30 September 2010

Long Island NY: JGSLI celebrates 25th year, Oct. 24

Happy 25th anniversary to the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island, which will celebrate with a brunch on October 24.

The event, including a dairy brunch, begins at 10.45am at Temple Beth David Commack, 100 Hauppauge Road, Commack.

Speaker Leona Schwartz is the daughter of Eli Mintz, who played Uncle David on the popular 1950s television series, "The Goldbergs."

She will reminisce about television pioneer Gertrude Berg, her award-winning television family, and 1950s New York Jewish life.

The registration deadline is October 13. Fee: JGSLI members/spouses: $20 per person; others, $30.

For more information, view the JGSLI website.

28 September 2010

Tel Aviv: Family Festival, Day 3

The crowds of families are still strong on this last day of the One Family Many Faces festival.

Attending a special event last night were Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, and Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov, who both visited the MyHeritage.com display.

Daniel Horowitz, the company's genealogy and translation manager, helped Edelstein create his tree online.

      Sitting at computer, Minister Edelstein. Standing left, Daniel  Horowitz. 
Standing right, Minister Misezhnikov

Avinoam Armoni, Beit Hatfutsot's director, dropped by yesterday to check his family tree. We mentioned that visitors are hoping that this will be offered again next year.

This morning, Tracing the Tribe reader, Serge Blinder - originally from Toulouse, France - came by to say hello:

Carol Hoffman and Rose Feldman (Israel Genealogical Society) and I have been fielding visitors' questions about resources, where to go for more information and how to learn more. We've been talking about how to offer genealogy classes next year as part of the event.

It has been a fabulous three days.

Tracing the Tribe will say it again: Everyone who says kids are not interested in family history has never seen this crowd: grandparents, parents, children all working together to create family trees.

We are looking forward to next year!

Tel Aviv: Family Festival - Day 2

Whoever says that children are not interested in family history has never been to a festival like this.

Today is the third day of the "One Family, Many Faces" family festival at Beit Hatfutsot (Museum of the Jewish People) in Tel Aviv.

Each day has seen crowds of families to the MyHeritage.com bank of 50 computers and a team of 15 experts. The plan was to provide each family with a 30-minute consultation on how to set up a family tree on MyHeritage.com. Over the first two days, some 950 new trees were created!

Yesterday, I spoke to several families as to why they were here, why family history was important to them, why they brought their children.

A family with roots in Libya brought their two young sons. The mother's family tree with many photos is already on the site. They were at a computer to show the children the online tree and add information. Why were they here?

The father smiled and just pointed to his boys: "We want them to know their history."

A jovial grandfather came on the first day with one set of grandchildren, and came again yesterday with another set. He came by our desk and said "I'm baaack!" I'm not sure if he's coming again with more of them!

A young woman with family roots in Baghdad brought her young niece, 6: "We don't know much beyond my grandparents," she said, "but I'm trying to learn more." She asked where she might find more information on resources; I provided a few leads.

The more questions I asked her, the more she asked me: "Why are you so interested in family history? Why are others so interested? I mentioned some of the reasons we want to learn about our family, and stressed my belief  that learning - every day - about new resources, databases, books and more to increase our knowledge kept our brains active and absorbing. Long ago, my pediatrician aways said to us "resting is rusting."

While we were talking, one of the MyHeritage team was helping the niece fill in names. I asked her if she was having a good time. "Fantastic!" she said.

A woman with roots in Hamadan, Iran brought her grandchildren. She came over to say how wonderful this event was for the younger generation, to connect with their history. We spoke in Farsi and we learned we knew each other's families in Teheran, Los Angeles and here. Her grandchildren kept coming over to ask her about details to put into their new tree.

The next post will detail some of the people who have visited the family history area!

26 September 2010

Israel: 'One Family, Many Faces Festival,' Day 1

When Tracing the Tribe arrived at Beit Hatfutsot at 8.30am, nothing much was happening. In  less than an hour, nearly all of the 50 MyHeritage.com computers were in use by people of all ages, including many children.

Tracing the Tribe is sharing a table with Rose Feldman and Garri Regev of the Israel Genealogical Society (photo below right) and we also are displaying the 2010 IAJGS International Jewish Genealogy Month poster.

Many people are stopping by and asking about genealogy, how to get started, what to do, even questions on DNA genetic genealogy.

It appears to be a great day for MyHeritage. In just the first five hours, neary 400 trees were added.

It's a good day to be in the air-conditioned lobby of the museum, as it's humid and hot outdoors today.

People who've said hello: Harvey Krueger stopped by to say hello before the Beit Hatfutsot international board of directors meeting, and Assia Reuven and Haim Ghiuzeli of the museum.

Judging from the people in the lobby, it seems more and more people are coming in - which is a good thing.

We're all looking forward to tomorrow's second day!

Boston: NEHGS new visitor tour, Oct. 6

The New England Historical Genealogical Society will offer a new visitor and welcome tour on Wednesday, October 6.

Learn all about the NEHGS and its resources at a free lecture for members and others, from 10-11:30am, at 99-101 Newbury St., Boston.

Starting your family genealogy can seem a little daunting at first. There is so much information found in a variety of locations. Let NEHGS help you make sense of it all by attending this FREE lecture for both members and non-members. This talk introduces you to the NEHGS research library.

Founded in 1845, it is the country’s oldest and largest non-profit genealogy library and archive. With more than 15 million artifacts, books, manuscripts, microfilms, journals, photographs, records, and other items, NEHGS can provide researchers of every level some of the most important sources of information.
Participants will be able to describe research interests to a staff genealogist, who will provide advice. The session begins with a half-hour intro talk, followed by a tour of the library and its holdings.

For more information, visit AmericanAncestors.org.

25 September 2010

New York: Gastro-genealogy, eating Jewish

Hey, if we can have "geneabloggers," we can have "gastrogenealogy," right?

Love Sephardic food from Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Africa, South America and other parts, but don't want to cook it at home?

According to the New York Times, chef Nikki Cascone's new restaurant, Octavia's Porch, will offer Jewish dishes from those places and more. Named for the Via del Portico d’Ottavia, in Rome’s Jewish ghetto, he opening is planned for November at 40 Avenue B (Fourth Street).

Info in other articles and blogs indicate the theme is "global Jewish cuisine." See the Village Voice blog - Fork in the Road - for an interview with Cascone on September 16. Here's a bit of it:

What's the status of your new restaurant?
The restaurant's name is Octavia's Porch. It's named after the Roman Jewish ghetto. There's a pizza there called Porta Octavia. We really wanted a story behind our name and that was one of the first places I realized that there were Jews all over the world -- even places like Italy -- doing unbelievable food that had an influence on the cuisine in the countries they resided in. I didn't know that before then and felt pretty naive being that I had a Jewish mom and an Italian dad.

Are you working on menu items yet?
We started recipe testing this week and tasting. There's Eastern European influences, Egyptian, Ukrainian, Hungarian ... you name it. It is global Jewish cuisine. I wanted to emphasize that Jewish food is more than just deli, which really was invented here in New York City. I'm trying to do classic dishes with a modern "Nikki" twist and expose people to less traditional dishes that they may not have seen from some other parts of the world. You eat it and think, "Oh, that's Jewish?" Things like eggplant caponata that the Arabics and Jews introduced to Italians, then Italians got all the credit for it. Jewish really was the first fusion cuisine.
Will the food be kosher?
The restaurant is Jewish by culture and not by religion. So, although we're not going to be kosher, we are not going to serve shellfish and pork.
The second part of the interview is here; learn what the chef ate at her post-Yom Kippur break-fast.

