Holocaust survivor reunited with sister after 60 years

BRUSSELS - Last month, it's raining. Facing the ground, people are scurrying past the windows of the Hotel Vendome, on Brussel's Avenue Adolphe Max. Avi Lavi, 73, slowly traverses the lobby, lost in his thoughts. He is about to complete a search that lasted many years.

More than 60 years ago he was separated from his sister Eva. In just a couple of hours they will finally meet again. Following intensive research, the International Tracing Service, a part of the International Red Cross, located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, arranged the meeting in cooperation with Magen David Adom (Haaretz).

The Irish Times Archives - Free Access

By: Ann Rabinowitz

One of the periodic niceties which occur periodically in the genealogical world is the sometimes temporary access to be gained to newspaper and other archives.  The latest one, the archives of “The Irish Times”, was brought to my attention by Joy Rich, editor of “Dorot” which is published by the JGS (NY). 

Free access is provided to “The Irish Times” in honor of their 150th Anniversary (1859-2009
).  The access is from March 31, 2009 – April 4, 2009 and search can be conducted by text or date.   

The range of items in the paper is amazing and one can find articles, adverts, legal announcements and trials, births, marriages, and deaths, school graduations along with photographs, information on organizations and their activities, and many other things.

Very often, researchers do not bother to look at the regular town newspaper where their families lived for Jewish-related news.  It is often thought that only the Yiddish or Jewish papers will have such information.  Not necessarily true and “The Irish Times” is a good example.

As I often do, I searched for the YODAIKEN family and found Samuel Yodaiken whom I have written about previously on the Blog.  He is mentioned quite a number of times in pieces relating to theft of automobile and bicycle tires from his business and subsequent arrest of the perpetrators.  This was in the early decades of the 20th Century when apparently rubber products such as tires were a big business. 

Further, I found a poem by his son, the well-known writer Leslie Herbert Yodaiken (later Daiken) which I had not seen previously and which was published in the Saturday, November 25, 1939 edition of the paper: 

"Lament From the Banks of the Uz"
(For "Nichevo.")

A LYRIC moon powdered the Carpathian night
Peace with each cockerow came into the market square;
Your shabby nags-caparisoned with light!
Your sentries slept.  The Monster was not there.
A golden cupola dazzled in the sun
Like a recovered glory of Byzantium.

Across the splashing czardas, muted slow
I seem to hear the brittle break of bones,
Where every day's a "Traurig Sonntag" now
Spilt, spelt as "Blood Sunday" on the stones-
An Irishman has painted well the scene
And your inoffensive helpless gabardine.

Curs lap up the blood and leave no traces.
O gipsy folk, O Jews of Uzhorod,
What has become of your exalted faces
Crying in stony places to your God,
Apocalyptic agony and loss
Your crucifixion on the crooked-cross?

Roll on Death's Caravan!  Comrade ghosts will greet you
Where the shade of Masaryk presides Ceann Comhairle.
Deputies, Czech and Pole and Ethiop, will meet you,
And Basque and Catalan (arrived a little early).
Along these trackways desperately trod
Roll on Tzigane and Jew of Uzhorod.

Leslie’s graduation (with photograph) from Trinity College in 1933 was located along with notices of his participation in dramatic performances and other matters.  Another listing was the birth of Samuel’s grandson Jonathan in 1964 which stated when and where he was born and who his parents were.  There were also obits for various people which gave the name of the cemetery where the deceased was buried which I had not known before.  One of these was for my uncle Abe whose death date I did not have.

Another interesting find was one for Arnold Yodaiken who was listed as follows in a legal advert:

Public Dance Halls Act, 1935

Take Notice that ARNOLD YODAIKEN, of 66 Chaworth Place, South Circular road, Dublin, intends to Apply at the Metropolitan District Court, Court No. 3,Morgan Place, Dublin, on Thursday the 28th day of September 1950, at 10.30 a.m., for a Dance Licence in respect of the premises known as Greeville Hall, Dolphin's Barn, South Circular road, Dublin.  HARRIS & LEON,Solicitors for the Applicant, 2 St.Andrew street, Dublin.

Many other Irish Jewish families as well as others from around the world were to be found in the archives and it is well-worth searching for them. 

Not only were their personal family information to look for, but there was historical information available in the articles as well.  A valuable article, “An Irishman’s Diary” appeared in the Thursday, May 29, 2008 edition of the paper, (available here), and told of a fascinating walking tour of Jewish Dublin.

All in all, the search was quite rewarding and I am going to continue my sleuthing in the archives until the very last day!

Framing History: Sacha Kolin in The Rose Art Museum's Permanent Collection (Part 3 of 3)

From the mid-1960s, campus museums acquired hundreds of Kolins, including 32 artworks at Brandeis University's The Rose Art Museum. The University's announcement on January 26, 2009, later modified, to deaccession its art collection generated fervent commentary. In this three-part series Framing History, Lisa places the academic museum in historical context, explaining the economic policies and social factors that fueled the explosive growth of campus museums in this era, and highlighting the archival records generated by the museum community. This is part 3 of 3. (Click here to read the original announcement, here to read Part 1, and here to read part 2).
Example from The Rose: Tracing Special Situations. 
As mentioned, I wrote to each of the twenty museums listed under "Museum and University Collections," in the Everson catalog. I learned that Sacha's artwork in university permanent collections is vulnerable for reasons other than by auction sale. Of the ten university collections listed in the catalog, three museums could not locate their Kolin holdings. One museum retained a monumental painting but had removed it from permanent display. Two universities had closed; one gave its Kolins to other universities, one of which did not retain the gift. Only one university museum of the original ten had deaccessioned her work.

Of the original ten universities, three campus venues confirmed owning a handful of Kolin works. And then there is The Rose. Thirty-two works survive. Since 1973, ten additional university museums received Kolins, including the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Cornell University through the artist's estate. Several museums continue to incorporate Kolin artworks in scholarly exhibitions. Her sculpture Cathedral stood regal in "Aftermath: Solace in Art" at the Miami University Art Museum in 2002. Today, Sacha's work resides in over 110 collections, of which 30 are museums (for further details, click here). 

