Friday, February 20, 2009

JGS of Greater Miami Program Notes

By: Joan Parker
PROGRAM NOTES
September 2008 - February 2009

 
As most organizations do for their September meeting the guest speakers are from their group who attended the Chicago IAJGS Conference in August. Our attendees were Marcia Finkel, Barbara Musikar and Fran Waxman.
 
Marcia took the Jewish Roots tour and told us about meeting a family member in a cemetery in Akron, Ohio, her side-trip before returning to Miami.


Barbara brought us up to date on the IAJGS proposed by-law amendments and reviewed a book by Omar Baitov, “Erased.”

 Those of us who have attended past conferences could relate quite well to Fran’s description of her first conference. We all just about experienced whatever she did as in “Been there, done that” our very first time. She wrote her story in the last issue of Branches.

October brought us our own DNA guru, FIU Professor Abe Lavender, VP/Programming, with his edifying presentation on the “Jewish Female DNA Comparing Ashkenazi and Sephardi Women” based on recently released research was the essence of his lecture.  His presentation with hand-outs gave the results of that research.  This was followed by many interesting questions.


November: We were treated to a comprehensive talk about Jewish life in the small mountain town Ioannina, Greece by our guest speaker, Dr. Annette Fromm . She told us of many cultural customs indigenous to the area.  Jewish life was present in Ioannina for centuries, possibly from the time of the Romans sacking Palestine, but certainly from ancient and Byzentinian times.

According to records in 1920, 4000 Jews lived there.  There were two Hebrew schools, one for the boys and one for the girls, and two synagogues.  About 10 years ago, the Jewish community shrunk to about 70 members, but of all ages.

We learned about the Greek custom of naming the children.  The first son was named after the paternal grandfather (living or dead); the first daughter was named after the paternal grandmother; the second son was named after the maternal grandfather; and the second daughter was named after the maternal grandmother.

Questions and comments were taken after the talk.

December: Annual Hannukah party with a guest speaker.  We celebrated Hannukah as usual with Hannukah decorations, delicious refreshments and the Grab Bag (put one in, take one out) for Gifts. Our speaker was noted author, Seth Bramson.

Seth reviewed his book, “L'CHAIM!  The History of the Jewish Community of Greater Miami.” It starts with the early (1896) Jewish pioneers such as Isidor Cohen, his wife Ida, their daughter Claire who married Sydney Weintraub, Joe Weiss, Edward E. “Doc” Dammers, and “Pop” Lehman and continues on to recent times.  He also spoke about Jewish life, restrictions on Jews, Miami Beach Senior High School, Jewish Home for the Aged, Jewish Museum of Florida and the Greater Miami Jewish Federation where we meet.

His collection of Miami-area images is the largest in private hands in America and his collection of "restricted clientele" memorabilia is the largest in public or private hands in the country."

There was a lively question and answer session following his presentation.   He presented an autographed copy of his book, to Dr. Abe Lavender, who in turn donated the book to our JGS library. Thank you both.

January 2009: Once again we had our annual Question and Answer Bring Your Brick Walls program this year to be moderated by Abe Lavender. We were fortunate to have a surprise to some “drop-in” visitor whose schedule while he was in Florida allowed him to attend.  The IAJGS Salute Award winning Steve Lasky from the JGS in Long Island.

Steve is the "curator" and creator of the Museum of Family History www.museumoffamilyhistory.com for which he  received the award. In the beginning he answered mainly New York specific questions about cemeteries but later focused on brick walls. He and Abe continued to moderate and answer the many various questions posed by the audience. It was a lively Q and A session as members had many problems and Steve was able to direct most people to "sources."  Also some of our members were able to add to the discussion and provide answers. Example:  Marcia Finkel was able to provide information about death records in Ohio and what is online. What a great bunch of people we have in our JGS.                                                                                                          

Steve stayed a bit longer so that people could see and hear on his laptop what is available at his Museum.

February: Our 20th Anniversary Special Event Celebration complete with a decorated cake, delicious refreshments and balloons.  Our special guest was the multi-award winning creator of the fabulous One-Step databases, Steve Morse back  by popular demand. 

Prior to beginning his lectures Eleanor Laub, our Registrar was acknowledged as one of the original members, a Founding Mother.  Also in attendance and recognized as members from the first year were Lynn Wruble, Treasurer and Caryl Chassman, Corresponding Secretary.
                                                                                                    Steve’s presentations were "Hodgepodge" a follow up to last year's well-received  and informative Potpourri.  These were the many little-known gems from protecting against Identity Theft to problems with genealogical searches and touched briefly on DNA.

His second presentation was a humorous, but very informative look at the Jewish Calendar Demystified   through the eyes of Adam and Eve. He explained the workings of the Jewish calendar cycle and how to read tombstones, especially the dates that are written in Hebrew.

As always there were many questions and answers following the close of his lectures. A complete listing of his One Step Web-Pages and information on how to use them can be found at http://stevemorse.org.

So far we have had an excellent series of programs and look forward to the remainder of our season.


Pictures:
Abe Lavender (l) listens attentively to Steve Lasky answering a question
 
Seth Bramson answering a question
Steve Morse during his Hodgepodge presentation 

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