Los Angeles: Lisa Kudrow to speak, Sept. 28

Don't forget that Lisa Kudrow of the US-version of Who Do You Think You Are? will appear on Tuesday, September 28 at a meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles.

The meeting begins at 7.30pm in the Magnin Auditorium at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles.

Kudrow will screen her episode of the series, and will be joined by two of the show's producer/researchers Alexandra Orton and Anna Kirkwood for the Q&A session following the screening.

Reservations are required. Send an email. Fee: JGSLA members, free; others, $5. Ancestry.com will provide a door prize. For more information, click here.

24 September 2010

Israel: 21st-century cemetery technology

If you've ever visited an Israeli cemetery, be prepared for an experience of a different kind.

Graves are crowded with barely a semblance of space to put down a foot between or around the headstones. At a recent burial outside of Tel Aviv, elderly and mobility-challenged relatives and friends could not reach the grave site.

Will they ever find that grave site again? I don't think I could.

However, help is on the way!

The Chevra Kadisha, Israel's burial society with branches in each town and city, is now embracing 21st century technology.

One new project - still in the idea stage - in the Greater Tel Aviv area is a Facebook-type "Genealogy Tree."

When the project is implemented, says the society, nearly each of the nearly 500,000 people buried in the area will have a computerized family tree, providing information about the deceased, his or her relatives, a family tree, a profile picture, and where news and video clips could be posted. The system will also suggest whom to add as relatives.

[CAVEAT: The last sounds like a great idea for those with uncommon names, but Tracing the Tribe would hate to try to decide which of several thousand Avraham Cohens would be the right one to add to a certain tree.]

YNetNews carried the story (English) about how the organization is upgrading its services via technology to help those looking for a relative or friend's resting place more easily.

"In the last couple of months we have developed an SMS grave-locator system," Yossi Zrock, head of Chevra Kadisha IT Services, told Yedioth Ahronoth.

"If, for example, you've arrived at a cemetery and you don't know where the gravestone is, text the name of the deceased to *4664 and directions will be sent to you within seconds."

Chevra Kadisha, he added, is currently developing a GPS grave-locater system for mobile phones. "Such technologies are required for the bigger cemeteries, like the one in Holon, which has over 220,000 graves. People can get lost."

Visitors will be able to rent a PDA - the system might also work on personal smartphones - for NIS 20 (about $5.30), which will lead them to the gravestone, view photos of the deceased, read about his or her life and access appropriate prayers. Future plans include subscribing to grave maintenance and other services via the PDA.

The Tel Aviv society recently launched a website (also in English) which allows families to host commemoration pages, a reminder system for death anniversaries a week prior to the date. The website is not accessible on holidays or Shabbat. Tracing the Tribe is not sure which of the new services will be available in English or only in Hebrew.

Information stations in cemeteries will provide commemoration page details, according to Chevra Kadisha Tel Aviv director Rabbi Avraham Manlah. The pilot project in the Holon Cemetery allows visitors to light a cyber-candle for the dead, or place a cyber-stone or wreath on the grave, noted on the commemoration page.

The society will also offer live Internet feeds of funeral services. According to the article, many Israeli cemeteries already have cameras, allowing those unable to attend a service in person to view it online. Fees to broadcast a funeral are about $53-80, with a CD available for $13.

Read the complete story at the link above.

Boston: New York research, Oct. 3

"New York Research: Not Everything is Online" will be Steven Siegel's program at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston on Sunday, October 3.

This event begins at 1:30 pm, at Temple Emanuel Reisman Hall, 385 Ward Street, Newton.

Although New York genealogical resources are extensive and many can be searched online, locating New York documents in a maze of repositories and websites can be confusing even to a knowledgeable family historian.

The 1898 expansion of New York City from Manhattan and The Bronx into a municipality comprising five boroughs and four – later five – counties led to record-keeping challenges that still perplex today's researchers. Two federal court districts have jurisdiction over the city and its suburban counties, and New York's role as the country's major port of entry produced documents that often point to an immigrant's place of origin.

Steven Siegel, an experienced genealogist and archivist, and a founder and past president of the New York JGS, will offer practical advice for navigating New York's archival treasures and finding the connections between documents that illustrate a family's history.

Siegel was library director and archivist at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA in Manhattan for 31 years until his recent retirement. He initiated and organized the annual Family History Fair (1990-2005) during New York Archives Week. He is a past president of the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York and the 2004 recipient of the Round Table's Award for Archival Achievement. He is president of the Jewish Historical Society of New York, serves on the Jewish Book Council Board of Directors, and is a member of the Cornell Hillel Board of Trustees and the Cornell University Council.

A founder of the New York JGS and president (1985-1989), he currently serves on its board. He has been researching for more than 40 years, focusing on Jewish genealogy, Jewish archival sources and New York City local history. He was co-founder/co-editor of "Toledot: The Journal of Jewish Genealogy" (1977-1982) and compiled the "Archival Resources" volume of "Jewish Immigrants of the Nazi Period in the USA" (1978).

For more information, visit the JGSGB website.

Miami: Learn about FTM 2010, 2011, Oct. 3

Miami-area researchers have an opportunity learn about Family Tree Maker 2010 and 2011 editions with Harry Stuart on Sunday, October 3.

The free meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Miami starts at 10am at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation Building, 4200 Biscayne Blvd. Miami.

The local Family Tree Maker guru will demonstrate - on large screens - the pros and cons of both versions and how to use them. Stuart is asking that people email questions about the software edition to be answered at the meeting.

For more information and directions, click here.

Ancestry.com to acquire iArchives and Footnote.com

New sites are launched and established sites are acquired.

The newest acquisition, as per a press release from Ancestry.com, is that site's agreement to acquire iArchives, Inc. and its website, Footnote.com. When the deal is complete, it will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com.

Tracing the Tribe wonders which genealogy resource company will be next on the acquisition list.

Here's the press release:
Leading Brand for American Historical Content
PROVO, Utah, September 23, 2010 – Ancestry.com Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire iArchives, Inc. and its branded Web site, Footnote.com, a leading American History Web site, for approximately $27 million in a mix of Ancestry.com stock, cash and assumption of liabilities. This acquisition will provide the company with a complementary consumer brand, expanded content offerings, and enhanced digitization and image-viewing technologies.

iArchives digitizes and delivers high-quality images of American historical records of individuals involved in the Revolutionary War, Continental Congress, Civil War, and other US historical events to Footnote.com subscribers interested in early American roots. iArchives has digitized more than 65 million original source documents to date through its proprietary digitization process for paper, microfilm and microfiche collections.

“Footnote.com is highly complementary to Ancestry.com’s online family history offering,” said Tim Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ancestry.com. “By promoting Footnote to our Ancestry audience, we hope to expand its reach among researchers who care about early American records. iArchives also brings outstanding image-viewing technology and content digitization capabilities that will improve our leadership position in bringing valuable historical records to the market. We welcome the iArchives team to the Ancestry.com family.”

Upon completion of the transaction, iArchives will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com. As part of the transaction, Ancestry.com currently expects to issue approximately 1.0 million shares of common stock. The transaction is subject to various closing conditions and is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Ancestry.com also announced today that its Board of Directors has approved a share repurchase program of up to approximately $25 million of its common stock. Under the authorization, share repurchases may be made by the Company from time to time in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions depending on market conditions, share price and other factors and may include accelerated or forward or similar stock repurchases and/or Rule 10b5-1 plans. Part of the rationale for the repurchase is to offset dilution of equity resulting from the iArchives acquisition. No time limit was set for the completion of this program. The share repurchase program may be modified or discontinued at any time by the Board of Directors.

About Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) is the world's largest online family history resource, with approximately 1.3 million paying subscribers. More than 5 billion records have been added to the site in the past 13 years. Ancestry users have created more than 19 million family trees containing over 1.9 billion profiles. Ancestry.com has local Web sites directed at nine countries, including its flagship Web site at http://www.ancestry.com/.

About iArchives/Footnote.com

iArchives is a leading digitization service provider that also operates Footnote.com, a subscription Web site that features searchable original documents, providing over 35,000 paying subscribers with a view of the events, places and people that shaped the American nation and the world. At Footnote.com, all are invited to come share, discuss, and collaborate on their discoveries with friends, family, and colleagues.

23 September 2010

UK: Leeds celebrates Jewish heritage

The city of Leeds (UK) will celebrate 150 years of the city's Jewish history and heritage with an event titled LJ150. In connection with museum exhibits, an appeal is being made for items of interest. See below for details.

The Yorkshire Evening Post covered the story about the event which will be launched in October by Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks to mark the beginning of the first Jewish History Month in the city.

Organised by Makor, the Jewish cultural office for Leeds and Yorkshire, the event will feature memorabilia on the first purpose-built synagogue in Leeds - opened on Belgrave Street in 1860.
"We want to create a real celebration of our unique heritage and invite members of the wider community to volunteer their reminiscences and ideas," said Helen Frais, Makor's project manager.

On November 28, LJ150 will sponsor a heritage day at Leeds City Museum, featuring stalls exploring Jewish heritage over the ages and a mock Jewish wedding, and videos of Jewish life now and then.

Frais is appealing for vintage outfits for the mock ceremony focusing on clothing from Jewish-based firms Burtons and Marks and Spencer. She is also asking for sewing machines and textiles including tailors' dummies, stools and pressers for the museum exhibit.

On February 27, 2011, a sculpture day with Frances Segelman is planned. The artist, who has created pieces of art for the royal family, is offering an opportunity for a community member to have their head sculpted. Sealed bids over £1,000 will be accepted for nominations through the end of September.

For more information, read the complete article at the link above.

Winnipeg: Galicia gen conference, Oct. 2

"Galicia: Multi-Ethnic Roots in Ukraine and Poland" is a full-day seminar scheduled by the East European Genealogical Society in Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada), on Saturday, October 2.

The city is home to a large Ashkenazi Eastern European community, as well as large Ukrainian and Polish populations and EEGS experts will help those interested in tracing their roots.

The former Austrian province of Galicia is now western Ukraine and southeastern Poland.

Among the topics to be presented: how records of the people were kept; how to locate, read, and analyze them; languages (including Cyrillic), and more.

Speakers are internationally known authorities on Galician genealogical research Matthew Bielawa and Brian J. Lenius, both well-known to Jewish genealogists and to those with Galician roots.

Bielawa specializes in western Ukraine and eastern Galicia, has extensively lectured, written articles for journals and has a webpage, Genealogy of Halychyna/Eastern Galicia. He has conducted research in Ukraine, Poland and Russia, and holds a BA in Slavic and East European Studies (University of Connecticut), and an MA in Slavic Languages and Literature (New York University).

Lenius (Selkirk, Manitoba) has researched for more than 25 years in Galicia. He is author and publisher of the "Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia: Expanded Data Edition," numerous articles on Galician and Austrian research published in Polish, Eastern European, and other genealogical periodicals. He has presented research-oriented lectures to numerous genealogical societies in Canada, USA, and Germany. Brian has undertaken 15 extended research trips in Poland, Ukraine, Austria, Czech Republic, and Germany greatly expanding resources available to North American genealogical researchers.

While Ukrainian and Polish roots will be covered in depth, other groups - German, Jewish, Mennonite, Armenian and Czech with roots in Galicia - will be covered according to attendance.

The location is Red River College’s Princess Street Campus. Registration: EEGS members, C$55; others, C$60. Meals are not included.

The seminar is open to 120 people only. For more information, see the East European Genealogy Society website, or request a registration form via email.

Tel Aviv: Family history festival, Sept. 26-28

Tracing the Tribe will be covering a special event Sunday-Tuesday, September 26-28, during the week-long holiday of Sukkot.

This is when families go on outings, take to the roads, visit with friends and relatives, vacation in other parts of the country and participate in many events listed in newspapers, magazines and on television.

Tracing the Tribe - wearing our multiple hats - will cover the Beit Hatfutsot (Museum of the Jewish People) first-ever "One Family, Many Faces" Festival. The free event is open Sunday-Tuesday, 9.30am-5pm, September 26-28, at the museum and on the surrounding Tel Aviv University campus.

Family history and genealogy will play a big part at this event, and Tracing the Tribe will bring it to you.

In addition to usual festival fare of music, food, displays, and more, MyHeritage.com is bringing a 15-person team to man 50 computers in the museum lobby.

Visitors will sign up for a free one-on-one personal "getting-started" consultation to set up their family trees and begin their research.

There will also be a giant Jewish Family Tree mural, and families will be able to add a pomegranate to the tree with their surname.

The Israel Genealogical Society will also be there. Tracing the Tribe will be wearing several hats - as blogger and helping out - at both the MyHeritage event and the adjacent IGS table.

Israeli readers of Tracing the Tribe are welcome to drop by and say hello in person.

See you at the festival!

California: Win free family history expo tickets!

Local genealogy events enable participants to network with area individuals sharing mutual interests, have more one-on-one time with major speakers and jump start research.

The events bring genealogy to the people in an easy-to-reach, short-term format, requiring less traveling time and lower costs.

They provide a wide range of excellent programs to participants of various skill levels. Tracing the Tribe feels that participants - particularly beginners - will be much better prepared to later attend larger conferences, such as the 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (14-19 August 2011, Washington, DC).

Family History Expos (FHE) runs excellent programs - according to many geneabloggers who have attended and presented. Their next event is set for the San Francisco Bay area suburb of Pleasanton, California (Friday-Saturday, October 8-9), with an excellent lineup of topics and speakers (see below).

Even better, Geneabloggers.com - the genealogy community's resource for genealogy bloggers - is running a contest to give away two free adminission tickets (normally $75 each) to the October event.

It's simple to enter. All you have to do is let Geneabloggers know how attending a Family History Expo event would help your own genealogy research. Click here for more information and to enter.

Enter from September 21-24, and check Geneabloggers.com on September 25 to see which lucky people have received those tickets.

The Pleasanton program is here.

Well-known speakers include Beau Sharbrough, Amy Coffin, Geoggrey D. Rasmussen, Jean, Wilcox Hibben, Arlene Eakle, Thomas MacEntee, Bruce Buzbee, Ron Arons, Lisa Louise Cooke, Lisa Alzo, Leland K. Meitzler, Janet Hovorka and Craig Manson, as well as staffers from Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, software vendors and others.

Topics include blogging, social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), software, African American research, US Census, mapping, Irish research, California resources, land and property records, how to track down elusive ancestors, photographs (preservation, scanning, retouching), organizing, German records, genealogy gifts and games, Google search, beginning genealogy, and scheduled one-on-one appointments with the experts.

Upcoming FHE events are set for Atlanta, Georgia (November 12-13) and Mesa, Arizona (January 2011).

22 September 2010

Quebec City: Hip area, Jewish roots

Cities live. Old neighborhoods are transformed and reborn, sometimes maintaining clues to their former inhabitants.

Quartier Saint-Roch, in Quebec City's Lower Town, has a long Jewish tradition and is one of the oldest boroughs in the city.

As businesses migrated to the suburbs in the 1950s, the Jewish neighborhood declined. Today, with an infusion of cash and vision, the Quarter Saint-Roch, with its Jewish roots, is enjoying a revival. The new hip area is detailed in this ShalomLife.com story.