Another resource for tracing the provenance and disposition of artwork is auction house records. Sources for sales results include the auction house; auction house catalogs; databases of records from numerous auction houses such as Art Sales Index or Artfact; the seller; and the buyer. My biography is named in homage to Sacha's 90 x 68-inch painting Look Up, The Sun Is Shining. The original owner, a museum, told me that the artwork was sold at auction. The prominent auction house had no record of its sale. Years later, through my Sacha Kolin website, I was contacted by the painting's current owner, a former employee of the auction house. He had bought Look Up in a post-sale, private transaction with his employer.

Fig. 4 Look Up, the Sun is Shining, 1964, painting, 90 x 68 inches; photo: Michael Grassia; private collection. Reprinted, by permission from Michael Grassia.

I found instances of unclear title of ownership (ex., a donor or the artist dies before transferring title, hence known as "unaccessioned"); conflicting information (ex., an appraisal record for a sculpture not found in the collection as described); and unrealized dreams (ex., a maquette received for a large-scale sculpture was never funded). Papers from multiple sources need to be crosschecked and verified.

A related issue is accessibility, how the repository's collection is arranged and described to facilitate access. I found Sacha hidden in exhibition inventories and reviews within the papers of her friends and colleagues. The collections were either unprocessed, or arranged and described at the series folder level (ex., Correspondences, A-K) instead of at the item level (ex., Kolin, Sacha, ASL, July 1, 1965). There was no meaningful access point providing a key name or term (ex., Hannes Beckmann, Color Theory). Without a finding aid or other access tool, I uncovered fragments of Sacha's past by studying the originals of relevant collections.

The major expansion of university museums in the 1960s and 1970s contributed to the cultural transformation of the era. The Rose and other campus museums built during this period flourished in part because of the generosity of their patrons and the ingenuity of their artists. Sacha Kolin survived through art sales to collectors and donors and also, garnered prestige from her museums list. Without near heirs, by placing her work in academic museums, she also sought to preserve her legacy in perpetuity. Even with the artist's best intentions, perpetuity proved to be tenuous.

Family historians may apply the strategies outlined here to any occupation, and to conduct cross-disciplinary studies. Historical context, economic policy, and social factors are critical aspects of our research. Institutional records and specialized archives and libraries are underutilized resources. And yet, to facilitate access, the work of arranging and describing collections begins at the repository level. 

Perhaps that is a small consolation of Brandeis University's possible deaccession of The Rose collection, placing its art records and donor files under scrutiny. The research and documentation process, for instance, to locate a donor in the case of a restricted gift, would be part of the difficult and complex situation for the University and The Rose community, the donors and their heirs, and the artists and their legacies.

Selected Sources:

  • Bracker, Milton. "Tax Deductions on Donated Art To Get Closer Federal Scrutiny," New York Times, January 17, 1962, p. 1.
  • Bryant, Edward. "The Boom in University Museums," ARTnews (September 1967): 30-47 and 73-75.
  • Campbell, Colin. "Art Donors Facing Stricter Tax Rules," New York Times, July 2, 1984, p. C11.
  • Davie, Maurice R. Refugees in America: Report of the Committee for the Study of Recent Immigration from Europe. New York: Harper and Row, 1947.
  • Ernst, Jimmy. A Not-So-Still Life. New York: Pushcart Press, 1984.
  • Grant, Daniel. "Is the University's Museum Just a Rose to be Plucked?," Wall Street Journal, February 3, 2009.
  • Gruen, John. The Party's Over Now: Reminiscences of the Fifties—New York's artists, writers, musicians, and their friends.  New York: The Viking Press, 1967,
  • Harmon, Lily. Freehand: An intimate portrait of the New York art scene in its golden years by a remarkable woman who lived, loved, and painted it. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981.
  • Kolin, Alexander. "Recollections—encounters with scientists, successes, and failures," Electrophoresis 4 (1983): 1-19.
  • Levy, Julien. Memoir of an Art Gallery. Boston: MFA Publications, 2003.
  • Myers, John Bernard. Tracking the Marvelous: A life in the New York art world. New York: Random House, 1967.
  • "New Smithsonian Chief Sees Technological Future," Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2009.
  • O'Doherty, Brian, Ed. Museums in Crisis. New York: G. Braziller, 1972.
  • Pollock, Lindsay. "Critics Blast Brandeis Plan to Close Rose Museum, Sell Artworks," Bloomberg.com, January 29, 2009. 
  • Ritchie, Andrew C. The Visual Arts in Higher Education. College Art Association of America, 1966.
  • Sacha Kolin. Catalog to exhibition (September 4-26, 1973), Everson Museum of Art. Syracuse, NY: Everson Museum of Art, 1973.
  • Thaler, Lisa. Look Up: The Life and Art of Sacha Kolin. New York: Midmarch Arts Press, 2008.
  • Thaler, Lisa. "Researching Public Archival Collections and Indexing Personal Family Papers," Avotaynu (summer 2002): 11-16. Editorial comment, 46.
Special thanks to Christian Marc Schmidt for his assistance with the images.

Framing History: Sacha Kolin in The Rose Art Museum's Permanent Collection (Part 2 of 3)

From the mid-1960s, campus museums acquired hundreds of Kolins, including 32 artworks at Brandeis University's The Rose Art Museum. The University's announcement on January 26, 2009, later modified, to deaccession its art collection generated fervent commentary. In this three-part series Framing History, Lisa places the academic museum in historical context, explaining the economic policies and social factors that fueled the explosive growth of campus museums in this era, and highlighting the archival records generated by the museum community. This is part 2 of 3. (Click here to read the original announcement, and then here to read Part 1).
Example from The Rose: Extending the Family
Meaningful alliances, beyond familial relationships, and memoirs by community members offer unique insights to the researcher. Just like the ambiguous "aunt" may connote affection but not consanguinity, a role such as "donor" or  "collector," had different connotations in different eras.

In the 1960s, artistic freedom flourished and took many experimental forms. A donor then was often more of a patron than a collector, perhaps known personally by the artist and more interested in supporting her career than investing in and acquiring a tangible work. A talented and visionary artist, Sacha was also a savvy marketer and forceful showman. My sources for names were primarily Sacha's address book, which is on deposit at the Archives of American Art; in exhibition ephemera at archives, libraries, and in private collections; and from those I contacted who referred me to others. 

