31 January 2011

DNA for Beginners: Free webinar, February 1 and 3

Following her first free webinar - Genetic Genealogy for Beginners - Elise Friedman will be repeating that class on Tuesday, February 1, and Thursday, February 3, by popular demand.

"Genetic Genealogy for Beginners: DNA is the "Gene" in Genealogy!" covers the following topics:

-- What is Genetic Genealogy? 
-- What tests are available?
-- Which one should I order? 
-- How much does a Genetic Genealogy test cost? 
-- Do I need to be a geneticist to understand my results?

The webinar is perfect for those who are beginners to genetic genealogy and want answers to these basic questions and more.

Learn the history of the field, get an introduction to DNA basics and inheritance paths, different types of DNA tests for genealogy and resources to make the most of your experience.

The two sessions are geared to different time zones, making it more accessible to more people.
-- Tuesday, February 1:  6pm GMT (1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific)
-- Thursday, February 3:  8pm Eastern (5pm Pacific)

The webinars are free but advance registration is required. Click here for more information, to register, and to learn about additional future offerings.

Elise hopes to repeat the beginner session during the first week of each month, and is also working on offering intermediate and advanced genetic genealogy webinars.

Washington DC: USHMM Babi Yar lecture, February 9

Babi Yar (Ukraine), the site of mass murder near Kiev, is the subject of the annual Shapiro annual lecture at the USHMM, on Sunday, February 9.
Babi Yar in Kiev is the site of the largest single Nazi shooting of Jews in the Soviet Union and Ukraine’s largest mass grave of Nazi victims. Drawing from newly available sources, Dr. Karel C. Berkhoff will discuss the process of mass murder, the response of the victims and others, and the treatment of the ravine since 1945.
The program - "Babi Yar: Site of Mass Murder, Ravine of Oblivion" - runs from 7-8.30pm in the Helena Rubinstein Auditorium.

Speaker Karel C. Berkhoff is Associate Professor at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and teaches at the University of Amsterdam, where he is coordinator of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies track of the MA program in history.

He is the author of "Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine under Nazi Rule" (2004), which won the 2001 Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History, Category A, and has published several scholarly articles on the Holocaust in Ukraine.

A reception follows the lecture. Reservations are requested; RSVP online.

Florida: Palm Beach JGS celebrates 20th anniversary

February will be a busy month for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County (Florida).

FamilyTreeDNA's CEO Bennett Greenspan will speak at the Sunday, February 9 membership meeting, and the JGSPBC will hold its 20th anniversary luncheon from 11.30am-3pm on Sunday, February 27, at the Renaissance Boca Raton Hotel (members, $30; others, $35).

Founding pioneer in DNA genetic genealogy, Greenspan will present "Beyond the Y-Chromosome: Tracing Your Genealogy with the Other DNA," at the membership meeting.(Fee: members, free; others, $5.)

An entrepreneur and life-long genealogy enthusiast, since elementary school, Greenspan has turned his hobby into a full-time vocation. A native Nebraskan with a BA from the University of Texas, he spent years investigating his maternal grandfather's family, which led to the 2000 founding of FamilyTreeDNA and its association with Arizona Research Labs, led by Dr.Michael Hammer, a world authority on Y-DNA genetics.

With more than 320,673 records (as of January 24, 2011), Family Tree DNA, has the largest database of its kind in the world. It is important for Jewish researchers, as it also includes the largest Jewish DNA database available for matches.

FTDNA is the largest non-medical DNA testing company in the world. It includes other cooperative ventures such as the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project and AfricanDNA.com, and is now involved in DNATraits.com, a new medical genetic testing company.
Prior to the main event, the Ukraine SIG will meet from 11:30 am-12:15 pm. Genealogy mentors will be available after the main program. From 12.30-12.55pm, a Brick Wall session will take place; attendees are invited to submit questions in advance.

Mark your calendar: A beginners' workshop - with Phyllis Kramer - will be held Wednesday, March 9, from 9.30-11.30am, at the South County Civic Center. Registration ($15) is limited to 25 attendees; make reservations in advance.

For luncheon registration and more information on meetings and workshops, visit the JGSPBC website.

30 January 2011

New technology: Now we're cooking!

The January Electronics Show often showcases fascinating new gadgets and technology with applications for many uses.

Forbes just showcased its top picks - and there's one this year with genealogy applications.

Have you ever burned dinner because you were trying to find family information on a new website and lost all sense of time?  Tracing the Tribe is guilty of that, so one of the Forbes picks really spoke to us.

We loved the iGrill, a Bluetooth wireless cooking thermometer that works with an iPhone or iPad. You stick the sensor in the meat or other food and sync it with your iGadget of choice. Monitor your food from up to 200 feet away and never burn dinner again.

Your non-genealogically-involved significant other may decide to get one for you!

Now all I need is an iPhone or iPad. They are on my wish list.

29 January 2011

Geneabloggers.com: 33 more blogs revealed!

Here are another 33 blogs focused on genealogy and family history just discovered by Geneabloggers.com's Thomas MacEntee. There are now 1,662 genealogy blogs on the site.

This week's varied topic crop includes individual family history, UK, photography, US, Poland, Canada, Sweden, Hawaii, education, vendor, roots travel, Civil War, military, African-American, cemetery, library, Georgia, Australia, surname, Minnesota, Pacific Island, Kentucky, diary and crafts.

Ainscough Family History-Mawdesley
Individual family history, UK genealogy

Belden Family Alliances: From Then Til Now
Individual family history

Bigger Families, Faces from the Past
Photography blog

Blundering Blindly Backwards
Individual family history, UK genealogy

Byron City Cemetery, Peach County, Georgia
Cemetery blog, Georgia genealogy

Campaspe Genealogy
Australian genealogy, Genealogy library blog

Census Junkie
Genealogy education, Individual family history

Climbing the Genealogy Tree
Genealogy education

Families of Old Hawaii
Hawaiian genealogy, Individual family history, Pacific Islander genealogy

Hawaiian genealogy sure has come a long way from the days when I 1st started searching the web back in 1998. There were a handful of personal sites with info on Hawaiian genealogy back then and some are still around, the same site from the nineties frozen in time. Some are updated and some vanished never to be seen again. Here’s a list of the personal pages (now called blogs?) I have bookmarked, that are still around…
Family History Alive
Individual family history

Finding the Feitner Family
Individual family history (FEITNER, Germany->NY)

A Forest of Oakes
Individual family history (OAKES)

Hearts Turned
Individual family history (LAMOREAUX, HOLLADAY, CLUFF)

The author just turned 19 and says "Too often our generation procrastinates this great work or puts it on others’ shoulders, but there is much we can be doing now. It is our responsibility just as much, if not more, than the older generations."
Heritage Heart
Crafts blog, Genealogy education, Individual family history

Family history can be exciting for today’s generations and it is my quest to offer ideas and solutions for making it fun! No more boring facts, but great stories and ideas for incorporating family heritage into our personal spaces as a reflection of who we are today.
Highland Experience SCOTLAND
Genealogy vendor, Scottish genealogy

The author (now living in New York) runs a custom tour company - Highland Experience Tours USA - focusing on Scottish roots.
Kendricks of San Francisco
California genealogy, Individual family history (KENDRICK)