Maurice Pollack, a leading Canadian entrepreneur and Jewish philanthropist, was first to arrive, establishing in 1906 a department store that would become one of Quebec’s top companies.

Other Jewish merchants followed, offering credit and serving a working class clientele.

Prominent Quebec figures such as labour leader Lea Roback and Jewish feminist Sadie Lazarovitz also helped shape the area’s early identity.
The story detailed what to see and do today in the area.

Soak up some Jewish history while strolling along rue Saint-Joseph and rue de la Couronne. In 1910, notary Jacques-Édouard Plamondon gave an anti-Semitic speech at a local church and hoodlums went on a rampage breaking windows in these shops. Two Jewish merchants sued Plamondon for defamation and their 1914 win, known as the Plamondon Case, was amajor victory for Canadian Jews. Today, few signs of this fiery past remain and the area is best known for the peaceful fountains of Saint-Roch garden, the cultural pursuits of Gabrielle-Roy library (site of an outdoor market in 1832) and the leafy plaza at Saint-Roch church, the largest in Quebec City.
Read the complete story at the link above. For more information, click here (for a detailed history of the area, although not mentioning its Jewish connections), here (for information on Quebec City's Jewish families) and here (for the official Quebec City website).

Wales: Jewish history, then and now

Bangor University research has revealed that Jews first settled in north Wales during the building of Edward I's castles, according to a BBC story.

According to the story, Dr. Nathan Abrams and Dr. Sally Baker have put together a touring exhibit of their findings, celebrating regional Jewish history.
Abrams would like to hear from anyone with more information on the Jewish diaspora in Wales.

(Photo: The Wartski family of Llandudno. Their business had a branch in London's Bond Street. See below for more.)

See the exhibit at Bangor University's Main Arts Building, 16-30 October, and in Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli - just don't ask Tracing the Tribe to pronounce that! - 6-20 November.
Previous studies have focused on 19th and 20th century Jewish communities, but there is evidence that Jewish families settled in fortified towns like Caernarfon and Beaumaris back in the 13th century.

“I think because Jews were mainly used for financing at that period, they were there to assist with the castle-building programme,” said Dr Abrams.

“In 1290, the Jews were expelled from England, and a little earlier from Wales. This was right at the height of the building work."So I think once they'd fleeced them, they expelled the Jews and their properties were appropriated.”
The exhibit was funded by a £19,000 grant from Beacon for Wales.

From ancient history, the exhibit then looks at Eastern European immigration in the 1800s. According to Abrams:
“They travelled out from places like Liverpool into the Welsh countryside as peddlers.

“But eventually they set up communities first in Bangor, then in Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl and Wrexham.”

Those peddlers moved on to renting small shops, and then owning large stores like Pollecoff's of Pwllheli and Wartski’s of Bangor and Llandudno, which boasted of being 'By Royal Appointment’.
According to the story, Isidore Wartski become the mayor of Bangor, and is believed have been the first Jewish mayor in Wales. The Wartski store even had a branch in London's Bond Street.

The area's Jewish communities have dwindled since the mid-20th century. Although there is no longer a Bangor synagogue, there is a small one in Llandudno run by Manchester's Orthodox community. During the summer, however, Abrams says there are notices in the Orthodox press of Jewish services being held all over Wales.

Read the complete story at the link above.

UK: Hull Jewish history and new book

The myth of the "Wandering Jew" and early Hull Jewish history came to life again in a recent program at a local synagogue.

Importantly for Jewish genealogists and family historians whose families had a connection with Hull, a new directory - compiled from books and registers - will detail the Jewish history and residents of the community.

Hull was also a major migration stop for European Jews, and is one of the three oldest Jewish communities in England.

The BBC covered the event.

Speakers included Hull attorney Max Gold, Hull University history professor Dr. Nick Evans, and Hull Jewish community historian and archivist Dr. David Lewis.

Gold noted the recorded Jewish presence and influence in the Roman Empire where some 10% of the population was Jewish and how Jewish traders were believed to have been regular visitors to Cornwall some 2000 years ago.

Among other topics discussed: Sephardic history in Spain, Columbus' likely origin as a converso, the 1290 expulsion of Jews from England and their return in 1655.

Hull's first recorded Jewish inhabitant in 1766 being Michael Levy, a watchmaker. In 1788 a local jeweller, Aaron Jacobs, created an 'elegant crown' to adorn the brow of King William the Third's (King Billy) equestrian statue on the centenary celebration of his victory over King James the Second.
Gold said that the Max Factor cosmetics company family came from Hull before moving to the US.

Lewis spoke about the creation of a directory of the community's history and people from books and registers. It covers the community's vital role for many immigrants moving on to Liverpool and also to North America.
The directory, which is now at first draft stage, when finally complete will be passed to Hull's new History Centre where it will be made available on-line for use by historians and descendants of early transmigrants exploring their family origins.
Read the complete story at the link above.

New York City: Jewish walking tour, Sept. 25

James Kaplan will lead a walking tour to important lower Manhattan Jewish sites at 1pm, Saturday, September 25.

The New Rochelle resident - a Wall Street tax and estates lawyer in his real life - has been leading walking tours for some 25 years.

According to Kaplan, "Jewish history in New York is Jewish history in America."

In 2004, he began developing a tour of key Jewish historical sites when he was commissioned to lead a tour for the 350th anniversary of Congregation Shearith Israel, the first Jewish congregation (formed in 1654) in what is now the US.

The tour will track Jewish history from the arrival of 23 desperate Jews from Recife, Brazil in 1654, to the role American Jews played in the establishment of Israel in 1948.

The tour - rain or shine - will take two-to-three hours and cover about two miles, starting at the point where the refugees landed and concluding at the Jewish cemetery on St. James Place.

Kaplan began developing the tour of key Jewish historical sites in 2004, when he was commissioned to lead a tour for the 350th anniversary of Congregation Shearith Israel, the first Jewish congregation (formed in 1654) in what is now the US.

On the tour is today's parking garage, where the refugees first established a synagogue on South Williams Street.

LowerHudson.com covered the story by Gary Stern.

For more details, read the complete story at the link above.

SAGE: Academic journals free access through Oct. 15

Non-academics are often frustrated at not being able to access online the rich resources of many academic journals.

Here's a limited opportunity for Tracing the Tribe readers who do not have convenient access in person or online to a public or academic library subscribing to journals of interest.

SAGE Journals Online is offering free access through October 15.

I searched for "Jewish family history" and received a list of 10,068 hits, and then for "Sephardic" with 254 results.

For my Sephardic search, the publications included:

Journal of Black Studies, Transcultural Psychiatry, International Political Science Review, Journal of European Studies, Race & Class, Currents in Biblical Research, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Traumatology, Critical Sociology, Journal of Sociology, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Ethnography, Journal of Child Neurology, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Political Research Quarterly, Philosophy & Social Criticism, International Communication Gazette, Medieval History Journal, Journal of Family History, and many more.
Topics included:

Sephardim speaking Spanish, lots of politics in Israel and elsewhere, Sephardic topics in ethnic psychiatry, Sephardic genetic conditions, prejudice, migration, book reviews, Sephardim in Australia, Ethiopian Jews, Sephardim in Anglo-Jewry and the law, Jewish magic tradition, Holocaust as trauma, American Sephardim, Sephardic personalities, 16th-century Ottoman Empire "New Christians" converting back to Judaism, Sephardim in Russia, Kabbalistic language, Spanish Inquisition, and many others.
Journals available are from 1999 through current issues, and full-text PDFs are available.

The Sephardic search produced two fascinating articles.