Fig. 2 Address book entry for the late David Thaler, a friend of the artist and the author's cousin; collection Sacha Kolin Papers, Archives of American Art. Reprinted, by permission from Archives of American Art.

Sacha's extended circle, including the community of donors, was an invaluable link to her past, as were scholarly references, periodicals, and memoirs of and interview transcripts with postwar art patrons, gallery dealers, and artists. Memoirs of note are John Gruen's The Party's Over Now: Reminiscences of the Fifties—New York's artists, writers, musicians, and their friends; Jimmy Ernst's A Not-So-Still Life; and John Bernard Myers's Tracking the Marvelous: A life in the New York art world. The researcher will find relevant published histories listed in WorldCat, available here. For unpublished collections, refer to the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections by clicking here.

Another factor in Sacha's successful representation in university collections was economics. Government policy encouraged the three-way agreement among artists, donors, and museums. The Tax Reform Act of 1969, which became effective January 1, 1970, stipulated that an artist could deduct only the cost of materials, not the market value, of her work donated to charitable institutions. A donor could give the same work to an art museum, and deduct the market value—without having paid income tax on the gain. The differential tax treatment is the classification of the capital gain as either long-term for the donor or short-term for the artist.

Based on the artwork's market or appraised value, the donor paid Sacha for the artwork. After the requisite holding period—a year by law and two by custom, the museum received the art. The donor could take a tax deduction. Of course, not every donor claimed the gift on his tax return, and some of Sacha's donors did not take their legal deduction.

Three individuals (none was family) donated the 32 Kolins that now reside at The Rose Museum. My research of each donor led to other sponsors, including their descendants and colleagues, who provided crucial recollections of Sacha's past and artistic milieu. The donors are her sculpture fabricator, a wood craftsman from Puerto Rico; an Upper East Side neighbor who tragically was killed in the Pan Am flight 103 explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988; and a businessman who ran his family's silk-weaving enterprise in Paterson, New Jersey. The businessman had donated the Kolins to the Riverside Museum of New York, where Sacha had exhibited several times and had spoken on the 1957 panel "The Artist and the Housing Problem." When the Riverside Museum closed in June 1971, its 750-piece art collection was transferred to The Rose and became known as the Riverside Collection.

Sacha's donors' generosity was replicated at museums across the nation, where I found additional artworks and biographical details about the artist. For many years, following each lead, I built a community of Sacha's affiliates, with whom I interviewed and corresponded, and from whom I took testimony. Almost all are non-relatives and yet, those who crossed Sacha's path had much to share. Expanding the family circle to include non-relatives will enrich the researcher's understanding of her ancestors' lives.

Example from The Rose: Mining Institutions for Primary Sources
My first library look-up, in the Art Institute of Chicago's Ryerson Library, yielded a 1973 exhibition catalog from the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York (near Syracuse University). The catalog's back pages list "Museum and University Collections," and I wrote to each institution. Ten of the twenty venues were university collections, including The Rose. And so began a supplemental search for primary sources alongside the more traditional genealogical due diligence. I used career records, collections of specialized archives and libraries, and institutional and association records.

Career Records: 
The Everson catalog included a biography, a selected exhibition history, and an art inventory from the exhibition, albeit outdated. The museum director at the time, wrote a four-paragraph introduction describing Sacha's personal challenges ("...disheartening social conditions..."), artistic expression ("...highly charged abstract shapes and colors...."), and goal ("...to transform joy and magnanimity of spirit into art..."). The catalog images are interspersed with Sacha's revealing poetry ("I feel sometimes when I paint...I am saying a prayer....").

From the Everson catalog's exhibition history, I then researched each show and venue. Periodical indexes, such as the Art Index (from 1932), Index to Art Periodicals (a/k/a Ryerson Index, 1962), and Frick Art Reference Library (from 1983), provide citations to reviews. Databases include the Art Index Retrospective and JSTOR (Journal Storage), an electronic version for journal articles in the humanities.

Specialized Archives and Libraries: 
The Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art (AAA) is the largest specialized repository for the documentation, including oral histories, of our country's artistic legacy. In addition to Sacha's early professional scrapbooks and rare video recordings at the AAA, she is represented within her peers' archival papers, in the vertical files of other libraries, and in art references and periodical indexes at general libraries

The Getty Research Institute (GRI) posts online finding aids, which describe the scope and content of a collection, and an index to collectors' files. In February 2009, the GRI launched a new online cataloguing initiative to further enhance access to its collections, including photographs of "Cities and Sites" and of "Expositions and World's Fairs." Click here for further details.

Institutional Records: 
The university museum holds numerous records of interest to the family historian researching an artist. The museum registrar maintains the collections records, including the holdings by a particular artist, descriptions of the art and its exhibition and loan histories, the donor's contact information and agreement, and possibly appraisals and artist correspondence. 

The university archives' special collections may hold exhibition ephemera such as installation photographs, a vertical file about the artist, and annual reports citing acquisitions and donations (sometimes illustrated). The campus library may have exhibition reviews published in the school or community newspaper. I have twice located, in local newspapers, rare installation photographs of Kolin's paintings on exhibition. In one instance, the work had not been attributed to the artist. 

The Indianapolis Museum of Art is at the forefront of using technology to promote transparency and to share information. The Museum has launched a database of its recent and planned deaccessions located here. Data fields provide information about the artist, the work (often illustrated), the donor, the deaccession (or proposed sale), and its valuation. The site is also interactive, inviting public comment on each artwork or decorative object. There is a link to its deaccession policy. The Museum intends to add a field showing the uses of the funds received from deaccessioning, creating an ironic link between bought and sold works of art and its creators.

Association Records:

Contact member organizations that conduct research on, develop standards and policies for, and publish about your industry of interest. Concerning university art collections, refer to the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD); the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries (ACUMG); the American Association of Museums (AAM); the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM); and the College Art Association (CAA).

These overlooked repositories and sources hold clues to the artist's personal history. For instance, an account of the Kolins' Odessa years is published in the journal Electrophoresis, as part of a tribute to Sacha's cousin biophysicist Alexander Kolin, PhD (1910-1997).  Further, the papers of Sacha's late father, an aeronautical engineer, are co-mingled with her own at the AAA. 