Kentucky Kinfolks
Individual family history, Kentucky genealogy

Let Freedom Ring!
African-American genealogy blog, Individual family history, US Civil War blog

150th Year anniversary of the American Civil War ~ a blog documenting my personal journey and research riscoveries of the people, places, events, and other things related to the Civil War era.
May Hill’s WWII Diaries
Diary blog, UK genealogy

Blog editor Tom Ambridge is the grandson of May Hill, an English seaside villager who wrote wonderful diaries and poetry during WWII. Her diary began November 27, 1940. Each entry appears exactly 70 years after the original was written.
Minnesota Native Daughter
Individual family history, Minnesota genealogy

My Genealogy Obsession
Individual family history

My Journey Back
Canadian genealogy, Individual family history

My Savage Family
Individual family history (SAVAGE, UK->US)

Ontario Genealogist
Canadian genealogy, Individual family history

Polish families from Żywiec-Zabłocie, Polska
Individual family history, Polish genealogy

My Polish great grandpa was orphaned during the Chicago flu epidemic of 1918 & spent his life looking for all of his siblings. Some family stayed in Chicago & some returned to Poland. Some family was Catholic, & some are believed to be Jewish.
Prairie Bluestem
Individual family history

Saint Cross Upheaval
Individual family history

Stray Bones
Individual family history

Tipton Tales and Trails
Individual family history (TIPTON)

Vintage Aerial Blog
Genealogy vendor blog

Vintage Aerial connects personal memories and family history to photos of the places where the memories were made and the history took place. ... Our collection of over 25 million photographs spans the second half of the 20th century, documenting a time in American history when life revolved around rural communities and small farms. ... It uses the latest in digital imaging and data storage technology to preserve these heirlooms. We are saving yesterday’s memories with today’s technology, for the tomorrows to come.
Whispers From The Past/Tales Told

Witch Genealogist with a Black Cat
Individual family history, Swedish genealogy

DNA genealogy, Genealogy vendor blog, Surname blog (BARTON)

One of the largest Surname DNA Projects (250+ members) in the world, as well as a Barton family-wide historical society, newsletter, database, website. Evolved into World Families Network (2004) to help other Surname Projects by sharing learning and providing general information. ...
Read much more about each blog here at Geneabloggers.com, or visit those in which you may have an interest.

Miami: Steve Morse presents, February 6

Legendary genealogy guru Steve Morse will present two lectures at the 22nd anniversary celebration of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Miami on Sunday, February 6.

The day starts at 10am, at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, 4200 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami. There is ample, free and secure parking.

Steve will first present "Navigating the New York Census with Less Frustration."

Several state censuses were conducted in New York from 1790. However, the most valuable  for genealogical  purposes are 1905, 1915 and 1925 because of the large immigrant influx. Although there have been assorted aids to work with those censuses, they were often hard to use and applied to only specific years or locations.

Steve's now well-known One-Step rectifies that situation via an online universal finding aid covering all New York City boroughs in each of the three census years. His talk will describe the One-Step approach and compare it to previous methods.

After a short intermission, Steve will offer "The Updated Potpourri of Genealogical Search Tools."

His One-Step website started out as a way to finding passengers in the Ellis Island database, but soon grew to provide help with the 1930 census.

Steve has continued to add new features, and his website now offers some 200 web-based tools in 16 categories.This presentation will describe the current range of availabe tools and provide highlights of each.

Guests and friends are always welcome. There is no admission fee.

For directions and more information, click here.

Ancestry.com: Ultimate Family Journey contest

Ancestry.com is again sponsoring the Ultimate Family History Journey Sweepstakes, timed to coincide with Season 2 of the US-version of "Who Do You Think You Are?" which begins Friday, February 4.

The event began January 25. Readers can register and enter once each day through April 8.

Who may enter: Residents of the 50 US states (and DC) and Canada. Entrants must be at least 18 years old at time of entry. Click here to read the official rules.

The Grand Prize includes $20,000 in travel money, up to eight hours of consultation with an expert genealogist, help from up to five experts in specialized fields relevant to your unique family history, and a year-long Ancestry.com World Deluxe membership for you and five family members.

Twenty First Prize winners will receive an annual Ancestry.com World Deluxe membership.

For more information and to register, click here to begin by entering your email address.

Where in the world will you go if you win the grand prize? Tell Tracing the Tribe about your plans!

28 January 2011

Washington DC: 31st IAJGS conference updates

Tracing the Tribe hopes to see many of its readers at the 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy - August 14-19 - in Washington DC.

Several updates concerning the event:

UPDATE #1 - Drawing for free stay

To be eligible to participate in the drawing for a free five-night stay at the conference venue - The Grand Hyatt Washington - readers must complete their conference registrations by 11.59pm EST January 31.

To register, click here on the Conference website.

UPDATE #2 - Discussion Group

Keep up on the latest announcements and information about the 2011 event via the DC2011 Discussion group on JewishGen. Learn the latest details and announcements, ask questions and comment, connect with other attendees.

Subscribe now and be the first on your block to learn the name of the five-night hotel stay winner. This first drawing is for those who submitted proposals to speak at the conference. The second drawing, in mid-February, is for another free five-night hotel stay for those who did early registration by midnight January 31.

Subscribe to the DC2011 discussion group by clicking here. When prompted, login to JewishGen and the Subscribe to JewishGen Mailing Lists page will appear. Under Hosted Projects, look for the 2011 DC Conference and click - on the right side - Subscribe.

UPDATE #3 - Shabbat Scholar

On February 1, the conference committee will announce the name of the conference Shabbat Scholar (Friday night-Saturday, August 12-13). Many conference attendees arrive several days before the conference starts to research in area repositories and the Shabbat program is a good way to meet others.

Tracing the Tribe will cover all announcements and updates from the DC 2011 event and will also blog the conference, so stay tuned.

Museum of Family History: Yiddish Theatre name index transliterared

Steve Lasky of the virtual Museum of Family History has transliterated from Yiddish to English the 2,700 names of individuals and organizations in the six volumes of the "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig.

Read more here at Steve's blog and do look at the Museum of Family History's offerings as new information is frequently added.

His list includes an individual's surname, given name, alternate name, dates of birth and death, town and country of birth (if listed in the Lexicon). Steve used YIVO orthographic (name spelling) standards in his transliteration.

There are more than 2,700 individual names, and 30 organizations are also included in the master list. The most-frequently listed place of birth is Warsaw (with 213 mentions), more than twice the number of the second most-frequently listed birth place of Lodz. Others include Odessa, Lemberg, Vilna and Iasi.

There is also much biographical information for personalities that remains to be translated. Contact Steve if you'd like to volunteer in this respect.

The Lexicon volumes were published in New York City, Warsaw or Mexico City from 1931-1969.

He's hoping to create a free, searchable database where those interested can look up the more than 2,700 names and organizations listed. The Lexicon also contains many photos (individual portraits of the individuals and also of Yiddish productions).

Click here to find the six-volume set of the "Lexicon" and search for Lek?sik?on fun Yidishn teater, the Yiddish title transliterated.

Those who have an interest in Yiddish theatre and its personalities should contact Steve for more information.

Thank you, Steve, for another fascinating contribution to making Yiddish culture more accessible to a wider audience.