Alisa Meyuhas Ginio (Tel Aviv University) authored an interesting 23-page article in the Medieval History Journal (2009 12:383): "Returning to Judaism: The Reconversion of 'New Christians' to Their Ancestral Jewish Faith in the Ottoman Empire during the Sixteenth Century."

Here's the abstract. I could not copy-and-paste from the PDF, but could from the online article at the Medieval History Journal site. Even after downloading the article to my computer, I could not copy-and-paste. The article referenced quite a few fascinating cases involving marriages, conversions and other events in Salonica and other cities. The bibliography and responsa references could be very useful to a genealogist looking for information on a specific family.

The last century of Jewish life in the Iberian Peninsula (1391–1492) was marked by continuous persecutions leading to the conversion of a large number of Jews to Christianity. Known as ‘New Christians’, they escaped from the Iberian Peninsula to the Ottoman Empire, where—under Muslim dominion—they could return to their ancestral creed, reconverting to Judaism. This article examines the three waves of migration that took place during the last decade of the fifteenth century and during the sixteenth century. The legal status of the newcomers with regard to the Jewish religion was to be settled by rabbinical decisions. Contemporary Jewish rabbanim were aware of the conflicting factors that had motivated migration from Portugal and their attitudes towards the newcomers reflected suspicions about the latter’s ability to integrate within the existing Jewish congregations.
The other article was by Professor of Economics David E. Hojman of the University of Liverpool Management School: "Who is Afraid of the Spanish Inquisition? Endogamy and Culture Development Among Chiloe Encomenderos and Catholic Namesakes of Persecution Victims," in the Journal of Family History (July 2007; vol. 32, 3: pp. 215-233.)

Here's the abstract:

Almost two centuries after the final demise of the Spanish Inquisition, its effects may still be present. Fear of the Inquisition may have affected endogamy patterns and other cultural attitudes of Catholic families in Chiloe Island in Southern Chile. More generally, the same fear may have eventually influenced the development of Chilean national culture. The article looks at several groups of people with Spanish surnames, from different historical periods. In particular, it explores colonial family trees, partly formed by Chiloe encomenderos and Catholic namesakes of Inquisition victims. Incidences of possibly Jewish Spanish surnames, and the different “crimes” investigated by the Inquisition tribunal in Lima, are examined. A new, short list of those most exposed to harassment and intimidation by the Inquisition in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is put together. In its light, the article discusses the evolution of family trees, generation after generation.
This article compares a Jewish surname list by Pere Bonnin (Sangre Judia) with other lists such as that of a Lisbon 1639 auto-da-fe, and notes which names are common on Chiloe Island. Hojman's analysis is fascinating and offers clues to why or why not those surnames are on which list or in the population.

However ... don't go looking for the actual surnames - he uses none of them "to protect the privacy of the families." While a legitimate reason in this culture, it is still a source of terrible frustration to any researcher of Sephardic families.

Tracing the Tribe hopes that this small sample of a limited keyword search proves how useful the SAGE free access may be to researchers across the board, and not only to those of Jewish genealogy.

Sign up today and see what you can find.

21 September 2010

Colorado: Steve Morse seminar, Oct. 10

Steve Morse will offer a full-day genealogy seminar for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado on Sunday, October 10, in Denver.

Dr. Stephen Morse has received the Award of Merit from the National Genealogical Society, the Excellence Award from the Association of Professional Genealogists, and the Outstanding Contribution and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. A computer professional with a doctorate in electrical engineering, he was the architect of the Intel 8086 (the granddaddy of today's Pentium processor), which sparked the PC revolution 25 years ago.

He'll present The Jewish Calendar Demystified; From DNA to Genetic Genealogy: Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask; One-Step Webpages: A potpourri of genealogical search tools; and One-Step Webpages: A hodgepodge of lesser-known gems.

The program will run from 9am-4pm, at the Jewish Community Center, 350 S. Dahlia St.
Attendees may participate in one program or in all of them. A kosher box lunch is included and snacks will be provided during breaks. Attendance is only via advance registration (October 1 deadline) and payment. No walk-ins permitted.

Fee: JGSCO members: $18, entire day/lunch; others: $40, entire day/lunch plus a one-year JGSCO membership.

Visit the JGSCO website for more information and registration forms.

20 September 2010

Rhode Island: Newport's Jewish history

In 1790, George Washington visited Newport, Rhode Island.

A few days later, he wrote a letter to the synagogue members - Sephardim who had fled the Inquisition, settled in the Dutch West Indies, were expelled in the 1650s and came to America.

Congregation Jeshuat Israel (established 1658) is now Touro Synagogue (dedicated 1763), the oldest synagogue in America. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1946. In 2001, the National Trust for Historic Preservation selected Touro to become part of its collection of historic sites.

The letter assured Jews of full citizenship in the US.

Wrote Washington, “…the government of the United States… gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance… every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

Each year, the letter is read aloud in the synagogue; this year the date was August 22 and some 150 people gathered to hear the 63rd annual reading.

Following the reading, guests visited the Ambassador John L. Loeb Jr. Visitors Center, which opened last August. It is a state-of-the-art museum spotlighting Touro's role in the birth of religious freedom and contributions Jews have made to America. Loeb funded the center; his ancestors were among Touro's first congregants, including the first spiritual leader, Isaac Touro.

Guests also toured the Colonial Jewish Burial Ground, near the synagogue, where many founding families are buried. Perhaps the most notable is Judah Touro, a Newport-born philanthropist whose donation funded the restoration and maintenance of the cemetery, the second oldest Jewish cemetery in America.

For more information on the annual event, see the Rhode Island Jewish Voice & Herald for the story by Nancy Abeshaus. For more on the Touro Synagogue, click here.

Books: Jewish community histories

Hollander Books (San Francisco, California) has a stock of Jewish community histories by Arcadia Publishing, and is offering them at a 20% discount (see details below).

Histories of communities are invaluable for genealogists and family history researchers. In general, they provide the development of a community in which your ancestors may have lived. And, if you are really lucky, your ancestors might even be named in the pages.

The book may explain why Jews migrated there, whether it included people from certain towns in the old country, how the community contributed to the development of the geographic location and more.

Visit Hollander Books online for more information.

Tracing the Tribe learned about this collection from a posting by Harry Hollander on the Association of Jewish Libraries list.

Many of you are familiar with the sepia toned covers of Arcadia Publishings books on local communities. There are now quite a few on Jewish communities.

Fred Isaac recently published a volume in the series, "Jews of Oakland and Berkeley," and feels that these are good solid books for Jewish libraries. At his urging I attempted to exhibit them at the AJL conference in Seattle. However, a number of snafus with the publisher at the time sunk that plan.

In my experience, people get very excited about these books. They not only identify with the place where they live, but also places where they and members of their families have lived, making it worthwhile to include communities outside of your local area in your collection.
Below is a list of the volumes that Hollander currently stocks. He's offering a 20% discount off the listed retail prices. US shipping: $2 for one book, and free for two or more titles. International shipping is at cost. Go to the website link for more information.

