29 November 2010

New York: Sephardic Cooking Classes, January 2011

Love Sephardic food?

Here's your chance to learn about your heritage or just something delicious about another heritage.

Janet Amateau (of Barcelona, Spain) will hold New York Metro cooking lessons for the first time since 2006.

Here's the schedule:

Thursday, January 13, morning
Riverside (Greenwich), Connecticut
A savory meal will be prepared

Wednesday, January 19, morning 
Great Neck (L.I.), New York
Either a second savory meal or traditional desserts and sweets will be prepared
Both locations are near train stations.

The emphasis on both dates is on Ottoman-Sephardic tradition, but Amateau will also include elements of traditional Jewish foods still found in Spain.
The format is part demonstration, part hands-on, and they are appropriate for all skill levels. Each runs about three hours, including time to share a meal.

Space is limited, and quick reservations are suggested.

For January 19, please indicate if you would prefer savory or sweets.

For more information and pricing, contact Janet Amateau.

For more information on her background, see her SephardicCooking.com website and her blog, SephardicFood.com.

Miami: Sharing two life stories, Dec, 5

There are always two sides of a story.

The next program of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Miami - on Sunday, December 5 - will demonstrate this old adage.

The meeting begins at 10am at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, 4200 Biscayne Boulevard. There is free, secure parking.

Speaker Dr. Bernd Wolschlaeger's autobiography, "A German Life," demonstrates his two life stories and how history can both impact and devastate a family.

His first story tells of his life as the Christian son of a WWII German highly decorated tank commander who fought in Poland, France, and Russia and who received the Iron Cross personally from Adolf Hitler.

His second story is of becoming an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces, converting to Judaism, moving to Israel, marrying a Jewish woman and having two children.

In his quest to find answers to questions about his parents and his nation's past, Bernd set out to find the truth and, in doing so, found a new life.
His attraction to Judaism created a turmoil within him that centered somewhere between personal guilt for what had taken place and a true sense of belonging to a people and their beliefs. When his children began asking about his parents and his past, he made the decision to tell them the truth about his family and his upbringing. He wanted them to understand what so dramatically changed his life, to give them a sense of knowing their family history in a way that was different from his own experience.
Sharing with them in this way caused him to explore his relationship with his father, and how that relationship was overshadowed by the Holocaust and everything associated with it.

Today, he is a family physician in North Miami Beach, Florida, and was past president of the Dade County Medical Association. A question and answer session will follow.

The society's annual Hanukah celebration and gift exchange follows. Guests and friends are always welcome. There is no admission fee.

For more information, see the JGS Greater Miami website.

25 November 2010

Family Traditions: Mr. Turkey Day

Tracing the Tribe wishes its readers a wonderful holiday with friends and family.

We hope you take this opportunity to talk about family history and to preserve holiday traditions.

Our family's Thanksgiving Day tradition is to retell The Story of Mr. Turkey.

When we lived in Iran long ago, we made a real effort to celebrate our favorite - well, my favorite - holidays.

The first year there, I decided to do a proper Thanksgiving.

It wasn't as easy as it seems. Turkeys there were rarely sold whole, even harder was trying to get a kosher one. Cranberry sauce? Libby's Pumpkin Puree? Miracle Whip for leftover sandwiches? Those were all black-market items, found only in a handful of specialized shops.

We invited a bunch of our friends, mostly Americans married to Persians, and I set off on my quest.

Actually, the accompaniments (cranberry, pumpkin puree and Miracle Whip) were relatively easy as there was a very large US contingent in Teheran in those days, with a steady demand for such items.

Number one was Mr. Turkey. I visited a supermarket where we knew the owner and asked him to get me a whole, kosher-slaughtered turkey, cleaned and ready for the oven, and it had to be at my house on Wednesday morning.

It didn't come in the morning, or the afternoon or the evening, despite repeated calls and promises from the other end. Early Thursday morning, the doorbell rang and a large brown-paper wrapped parcel was thrust into my eager hands.

