet resources.

Participants will receive the workshop manual and a light lunch.

Seating is limited. Register by Saturday, October 30: Pay $45 ($15 for additional family member). Register later or at the door: Pay $55 ($15 for additional family member). Fees include JGSLI 2011 annual dues.

To register, click the JGSLI website; print out and complete the registration form. Mail it with your check (payable to JGSLI Workshop) to JGSLI Workshop, PO Box 735, Melville NY 11747.

For more information, email Cheryl Sofer.

Texas: 'Our Jewish Ancestry,' Oct. 17'

The Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Genealogical Society will present "Our Jewish Ancestry," on Sunday, October 17.

The program takes place from 2-4pm, in the Harlingen Public Library auditorium, in Harlingen, Texas.

The speaker is Diana Sotelo-Zertuche, a journalist, author, historian and speaker. The flyer for the event shows the speaker with a bubble quote, "Hace mucho eramos Judios" (A long time ago we were Jews).

For more information, send an email.

Scotland: Jewish history

ScottishGenes, a great blog written by Chris Paton, has a guest post written by the well-known Jewish genealogist Harvey Kaplan of the Scottish Jewish Archives Center.

Chris covers everything connected to Scotland, and Tracing the Tribe was very happy to see Harvey's post, which is a must for anyone who had Jewish ancestors in Scotland.

... The first Jewish community was established in Edinburgh in 1816, then Glasgow in 1823. Later in the 19th century, communities were also set up in Aberdeen and Dundee. There are five places which once had a Jewish community, but no longer: Ayr, Dunfermline, Falkirk, Greenock and Inverness. Jews in Scotland have generally lived in an atmosphere of tolerance, respected by the Presbyterian Scots as the ‘People of the Book’. Scotland is one of the few countries with no noticeable record of antisemitism.

A wide variety of source material awaits those researching Scottish Jewish family history. Obviously, Jews appear in the indexes of births, marriages and deaths in Scotland since 1855. Because Scottish birth certificates give the date and place of marriage of the parents, the certificates of children born here to parents who were married in Europe often provide a clue to town/country of origin. Another clue might be provided by census records - especially for 1881, 1891 and 1901.
Harvey's post lists naturalization records, city directories, passenger lists and other records. He mentions the misspelling of immigrant names.

The Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, located in Garnethill Synagogue (Glasgow, Scotland) collects and preserves material related to the Jewish history in Scotland. Items include synagogue registers, burials, subscription records, organizations, membership lists, newspapers, photos and more, including the Historical Database of Scottish Jewry with records on nearly 35,000 Jews in the country.

For more information, read the complete post at the link above, access the Center's website or send an email.

Northern California: Mapping madness, Oct. 18

Ron Arons will present his popular "Mapping Madness" at the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society's branch meeting on Monday, October 18, in Los Altos Hills.

The program begins at 7.30pm at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Author and SFBAJGS member Ron Arons will discuss numerous historical map websites, and review online mapping facilities provided by Microsoft and Google.

He will introduce the audience to several other online mapping tools, including Microsoft’s MapCruncher, IBM’s ManyEyes, and Muckety.com

Born and raised in New York, Ron has traced his roots to England, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania.

In researching his book "The Jews of Sing Sing," he took a genealogical approach, collecting a variety of original source documents. The book includes biographies of more than a dozen famous gangsters and lesser-known criminals and paints a broad canvas of Jewish criminality in New York City.

Ron's newest book is the recently released "Wanted! U.S. Criminal Records: Sources and Research Methodology."

07 October 2010

Technorati: Blogging survey

Technorati is offering a chance for bloggers to participate in its annual State of the Cybersphere Survey.

Some interesting questions on this survey, but only one screen offers a place for the topic of the blog being referenced. There is no category for "genealogy and family history," but participants can write that phrase into the "other" box. If you do write "genealogy and family history" in that box, the phrase will come up again in some later questions.

Questions at the end could have used an "other" box, when the survey asks what topics were major in the cypersphere this year and were expected to be in the future.

In any case, if you participate and write "genealogy and family history" into the "other" box (where available), Technorati might pay attention. For that alone, geneabloggers might want to spend a few minutes taking the survey which also asks about ads, income, exposure, reasons for blogging, participation in diverse events (which could include panels, industry event, etc.).