Isaac, Frederick. "Jews of Oakland and Berkeley." $21.99
Los Angeles's Boyle Heights. $21.99

Jewish Denver 1859-1960. $19.99

The Jewish Communities of Greater Stamford. $21.99

The Jewish Community of Washington, D.C. $19.99

Jews of Greater Miami. $21.99

Chicago's Jewish West Side. $21.99

Jewish Chicago: A Pictorial History. $21.99
Skokie. (Chicago Suburbs) $21.99
Chicago's Forgotten Synagogues. $19.99

The Jewish Community of New Orleans. $21.99

The Jewish Community of the North Shore. (outside Boston) $19.99
The Jewish Community of Baltimore. $19.99

Maine's Jewish Heritage. $19.99

Jewish Ann Arbor. $10.00
The Jewish Community of Metro Detroit 1945-2005. $19.99

Reform Jews of Minneapolis. $19.99

Jewish Life in Omaha and Lincoln: A Photographic History. $19.99
Jews of Morris County. (New Jersey) $19.99
Jews of Weequahic. $21.99
Jewish South Jersey. $19.99

Star Lake.(Jews in the Adirondacks - Jewish Hotel, etc.)$19.99
Sullivan County Borscht Belt. (Catskills) $19.99
The Jewish Community of Staten Island. $19.95

Jewish Life in Akron. $19.95
Jews of Cincinnati. $19.99
Cleveland Heights Congregations. $21.99

The Jewish Community Around North Broad Street. (Philadelphia) $19.99
The Jewish Community of South Philadelphia. $19.99
Jewish Family and Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia. $19.99
Squirrel Hill. (Pittsburgh) $21.99
The Jewish Community Under the Frankford El. $19.99

The Jewish Community of Chattanooga. $19.99
Nashville's Jewish Community. $21.99

Hollander also has a related blog or email him for more information.

Germany: Worms' Jewish history

Worms, Germany has an ancient Jewish history, and was one of three major Jewish centers of learning and religion. Speyer, Worms and Mainz were known collectively as the ShUM.

OffbeatTravel.com offered a look at Worms, following a guided tour, by Neala Schwartzberg.

The community built its first synagogue in 1034, although the oldest known tombstone (Jacob Bahur) is dated 1076. The First Crusade followed in a few decades, and between the first and the second crusade, there was an episode of the plague - the Black Death - and accusations that Jews caused it. The Jewish quarter - the Judengasse - was often destroyed and rebuilt.

Not until 1801 were Jews free to live anywhere; by 1945, the community was completely destroyed, leaving only the cemetery.

For a sense of the often tragic history, start with the Judengasse. The charm of this popular and reconstructed area belies its sad history. But the willingness of the city to recreate and honor the memory of the community makes the area a place of hope as well as remembrance.

The cemetery was the final home of many Middle Age scholars, with one section named Valley of the Rabbis.

One well-known story concerns Rabbi Meir ben Baruch (the Maharam of Rothenburg) who was imprisoned by the Emperor at the end of the 13th century. He expected the Jews to pay the ransom to release the rabbi, but the Maharam would not permit it an died seven years later, still imprisoned. The Emperor refused to release the body for burial. Some 14 years later, Alexander ben Salomon Wimpfen paid the ransom with the condition that he be buried next to the rabbi. Today the two tombstones sit side by side.

Their are two levels to the cemetery. The oldest is from the 11th century to circa 1700; the newer section dates from 1700-1938, when it was filled, and a new cemetery was built outside the town.

Famed rabbinical scholar Rashi taught in Worms, and the building where he supposedly taught was named Rashi House. It later was a community center, dance and wedding hall and was damagted and collapsed during the war.

The Worms government wanted to remove it but the citizens wanted to reconstruct it and make it a museum. Today, it is the city archives and the Jewish museum, documenting the history of Jewish community in the city.

The synagogue has been rebuilt and rededicated although there are few Jews living there. It is owned by the Mainz Jewish community and is used for services. The building includes a men's and a smaller women's synagogue, a study room known as the Rashi Chapel, and a medieval mikveh dating from 1186.

There's more to the article with links to other sources of information about Worms.

Click here for more information: Jewish sites in Worms, Germany, Jewish Dresden: The Old (Cemetery) and the New (Synagogue), Exploring Jewish History and Future in Berlin, Germany, Jewish Museum in Berlin: Exploring Jewish History and Culture

19 September 2010

Cuba: Castro and the Jews

NPR has a transcript of a September 14 program lending some insight on Fidel Castro's views of Jewish history.

Numerous scholars have written about Castro's likely Jewish heritage. The name is a documented Sephardic surname. His remarks, according to this transcript, are interesting.

In August, the former Cuban leader invited Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg to Havana to discuss an article he wrote. Goldberg invited Julia Sweig, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow, to join him. She shares details on the talk with Castro on the NPR program.

In one section she mentions that Castro's talk with Iranian president Ahmed Ahmadinejad.

Ms. SWEIG: ...was Fidel's insistence that Ahmadinejad respect Jewish history, respect the Holocaust, respect the state of Israel, and that that clarity with which Fidel communicated that to Goldberg for Ahmadinejad and Iran to hear was really quite important given the stakes and given the concern in the Middle East. And given, I would say, the standing that Fidel Castro has in the non-aligned movement and for, potentially - I hope at least - those listening in Iran.

CONAN: And it was interesting that he was pointing out to the Iranian president that, yes, Muslims have had it hard being disrespected by the West, but Jews have had it harder.

Ms. SWEIG: Yes, it was very interesting. I mean, you know, he was - there was no pause when Fidel was expressing his view of Jewish history and also his interest in the Inquisition which, of course, Bibi Netanyahu's father is a great scholar of, as Jeff Goldberg's article explains, it was very clear that there was great sort of sympatico for Jewish history, for the state of Israel from Fidel. And he made a point of talking about, as Jeff writes, the kind of environment and the Catholic education he received of anti-Semitism in Cuba when he was a small boy. And he expressed a kind of outrage at the ignorance that that reflected of his own society.
Read the entire transcript at the link above.

Latvia: Riga Ghetto Museum opens, Sept. 21

The Riga (Latvia) Ghetto Museum opens September 21.

More than 70 000 local Jews and nearly 20 000 Jews deported from Western Europe were executed in Latvia in the World War II. The Museum is located in the historical part of the city near the borders of former ghetto.

The opening of the first exhibit includes the names of more than 70 000 Latvian Jews who faced the Holocaust, with stones from the streets of Riga Ghetto. A photo exhibit includes anti-Semitism propaganda, Holocaust in Latvia, the Resistance and the Righteous Among the Nations.

Jewish history in Latvia dates back some 450 years, and a section of the exhibit documents this history.

According to director Rabbi Menachem Barkahan:

Riga Ghetto Museum is not just a museum. I do hope that it will become the significant memento of the dreadful events that occurred in the history of Latvia and should never ever be repeated again. The Museum is becoming a center of culture and education, a source of tolerance and mutual respect.
Earlier this month - on September 1 - a new Jewish calendar was released and dedicated to the history of Jewish development during Latvia's First Republic.

There is also a database with the names of Jewish children who perished during the Holocaust in Latvia.

Click here for more information about the Jewish Culture Festival 5771 in Riga, with a video and photos.

For more information about the community organization Shamir in Riga, send an email.

San Francisco: South African Jewish research, Sept. 26

Roy Ogus will present "Jewish Genealogical Research in South Africa," at the next meeting of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society on Sunday, September 26.

The program starts at 1pm, at Congregation Beth Israel Judea, 625 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco. The meeting is free, there is free parking and doors open at 12.30pm.

Many researchers have South African connections as our ancestors, siblings or cousins emigrated there. During the great wave of migration from Eastern Europe (1881-1930s), many Jews - especially Lithuanians - left for the economic opportunity and freedom of South Africa.

The presentation is a summary of key sources of documentation and information of genealogical value to be found in South Africa, and how these materials can be accessed and researched. It also provides an overview of South African history as a backdrop for the discussion of Jewish migration to that remote area.

Additionally, more recent political changes in South Africa mean that many Jews from the region have now resettled in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Israel and elsewhere.