China: The Talmud as business guide?

Tracing the Tribe is still catching up with a mountain of email, so here's an interesting article on the increasing popularity of the Talmud in China.

The Newsweek story, by Isaac Stone Fish, covers the surprising trend in publishing books on Jewish topics, including those supposedly revealing business secrets in the Talmud.
... Titles such as Crack the Talmud: 101 Jewish Business Rules, The Illustrated Jewish Wisdom Book, and Know All of the Money-Making Stories of the Talmud share the shelves with stories of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. There’s even a Talmud hotel in Taiwan inspired by “the Talmud’s concept of success” that features a copy of the book Talmud Business Success Bible in every room. With the increasing interest in business education in China, and a rise in sales of self-help literature, the production of business guides to the Talmud has exploded. The guides are like the Chinese equivalents of books such as Sun Tzu and the Art of Business. ...
Crack the Talmud's author, writing under a nom de plume, says a series on the Jewish Bible by a prominent publisher made him realize that “ancient Jews and today’s Chinese face a lot of the same problems,” such as immigration and isolation, and spotlights such business rules as “tell a customer about defects” and “help more people.”

A book titled Jewish Family Education claims to have sold more than 1 million copies.

Associate dean of Shanghai's Center of Jewish StudiesWang Jian says The Talmud “has become a handbook for doing business and seeking fortunes.”

The presence of mid-19th century Jewish real estate entrepreneurs - Hardoon, Sassoon and Kadoorie - may have influenced the lack of antagonism towards "members of the tribe."

Nanjing University Jewish studies professor Xu Xin is quoted in the article as saying that some 50% of Westerners active in Mao Zedong's China were Jewish, which led to interest in Jewish culture.

Athough the Talmud contains information on contracts, zoning and charging interest, in addition to many other topics, it is certainly not a get-rich-quick guide as many in China seem to believe, according to the story.

Read the complete and interesting article at the Newsweek link above.

MyHeritage: SmartMatching upgrade

MyHeritage.com today announced an upgrade to its Smart Matching technology, providing family history researchers with new collaborative tools to find new relatives.

One of the important messages in the press release is that the company reinforces the concept that family trees on MyHeritage.com are safe and secure, as mutually confirmed Smart Matches will hyperlink trees - but not merge them. A tree creator (the owner) maintains complete control of his or her tree. Additionally, tree creators may always export or delete that tree. These features are not found elsewhere.

Readers who have not yet tried MyHeritage.com's Family Tree Builder software or set up an online family site may find these features a strong incentive to do so and enjoy the upgrade.

Here's the press release:
London, England & Tel Aviv, Israel – January 24, 2011 - MyHeritage.com, the most popular family network on the web, today released a major update of its flagship Smart Matching™ technology. A suite of new collaboration features significantly enhances one of the most advanced systems for automatic people discovery in the family history market, evolving Smart Matching™ into a community platform.

Smart Matching™ is a unique technology that matches between the people in a user’s family tree and more than 680 million people in 17 million other family trees on MyHeritage.com. The matching technology is sophisticated and bridges across differences in spelling, phonetics and relationships that may exist between the trees. The technology, available for free, has helped hundreds of thousands of people discover ancestors and locate long-lost relatives, reuniting families whose ties have been broken by time and fate. Several dozen of these success stories are described in interviews on the MyHeritage Blog.

The latest improvements include a complete overhaul of the presentation of Smart Matches™, and a range of new premium features for organizing and reviewing matches more efficiently.

The new Consensus Page, one of the first of its kind available to family historians, aggregates data from all Smart Matches™, presenting the big picture for each person. The Consensus lets users skip numerous one-on-one comparisons with individual family trees, and helps them fill in missing information about relatives more quickly and with more confidence. It conveniently displays a summary of the different names, birth and death dates and places, marriage info, etc., for any particular relative, indicating the number of times each piece of information has been used in other family trees. Users can then copy the most commonly used data as they see fit directly into their own family tree, complete with photos of their choice, and can also add a source citation on the copied data linking back to the original family tree.

The enhanced Smart Matching™ allows users to confirm or reject any match, and the platform distinguishes between matches that were confirmed or rejected by each respective tree owner. Users also have the ability to start discussions about matches, encouraging dialogue between researchers and family members about discoveries and the exchange of noteworthy information on mutual relatives.

“Tracing back the family history as far as possible into the past, and finding new living relatives in the present, are key drivers of the rising trend in online family history that we are witnessing”, said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage.com.

“Our Smart Matching™ technology is instrumental in achieving these goals, by harnessing the vast collective knowledge of the 54 million registered users on MyHeritage.com. Successfully matching between family trees requires cutting-edge technology and a huge family tree data set, and MyHeritage.com has established itself as a world leader in both these areas. We’re committed to creating an environment that nurtures genealogy as a community experience – to be enjoyed and shared by the whole family. The new update adds a layer of collaboration and transforms our powerful technology into a community platform.”

Smart Matching™ works in real time as users enter new information into their trees, as well as offline for deeper and more accurate comparisons. Users are notified by email of new discoveries made by the system. They are then presented with a list of suggested Smart Matches™ for common relatives between two or more family trees – complete with matching criteria and quality scores. Matches can be viewed by individual or by matching tree. The site’s huge global reach and support of 36 languages helps users find and reunite with family members around the world more effectively. Mutually confirmed Smart Matches™ cause family trees to be hyperlinked, not merged, so that tree owners retain complete control of their tree and can always export or delete it – important qualities not available in other family history platforms.

In order to get Smart Matches™ for free, go to MyHeritage.com and start a new family tree, or import an existing tree by uploading a GEDCOM file.
Daniel Horowitz of MyHeritage.com will also be speaking about the new features at upcoming conferences and local speaking dates.

27 January 2011

On the Road: Genealogists plan speaking tours

Are we coming to your neighborhood?

This is the time of year when many genealogy speakers are focusing on finalizing their schedules for the next few months.

Many - including Tracing the Tribe - will speak at both major conferences and local venues. All of these events are wonderful opportunities to meet, greet and learn from so many individuals speaking on a wide array of topics.

Tracing the Tribe will be speaking in the US, UK and Canada. This year will be much easier as we are now US-based, making it much easier to travel to events and return home without being away for extended periods of time. My presentations include DNA genetic genealogy, creating virtual communities and introductory sessions, and the current schedule looks like this:

6 - Rio Rancho, NM - DNA genetic genealogy and family history
10-12 - Salt Lake City, Utah - RootsTech 2011
13 - Albuquerque, NM Jewish community education event - A Taste of Honey -
24 - London UK - JGS of Great Britain
25-28 - London UK Who Do You Think You Are? Family History Fair

2 - Rio Rancho, NM - Genealogy Library Day ("Blast into the Past"), Loma Colorado Branch

7 - London UK - Society of Genealogists' Centenary Conference
8 - Manchester UK - JGS of Great Britain, Manchester Regional Conference
11-14 - Charleston, SC - National Genealogical Society Conference

10-12 - Burbank, CA - Southern California Jamboree
19-23 - Montreal, Canada - Association of Jewish Libraries

Our good friend and MyHeritage.com colleague Daniel Horowitz and I will both be speaking at the major conferences, at the Albuquerque JCC Taste of Honey event February 13, and at a special double-header February 24 for the JGS of Great Britain before WDYTYA Live! opens.