It does ask how many blogs one authors, but answers may be very different for each. I'll try to take it again for my other blogs and see what happens. Yes, you can take the survey again for each blog you write, which gives another chance to write genealogy and family history into that "other box."

Here's the Technorati notice of the survey:

2010 State of the Blogosphere Survey – please give us 15 minutes.

Since 2004, Technorati has been tracking the Blogosphere through our State of the Blogosphere study.

The goal of the study is to create a complete snapshot of the activities and interactions that make up the Blogosphere by asking you, the bloggers, to share some information about your habits. The survey includes questions like how, when and why you blog. Is this a side business, full time job or something you do for fun?

Please feel free to send this link to other bloggers you know. And be sure to check back on Technorati.com in November for a summary of the results.

The 2010 State of the Blogosphere Survey: http://research.opinionguru.com/mrIWeb/mrIWeb.dll?I.Project=A17275
Let's see, if 1,300 geneabloggers take the survey and write in "genealogy and family history" the results might be very interesting.

Family Tree Magazine: Best state websites for 2010

Location, location, location! A new best-of list hits the newsstand and cyberspace, covering every US state from Alabama to Wyoming.

Family Tree Magazine has published its 2010 list of best US state sites for genealogy, with 75 sites and at least one from every state.

There are vital records, archives, museums, state encyclopedias, databases, historic newspapers, state libraries, memory projects, digital libraries, special collections, county clerk databases, historical societies, obituary indexes, genealogical societies, military sites, public health sites and more.

State-level government resources offer vital records, wills and probate records, court records, military records; early land records, legislative and other government records; records of orphanages, asylums, prisons and other state institutions; state censuses, and naturalization records, while non-governmental resources may include old newspapers, city directories, biographies, historical maps and photos and oral histories. 

Click the link above to access each of the sites and see what you can find.
Click to your roots from Alabama to Wyoming on these 75 stellar state-focused websites. In genealogy, as in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Finding where your ancestors lived is the first step in identifying records about them. Fortunately, the internet-ization of America also has swept over the nation’s state archives, historical and genealogical societies, libraries, vital-records offices and other keepers of genealogical gold. Many of the resources that once gathered dust in various statewide repositories now can be accessed without changing your own location—in front of your computer, that is.

Yizkor Book Project: September additions, updates

Thanks to many volunteers who translate, transliterate, transcribe and edit material, the Yizkor Book Project at JewishGen.org continues its growth.

During September, there were four new projects, three new entries and 29 updates to existing projects. The items are organized by country below:

(NP=new project, NE=new entry, U=update)

NE Soly, Belarus (Pinkas Poland)
U Gorodets, Belarus (Horodetz; history of a town, 1142-1942)
U Karelichy, Belarus (Korelitz; the life and destruction of a Jewish community)
U Slutsk, Belarus (Slutsk and vicinity memorial book)
U Stolin, Belarus (Stolin; a memorial to the Jewish communities of Stolin and vicinity)
U Svir, Belarus (There once was a town Swir; between the two world wars)

NE Karcag, Hungary (Pinkas Hungary)

U Dotnuva, Lithuania (Letters from Dotnuva)
U Lithuania (Lite, vol.2)
U Lithuania (Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities, Lithuania)
U Merkine, Lithuania (Meretch; a Jewish Town in Lithuania)
U Rokiskis, Lithuania (Yizkor book of Rakishok and environs)
U Svencionys, Lithuania (Svinzian region; memorial book of 23 Jewish communities)
U Valkininkai, Lithuania (Olkeniki in flames; a memorial book to Olkenik in the Vilna district)

NP Frampol, Poland (Frampol book)
NE Przemysl, Ukraine (Pinkas Poland)
U Bedzin, Poland (A Memorial to the Jewish Community of Bedzin)
U Czestochowa, Poland (The Jews of Czestochowa)
U Dabrowa Gornicza, Poland (Book of Jewish community of Dabrowa Gornicza and its destruction)
U Debica, Poland (The Book of Dembitz)
U Grajewo, Poland (Grayewo Memorial Book)
U Jewish Music in Poland between the World Wars
U Kaluszyn, Poland (The Memorial Book of Kaluszyn)
U Katowice, Poland (Katowice: Rise and Decline of the Jewish community; Memorial Book)
U Kutno, Poland (Kutno and Surroundings Book)
U Ostrow-Mazowiecka, Poland (Memorial Book of Ostrow-Mazowiecka)
U Sanok, Poland (Memorial Book of Sanok and Vicinity)
U Serock, Poland (The Book of Serock)
U Siedlce, Poland (On the ruins of my home; the destruction of Siedlce)
U Tykocin, Poland (Memorial book of Tiktin)
U Zelechow, Poland (Memorial Book of the Community of Zelechow) [Polish]