Fig. 3 White Batwings, 1979, 8 feet high, two under fabrication in Navedo Woodcraft, 1980; photo: Sacha Kolin; collection Miami University Art Museum, Oxford, OH. Photo courtesy of Joyce Rezendes. White Batwings is one element that with Going Up, 12 feet high, comprises Cathedral.

To be continued. Part 3 will be posted on Tuesday, March 31st at 12:00 AM

Only Jewish Military Cemetery Outside Israel

By: Ann Rabinowitz

 Courtesy of the Hebrew Cemetery Company of Richmond, VA
The Florida Atlantic University’s Fraiberg Judaica Collection has an on-line presence which incorporates Seymour "Sy" Brody's Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America Exhibits which number about twelve different databases.  These databases focus on the military participation of American Jews.  The latest exhibit provides information on the Hebrew Confederate Cemetery or Soldiers Section in Richmond, VA, which is the only Jewish military cemetery outside Israel.  The exhibit can be viewed online by clicking here.
The Hebrew Confederate Cemetery contains the remains of soldiers who fought in the American Civil War during the battles of Fredericksburg (December 11-15, 1862), Chancellorsville (April 30-May 6, 1863), and the Wilderness (May 5-7, 1864).  The cemetery is a testament to the anti-Semitism which caused the authorities of the military cemeteries at Spotsylvania Court House and Fredericksburg to deny Jewish burials to soldiers killed in battle.  After the refusal to bury was received, the bodies were brought to the Hebrew Cemetery in Richmond, VA, which established a separate plot or Hebrew Confederate Cemetery within its boundaries. 

The soldiers buried in Richmond were from a number of southern states which included:  Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.  Though only containing thirty burials of Confederate Jewish soldiers, the larger cemetery within which the Confederate burials lie accommodates five more soldiers who were buried in their family plots.

The cemetery founded in 1816 is located at Shockoe Hill at Fourth and Hospital Streets in Richmond, VA and has been maintained since 1888 by Congregation Beth Ahabah, one of the oldest synagogues in Richmond.  You can read more about the cemetery by clicking here.
For those researching their relatives who fought in the Confederacy, this is an interesting exhibit where you may find that missing relative who you could not find in any other place.  It is well-worth a visit as well as the other exhibits prepared by Mr. Brody.

Framing History: Sacha Kolin in The Rose Art Museum's Permanent Collection (Part 1 of 3)

From the mid-1960s, campus museums acquired hundreds of Kolins, including 32 artworks at Brandeis University's The Rose Art Museum. The University's announcement on January 26, 2009, later modified, to deaccession its art collection generated fervent commentary. In this three-part series Framing History, Lisa places the academic museum in historical context, explaining the economic policies and social factors that fueled the explosive growth of campus museums in this era, and highlighting the archival records generated by the museum community. This is part 1 of 3. (Click here to read the original announcement).
Vienna Modernist Sacha Kolin: The New York Years
Sacha Kolin (1911-1981), the Paris-born and Vienna-trained Modernist, was one of over 700 visual artists to emigrate from Europe to the United States between 1933 and 1944.  Within months of her 1936 arrival in New York City, the young refugee had a solo exhibition of paintings and sculpture at Rockefeller Center's P.E.D.A.C. Galleries. At the 1940 New York World's Fair, Sacha showed among 42 fellow émigrés, including Josef Albers, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Amédée Ozenfant, and Kurt Seligmann. The exhibition "New Americans of Friendship House" was a microcosm of recent art movements and styles of Central Europe: Expressionism, Neue Sachlichkeit, Purism, Surrealism, Wiener Werkstätte, and Bauhaus among them.

In the 1950s, Sacha co-hosted a color workshop with Bauhaus graduate Hannes Beckmann, joined numerous artist associations, and began to exhibit widely in Manhattan, the Hamptons, and Provincetown. Even so, Sacha struggled mightily to find a sustainable niche among Manhattan's galleries, whose tenures were often brief and whose audiences could be dismissive of advanced art and of women artists. She lived and painted in a succession of Upper East Side apartments but was often unable to afford the rent.

By the mid- to late-1960s, the artist then in her fifties, found more salubrious pastures in academic venues. In 1972, Sacha's first career retrospective was held at Southampton College of Long Island University. By the following year, her work had entered the collections of ten campus museums. Three donors gave to Brandeis University's The Rose Art Museum 32 Kolins: the monumental 40 X 68-inch painting The Day Before Tomorrow, a sculpture assemblage of casein on balsa wood with glass objects entitled We, and titled drawings including Blue Walk, Black Seed, and Conversation in Rose Red.

Upon her death at age 69 on Valentine's Day 1981, Sacha left behind a small ardent circle of patrons, about 2,000 artworks in over 60 museums and private collections, and a mountain of debt. I pieced together Sacha's story in part by studying the museums' collection histories and mining records in specialized archives and libraries. Ten lessons to family historians are detailed in my biography Look Up: The Life and Art of Sacha Kolin, which was recently published by Midmarch Arts Press.

Genealogical Challenges Lead to Innovative Methods
As the subject of a genealogical quest, Sacha Kolin is atypical. She was an only child, never married, and had no issue. Her small extended family with Ukrainian ancestral roots resettled for educational and economic opportunities and was scattered by successive wars. In New York City, Sacha's limited exposure as an artist, escalating poverty, and peripatetic residential history further restricted the ordinary information sources. 

Challenged by the research constraints, I saw potential for innovations in my field of genealogy. Could I extend the definition of family to glean a fuller and more accurate portrait of the artist? Could I pursue career and institutional records for biographical insights? Could I read Sacha's abstract paintings—subjective and creative expressions—as assiduously as I read her 1911 Parisian birth register?

 Fig. 1 Golden Shadows of the Past, 1960, oil, 30 x 30 inches; private collection.
Over many years of study, I located and reunited branches of Sacha's family in Argentina, Brazil, Israel, and the United States; interviewed and corresponded with her affiliates; built a database of artworks; and compiled a substantial archive of life event documents, professional records, and personal ephemera.

Example from The Rose: Framing History
The Rose Museum building in Waltham, Massachusetts, opened in 1961. Leon Mnuchin, Esq., and his wife, Harriet Gevirtz-Mnuchin, provided an early grant used to purchase 21 postwar artworks. Other donors followed. Today, about 85% of the 7,200-piece collection was gifted to The Rose.  Many of the postwar artworks were contemporary to the times, created during the 1960s and 1970s by artists perhaps known to the donors. 