Daniel's upcoming schedule offers information-packed talks covering a broad range of topics - from MyHeritage features, technology, genealogy school projects, Israel resources and others.

8- Utah Jewish Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, UT
10-12 - RootsTech, Salt Lake City, UT
13 - JCC of Greater Albuquerque, Albuquerque, NM
14 - CSU/ JGS of Georgia, The Breman Museum, Atlanta, GA
24 - JGS of Great Britain, London, UK
25-27 - WDYTYA Live, London, UK

29 - JGS of Dayton, Ohio
31 - April 2 - VISIT Ohio Genealogical Society Conference

5 - JGS of Cleveland, Ohio
6-9 - VISIT 11th New England Regional Gen Conference
10 - JGS of New York, Center for Jewish History, Manhattan
11 - Association of Professional Genealogists NY, NY
14 - JGS of North Jersey, New Jersey
24 - JGS of Long Island, Long Island, NY
26 - Bernards Township Library, Basking Ridge, NJ

2 - JGS of Greater Philadelphia, Elkins Park, PA
3 - New York Genealogy PC Users' Group, Manhattan, NY
10-14 - VISIT NGS Conference, Charleston SC
15 - JGS of Greater Washington, Washington DC, Washington DC

For more information on Daniel's schedule and the specific talks at each location, contact him, or see his personal website.

Tracing the Tribe looks forward to greeting readers!

25 January 2011

Michigan: Genealogy software comparisons, February 6

Comparisons of popular genealogy software programs will be discussed at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Michigan on Sunday, February 6.

The meeting begins at 11am, at the Holocaust Memorial Center, 28123 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills. Admission: JGSMI members, free; others, $5.
IT specialist Steve Klein's presentation will be targeted to non-technical users, focusing on the most popular genealogy programs for Windows, Macintosh and the web. Each product will have a brief introduction, overview of key features, and comparison of relative strengths and weaknesses.
His interest in genealogy was sparked last year when a cousin invited him and several other family members to the MyHeritage.com website to build the family tree of their maternal grandparents. Over the year they've added ancestors, siblings, descendants and spouses, and now have 216 people listed.

Klein was a computer hobbyist in his teenage years, and parlayed his knowledge into a 25- year IT career, as a help desk support specialist, educational IT specialist, network engineer and as an IT manager. He's interrupted his professional career to pursue a BSIT degree at Lawrence Tech, and expects to graduate this summer.

Attendees are invited to submit questions in writing in advance, by February 1.

For more information about the JGSMi or directions, click here.

24 January 2011

Ancestry.com: Demise of 'Expert Connect'

Ancestry.com has just informed the genealogy community that its Expert Connect service will be "disconnected" as of March 18.

Here is the announcement:

Over a year ago Ancestry.com created Expert Connect as a way to expand its service offerings and provide additional assistance for members through an elite group of professional genealogists and researchers. Through this service, customers were given the opportunity to hire genealogists to retrieve records, perform research or simply acquire expert advice.

Though this service has been a positive experience, Ancestry.com has decided to focus on other business priorities, so as of March 18, 2011, Expert Connect will no longer be a service that Ancestry.com will offer to its members.

Both experts and members currently involved in Expert Connect have been notified of this update. We encourage members to finish out existing projects with experts they have located through the Expert Connect service and if needed, continue relationships for future projects they may have.
At the time Expert Connect was created, there was some controversy, on which numerous genealogy bloggers commented.

23 January 2011

Geneabloggers.com: 23 new genealogy blogs

Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers has discovered another 23 genealogy blogs, making the total of geneablogs at his site now 1,629.

Tracing the Tribe experienced a technical glitch with the last group of more than 30 new blogs, but will fix and post that previous list in the near future.

This week's batch includes one for the MOT's - Ancestral Discoveries - by Tracing the Tribe's friend and professional genealogist Janice M. Sellers, who will focus on genealogy education, Jewish genealogy and professional genealogy, using more than three decades of broad experience.

My blog hopes to inform people about interesting things in genealogy and to connect them with professionals who can help them find the information they are looking for. I have 35 years of experience with a broad range of research and specialize in Jewish research.
Her credentials include editorship of The Galitzianer (the quarterly newsletter for Gesher Galicia) and ZichronNote (newsletter of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society).

She's the SFBAJGS publicity director, and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild, California State Genealogical Alliance, California Genealogical Society, and Gesher Galicia. For 11 years, she's been a staff member of the Oakland Regional Family History Center.

The other newly discovered blogs' topics include individual family history, Australia, New Zealand, UK, genealogy education, writing your family history, Pacific Island, Idaho, Arkansas and Missouri:

-- A Hoyt Family Genealogy . . . and Related Surnames
Individual family history

Individual family history

-- Australian History for Genealogists
Australian genealogy

The author is an undergrad student of Australian history, volunteers at the Public Records Office of Victoria, and has interests in genealogy, oral history, local history, history preservation and museums.

-- Benjamin Kingman Curtis
Individual family history

Elrod Family History
Individual family history (ELROD of Kulmbach, Germany->America)

Individual family history

Genealogy at Tivel.org
Genealogy education blog, Individual family history (TIVEL)

Generations of Stories
Genealogy education, Writing Your Family History blog

I’m Related to Whom?
Individual family history (BERKHEIMER, WILDASIN, MONATH)

Individual family history, New Zealand genealogy, Pacific Islander genealogy

Mahogany Box
Individual family history, UK genealogy

Mam-ma’s Southern Family
Individual family history (LANCASTER)

Meridian 14th Ward Genealogy
Idaho genealogy

Ozarks’ History
Arkansas genealogy, Geographic location genealogy, Missouri genealogy

Remembering This Day In Our History
Individual family history

Shaking Leaves: My Adventures in Genealogy
Individual family history (BRITTAIN)

Thames NZ Genealogy Resources
New Zealand genealogy

The Family Shrubbery
Individual family history

The Ridouts of Bath
Individual family history (RIDOUT), UK genealogy

Uibles Family Blog
Individual family history (UIBLES)

William Lindsay
Individual family history (LINDSAY)

Wise-Stewart Genealogy
Individual family history

In what seems to be a recurring omission, many individual family history blogs do not clearly list the family surnames being researched in the blog introductions. Providing those names upfront might help readers who are also searching the same names.

Read more about each blog at the Geneablogger link above.

Antwerp, Begium: Foreigner indexes at FamilySearch.org

Did your family pass through Antwerp, Belgium on their immigration journey?

If so, then you might find information in the Foreigner Index at the Felix Archive in Antwerp, which contains files of foreigners who lived there from 1840-1930. Many of these individuals were Eastern European Jews.

Previously researchers could find names, file numbers, date and place of birth at the archive, but now these details can be found at FamilySearch.org using a name search.

Here's a portion of a page, with Joseph Aaronowicz from Czernowitz highlighted:

Read more about the Police Immigrant Index here.

While I did not find any of my TALALAY in the index, I did find numerous FINK that might be related. Now all I need is more time to check out those names.

To search this index, click here.

22 January 2011

Book: British Library's Yizkor book holdings

Readers interested in yizkor books may wish to acquire Ilana Tahan's book, "Memorial Volumes to Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust: A bibliography of British library holdings."