U Halmeu, Romania (In memory of the communities of Halmin-Turcz and vicinity)

N Bol'shoy Zhelutsk, Ukraine (Memorial Book of the Community of Zoludzk)
NP Khust, Ukraine (The Jewish community in Chust and its surrounding villages)
NP Novoseltsy, Ukraine (Nova Sulita)
U Rivne, Ukraine (Rowno; a memorial to the Jewish community of Rowno, Wolyn)

Find all new additions and updates here.

Washington DC: JGSGW celebrates 30th anniversary, Oct. 17

The Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington (DC)  will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Sunday, October 17.

Russian and Central European specialist researcher Boris Feldblyum (a JGSGW member) will present "Archival Research: Challenges and Strategies for Success."

He will share some tips and tricks he uses when researching for private clients. Learn how to get the most for your effort.

Doors open at 1pm, with the program at 1.30pm, at Har Shalom, 11510 Falls Road, Potomac, Maryland.

The event includes hors d'oeuvres, snacks and punch, door prizes.

Fee: JGSGW members, free; others, $5. For more information and directions, click the JGSGW website here.

The JGSGW is the host of the 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (14-19 August 2011) at the Grand Hyatt in Washington DC. Click here for all conference information.

San Francisco: Safari in Poland, Oct. 17

Experience a safari in Poland - a data safari - with researcher Robinn Magid at the next meeting of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society on Sunday, October 17.

Doors open at 12.30pm (program at 1pm) at the Oakland Regional Family History Center, 4766 Lincoln Avenue Oakland, CA 94602

Magid will present "Data Safari in Poland: Discovering the More Elusive Tracks of Our Ancestors."

In May 2010 Robinn returned to Lublin, Warsaw and Krakow with the intention of finding history, documentation,and imagery remaining “in the field” relating to the Lublin-area towns where her family lived in 18th-century Poland.

Her “data safari” goals included exploring the surviving Holocaust documentation beyond vital records to track individuals who “disappeared” in the war.

Magid's talk is a summary of her trip to discover if the envelope of available genealogical data can be pushed into the 18th century at one end, and through the Holocaust at the other end.

Along with a colorful presentation of “what she found on safari,” Robinn will focus on resources she found to before her trip, and how to maximize the probability of finding answers to vital questions while hunting for little-used information in the archives.

A long-time SFBAJGS member, she is also a JRI-Poland board member and a compulsive genealogist since her retirement from management consulting with an international CPA firm in 1991. She holds a BA (UCLA) in economics

In 2001, she realized her childhood dream of visiting Poland and “walking a mile in her grandmother’s moccasins.” Her research includes tracing Jews in Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Galicia.

06 October 2010

On the air: Irish Jewish genealogy, Oct. 9-10

Stuart Rosenblatt of Dublin is the keeper of the faith. Irish Jewish genealogy faith, to be more exact.

Ireland's National Radio and Television (RTE Radio 1) notes that Rosenblatt - a Dublin resident - is the subject of "The Keeper of the Faith," to be aired at 6.05pm, Saturday, October 9, and repeated at 7pm, Sunday, October 10.

The radio documentary maps and explores Jewish Ireland with Dubliner Stuart Rosenblatt (photo left).

Listen to it now or hear the podcast here. Thanks to RTE's Sarah Blake for the links.

Enter the world of Jewish Ireland past and present with genealogist Stuart Rosenblatt as guide. Stuart is the author of the 16-volume Rosenblatt Series, the most comprehensive collection of genealogical material ever compiled on an entire Jewish community in any country.

Stuart's database contains details on over 44,000 people and their family relationships. These and other facts you'd expect, and might even find elsewhere - but Rosenblatt's work usually takes a step or two further.

Rosenblatt devotes "two weeks out of every one" to this unpaid, unacknowledged work. His daughter Sonia tells us how family life has suffered. As a businessman, Stuart is first to admit it's an expensive hobby.