Born in South Africa, Roy has been researching his family history since 1985 and has traced his ancestors to Lithuania and Belarus in the early 18th century. He's been living in the Bay area since the 1970s and is a computer engineer. He's the vice-president of the Jewish Gen Southern Africa SIG (SA-SIG) and has been a SFBAJGS member for more than 15 years.

For more information and directions, click here.

Geneabloggers: 12 new geneablogs this week!

Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers.com has discovered another 12 new genealogy blogs. There are now 1,291 geneablogs on the list.

The new blogs cover individual family history, African-American, California, genealogy conference, genealogy library, New Jersey, Australia, vendor, research, genealogy industry, tools, tips, education, professional, Poland, Appalachia, North Carolina, Virginia, roots travel research, France and photography.

Here are the new links. For more detailed information on each new blog, click on Thomas' original post.

AOC Lost Dynasty Blog
African-American genealogy, Individual family history

Family History Day at the California State Archives
California genealogy, Genealogy conference blog, Genealogy library blog

Family History Research by Jody
Individual family history

Garrison Communications
Australian genealogy, Genealogy vendor

Genealogy Heroes
Research blog

Genealogy Tools
Genealogy industry

My Genealogy Family
Individual family history

My Genealogy Girl
Individual family history

Path to Professional Genealogy
Genealogy education, Professional genealogist

Stanczyk – Internet Muse
Individual family history, Polish genealogy

The Mashburn Collection
Appalachian genealogy, Individual family history, North Carolina genealogy, Virginia genealogy

Atco, Georgia

The Traveling Genealogist
Genealogy education, Roots travel research

Vieilles Photos
French genealogy, Photography
To read the detailed descriptions, go to the complete post.

18 September 2010

Orlando FL: Collect, save, organize memories, Sept. 28

"How to collect, save and organize your precious memories," with Tom Hirsch, is the next program of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando on Tuesday, September 28.

The program begins at 1pm; the meeting is free and open to the public, in the Goldman Social Hall, Congregation of Reform Judaism, Orland.

JCSCO member Tom Hirsch will sponsor an "on-line" demo:

-- To demonstrate some websites, bookmarking, and organizing the websites in your web browser; organizing, and saving files, and backing up those files.

-- Provide information on doing serious research.

-- Demonstrate digitally photographing items to include in family history, and photostitching to combine photos into a single photo or record.

-- Available Freeware

For more information, click here.

16 September 2010

Southern California: "Ost meets West," Oct. 4

"Ost meets West: Immigrant Film Moguls, Émigré Directors and the Rise of Film Noir" is the program for the fifth anniversary meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Conejo Valley, on Monday, October 4.

The program runs from 7-9pm at Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks. This is a different day and time than usual.

A group of Eastern European Jews, who headed most major American film studios, founded the Hollywood film industry. Another influx of German/Austrian Jewish film directors were driven, in the 1930s, to the US by the Nazis. A number of them, such as Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger and Edward G. Ulmer would play a determining role in the rise of what was called film noir.

The Hollywood film noir genre ranged from the early 1940s-late 1950s, and is associated with a black-and-white style with roots in German Expressionist cinematography.

Speaker Vincent Brook will examine the ethnic origins of the two groups and how their different backgrounds enabled their considerable contributions to the cinema, and in particular film noir.

Brook holds a PhD (film and television, UCLA) and teaches media studies at UCLA, USC, Cal-State LA, and Pierce College. He is the author of "Something Ain’t Kosher Here: The Rise of the 'Jewish' Sitcom," and dozens of journal articles, essays and reviews. His book, “Driven to Darkness: Jewish Émigré Directors and the Rise of Film Noir "will be available for purchase ($20, cash/check) at the meeting

The free meeting is co-sponsored with Temple Adat Elohim. For more information, see the JGSCV website.

Twitter revamp: Geneablogger impact?

It's the way of the world - improvements, changes, tweaks.

What will the widely-touted Twitter revamp mean for geneabloggers?

It sounds like it will be a richer experience, with more features. I've heard the term "iPod look with Facebook functionality."

In any case, no one wants to miss out on what might be the next best thing.

Not yet following Tracing the Tribe on Twitter? Click the birdie to join our flock of followers. Make sure you are tuned in and tuned up.

Tracing the Tribe

"Tweet, Tweet" from Tracing the Tribe!

15 September 2010

SOS: Save your tree!

We've all been there - or close to it: All that work and it could be gone forever in a matter of seconds.

Catastrophe can strike at any time - be it a natural disaster or a man-made virus or equipment failure - and it is usually at the most inconvenient of times!

How to keep your data safe? The genealogists' mantra of "backup, backup, backup" (in a variety of formats: flashdrives, external hard-drives, etc.) is not just simply a nice chant, it is an imperative if you don't want to spend years recreating what you've already done.

A new service that appears to provide peace of mind, BackupMyTree, has just launched. It offers free and automatic backup of family trees - which translates into peace of mind for researchers.

According to the press release:

BackupMyTree enables worry-free research for genealogists and family history enthusiasts, preventing loss of years of work due to a computer disaster such as a virus or hard disk crash. By automatically finding family tree files and creating a remote, off-site backup, BackupMyTree’s software ensures complete protection of family tree data.
The free service provides:

-- Support for many popular family tree file formats such as Family Tree Maker, Family Tree Builder, PAF, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic (version 4 or later), Family Tree Legends, and industry-supported GEDCOMs as well.

-- Users can securely access their family tree files from anywhere in the world via the internet.

-- Monitoring of all family trees for changes and automatic backup of updated files.

-- Storage of previous versions of family tree files should anything become corrupted. This also protects against accidental deletion of information inside a family tree – enabling users to retrieve any previous version of their data.

-- Instant retrieval in case of data loss - simply re-download the latest family tree backups.

-- Complete protection of all family tree files using strong SSL security during transfer from computers to the BackupMyTree servers.

Who's behind BackupMyTree? That's Cliff Shaw, whose previous successes in genealogy include GenForum, Family Tree Legends and GenCircles.

“BackupMyTree represents my continued deep commitment to develop innovative new technologies and services for genealogists”, said BackupMyTree’s Founder and CEO, Cliff Shaw. “A family tree contains massive amounts of data collected over many years - often irreplaceable and simply priceless to its owner. Our free backup service gives genealogists peace of mind that all their family tree files are safe and secure. We’re delighted to be filling the gap in the genealogy market in helping preserve family history forever.”
Tracing the Tribe noted an interesting description of Shaw as a "serial genealogy entrepreneur." I've never seen that before.

If you are interested in protecting your hard-won data - and Tracing the Tribe thinks that is essential for every genealogist - check out BackupMyTree.

For more information, see top geneablogger Randy Seaver's Genea-Musing experience with the new service.

Keeping the kipas: A family tradition

Every Jewish family owns a bagful of these.

We collect these headcoverings, called a kipa or a yarmulke, at every lifecycle event we attend and Tracing the Tribe has long advocated the use of these objects to further family history research.

It's nice to know that the New York Times feels the same way, and carried a story by Uzi Silber - Time in a Basket - about the kipa stash at the Bialystoker Synagogue on the Lower East Side.

Each kipa or yarmulka - diverse names for the Jewish skullcap - carries a unique story. Thanks to the imprint inside, we know the names of bride and groom, the date, the place and sometimes additional details. Bar and bat mitzvah head coverings are also rich sources of genealogical information. In Los Angeles, I've even seen black suede kipas made up for funerals! They are usually color-coordinated to the party theme, and made of satin, silk, velvet or suede.
Like most synagogues, the Bialystoker Synagogue, on the Lower East Side, keeps a stash of skullcaps in the foyer, for anyone who forgot to bring one. In a tattered wicker basket, under a collection of limp nylon kippot and forgettable leather circles, lies a layer of shimmering velvet and satin yarmulkes in gaudy pinks, lemons, baby blues and golds.