The 2004 first edition volume, which catalogs some 306 yizkor books, is available for $15 at Henry Hollander, Bookseller, in San Francisco, California.

The description reads:
London, The British Library, 2004. First Edition. ISBN: 0-7123-4820-4. Royal octavo, black cloth with gold lettering, color frontispiece photo, xiv, 89 pp., b/w photos, Communities by Current Location, Memorial Volumes by Language of Publication, Memorial Volumes by Year of Publication, Memorial Volumes by Country of Publications, index of Authors, Editors and Translators of Memorial Volumes in the section organized by localities, index of Authors and Editors of Memorial Books in the sections organized by Countries and Regions and in the Encyclopedia Volumes, index of Towns and Villages, index of Variant Spellings, List of Abbreviations, Selective Bibliography. Hardbound. Very Good. Introduction by Martin Gilbert. 306 volumes are cataloged. (54275).
Contact Henry Hollander if you are interested.

21 January 2011

DNA: Revealing more Jewish roots

It's always reassuring to read that major Jewish publications are carrying stories on what Tracing the Tribe and many others already know. A case in point is the new Forward story on how DNA tests are revealing hidden Jewish roots.

The story by Elie Dolgin - "Newer DNA Tests Uncover Hidden Jewish Bloodlines" - discusses both 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA.

It covers University of Chicago genetics doctoral student Joseph Pickrell's DNA odyssey along which revealed similar results to an Ashkenazi Jew, New York attorney Dan Vorhaus. Pickrell was raised Catholic but his results led him to ask his mother about the results.

She did some sleuthing among other relatives, revealing that:
"her father’s father — Pickrell’s maternal great-grandfather — had been raised Jewish in Poland before moving to the United States, where he married a Catholic woman and left his Jewish upbringing behind.

“It’s amusing that using genetics, I could wrestle this out of the bushes,” Pickrell said.
The story also mentioned FamilyTreeDNA.com's tests to uncover Jewish origins. Many Hispanic Americans descended from Jews forced to convert or hide their religion more than 500 years ago in Iberia. 

The story does explain 23andMe's test and why it produces those results.

A molecular anthropologist in Estonia, Richard Villems, is quoted as cautioning against jumping to conclusions based solely on DNA unless there is corroborating evidence, like Pickrell's ancestor.

Another section goes further, answering in part the question about what happens once a person discovers such a link.

Pickrell said he has no plans to start going to synagogue. And since “genes do not define the Jews,” according to Edward Reichman, an Orthodox rabbi and physician at Yeshiva University in New York, the Jewish community at large probably won’t embrace him, either. But according to Bennett Greenspan, president and CEO of Family Tree DNA, many people who learn of Semitic ancestry through DNA often end up converting to Judaism.

Elliot Dorff, a conservative rabbi and ethicist at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, welcomes these conversions. “We would really want to encourage such people to rediscover their Jewish roots,” he said. Although people who find Jewish origins through DNA are not strictly Jewish, halachically speaking, Dorff noted that many people in this situation already feel a deep-seated connection to the religion.
The comments, as always on this type of article, are always interesting and cover the spectrum of belief. One, by "Jack," reads:
Bennett Greenspan regularly presents the services of Family Tree DNA at Crypto-Jewish studies symposia. Also in attendance at these events are Hispanic Americans interested in the potential Jewish ancestry of their families. It would not be an overstatement that a Levantine genetic signal only confirms the Jewish background that many of the test subjects either already suspected or were convinced of. The DNA test is merely a confirmation, not a revelation, afterwards conversion to Judaism is a small step.
Read the complete story and all the comments at the link above.

Tracing the Tribe always recommends that those with known or suspected Jewish roots test with FamilyTreeDNA because it has the largest DNA database, which also includes the largest Jewish DNA database. Nearly all Jewish genealogists test with the company because of the large number of samples, which increases the probability of genetic matches.

There's a related 2010 Forward story covers how Rabbis and Halacha Grapple With Advances in DNA Technology:
Advances in genetic analysis and its medical applications are bringing unprecedented, if uneven, change to the world of Jewish law. Most often, the matter of genetics is considered in the context of issues on either end of life’s spectrum: those that relate to fertility and to the identification of post-mortem human remains.
“DNA analysis is gradually meandering its way through the halachic literature,” said Dr. Edward Reichman, an Orthodox rabbi and associate professor of emergency medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he is also an associate professor of bioethics and education.
“Science has opened up a huge area of research and treatment in the area of the genetic code that just didn’t exist 25 years ago. All of those developments have required authorities in Jewish law to consider what effect it has on their approach,” said Rabbi Avram Reisner, spiritual leader of Baltimore’s Congregation Chevrei Tzedek and a bioethicist who sits on the Conservative movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards.
Read that complete story at the story link above.

20 January 2011

Colorado: Yizkor books for Jewish family history, January 30

Yizkor books are an important component of Jewish family history, providing information on families in and history of towns and cities impacted by the Holocaust.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado will focus on Yizkor books when it hosts University of Maryland doctoral candidate Rachel Leah Jablon on Sunday, January 30.

The program begins at 10am at Congregation Har Shem, 3950 Baseline Road, South Building, in Boulder.

Jablon's program is titled "Yizkor Books: Required Reading for Reseaching Jewish Family History."

Yizkor books, or Jewish memorial books, offer Jewish genealogists a goldmine of information on ancestors, places of origin, religious movements, industrial trends, and Holocaust history. This presentation will cover the history and historiography of Yizkor books: what they are, when they came to be, where they come from, why they were published, who put them together, and how to use them. Because Yizkor books are hard to obtain, we will primarily use the Internet to "page through" digital, scanned-in versions of Yizkor books and their translations. A list of repositories which hold Yizkor books around the world will be provided. If you have any Yizkor books, please bring them to the presentation to show.
Jablon's dissertation - "Digital Legacies: Community, the Holocaust, and the Internet" - examines the influence of Jewish genealogy on Holocaust memorialization, especially in an online environment. She served as Denver University's Posen Visiting Lecturer of Secular Jewish Culture in 2006 and as the Holocaust Awareness Institute's Scholar-in-Residence in 2007.

For more information and directions visit the JGSCo website.

Tel Aviv: Breaking brick walls, January 30

Te Aviv's English-speaking genealogists will have an opportunity to break through brick walls at the next meeting of the Israel Genealogical Society on Sunday, January 30.

The English-language meeting starts at 7.30pm at Beit Shalom, 2 Shir St., Tel Aviv.

Professional genealogist Michael Goldstein - president, International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) and former president of IGS - will discuss puzzles he has solved.

Input is sought from prospective attendees. Have a brick wall that you'd like Michael to tackle at the meeting? If so, email your personal puzzles to Hinda.

Fee:  IGS members, free; others, NIS 20.

For more information and directions, click here.

18 January 2011

UK: Manchester research session, January 30

The Manchester branch of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain is planning a research afternoon on Sunday, January 30.

The meeting starts at 2pm at the Meade Hill Road (United) Synagogue, 88 Meade Hill Road, Manchester.