Sidestepping the recent conflagration regarding The Rose and the University Board's decision—later modified—to deaccession artworks now worth about $350 million, I will frame history to offer a more nuanced appreciation of the academic museum's role in an artist's, in Sacha's, life.

The early 1960s was a time of unprecedented growth in the number of academic museums, fueled by a greater number of academic programs many of which were led by émigré art historians and their protégés; the need for greater access to original works of art for scholarly pursuits and curatorial endeavors, especially on campuses removed from major metropolitan areas; and an increased demand for exhibitions tailored to a larger and more diverse community.

By 1967, over a quarter—about 115—of all American museums were situated on college campuses. Academic museums built and expanded during the era, and who acquired Sacha's artwork, include The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in 1961; the Dickson Art Center's Grunwald Center for Graphic Arts at the University of California-Los Angeles in 1965; the Charles A. Dana Creative Arts Center at Colgate University in 1966; the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University in 1973; and the Miami University Art Museum of Miami University in 1978. In 1968, the buildings themselves, such as the Everson Museum designed by I. M. Pei, became the subject of an exhibition "The Architecture of Museums" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Sacha turned to campus museums as a receptive and prestigious audience for her life's work, including large-scale outdoor sculptures (click here to see Cornell University's Going Up and White Batwings, installed in 1978). She was adept at cultivating sponsors, who played a critical role in museum donations and thus, in my research of her life story.

To be continued. Part 2 will be posted on Monday, March 30th at 12:00 AM

Happy Birthday Miami Beach

By Ann Rabinowitz

Selling Early Miami Beach, March 17, 1913

Today is the 94th birthday of the City of Miami Beach as it was incorporated as a city on March 26, 1915.  By many standards, it is a young and vibrant city in comparison to many others in America which have old and staid beginnings.  It was often known as the Jewish Riviera and many families from the New York Metropolitan area as well as the mid-west found a winter home within its boundaries.  There were also permanent residents who later retired to the city.
For those researching the Jewish community on Miami Beach and its origins, rather than taking the usual route of searching for records, you can start your search with a visual look at the City and its residents.  This can be done by searching in the Historic Photo Gallery which is to be found on the City of Miami Beach web site.  There you will find not only photographs, but a video.
Another helpful photo archive is to be found on the web site for the Jewish Museum of Florida. You will also find photographic archives at the Historical Museum of South Florida.
 Miami Beach in the 1920's
So, for those of you who have fond memories of Miami Beach from visiting your grandparents or relatives or just going there for spring break in your youth, take out your photos today and relive the joys of remembering the good old days on the beach.

Special Announcement - Series of Articles by Lisa Thaler

We are pleased to announce that author and family historian Lisa Thaler will be contributing a series of articles to the JewishGen blog entitled "Framing History: Sacha Kolin in The Rose Art Museum's Permanent Collections."

Lisa spent ten years uncovering the life story and oeuvre of the Jewish émigré artist Sacha Kolin (1911 Paris-1981 New York). Her groundbreaking research methods are demonstrated in her biography Look Up: The Life and Art of Sacha Kolin (New York: Midmarch Arts Press, 2008).

From the mid-1960s, campus museums acquired hundreds of Kolins, including 32 artworks at Brandeis University's The Rose Art Museum. The University's announcement on January 26, 2009, later modified, to deaccession its art collection generated fervent commentary.

In this three-part series "Framing History," Lisa places the academic museum in historical context, explaining the economic policies and social factors that fueled the explosive growth of campus museums in this era, and highlighting the archival records generated by the museum community. Family historians may apply these strategies to any occupation and to conduct cross-disciplinary studies.

You can visit the project website by clicking here. To purchase a copy of Look Up (available through Amazon) click here.

The "framing history" articles will be posted beginning Friday, March 27th.


New Book Chronicles Eight Generations of American Jewish Life

Lively stories told by descendants of an American Jewish financial dynasty, buttressed by superb genealogical detective work dating back to the late 1600s, make An American Experience: Adeline Moses Loeb and Her Early American Jewish Ancestors an engaging glimpse into a portion of our national history rarely explored. 
Introduced by author and Southern historian Eli N. Evans, the book is comprised of three parts. Part I recounts Adeline's early life in the South and later life in New York married to Carl M. Loeb, founder of the legendary Wall Street firm of Loeb, Rhoades. Part II covers the history and enthusiastic public response to national exhibits of early American Jewish life. Part III is a genealogical narrative of eight generations of the Moses family, sprinkled with full-color early American portraits and reader-friendly family trees.

Critics and reviewers have labeled writer and Southern historian Eli Evans, a "master story" teller, a tribute borne out by his deft introduction to An American Experience: Adeline Moses Loeb and Her Early American Jewish Ancestors. (FOX NEWS)

New York Screening of Vienna's Lost Daughters

By: Linda Cantor
I want to alert you to the New York screening of Vienna’s Lost Daughters, a movie of interest to all of us.  One of the ‘stars’ of the movie is Susanne Perl, mother of JGS member Marty Perl.  Marty's very moving article, "A Family Journey Back to Vienna," about the movie and his trip to Vienna with his parents, appeared in the spring 2007 issue of Dorot.

I quote from Jewish genealogy’s ‘movie maven’ Pamela Weisberger:

This new documentary follows eight women, living in New York, who grew up Jewish in Vienna and had to flee suddenly in 1938/39. The film deals with their attempt to create normality over time, illustrating how memory is manifested across generations. It is a sensitive study of the "survival guilt" over being torn from Austrian culture, showing the women's reminiscences of a happy childhood, how they managed to keep Vienna living on in New York, and the legacy they've passed on to their children and grandchildren.
For those of you living in the New York area, the film's Manhattan opening will take place from April 17th - 23rd, 2009 at the Village East Cinema at 181-189 2nd Ave., showing at 12N, 2PM, 4PM, 6PM, 8PM and 10PM. For further details, call 212-529-6799 or click to contact the theater directly.
  • On April 17th the eight women in the film and the crew will participate in a post-film discussion. 