As I took it from the deliveryman, it did feel somewhat warm, which set off a vague alarm. I placed it on the kitchen counter and started to unwrap it. The first piece out was the neck with head - and eyes - attached to the body, which was still feathered. The turkey was intact inside and out - everything but the gobble - and I stood there, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

My husband heard the commotion, came in and started laughing. He called my mother-in-law who agreed to send over her housekeeper/cook to clean up the bird. They were both laughing hysterically on the phone during this conversation. The woman arrived and efficiently cleaned Mr. Turkey inside and out and cut off the parts I didn't want to see. Most disturbing were its eyes. I think I can understand why there are vegetarians!

Need I remind anyone that where I came from - New York City - turkeys came cleaned in plastic bags and ready for the ovens. I don't think even my grandmother had to defeather a turkey. How was I supposed to know what to do?

Mr. Turkey was soon ready to be stuffed, roasted and basted to a golden brown. Our guests said it was delicious.

But each year we act out the story of Mr. Turkey.

Of course, we don't mention my first attempt - many years earlier - at duckling a l'orange, where a perfectly cooked and delicious bird held a surprise in its tummy - the plastic bag containing the giblets. THAT was embarrassing.

Oh well, no one is perfect.

Enjoy your feast with family and friends!

Errors: Not only on historical records

Family history researchers tend to think that only old historical records demonstrate errors in dates.

Our recent move to New Mexico showed that quite contemporary records also reflect errors.

What do you do first when you move to a new place in the US? Driving licenses need to be changed, so the Department of Motor Vehicles is usually a first stop. Each state has its own policies of what documents are required for this process.

Off we went and were told we needed various forms of ID to prove age and residency. Residency wasn't a problem (car insurance, utility bills, etc. took care of that). Proof of age didn't seem a problem; there were passports, other licenses, and other docs. However, one requirement was an original social security card.

I don't know about you, but I haven't seen mine in decades. I know the number, of course, but no one has asked to see the physical card for a very long time. Same for my husband.

OK, not a problem - or so we thought. We drove up to the just-opened Social Security office in our area, and waited to speak to a very nice woman to obtain a duplicate card.

My husband, a naturalized citizen for more than three decades, was told that his social security number was off by a day - not a month, not a year, just one day - in comparison to the rest of his documents. Although his US passport - and subsequent documents - was based his citizenship and naturalization documents, in turn based on official translations, the SSA couldn't do anything about it.

However, they suggested we go down to the USCIS office to see how they could help, which we did. A very helpful woman there provided his A and Certificate numbers and advised us to go back to the SSA office so they could look at the same database she was looking at. She couldn't change the birth date but confirmed that his passport birth date was the correct one and the SSA date was off.

Off we went again to the SSA office, where another very nice man asked for my husband's birth certificate, which we produced - in Farsi (his shenasnameh, as he was born in Iran). "Wow!," said the guy. "I haven't seen one of those before!" But you need to get it translated, he added. Of course, they couldn't accept my husband's translation of his own document.

The next step involved a bit of calling around to find someone in the local Persian community who could provide a translation. That was accomplished and the translation is ready. We'll pick it up Friday morning and go back to the SSA on Monday morning. If that's in order, my husband will receive his new duplicate SSA card in about a week, and can then go to the DMV for his new license.

The adage of checking documents against multiple sources holds. The wrong date on one document, even though every other document shows the correct date, can really hold things up.

We must say, however, that every official with whom we came into contact was very friendly, very helpful, and it was a pleasant - albeit slightly frustrating - experience.

The good news is that we discovered a great Chinese restaurant near the SSA office. We've eaten there on each of our SSA visits, so look forward to another visit on Monday.

Meanwhile, I'm the designated taxi driver!

14 November 2010

Where in the world is Schelly?

Readers have been wondering why Tracing the Tribe has been so quiet for the past week or so.