The program will provide access to the group's reference library. The plan is to have small groups working on the rich content and information available on  JewishGen, JGSGB, National Archives, Manchester Central Library Jewish Archives, Jewish Chronicle, Historical Directories, various BMDs and other resources.

An advance list of books is available. Write to Lorna Kay to receive the list and to make reservations for the day.

Lorna informs Tracing the Tribe that CD copies of John Cowell's book on the history of the Jews of Preston are available for purchase for £5.25 plus £1.50 if ordered by e-mail. Copies will be available at the meeting.

Admission: JGSGB members, free; others, £5.


The Manchester group's Ninth Full Day Conference is set for Sunday, May 8. I will be speaking there - my first time in that city - and looking forward to seeing many UK genealogy friends.

An event highlight will be the release of new databases for Manchester records.

Questions? Write to Lorna at the link above.

Orlando: New methods of publishing family history, January 25

New ways to publish family history, with speaker Marlis Humphrey, is the topic at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando (Florida) on Tuesday, January 25.

The meeting begins at 1pm at the Congregation Reformed Judaism, 928 Malone Drive, Orlando. There is no admission fee to attend.

"I couldn't put it down! - New ways to publish family history," will provide ideas, techniques, checklists, templates and samples for new methods of publishing family history.

Humphrey has approached genealogy with  a unique perspective on how advances in multimedia applications can enrich the sharing of family history. She has more than two decades experience in high tech computer and broadband communications at major corporations.
Her first major accomplishment was finding the shtetls for all of her great-grandparents.  She recently returned from a roots trip to Cleveland where she met her 88-year-old great aunt for the first time and located dozens of ancestors in three Jewish cemeteries. She has discovered ancestors in the 1897 Census of the Russian Empire. 
Currently, she is the JewishGen Ukrainian SIG project coordinator and has translated Russian cemetery records and ghetto lists held by the US Holocaust Museum. She has approached genealogy with  a unique perspective on how advances in multimedia applications can enrich our sharing of family history.
For more information, click here

17 January 2011

MyHeritage.com: Reuniting a family after 70 years

Here's a great story of Jewish family connections linking branches in Russia and the US some 70 years after all communication had ended.

It gives hope to all families impacted by history

David Greenberg and Grigori Yafet/Jafet were reconnected using the MyHeritage.com Smart Match feature. Ancestral towns mentioned are Kaunas (Kovno), Kedainai (Kedain), families are RUBENSHTEYN, RELKIN, GREENBERG, JAFET/YAFET,
David Greenberg has been researching his family history for nearly 40 years, all this time believing that a large part of his family had perished during the Holocaust. So you can imagine how David was ‘‘flat out speechless’’ to discover otherwise, thanks to a Smart Match on MyHeritage.com.

This is a tale of how fate divided a family, and how MyHeritage helped reunite it.
Read the complete story here and see some wonderful photographs.

A reunion is planned in March in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Webinar: Beginning genetic genealogy, January 18

Interested in genetic genealogy and how it can help you in your ancestral search, but wish you understood more about it?

Tracing the Tribe's good friend Elise Friedman (Boca Raton, Florida) - who works with and speaks on genetic genealogy - now has a website Relative Roots, a companion blog, and is beginning a series of free webinars, starting tomorrow.

Elise plans to host genealogy webinars several times a month beginning this month. She's starting with genetic genealogy and will offer others focusing on other topics in the future.

Participation is free, but requires pre-registration; click here to register. The software she's using is currently limited to 100 people per webinar - first-come, first-served - so consider registering right away.

The first session is for beginners:
Tuesday, January 18  (8pm East Coast, 5pm West Coast)
Genetic Genealogy for Beginners: DNA is the “Gene” in Genealogy!
If you don’t know the first thing about Genetic Genealogy, or even if you’ve heard about it, but don’t know which test you should take, this presentation is for you! Attendees will learn about the history of genetic genealogy, be introduced to DNA basics and inheritance paths, learn about the different types of DNA tests available for genealogy (Y-DNA, mtDNA and Autosomal), and learn about resources that will help you make the most of your Genetic Genealogy experience.
The next scheduled webinar is for beginners/intermediates:
Thursday, January 27 (8pm East Coast, 5pm West Coast)
Genetic Genealogy Demystified: Reading and Understanding Your Family Tree DNA Results
You’ve taken the plunge and ordered a genetic genealogy DNA test, but now that you have your results, you don’t understand them? This class is for you! Those who haven’t tested yet can also benefit from this class by getting a preview of what their results could look like. Attendees will get a tour of the MyFTDNA account, and detailed explanations of how to read and understand their Y-DNA, mtDNA and Family Finder results and matches.
See the webinar schedule here.

Elise Friedman is a professional genealogist, specializing in Jewish genealogy, genetic genealogy, and technology. She has given lectures and workshops at a variety of venues, from local genealogy and community meetings to international Jewish genealogy conferences. She has researched her own family history for more than 10 years, and has roots in Belarus, Russia, Poland and Ukraine (formerly Galicia).

Active in genetic genealogy, she is JewishGen’s DNA Projects Coordinator, manages several DNA studies at FamilyTreeDNA.com, and co-authored a genetic genealogy case study published in Avotaynu and Forum journals.

A member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild, International Society of Genetic Genealogy and Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County, Elise has a BS in Computer Engineering (Pennsylvania State University) and is a former information technology professional.

JewishGen: ShtetLinks update, December 2010

JewishGen's ShtetLinks Project has issued its report for December 2010 on updates and new sites.


Ruzhany, Belarus

New sites:

Cotopaxi, Colorado, USA (Jen Lowe)

Chop (Csap, Cop) (S-C), Ukraine (Marshall J. Katz)

Kezmarok (Kesmark), Slovakia (Madeleine Isenberg)

Park Hills (Flat River), Missouri, USA (Ross DeHovitz)

Some shtetlpages were created by those who can no longer maintain them. Here are some orphan pages up for adoption:

Borisov, Belarus

Krnov (Jaegerndorf), Czech Republic

Lask, Poland

Rozdol, Ukraine

Contact Susanna Leistner Bloch if you wish to create a new webpage for your ancestral shtetl or adopt an orphan page.

San Francisco: Jewish calendar made simple, January 23

Jewish genealogists must learn about the Jewish calendar to understand archival and vital records, cemetery inscriptions and more.

The San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society will present the famed Dr. Steve Morse in "The Jewish Calendar Demystified," on Sunday, January 23.

Doors open at 12.30pm for the 1pm program at Congregation Beth Israel Judea, 625 Brotherhood Way, in San Francisco.

The Jewish calendar is important to genealogists because Jewish vital records use Jewish dates. The calendar is both a solar and lunar calendar, with the months being synchronized to the moon and years to the sun. As such, the rules governing the calendar can be a bit daunting. This talk presents the calendar in an easy-to-understand - and sometimes tongue-in-cheek - fashion.
Now a genealogical household name, Steve Morse is the creator of the One-Step Website. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Outstanding Contribution Award from IAJGS, the Award of Merit from the National Genealogical Society, the first-ever Excellence Award from the Association of Professional Genealogists, and two awards that he cannot pronounce from Polish genealogical societies.

For more information and directions, click the SFBAJGS site here

16 January 2011

Long Island NY: Primo Levi lecture, February 12

A lecture on Primo Levi and the Holocaust in Italy, by Professor Stanislao G. Pugliese, will be hosted by the Italian Genealogical Group on Saturday, February 12.