He got the genealogy bug fifteen years ago with a curiosity about his mother's family, the Jacksons. We discover the Jackson family had roots in a village called Ackmene, and this tiny Lithuanian village was the one most common place of origin for Irish Jews. They did not leave and arrive in Ireland en masse when their migrations began in the 1880s - no one really knows why they arrived here but their descendants give us a few clues.

So the story of Jewish Ireland is the story of a global village called Ackmene. It's a quintessentially Irish story - where everybody knows everybody else - and there are nothing like six degrees of separation. It's the story of a fast disappearing world. Rosenblatt estimates the community, those who come to Shul (Synagogue), at no more than 380 with the majority from the older generation.

Anyone can access Stuart's work in the National Archive or National Library through the 16 printed volumes of the Rosenblatt Series, which he has donated to the nation. And the work continues with Stuart desperately looking for some missing bits of his jigsaw, such as several volumes of Alien Registration Files from the start of the 20th century and details of Jewish school children in schools records all over Ireland.
The show was produced by Clare Cronin and funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's Sound and Vision funding scheme.

Thanks to Louise Messick for this pointer.

Food: 2,000 years of Jewish cooking in France

Where do our family's foods come from? And where exactly is that?

Head's-up on a new cookbook by famed author Joan Nathan covering 2,000 years of Jewish cooking in France.

"Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France" ($40, Knopf) should be out in November 2010.

According to Publishers Weekly:

This well-researched, fascinating cookbook encapsulates 2,000 years of Jewish history in France. Nathan, the James Beard Award–winning doyenne of Jewish cooking (Jewish Cooking in America), applies her culinary detective skills to sniffing out the Jewish influence on French cuisine, and vice versa.

Her rich subject matter yields both vast diversity and unexpected commonalities. Friday night Sabbath dinners alone can range from the Alsatian pot-au-feu to Moroccan adafina (meat stew with chickpeas and rice). The Germanic Alsatian specialties like potato kugel will be familiar to many Jewish Americans, while the North African dishes like brik with tuna and cilantro and m'soki (a Passover spring vegetable ragout originating in Tunisia) reflect Sephardic customs.

Nathan also explores cross-cultural concoctions such as Provençal brassados (a precursor to the bagel), brandade potato latkes, and a Bordeaux haroset by way of Portugal, all of which embody both the complicated migratory paths and acculturation of the Jewish people.

This being France, though, there are lovely renditions of native dishes, too--chestnut cream gâteau, braised endive, cassoulet. Nathan's multi­layered, narrative approach makes this treasury of tempting flavors an entertaining and compelling read.
There are more reviews at Nathan's site, such as this one.

Sounds like an excellent read, regadless of where your family hails from, so look for it at your favorite bookstore. It's on my wish list.

Back to school: Online gen classes begin, Oct. 11

It's back to family history school on October 11 with Family Tree University classes.

New classes this term at the education site of Family Tree Magazine include Death Records 101, Cemetery Research 101 and a two-week sampler class called "Discover Your Family Tree."

Here are all the classes offered at Family Tree University:
  • Advanced Google for Genealogists: Techniques to Take Your Research to the Next Level
  • Build a Family Website: Make a Site for Your Family in Four Weeks
  • Cemetery Research 101: Dig Up Your Family History
  • Creating a Family History Book: Start-to-Finish Guidance for Assembling and Printing a Family Keepsake
  • Death Records 101: Find What Your Ancestors Left Behind
  • Digital Photography Essentials: Techniques to Capture and Preserve Your Family History
  • Discover Your Family Tree: Genealogy for the Absolute Beginner
  • Exploring City Directories: How to Trace Your Family in Yesterday’s Yellow Pages
  • Find Your German Roots: From America to Deutschland
  • Finding African-American Ancestors in Newspapers: Research Strategies for Success
  • Finding Ancestors in the US Census: Online and Offline Research Strategies
  • Finding Your Ancestral Village: Strategies and Tools to Pinpoint Your Family’s Place of Origin
  • Google Earth for Genealogists: Plot Your Ancestors’ Lives
  • Google Tools for Genealogists: Four Resources to Enhance Your Family History
  • Land Records 101: Using Deeds, Plats, Patents and More
  • Mastering Google Search: Secrets to Smarter, Faster Online Research
  • Newspaper Research 101: Find Your Ancestors in American News Sources
  • Organize Your Genealogy: Get Your Research in Order (and Keep It That Way)
  • Published Genealogies: How to Use Others’ Research to Grow Your Family Tree
  • Research in Foreign Records: How to Find Your Family Across the Pond
  • Reverse Genealogy: Working Forward to Break Down Brick Walls
  • Trace Your Polish Roots: Strategies for Searching in the US and Poland
  • Tracing Immigrants: How to Research Your Family’s American Arrivals
  • US Military Records: Trace Your Ancestors’ Service
  • US Vital Records: Researching Births, Marriages, Deaths and Divorces
  • Writing Your Family Memoir: Create a Capitvating Record of Your Family’s Story
For more information on classes, instructors, cost and registration, click here.