We have just transplanted back to the US - to New Mexico, known as the Land of Enchantment.

What is it like here in mid-November? Beautiful blue skies, bright sunshine, clean clear air, a bit nippy during the day, but comfortable! This was the view from our living room about five minutes ago.

We've spent the past few days getting settled in our new place and restocking with the essentials of life.

Everyone we've met has been very friendly and interested in the fact that we moved here from Israel. Everyone has a story of a connection, either because of their own family history (Sephardic, Converso) or their support for Israel. I've met such interesting people in just the first few days.

For a genealogist - and a Jewish genealogist in particular - meeting our next door neighbor was fortuitous. This isn't New York City, where even the Italians are Jewish (or so we used to say!), and the Jewish population is spread out across the city, so it was quite a surprise to meet our MOT neighbor.

She has roots in Nesvizh, Belarus. Their name, she reported, was Odiansky, changed to Gordon at Ellis Island (NOT!), and that she can't find information because everything over there was destroyed (NOT!). We plan to sit down this week and see what we can find in the Belarus and other records. She also has distant cousins in Ramat Gan (adjacent to Tel Aviv).

We haven't had too much time yet for touristy things, but hope to get to some places next week.

Now that our internet, cable and phones are connected, Tracing the Tribe can get back to work.

I'm also really looking forward to meeting everyone at the New Mexico Genealogy Society and the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society.

11 November 2010

Colorado: Following the paper trail, Nov. 21

Follow your family's paper trail  at a special computer lab session for beginners at the University of Denver Computer Lab, on Sunday, November 21. 

"Becoming an American: Following Your Ancestor's Paper Trail" is a beginner-level program on using internet resources  that will run from 10am-noon.  It is part of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado's Family Tree Initiative Workshop and Mentoring Series.  
Learn which documents immigrants completed as they entered America and became citizens, where those materials can be found, and what information they contain about changed names, relatives, origins and more. Follow a paper trail including passenger ship manifests, census, naturalizations, vital records, military service, land ownership, and probate – all starting from the computer!
Take a field trip to the computer lab at the University of Denver where every participant will be connected to a computer. No prior knowledge of genealogy or computers is necessary. There is a one-time $30 fee that covers all sessions, a book, materials, and one year of membership in the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado.  Participants can attend one or all seven lectures of the Jewish Family Tree Initiative.
Reserve in advance to save your seat for this program.  

New York: 'History of Ellis Island' author, Nov. 21

Vincent J. Cannato, author of  "American Passage: The History of Ellis Island," will speak at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York, on Thursday, November 21.

The program, followed by a book-signing, begins at 2pm at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, in Manhattan.

Cannato tells the story of Ellis Island from the days when it hosted pirate hangings witnessed by thousands of 19th-century New Yorkers, to the turn of the 20th century when massive migration sparked fierce debate and new immigrants often encountered corruption, harsh conditions and political scheming.

"American Passage" captures a time and place unparalleled in American immigration and history, and articulates the dramatic and bittersweet accounts of the immigrants, officials, interpreters, and social reformers who all play an important role in Ellis Island’s chronicle.
The last immigrant was processed at Ellis Island omore than 50 years ago in 1954.

Cannato's book illustrates the port of entry’s legacy, from detention of WWII aliens to the rebirth of Ellis Island as a national monument.

As immigration policy, national security, and the war on terror remain at the forefront of national debate today, this timely history offers Americans an important perspective on how the nation addressed similar challenges a century ago.
Cannatto is an associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He received his BA (Political Science, Williams College) and PhD (history, Columbia University) and teaches courses on New York City history, Boston history, immigration history and 20th-century American history. For more on the author and the book, click here.

The Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute at CJH will be open from 11am for networking with  researchers and access to research materials and computers.

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

For more information, click here.

San Francisco: Intro to Jewish Genealogy, Nov. 21

Learn all about Jewish genealogy with Dale Friedman of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, on Sunday, November 21.