JGS of Greater Miami - Upcoming Meeting

By: Joan Parker
JGS of Greater Miami will be meeting on: Sunday April 12, 2009 at 10:00am 

Greater Miami Jewish Federation
4200 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL (
Click here for directions)
Tel: 305-576-4000 for directions
Free Secure Parking on site.  Light Pesadich refreshments (Have ID with you)

From Suvalki, Poland to San Antonio to Miami.
Dr. Ken Lipner's research trip to Poland in search of the roots of the Lipnatzki - Lipner family

Ken will speak about his 2006 research trip to Poland and the reaction of the Polish people to him and his research. He has interesting photos and information to share with us. Come and enjoy the morning of genealogy with your fellow "root seekers."  This should be a very informative session.

9:30 AM - Early Bird gab and catch-up time.

Guests are always welcome. We look forward to seeing you there to share this with us.

Happy Pesach,

Joan Parker, President
JGS of Greater Miami, Inc.

The race to bring Nazis to justice

The US has deported to Austria a former Nazi death camp guard, Josias Kumpf. The move sheds light on the continuing search - in some countries, at least - for World War II war criminals. (Source: BBC)
Click here to read the entire article.

Thousands of victims of Nazi persecution to get one-off grant

Some 13,000 Holocaust survivors from the former Soviet Union who hitherto had not received compensation from the German government will now be able to file claims to receive one-time payments of 2,500 euro, after an agreement was reached Thursday between German representatives and the Claims Conference, which negotiates compensation for survivors, and the German government.
The decision marks a reversal in position of the two sides, which for years maintained that survivors whose applications were denied, or had missed the filing deadline, were barred from lodging a second request.

Survivors hailed the agreement Thursday as a step toward correcting an injustice that happened when they came to Israel. A lawsuit survivors filed in 2002 resulted in a NIS 19 million payment to 1,365 Holocaust survivors last year, after a Tel Aviv District Court judge ruled that the conference, which negotiates compensation for survivors, had neglected to inform about the details of filing a claim.

Many Russian-speaking immigrants were denied their compensation requests due to regulations requiring applicants to be at least 80 years old, or at least 80 percent disabled. Claimants said they had been unaware of the regulations.

Ella Lifshitz was six years old when the Nazis invaded her home town of Nikolayev, Ukraine. She fled by train with her mother, aunt and grandmother, and remembers how German aircraft bombed the tracks.

"Every time there were bombings, the train stopped. We got out and took cover underneath it. Once the planes flew away, we got back in the train and started moving again," she recalled.

Lifshitz and her family spent two years in a bomb shelter, and returned to Nikolayev after the war. In 1991, she immigrated to Israel. Her brother Jan received compensation for the simple reason is that he is 11 years older, she said. (Haaretz)

Click here to read the entire article

Wisconsin Man Who Participated in 1943 Massacre of 8,000 Jews Is Deported to Austria

From an official Justice Department press release:
A former Nazi concentration camp guard who settled in Racine, Wis., after World War II and acquired U.S. citizenship, has been removed to Austria due to his participation in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution during World War II...
Josias Kumpf, 83, served as an armed SS Death’s Head guard at the Nazi-run Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in Germany and at the Trawniki Labor Camp in Poland. Kumpf also served at slave labor sites in Nazi-occupied France where prisoners under his watch built launching platforms for Germany’s V-1 and V-2 missile attacks on England. During his service at Trawniki, he participated in a mass shooting in which 8,000 men, women and children were murdered in a single day, on Nov. 3, 1943.
"Josias Kumpf, by his own admission, stood guard with orders to shoot any surviving prisoners who attempted to escape an SS massacre that left thousands of Jews dead," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita M. Glavin. "His court-ordered removal from the United States to Austria is another milestone in the government’s long-running effort to ensure that individuals who participated in crimes against humanity do not find sanctuary in this country."
Kumpf, who was born in Serbia, joined the SS Death’s Head guard forces at the Sachsenhausen Camp in October 1942 and served there for one year before transferring to the Trawniki Labor Camp in German-occupied Poland. During the Justice Department’s investigation of his activities, Kumpf admitted that he participated in a murderous November 1943 Nazi operation. Bearing the code name "Aktion Erntefest" (Operation Harvest Festival), the operation resulted in the murder of approximately 42,000 Jewish men, women and children at three camps in eastern Poland in only two days. Kumpf helped guard approximately 8,000 Jewish prisoners – including approximately 400 children – who were shot and killed in pits at Trawniki. According to Kumpf, his assignment was to watch for victims who were still "halfway alive" or "convulsing" and prevent their escape. If any of the prisoners attempted to escape, he stated his job was to "shoot them to kill."
Kumpf immigrated to the United States from Austria in 1956 and became a U.S. citizen in 1964. In 2003, the Criminal Division’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin brought suit to denaturalize Kumpf. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin revoked his citizenship in May 2005. OSI investigated that case, and litigated the subsequent removal action. ICE carried out the physical removal of Kumpf to Austria.
Kumpf’s removal is part of OSI’s continuing efforts to identify, investigate and take legal action against participants in Nazi crimes of persecution who reside in the United States. Since OSI began operations in 1979, it has won cases against 107 individuals who participated in Nazi crimes of persecution. In addition, attempts to enter the United States by more than 180 individuals implicated in wartime Axis crimes have been prevented as a result of OSI’s "Watch List" program, which is enforced in cooperation with the Departments of State and Homeland Security. (Source: USDOJ)
Click here to read the entire press release.

Free Room at the 2009 IAJGS Conference - Last Chance!

By: Anne Feder Lee
Last reminder that the deadline for eligibility in the drawing for a free room at the Sheraton during the conference week – to be eligible you must register for the conference and the hotel on or before March 28. Please go to www.Philly2009.org and click on the Registration button to learn more details about this great prize.  The drawing will be held during the first week of April and the winner notified shortly thereafter.
Other conference news: The preliminary program will be on the website about April 1. You will be impressed and excited by the many wonderful sessions that will take place. 
  • Click on the Research Opportunities button to see a wonderful Philadelphia Resource Guide. This is must reading to learn about all the resources available for carrying out research while there.
  • Click on the button for Jewish History of Philadelphia to learn about the rich Jewish history of the city.
  • Click on the button for Sightseeing so you can start to plan which of the many museums, historical sites and other activities you want to enjoy while in Philadelphia.
  • Click on the Getting the Most out of the Conference button for a download that you are sure to find helpful.
  • Click on the Conference Discussion Group button and join this group so you can ask questions, share information, and learn more.
  • Click on all the buttons and spend some time reading all that is there – you will see that this is a conference you don’t want to miss!   
Yes, more information is added as we get it – so do check back often!