They are genuine antiques, and not just bits of textile treasure. Inside each is an inscription: names and dates from some long-ago wedding or bar mitzvah. The most recent in the trove was produced in the disco era, but several harked back to the Eisenhower years. They chronicled events not just at Bialystoker, a century-old Orthodox synagogue in a landmark building, but also from around the region, perhaps left by visitors, or brought by congregants cleaning out the drawers of parents who have died.
One couple mentioned in the story provided a blast from the past for Tracing the Tribe.

A gold satin kipa was handed out at the wedding of Flora and Fred Mendelson (photo left) at their 1960 wedding in Swan Lake, NY - not far from our summer stamping grounds in Kauneonga Lake and my grandparents' large bungalow colony (Fink's Kauneonga Park).

Mendelson, 73, and his three brothers, although based in Miami, ran the summer kosher butcher shop - Mendelson & Sons Kosher Meat Market - in Kauneonga Lake for as long as I can remember. They closed the year after Woodstock. My grandmother and other relatives, as well as the local hotels and bungalow colonies were all loyal customers.

Also view the interactive display with information about each of the five couples featured in the story.

Morocco: Jewish documents to be digitalized

An Oregon anthropologist has received a grant to digitize Jewish Moroccan documents.

In Rabat, Morocco, on a 2005 Fulbright research grant, Lewis & Clark University assistant professor of anthropology Oren Kosansky worked with community leaders and discovered a genizah (photo left) - a room or depository found in synagogues, where old religious documents no longer needed are kept and then periodically buried.

Tracing the Tribe reminds readers that such collections are often rich resources for family information and provide details not available elsewhere, which will surely benefit genealogists and family history researchers looking for information on Jewish families in Rabat.

Kosansky has now won a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) to develop a digital archive of Jewish Moroccan documents from the 18th-20th centuries. The online archive will enable open access to international researchers interested in North African Jewish culture and allow them to share ideas and information. The project will also offer a new model for intercultural and international collaboration in the creation of technological resources to share historical information.

What is a genizah and what may be found in one? The most famous of course, is the Cairo Genizah.
“In Judaic tradition, documents containing references to God are forbidden from being destroyed,” Kosansky explained. “Most obviously books and papers on religious topics such as the Torah are deemed sacred and treated in a ceremonious fashion, but any item with religious or legal references—such as a wedding announcement or business contract—would also be kept.

“In this case, I found literally thousands of books and documents pertaining to virtually all facets of Jewish life in Morocco, especially as it was transformed during the 20th century. My first thought was, ‘How can I save these materials from burial, so that they can be consulted by community members and scholars.’”
The Rabat community once had thousands of residents, but decreased to less than 100 following major emigration to Israel, France and elsewhere. The research materials remained in Rabat.
“Written materials are very important in Judaism,” Kosansky explained. “It is a very textual culture. These documents offer great insight into a culture and a community of people that once thrived here. They offer an opportunity to investigate elements of a society that has not been fully explored by those of us in the academic field. For the Jewish community, it represents something perhaps even more valuable—an opportunity to reflect on how their traditions have been shaped by modern life, colonialism, technological change, and global networks of migration, communication, and commerce.”
The community leaders allowed Kosansky to go through hundreds of sacks containing thousands of documents to determine which documents were appropriate for burial and which represented significant historical texts suitable for preservation. They gave him the documents for preservation and he donated them to the Jewish Museum in Casablanca. The collection includes handwritten letters, unpublished manuscripts, community records, as well as published materials in Judeo-Arabic, Hebrew and French.

The project raised questions on how to build such a specialized archive, and how to respect legal, ethical and social differences across societies:

“There are so many issues up for consideration,” Kosansky said. “For example, what, if any, are the copyright issues for such old documents? And what are the copyright laws in Morocco? Are their private documents we shouldn’t digitized out of respect for some individuals or the Jewish community? Who should be consulted on such ethical considerations?”
He will begin the project when he directs the university's first overseas program in Morocco in spring 2011. While there, he'll be locating experts in the US and in Morocco in digital archives, information access, intellectual property law and Jewish history to address the legal issues, begin digitization and build the website.

Read the complete article at the link above for more information.

14 September 2010

Oregon: Searching for Mrs. Buchholz, Sept. 21

Margot Perry will detail her search for Mrs. Buchholz, a distantly-related housekeeper who lived with her family at the next Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon meeting on Tuesday, September 21.

The program begins at 7pm, at Congregation Ahavath Achim, 3225 SW Barbur Blvd., Portland.

While growing up, Perry did not ask questions about Buchholz, a refugee from Nazi Germany. Recently, Perry decided to use her research skills to learn more about the woman.

Learn why she conducted the search and her successful methodology.

A former investigator for the Oregon Bureau of Labor, Civil Rights Division as an investigator of complaints alleging discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, Perry is interested in history, genealogy and archeology.

Avotaynu recently published an article about Perry's Buchholz search.

Fee: JGSO members, free; others, $5. For more information, click here.

Vancouver BC: "Caring for family photos," Sept. 26

"Caring for your family photographs" is one of the interesting programs and workshops offered by The Jewish Museum & Archives of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Join the museum's archivist Jennifer Yuhasz MAS, on Sunday, September 26. The workshop runs from 2-4pm. Fee: $25; JHSBC members receive 10% discount. Seating is limited; reservations required.

Have you ever wondered what to do with all those old family photographs that are stored in drawers, shoe boxes, falling apart photo albums? Did you know that putting photographs into albums can actually do more damage than good to your photos?

Here's your opportunity to discover and learn how to save family photos for future generations.

Participants should bring family photographs to this hands-on session.

For more information on other events and activities, click here.

Slovakia: History of Jewish Bratislava-Pressburg-Pozsony

Do you have roots in Bratislava (Pressburg, Pozsony)? A new book may shed light on family history.

A. Robert Neurath, who lived in the city for 31 years has written a soon-to-be-released book about the history of the city: "Bratislava / Pressburg / Pozsony: Jewish Secular Endeavors (1867-1938)" (Xlibris).

It was in Austro Hungary, but is now the capital of Slovakia.

According to the press release:

Unknown to many, Bratislava, presently the capital of Slovakia, used to be in the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, a multi-national city. German, Hungarian and Slovak speaking residents represented the majority of the population, explaining why the city had multiple names – Pressburg, Pozsony, and Bratislava. But it took a long time before the Jewish community in this city was given the same privileges and rights that other religious groups enjoyed. Legal emancipation of Jews was achieved in 1867, after the conversion of the Empire into the Dual Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (Bratislava being in the Hungarian part).

Neurath attempts to tell the story of the emanicipated Jews of Bratislava and their contribution to its economy, culture, education and political life. it begins with architecture providing documents “written in stone,” and continues with arts, sports, politics, business and medicine.

Born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, Neurath graduated from the Technical University there in 1957, immigrated to the US in 1964, and received a doctorate in microbiology at the Technical University (Vienna) in 1958.

For more than 45 years he conducted virus research - influenza, rabies, hepatitis B, human immunodeficiency virus I - and on vaccines against them. Neurath authored 250 scientific papers, including monographs and book chapters, and 23 patents.

Following the fall of communisim, he visited Bratislava and read new books about the city's past Jewish community, which he felt did not give enough credit to the secular endeavors and achievements of local Jewish professionals and businessmen prior to WWII. The present book, according to the release, attempts to correct those deficiences by relying on pre-war information and input from family and friends.

For more information, contact Xlibris (888-795-4274), or contact the author for more information.