The meeting begins at 10.30am at the Bethpage Public Library, 47 Powel Avenue, Bethpage, NY. There is no admission fee.

Distinguished Professor of Italian and Italian American Studies at Hofstra University, Pugliese is a specialist on the Italian anti-Fascist Resistance and Italian Jews. He has written numerous books.

Among his works is the edited collection of essays, "The Legacy of Primo Levi" (MacMillan):

These essays examine how Primo Levi has influenced the fields of philosophy, politics, and ethics, offering provocative comparisons with Dante, Giorgio Agamben, Franz Kafka, Emmanuel Levinas, Viktor Frankl, and Elie Wiesel. Topics include Levi's anti-fascism; the influence of Judaism on his thinking and writing; Levi's poetry and linguistics; the problem of memory and representation; the concept of the "gray zone"; and the controversy surrounding Levi's death. A unique perspective on the life and work of a writer who powerfully reminds us of what transpired in the extermination camps of Europe and what it means to be human after Auschwitz.
Visit the Italian Genealogical Group.

Poland: Nowy Zmigrod birth records

Some 1,400 new birth records for Nowy Zmigrod have been added to Jewish Records Indexing - Poland.

They cover the years 1866-1889, and were in the Skoyszyn branch of the Polish State Records.

Search the records in the JRI-Poland data base.

Data includes the names of parents, and may include the parents' year of marriage or a data of death for a child that did not survive.

Some 500 surnames are mentioned in the records. See the name list here.

The records also reference some 150 towns - often nearby shtetls - in addition to Nowy Zmigrod, and indicating where the mother or father was born. Most frequently mentioned are Biecz, Brzezowa, Desznica, Dukla, Gorlice, Grab, Halbow, Jasienica, Katy, Korczyna, Kotan, Krempna, Nowy Sacz, Tarnow and Toki.

For more information, contact town leader Phyllis Kramer.

15 January 2011

New York: House history seminar starts February 2

House history - the genealogy of houses or buildings - is another aspect of family history research. How can you learn to research the buildings in which your ancestors lived or worked?

Readers who attended the 2006 IAJGS conference in New York will remember architectural historian Tony Robins' excellent presentation on researching the city's tenements.

Those who live in or near New York City have an opportunity to attend Robin's four-session seminar and a field trip at the Municipal Art Society: "An Introduction to Researching the History of Buildings in New York City."

He's been leading these seminars for some two decades. It runs from 5.45-7.30pm, Wednesday, February 2, with subsequent sessions set for February 9, 16, 23 and a daytime field trip (to be scheduled) to the Manhattan Department of Buildings, New York City Conveyance Records, the Municipal Archives and the Municipal Reference Library. Fee: MAS members/students, $200; others, $250.

Robins' positions make him well-qualified to teach what he has spent his professional life doing: the protection of New York City's landmarks and education about the city's history and architecture. He's prepared dozens of National Register nominations.

His books include "Classics of American Architecture: The World Trade Center" (1987) , "Subway Style" (2004), and is currently writing a New York Art Deco architecture guidebook. His websites include NYC Tours and Lectures and Urban Genealogy.

In addition to being a Columbia University and New York University adjunct professor, he is co-owner and director of Preservation Services and Educational Programming at Thompson & Columbus, Inc., teaches at the Municipal Art Society of New York, and is the former vice-president and current advisory committee member of the Art Deco Society.

Reservations required. For more information on the February seminar, click here.

14 January 2011

Archives.com: Family history grant program

Whether you are a newbie or professional research or connected to a library, historical society or archive, a new family history grant program may be just the ticket to help with your family history research or historical preservation project.

The Archives.com family history grant program will begin providing monthly awards of up to $1,000 at the end of January. US-based individuals and organizations are eligible to apply.

The mission of the grant is to help fund important individual and communal initiatives that contribute to the promotion and advancement of family history research and historical preservation. Project examples may include preservation of historical documents, restoration of culturally significant artifacts, transcription of records, promotion of awareness of historical events, or others.

CEO Matthew Monahan said “Now we are going one step further by establishing the Archives.com Grant Program so that valuable research projects do not perish due to lack of funding. We aim to level the playing field so that anyone can embark on the preservation projects that matter to them because family history shouldn’t be a hobby solely for the rich and famous.”
According to the press release:
Grant recipients may come from all walks of life, and may be individuals or community-based organizations. Specifically, Archives is seeking any project that contributes to the promotion and advancement of family history research and preservation. Examples include projects related to document preservation, artifact restoration, record transcription, and promotion of historical events.

Grant recipients will be chosen monthly and awarded up to $1,000 to fund their project. Archives encourages every person or organization in the U.S. to apply, whether a newbie, hobbyist, expert, or community group, like a historical society, library, or archive.

"Archives is excited to continue investing in the community, as we believe there are few things more important than the exploration and preservation of our history, culture, and heritage," said Director of Product Joe Godfrey. "Undoubtedly, the Archives.com Grant Program will prove to be an important resource for a diverse group of family historians and organizations."
Read the complete press release at the link above. For more information, click on the application page, the online process is simple, and asks for detailed answers to only four questions. If you have more questions, send an email.

Don't know what Archives.com is?

Archives.com is a leading family history Web site that makes discovering family history simple and affordable. The company has assembled more than 1.1 billion historical records – birth, death, marriage, divorce, census, obituary, immigration, military and more – all in a single location, and makes them available at a price that’s up to 80 percent less than the leading competitor. Archives also partners with other leading family history websites to provide integrated record collections, discounted memberships, official certificates and other special promotions – providing a comprehensive resource for researching your family history.
The site is free to try for seven days, allowing anyone to explore the benefits of membership without risk or obligation. Learn more at Archives.com.

13 January 2011

A site of interest: Jewish Ideas Daily

Jewish family history links to all aspects of culture. We may well find clues in articles on many sites offering interesting articles.

Tracing the Tribe frequently enjoys stories on Moment and Tablet, and calls its readers' attention to those relevant articles.

Another good site is Jewish Ideas Daily.

What is it?

This is their "About Us" page:

Jewish Ideas Daily aims to be the premier aggregator and originator of Jewish ideas on the web. Each day, an original feature piece focuses on an issue of contemporary interest and enduring relevance. In Today's Picks, we draw on sources ranging from daily opinion pages to weekly and monthly magazines, academic journals, books, blogs, think-tanks, universities, and online learning sites. Many of our postings are up-to-the-minute; others are classics from the near or distant past. In brief, we hope to offer a one-stop source of the best that has been and is being thought and said by or about Jews.
Several good original stories and links to those in other media sources can be found on the homepage.

You might want to sign up for their daily email alert.

Washington DC: Cultural continuity challenges, January 23

The challenges of cultural continuity with speaker Dr. Miriam Isaacs is the program for the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington, on Sunday, January 23.

The meeting begins at 1.30pm, at Congregation Beth El, in Bethesda, Maryland. Admission: JGSGW members and first-timers, free; others, $5.

A well-known expert on Yiddish culture, Isaacs will address how cultures can be transmitted and the factors leading to cultural disruption.

She will draw on the traditional notion of the Golden Chain, di goldene keit(Yiddish), the chain that links generations.

Isaacs will provide examples of stories, beliefs and ideas kept across generations and how they are adapted and re-adapted to different locations and situations. The examples will be drawn from folklore, literature and contemporary culture and also include how traditional themes are found in Holocaust studies.

Although many of our ancestors spoke Yiddish, few of us today understand how that language has impacted our culture over the generations.

Isaacs teaches at the University of Maryland.

Israel: IGS holds elections

The Israel Genealogical Society held its annual general meeting, including elections, on December 22, 2010.

The elected officers are President Garri Regev, Secretary Susan Edel and Treasurer Chana Furman.

Michael Goldstein (who is the IAJGS president) and Dr. Lea Haber Gedalia completed their terms.

The Executive Committee includes Regev, Edel and Furman, as well as Shaul Hollander and Daniel Horowitz as representatives.

The 2014 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held in Israel.

For more information on the IGS, click here.

12 January 2011

WDYTYA: Second NBC season starts February 4

Who Do You Think You Are? starts its second NBC season on Friday, February 4.

The original UK series spawned an entire genealogy-to-the-masses industry, and we may be well on our way on this side of the pond as well.

Most US-based genealogists believe the family history craze began here after Roots was published and then aired as a television series. It gave us hope that we could also investigate our own unique families.

The first season spurred awareness in the US, and the second season should continue the process of encouraging viewers to think about their own family histories.

The show only shows the results, so viewers are looking for help in how they can also find relevant information. Across the US, many viewers contacted their local libraries, archives and genealogy societies. 

Many geneabloggers discussed the ramifications of the American version of the show before it aired. Many of us made the point that on-the-ground local societies could receive the benefits by providing information to those who came knocking at their door for information.

A review of geneablog posts and Ancestry.com's own communications indicate several tips to build on the popularity of the show.

These include: 

  • A society open house or beginners' workshop. While the majority of viewers may be newcomers, even experts and seasoned researchers found important information in certain episodes. Ancestry suggests that societies invite their members, community and local media to an open house during the premiere.  
  • Contact local media. Talk to local newspapers and TV stations about how people can get started and how your society can help. One idea might be to research the ancestry of a local newsperson. The San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society indicated that their local NBC affiliate publicized their event, filmed the society's library and conducted live interviews at two news slots.  
  • Encourage members to spread the word. Those who are already passionate about family history and the most enthusiastic are often the best spokespersons. use Facebook, Twitter and blogs to llet people know about activities in conjunction with the new series.
  • Prepare materials for beginners. Create a one-page “Getting Started in Family History” handout to handout through your group or activity. Encourage your local library to distribute a flyer or guide for their patrons and/or on their websites. And let people know via social media about the guide and where to get a copy. 
  • Why should newcomers join your group? Planning a special event, offering workshops, media interviews, and other community events will provide interested audiences who will be receptive to an intro to your society and how it can help them. What about offering a limited-time membership discount?
  • Brainstorm ideas with your society. How can your group increase local interest in the show as well as your society?  
According to a communication from Ancestry.com:
All in all, “Who Do You Think You Are?” continues to present the genealogy community with a golden opportunity to revolutionize, reshape, and redefine family history as a whole. It’s an opportunity to grow and strengthen societies, to infuse our community with younger audiences who can become the next generation of family historians, and to educate the public about what family history is and how to successfully research their heritage.
What will your society do to celebrate the show's new season?

Sacramento: Immigration and naturalization records, Jan. 16

Immigration and naturalization records are on the program at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento on Sunday, January 6.

The meeting begins at 10am at the Albert Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright Street, Sacramento.

Speaker Lynn Brown will discuss how to determine when your ancestor immigrated, what records are available and how to locate them. Learn what organization has replaced the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and how this may impact your efforts to uncover relevant records.

A family historian for more than 35 years, Brown has an extensive background in computer and genealogy research. She is a Sacramento Regional Family History Center volunteer and recently retired from teaching genealogy research skills in several local school districts. She has lectured throughout the Central Valley and owns Family-Quest.com, a genealogical counseling business.

For more information, click here

Oregon: Jews of the Pacific Coast, January 23

Since the Gold Rush in 1849, the Pacific Coast  has attracted Jews who have shaped this geographical region.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon will present "Jews of the Pacific Coast," with Professor Ellen Eisenberg, at its next meeting on Sunday, January 23.

The program begins at 1pm at Congregation Ahavath Achim, 3225 SW Barbur Blvd., Portland. Admission: Members, free; others, $5.
From the California Gold Rush of 1849 to the explosion of population centers in the Southwest in the 1980s, Jews have played a significant role in shaping the Pacific West. In the process, they have reshaped themselves, as individuals and as communities. Through their mercantile networks and cultural innovations, their philanthropic institutions and political leadership, western Jews created a distinctive identity.

Using historical photographs from her new book, Ellen Eisenberg will explore the nature of the Jewish experience in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the small towns of the West. She will explain the important differences among these cities, as well as highlighting the ways in which the western Jewish experience has echoed and deviated from the familiar story of American Jewish history.
Since 1990, Eisenberg has taught history at Willamette University, and was named the Lear Professor of America History in 2003. She holds a BA in American Studies (Carleton College) and a PhD in History (University of Pennsylvania). Her research focuses on Jews in the Pacific West and their relationships with other ethnic groups.

Her publications include Jewish Agricultural Colonies in New Jersey,1882-1920; chapters in the anthologies Jewish Life in the American West and California Jews, and journal articles and monographs.  The First to Cry Down Injustice?  Western Jews and Japanese Removal during WWII was a National Jewish Book Award finalist.  Jews of the Pacific Coast: Reinventing Community on America’s Edge, co-authored with Ava Kahn and Bill Toll, was released by the University of Washington Press earlier this year.

For more information, click here.

11 January 2011

Software: 2010 user awards

Louis Kessler has been a genealogist and programmer for more than three decades.

In 1997, he launched his Genealogy Software Links page which, in 2008, became the GenSoftReview site. He also developed the Behold genealogy program.

Kessler has just announced his 2010 Users Choice Awards for the most-liked genealogy programs for 2010.

The 2010 winners are: RootsMagic, Brother's Keeper, The Next Generation, Genbox Family History, Legacy, Personal Ancestral File, Reunion and MyHeritage.com 's Family Tree Builder. Seven are repeat winners from 2009.

Genealogists have gone to his site for more than two years to review and rate genealogy software.

According to his press release, it isn't easy to pick what program - of more than 550 - is best to use for your research. At his site, people can search for the program they want or for a specific program. They can read the reviews posted by users and see how the programs are rated by those users. The site is free and no registration is needed to add reviews.

After two years, over 720 reviews have been submitted. The end of year ratings for 2010 have now been tabulated and eight programs have been awarded a Users Choice Award. All the programs with a user rating of 4 or more out of 5 and at least 10 reviews are being awarded a GenSoftReviews Users Choice Award.
Says Kessler, "Everybody is different and has different needs. Choosing a genealogy program is like choosing a vacation hotel. What's best for one person is not necessarily best for another person." He says his site helps researchers decide on their genealogy tool, using consumer ratings to help them decide on a program.

Questions about the site or the awards? contact Kessler.