Doors open at 12.30pm and the free program begins at 1pm at Congregation Beth Israel Judea, 625 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco. There is free parking.

What exactly is "Jewish genealogy" and what might you learn about yourself by doing family history research? Join Friedman as he explores the "Jewish" in Jewish genealogy and shares what he has learned.

Where do I come from, how did my ancestors shape me, how did they shape my Jewish community? Jewish genealogy is one way to help answer these questions.

He'll explore how to start your Jewish genealogy, suggest research methods and resources, and illustrate with personal examples. Learn about many exciting new developments in Jewish genealogy and receive informative handouts.

Friedman will also speak about the benefits of working with other researchers who share your ancestral home.

An SFBAJGS board member, Friedman has been exploring the family history of all sides of his family and his wife's family for the last decade. He is also the co-administrator of a Google Group focusing on Rohatyn in Galicia

For more information and directions, click here.

05 November 2010

Colorado: Create a ShtetLink website, Nov. 14

You've thought about creating a ShtetLinks website to memorialize your ancestral community but don't really know how to do it.

Regardless of your technological skills, you can do it!

Learn all about JewishGen ShtetLinks at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado on Sunday, November 14.

The program runs from 10am-noon at Congregation Har HaShem, Boulder.

Judy Petersen will present "What are, why use, and how to create a ShtetLinks website."

A JGSCO member, Judy wanted to do more than just keep files of family trees.

She wanted to share the information and place her family in an historical and geographical context. Collaboration with other researchers of the same area was also on her agenda.

Using ShtetLinks on JewishGen, volunteers create individual web pages for their ancestral towns.

Judy will share how she overcame her "technologically-challenged" status and how anyone can develop a site, increase their computer skills and make progress by networking with others researching the same towns.

She began researching her family after her father told about being an orphan after his parents and brother died. She contacted her paternal first cousins and this developed into a quest to find out as much about her extended family.

All she knew was that they came from Russia and her mother's family from Hungary. Today she has determined the towns of origin for all but one of her great-grandparents, constructed an extensive family tree and located living relatives in California, New York, Canada, Argentina, Israel and Denver.

Judy is also active in JewishGen's Hungarian SIG

In real life, she is a physical therapist and library director for Congregation Har Shalom, Fort Collins.

For more information and directions, visit the JGSCO website.

02 November 2010

UK: Jewish family wanted for reality show

A British Jewish family is wanted for a reality TV show, according to the UK Jewish Chronicle.

The story covers the Channel Four producers' search for an "exhibitionist" Jewish family "who have room for a few more round the Friday night dinner table." The "few more" means up to 28 cameras recording every kvetch-and-kvell around the clock for the award-nominated series, "The Family."

Channel Four's call for Jewish families to apply describes the programme as "a celebration of family life that reflects the identity and diversity of contemporary Britain."
Previously spotlighted were British and Anglo-Indian families. The project team is looking in Manchester for a family with three or more teenage children for the eight-week filming session.

The cameras will record family meals, homework, marriages, school, work and religion and more.

It might take some time, say the producers, to find a suitable family willing to live in front of the intrusive cameras. No filming start date has been set.

It will be interesting information to add to the family archives!

Texas: UT Jewish studies receives $12 million

Jewish education is important. This is the second recent Jewish studies grant to a major university.

The University of Texas (Austin) will become a hub for Texas Jewish history education and programming via a multimillion-dollar challenge grant, initiated by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

The university has already raised $5.8 million of the $6 million needed on their part, and will receive $6 million from the Schusterman Foundation when the final $200,000 is raised by the end of December 2010, according to the story in the Jewish Herald Voice (Houston).

The Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies was established three years ago, and offers a multidisciplinary curriculum, with nearly 30 cross-listed courses, that explores Jewish life, culture and religion. Teaching professors come from a wide variety of fields. The new matching grant will result in expanded academic and cultural offerings as well as five new professorships.