Basic Genealogy Course is Fully Registered

By: Phyllis Kramer

Thanks to all your wonderful JewishGenners who are interested in our Basic Course. The numbers were overwhelming and we must close registration immediately. I sent out over 75 vouchers to Value Added Members and over 15 folks have registered through our payment system.

The next class is July 1; please mark your calendars for June 15th and check back on the education site (www.jewishgen.org/education) for instructions. Anyone who emailed us for the waiver, and didn't get into the class, will get an email ahead of time and first priority in the July 1st class.

Thank you for your understanding.
Phyllis Kramer
VP, Education, JewishGen, Inc.

Yad Vashem receives Holocaust era Archive from Luxembourg

From a Yad Vashem press release:

Yad Vashem has received an archival collection from Luxembourg, detailing the Holocaust’s affect on that country’s Jewish population. The microfilms were presented yesterday evening by Prof. Paul Dostert, Director of the Center for Documentation on World War II, in Luxembourg, to Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem.

The collection contains some 31,000 pages of documentation. It includes files that document the difficult daily life under the German occupation of Luxembourg, including various confiscations and restrictions, as well as lists and orders regarding deportations to ghettos and extermination camps. Looted Jewish property, emigration to the United States, declaration of Jewish assets, life in the Funfrunnen home for elderly people, and information on some 60 mixed marriage couples who were able to rescue their Jewish spouses, are among the topics covered in the documents.
The collection will be accessible to researchers and the public at Yad Vashem’s Archives. The Archives currently holds some 125 million pages of documentation. 
Click here to read the entire press release, or here to visit the Yad Vashem website.

Green Bagels and Matzoh Balls - It's That Time of The Year Again

By: Ann Rabinowitz
 Dublin's Lord Mayor Robert Briscoe, St. Patrick's Day Parade, New York, 1956
As people all over the world celebrate the ubiquitous St. Patrick's Day, not many know that part of the Irish scene was populated by Irish Jews. They made their small, but significant presence known for what some say is a thousand years and lived in what generally amounted to peaceful harmony with their neighbors. I say generally as there were a few minor incidents over the years which were troublesome, but there was nothing systemic or prolonged about these "troubles".
Why do I write about them and what has this to do with genealogy? Well, to start, my mother's sister Sadie, from Manchester (the family was originally from Drohobycz, Ukraine), and her husband, Abe Josephson, from Sheffield (the family was originally from Tarnow, Poland), with their two children, settled in Dublin and made Ireland their permanent home.
They chose Ireland as many did as they had friends from Manchester who had gone there before them. It was due to this that I had the great fortune as a child to visit them for a while in what seemed to me a green and verdant land filled with the most magical places imaginable. Later, as a student and an adult, I reveled in the beauty of Irish literature and the music of Ireland. I was truly smitten and have continued to feel that way to this day.
My cousin Rose married a Yodaiken, a family with a long historical background in the Baltics and in both Belfast and Dublin, Ireland. The most well-known of the clan was Robert Briscoe, the Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1956 and 1961, and who served in the Irish parliament, the Dail, from 1927-1965. He was connected to the Yodaiken family through his mother. His son, Ben, also held the title of Lord Mayor in 1988, and son Joe, a retired dentist, is another well-known member of this family. Others in the family made their mark as well and now only a few of the family still remain in Ireland, the rest having left for places as close as Scotland and England and as far as Israel, South Africa, and America.
My family's departure from Ireland is an encapsulation of what had been happening to the community for some years. As others had either passed away, retired or left too, the community contracted in size from over 5,000 at its peak to around 1,700 Jews or less. However, the spirit of the community remained quite robust and the institutions were still alive and well. There were even efforts to bring newcomers to Ireland to live and expand the community. In today's world, with its economic issues, it may be that, again, people will leave Ireland and the community will contract and await another rebirth in better times.
Despite this leave-taking, the love of Ireland remained strong for Irish Jews, who had left for the diaspora. They formed what amounts to a "virtual homeland" on the Internet, which first took the form of a group called the Irish JIG. Later, an outgrowth of the Irish JIG, ShalomIreland, was formed to which many ex-pats now belong. The Jewish "green" team which runs ShalomIreland is: Anne Lapedus Brest, Iris Crivon, Sybil Fishman, Mark Haringman Ed Moss, Aly Pichon, Meir Smullen and David Lenten. For those interested in reconnecting with Irish friends and relatives, you can reach ShalomIreland by clicking here. 
Much has been made of the great numbers of Lithuanian Jews who settled in both northern and southern Ireland. However, there actually were Jews from other places as well who did settle there. For instance, there were the Polish Jews who settled in Limerick in 1872. By 1904, they numbered approximately 35 families or 200 souls and were subject to the anti-semitic Limerick boycott which caused starvation and impoverished them. There were also Romanian Jews and many other nationalities that came as well. Lastly, there were the German Jews who came to escape Hitler.
Some resources for the Jewish community in the Republic of Ireland are:
    A major resource for the Jewish community in Northern Ireland is: 
      Other resources are historical archives of newspapers and magazines such as The Jewish Chronicle published in London and the Irish Independent published in Dublin; the Irish Times, published in Dublin which also has a genealogy section on-line; the Belfast Telegraph, published in Belfast; census records for the British Census and the Irish Census (click here to see what is available); and various books and articles about the Irish Jews. 
      In addition, there are records which are not on-line and can only be seen in the Irish Archives, and other venues such as the Jewish Museum. These are but a few of the resources available to Irish researchers.
      What I have found to be the most rewarding though are the stories told of the community and its members. They have the jocular wit, grace, and amusing twists and turns of any good Irish story . . . they have what is called a bit of "craic" or wisecrack or joke combined with a sense of fun.