Philadelphia: Marion Smith to speak, Oct. 11

Senior CIS historian Marion Smith will speak on Philadelphia's role as an immigration center and the Red Star Line at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia, on Monday, October 11.

This special program is co-hosted by the JGSGP and the Gershman Y to spotlight the Borowsky Gallery exhibit at the Y.

The JGSGP meeting will begin at 7.30pm at the Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad St., Philadelphia.

Smith - Chief of the Historical Research Branch for US Citizenship and Immigration Services - will discuss various organizations and individuals who made their living from immigration to Philadelphia at the turn of the last century. The two presentations are:

-- "One Foot in America - The Jewish Emigrants of the Red Star Line and Eugeen Vn Mieghem," and

--  "Philadelphia's Immigration Business in the Late 19th-Early 20th Century"

For more information, see these links: Red Star Line Friends, and two Gershman Y links here and here.  information check out the following links:

Guests are always welcome. Fee: JGSGP members, free; others: $2.

The JGSGP - and the entire Jewish genealogical community - extends its deep condolences to Mark and Joan Halpern on the death of their beloved son, Jeremy, on September 2. May his memory be a blessing.

Contributions may be made In Jeremy’s memory to: Be The Match Foundation, 3001 Broadway Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1753.
In the story of Jewish immigration to America, Philadelphia and the Belgian city of Antwerp share a special link. Ships of the Red Star Line carried over one million Jews from Antwerp to Philadelphia and other cities. The artist Eugeen Van Mieghem captured many of them in poignant portraits just before they set sail - as they figuratively put "One Foot in America."

From government officials to steamship lines, local businesses to charitable organizations, each played a role in the business of immigration.

05 October 2010

Genes & Teens: Family DNA analysis

Everyone - even teenagers - are interested in DNA these days.

The Wall Street Journal carried a great "teens and genes" story.

Ann West, 17, of Cupertino, California can be called somewhat obsessive about analyzing her family's DNA.

The self-taught teen has been decoding her family's genome and has spoken at major conferences

Her father was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism in 2003, which encouraged him to get the family's genes sequenced using advanced technology at Illumina, Inc. The cost: $160,000 for the four people in the family. He wanted to know if anyone else in the family might be at risk for the same condition.

In 2007, they tested with 23&Me and received a break as Anne's father worked at Illumina, which offered a testing discount for employees. But he wanted to know more, and went for the full-genome testing for everyone.

Anne is the one analyzing the reams of data that is not interpreted by most testing companies. According to the story, it doesn't usually matter as most clients are academic scientists who have a cadre of assistants and the newest computers to do the work.

The teen - without those resources - decided to do it the "old-fashioned" way, by hand, on the family computer, using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to sort the information.

She's presented at major genetics conferences in Boston and New York, where scientists gave her their business cards, and her research led to a summer job at the lab of a prominent Harvard and MIT scientist.
She then created a series of formulas, using Excel's help function when she got stuck. One formula separated which portions of genetic data came from Mr. West's side of the family and which came from Mrs. West's side. That information helped her to plot graphs to see how genetically close she and her brother are to each other, and to each of their parents.

The next step was to look more closely at one of the 20,000 genes we all have. Anne focused on the Factor V gene. She inherited the same mutation that her father has, putting her at increased risk for embolisms.

She decided to see if she had any other additional mutations on the same gene from her mother's side of the family—something that might increase her risk even more. She discovered that she does have other mutations, but that researchers don't believe they will cause any health issues.
What's next on her agenda? Well, she says she hasn't yet taken driver's ed.

Read the complete story at the link above and read Anne's comment following the story.