A new Jewish studies professor will be added each year for the next five years.. Three have already been named: North American Jewish Studies, Jewish Arts & Culture, Zionism Studies/Israel & the Diaspora.

The goal is also to make UT the center for scholars and students interested in the Texas Jewish experience.

According to UT Professor Robert H. Abzug:

“The Texas Jewish community has accomplished more than many others. It has this history of small-town roots, in which Jews really took a part in modernizing Texas through commerce: going from being peddlers to becoming department store owners, to bringing modern infrastructure and institutions to rural, small-town communities,” he said.

“It’s also the most intermarried community I’ve ever come across. It’s both part of the broader world of Texas and a very real and solid community of its own,” he added.

“We’re drawing this focus not simply because we’re here in Texas. Rather, it’s because the national significance of Texas Jewish history is, as of yet, unminded and unrecognized,” he said.
The center is also discussing a lecture series with the UT Business School to spotlight Texas Jewish entrepreneurs. [Tracing the Tribe hopes Bennett Greenspan of FamilyTreeDNA.com is on their list!)

The center plans to fund a Texas Jewish History professorship and raise money for a research/outreach fund to support study. Abzur wants to create a short course in Texas Jewish history that could travel to a synagogue, community or Christian church that would help answer questions.

UT and SCJS also focuses on Israel, as it hosts Israeli writers, speakers and visiting scholars, and develops programming with partner organizations and institutions, in Jewish arts and culture.

SCJS is working with Texas Performing Arts to host a four-day conference on the music, art and fate of the people of Terezín, along with photo exhibits.

Other events on the calendar:

-- April, 2011:SCJS and Rice University's new Jewish studies program will hold an event in Austin.

-- August 2011: there will be the Early Modern Workshop in Jewish History, with the participation of top Jewish scholars.

--Spring 2012: Western Hemisphere Jewish Studies conference will feature major Canadian, US and Latin American scholars.

Read the complete article at the link above. For more information on SCJS, click here.

Arizona: Historic Jewish time capsule opened

The Jewish History Museum in Tucson, Arizona, opened its century-old time capsule.

The Arizona Jewish Post covered the event that attracted hundreds of people.

The capsule was placed under the building's cornerstone - then the Stone Avenue Temple - when it was built in 1910. It was the first home of Temple Emanu-El.

It was removed and opened by US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (photo right. Credit: Marilyn Friedman/Jewish History Museum). Her father, Spencer Giffords, became a bar mitzvah in the synagogue.

The small metal box contained coins, a Masonic medal, old documents and newspapers from June 1910, including the Tucson Citizen and Arizona Daily Star, announcing that a bill for Arizona statehood (admitted February 1912) had been passed.

Speaking to the crowd before the box was chiseled out from beneath the cornerstone, Giffords noted that not only were Jews present in Arizona prior to statehood, they were involved in business, politics, education and “caring for the community.” Along with many of the other speakers, she remarked on the diversity of the Tucson community, noting particularly the participation of the Grand Lodge of Arizona Free and Accepted Masons — whose forebears had helped lay the cornerstone — in the day’s ceremonies.
Giffords wondered what Tucson would be like 100 years in the future.

When built, the structure cost less than $5,000, but more than $600,000 was spent to protect and preserve it. The building was effectively abandoned in 1999, prior to restoration efforts.
A new time capsule included histories of the Jewish community, and three congregations which began life in that building, a history of Southern Arizona's Holocaust Survivors, 2010 coins, copies of the Arizona Jewish Post and Arizona Daily Star, a flag of Israel, a US 48-star flag carried in the city on Arizona Statehood Day in 1912, and a copy of the day's events.

The cornerstone was rededicated by the Masons, who poured “the corn of nourishment, the wine of refreshment and the oil of joy” into the cavity.

For more information, click here.

01 November 2010

France: What's in a Jewish name?