      Yodaiken and Spiro Families
      One day, I was contacted by John McKee who was inquiring after his relative Abraham Spiro who I had included in one of my prior pieces on the Blog. Abraham had served on the Dublin Board of Guardians in 1923. As it turned out, Abraham was the brother of Charles Spiro, who was the step-father of my cousin Aubrey Yodaiken.
      Given that propitious beginning to our conversation about the Spiro family, John produced an article from the Irish Independent, February 25, 1916 edition, which dealt with a prominent rubber merchant, Samuel Yodaiken (born c. 1883 in Zagare, Lithuania) who had a fracas with his relative and business partner, Leon Spiro, which ended up in court. As it so happened, Samuel Yodaiken was Aubrey Yodaiken's father and the plaintiff and Leon Spiro was John McKee's great grandfather and the defendant in the resulting court case.
      As it so happened, as recounted in the newspaper story, each partner grabbed the other one and they schlepped each other to the police station. There, they insisted on having the other one arrested regarding problems in dissolving their partnership. The sensible police officer sussed out the situation and kindly suggested that the two go home before they made fools of themselves.

      It was only later, in 1931, when Samuel Yodaiken passed away at a young age, that the son of his erstwhile business partner, Charles Spiro, married his widow Rose. Samuel was also known for a fierce temperament and litigious nature. His son Aubrey relates that he was approached one day by the son of another police officer in the area. He told him of his father's often fiery stampedes with his horse and trap through the intersections of the town where the officer very nearly got trampled.

      Enlander and Kaitcer Families
      A story of another sort is one from Northern Ireland which was related by Dr. Derek Enlander, the grandson of Boruch Aaron Enlander, who was born in 1866 in Lublin, Poland. Boruch came to Belfast in the 1890's and, by 1911; he was settled in 29 Bedeque Street, Court Ward, Belfast, County Antrim. There he lived with his wife Bertha and children: Chaim, Harry, Benny, Pearle, Sarah, and Lily. The eldest children had been born in Poland and remembered leaving with the prescribed one suitcase. The two youngest children, Sarah and Lily, had been born in Belfast.
      Boruch's son, Ben Zion (Benny) Enlander, an enterprising young man, married Hilda Kaitcer, from a Dublin family, who had arrived there from Lithuania in the 1850's. It was Hilda who gave their subsequent chain of dime stores the name of Bennett Stores. The stores which were located in Belfast as well as Bangor, Strabane, Omagh, Enniskillin and Derry, prospered. Upon the death of Ben Zion in 1956, this Irish Jewish dime store empire was later sold to Woolworth's, whom they had emulated.

      The Ben Zion Enlander family of Belfast (Ben Zion and Hilda, middle of top row)

      Additional stories of the family include that of Hilda's nephew Lenny Kaitcer, a wealthy jeweler and antiques dealer, who was kidnapped from his home in South Belfast on February 8, 1980, by the IRA who demanded a ransom of 1 million pounds. Hilda's son Derek went to Belfast to arrange the ransom 24 hours later, but by the time he arrived, Kaitcer was found dead and left in a ditch. The murderers were never found. It is thought that this murder was instrumental in the subsequent decline of the once thriving Jewish community in Belfast.
      Meanwhile, Derek Enlander was given a fellowship to Stanford University and he remained in the U.S. where he practices medicine today. When he first went to Stanford, he organized the minyan at the University. His basic Jewish education was at his daily cheder of which his father Benny was the President. The cheder was followed by a stint in a regular school, the Belfast Royal Academy. In addition, he was trained in gemorah class taught by Lubovitch Assistant Rabbi Beryl Levin in Belfast. Despite its small size, Belfast also had a very active Jewish community with a Sports Club, Scout Troop and Jewish Institute.
      See below a charming photograph of Derek's 1960 gemorah class.

      Assistant Rabbi Beryl Levin's Gemorah Class, Belfast, 1960

      Seated front row: Sidney Malinsky, Gerald Wainer (Pharmacist, England), Assistant Rabbi Beryl Levin, Stanley Gold (Dentist, England), Derek Enlander (Doctor, New York); Standing, middle row: Ivan Adler, Alan Ross (Dentist, England), Trevor Danker (Journalist, Dublin); Standing, top row: Mark Saperia (Dentist, South Africa), Jeffery Shapiro, Frank Daly (Portugal), Brian Robinson (Doctor, England), Harold Moss (Belfast)
      A decade later, Rabbi Beryl Levin's son, Rabbi Yosef Levin took a position as a Rabbi just off the Stanford campus. He heard that an Irishman had preceded him and had formed a minyan several years before and that he was a student of his father. While curious about this, he wasn't able to pursue it any further.
      Time passed and Rabbi Levin went to New York for the engagement of his son. In a time-honored Jewish geography conversation, Rabbi Levin mentioned that his father Beryl was a Lubovitcher in Belfast to a friend at the affair. The New York Lubovitcher friend, Rabbi Kraniansky, said that he knew a doctor who came from Belfast, had gone to Sanford and who now lived in New York. Thereupon, Rabbi Levin called him on the spot. Derek immediately came right over to the simcha. It was then that Rabbi Levin's son finally met his father's student, Derek Enlander. The moral of the story is that the Irish never miss a simcha.
      The Belfast community was also known for their wisdom in purchasing and establishing the Millisle Refugee Farm in County Down which operated from 1938 until 1948. When the British government required work permits in order for Jewish refugees from Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany to enter Britain, it was the Millisle Farm which allowed a number to do so and escape the Holocaust. This included approximately 300 children from the Kindertransport who passed through its gates to safety.

      Millisle Refugee Farm, Communal Meal Time in the Dining Hall

      A few years ago, Derek Enlander spoke to an audience at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in New York about the Millisle Refugee Farm and the importance of even a small number of people making a large impact. A few weeks later, he received a phone call from a stranger who had heard the talk. He thanked Derek and the Belfast community and Derek said for what. He replied: "For my life, I was rescued and came to Millisle." The story of the Millisle Refugee Farm is described aptly in the fictional account by Marilyn Taylor entitled "Faraway Home", The O'Brien Press, 1999.
      It is always a good idea to check Irish records (especially the Census which has been referred to previously on the Blog) very often; you may find a relative tucked away in tiny bit of Ireland who had settled there unbeknownst to you or other family members. You may also wish to visit Ireland and see for yourself the country where your ancestors lived before moving on. Their records and the friendliest bunch of Jews you will meet anywhere await you with open arms and Céad Mile Fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes).