24 July 2009

Israel: 19th century Hebrew help needed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 comment:

  1. This is an interesting article. It shows how difficult it can be tracing Hebrew or Jewish names, with original spellings in Hebrew being transferred across into different languages, different alphabets, and obscuring the Hebrew name. It is bad enough with changed spellings over decades in English, let alone Hebrew.