Anne Morddel writes the French Genealogy Blog. She covers French Jewish genealogy in this post, "French Jewish Genealogy - Pick a Name - Le Décret de Bayonne."

The Revolution brought full citizenship to Jewish French on the 27th of September, 1791. Napoleon did not retract it (as he retracted the abolition of slavery) but he did issue an edict that has proved invaluable for genealogists (given above in the Bulletin des lois). With the Décret de Bayonne, issued on the 20th of July, 1808, he ordered that all Jewish people in France or immigrating permanently to France who did not have a fixed and hereditary surname be required to choose one.

These registres d'options de noms 1808 became a de facto census of the Jewish people of France (to be followed in some places by a real census a year later). The numbers are interesting. According to a list in the Archives nationales (code F19 11010) there were 46,054 Jewish people in France who chose permanent names. The majority were in the departments of  Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin (with some very legible examples for the city of Mulhouse), and Moselle. In each, the head of a family, usually the husband and father, gives for each family member his or her name, date and place of birth, and the surname and forenames chosen. The registrations have the appearance and structure of any other acte d'état civil in 1808. ...
To read the complete post - and to see the original decree (in French) - click here.

Thank you, Anne.

Global Day of Jewish Learning, Nov. 7

Did you know that the Global Day of Jewish Learning is Sunday, November 7?

The day honors the achievement of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz's five-decades project of translating the Talmud and encouraging people to join together for study.

It brings together Jewish communities around the world in a historic celebration.

Find out more here about Rabbi Steinsaltz, the day, and click here for more than 250 events as well as online opportunities.

Columbia University: $4 million for Jewish Studies

New Yorkers interested in all aspects of Jewish studies will have something new to access for information.

The Columbia University Libraries have received a gift of $4 million to establish the Norman E. Alexander Library for Jewish Studies. It will fund endowments for a Jewish Studies librarian, the General Jewish Studies Collection and Special Collections in Judaica.

Michelle Chesner is the new Librarian for Jewish Studies is Michelle Chesner. Previously she was at the University of Pennsylvania as an archivist and Judaica Public Services Librarian at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. Her research interests include 15th century Jewish history and early Hebrew books.

Special collections at the Jewish Studies library include 29 Hebrew incunabula, more than 30016th-century printed books, and nearly 1,500 Hebrew manuscripts, plus extensive archival collections related to Jewish life and culture, and Jewish individuals in all fields of study and work.

Key components were acquired in 1947 (the Oko-Gebhardt Spinoza Collection, nearly 4,000 books by and about the Dutch Jewish philosopher) and in 2009 (the papers of Yosef Yerushalmi, Columbia faculty member and scholar of Jewish history). New endowment funds will be used initially to catalog the Hebrew manuscripts, the second largest such collection in North America.

Jewish Studies collections at Columbia offer more than 100,000 monograph volumes, 1,000 current and historical periodical titles, about 60,000 Hebrew and Yiddish titles and large holdings of Jewish scholarly works in Western and Slavic languages. It also subscribes to relevant electronic titles, ebooks and databases. It is the only New York City repository for the Visual History Archive of the Shoah Foundation.

Read more here about Norman E. Alexander and the endowments. Learn more about the Columbia University Libraries/Information Services here.

New Jersey: Intro to genealogy for teens, Nov. 23

In an effort to get teens involved in genealogy, the Clifton (New Jersey) Public Library will offer a special introduction session on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

The program runs from 4-5pm at the Main Memorial Library. Coming only a few days before Thanksgiving, a traditional family-gathering holiday, it might spur the participants into asking questions of their senior relatives during the holiday weekend.

Attendees will learn how to start a search, how to create a family tree and how the library's resources can help them.

This is how it was billed:

Teens – did you ever wonder where your family came from or how they ended up where you live now? If you answered, yes, than you’ve been bitten by the genealogy bug. Your past is a twisted and winding road that can be hard to follow but don’t give up your hunt because the library is here to help.
No registration is necessary. For more information, click here.