Sunday, January 18, 2009

JewishGen

Beginning Wednesday, January 28th 2009, JewishGen.org will undergo a major upgrade in order to create a more powerful and robust search tool for family researchers. 

During the time of these site improvements, it is likely that the JewishGen site will be down and/or work intermittently for a few days.

More details will follow leading up to and during the site improvements.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience and understanding.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Success!


I want to thank a wonderful researcher who helped me "for fun." 


I recently wrote that I had hit the wall on my family LINK from Blonie, Poland and began an email correspondence which gave me the original names of my PGM's entire family. It had been GLINKOWITZ


By going back from the naturalization records in Illinois, this individual found their original name, and I was able to view the original ship manifest. 


Their original names match their Hebrew names which I  photographed last year on their gravestones at Waldheim cemetary in Chicago. 


Thank you so much for this amazing gift of my family heritage. 


Maureen Perlstein  
Casselberry, Fl
Do you have a similar success story? We would love to publish it! Please send us a note by clicking here. Finally, please remember that a contribution to JewishGen will help ensure that many other people experience the same level of success as Maureen. Please click here and donate to our worthy cause - it will make an immediate difference. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

1911 England and Wales Census Now On-Line

The UK 1911 Census has been reported on the JewishGen Discussion Group on October 20 and 21. This census was taken April 2, 1911 and covered 36 million people. The count included all individual households, plus institutions such as prisons, workhouses, naval vessels and merchant vessels, and it also attempted to make an approximate count of the homeless.

An interesting commentary of the times, was that many women were frustrated with the government's refusal to permit women to vote, so some women boycotted (number unknown) the 1911 census, recording their protest with the enumerator, unless the women stayed completely away from home the day of the census--then there will be no notations. Therefore, some women will not be included in the census. However, in addition to the census filled out in the person's own hand, was the enumerator's summary books- both will be on-line--the enumerator's books being added in a few weeks-months. The woman's protest was listed in the enumerator's summary books!

The 1911 census for England and Wales, is now available on-line, accessed through http://www.findmypast.com/ . This is three years earlier than the expected 100 year requirement-- 2012. Some of the information on the 1911 census will NOT be released until January 2012- that relating to an individual's infirmity as listed in the census (e.g. deaf, dumb, blind etc) . More records (9 million) will be made available in the coming months, including remaining counties in England and Wales, as well as naval and military records. But what is included is a gem: this is the first UK census where the original documents have been preserved, so you will see the actual documents written in the person's own hand! The 1911 census records show the name, age, place of birth, marital status and occupation of every resident in a household, as well as their relationship to the head of household. For married women, there are also questions on how long they've been married and how many children were born from that marriage.

On Find My Past.com you may search for free, however, to view the actual images does require "purchasing credits". You must register on Find My Past to access the records and to purchase the credits. Persons living outside the UK can purchase PayAsYouGo credits online using a credit or debit card. There are varying costs to view an image or a transcript- all of which is explained on the FindMyPast.comwebsite.

Jan Meisels Allen
Director, IAJGS and Chairperson,
Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

Split Ellis Island Manifests

On January 7 I posted to the JewishGen Discussion Group a reply in the JewishGen Digest of December 22, 2008, where a researcher asked for a "definitive answer" to a question paraphrased as "Are Ellis Island passenger manifests perfectly complete?" Marian Smith, historian, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) wrote a very detailed and extensive answer with charts. Following that posting there were more queries regarding missing Ellis Island manifests and whether they had been split.

Marian has done more research. Her updated reply with an entry devoted to the question whether the Ellis Island cabin manifests were "split" from steerage manifests prior to 1903, can be found on her blog: www.mariansmith.com.

Marian's comments on her personal blog is not in her official capacity, but as an avid historian, genealogist and very knowledgeable person.

Jan Meisels Allen
Director, IAJGS andChairperson,
Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sefer Stremieszyce

Shalom,


I recently received a photocopy of the book "Sefer Stremieszyce" for the shtetl of Stremieszyce in the Zaglembia region of Poland and am starting a Yizkor Book Project for this book.


I would be very grateful to hear from anyone interested in helping with the Yiddish translation from this book and, in addition, I would like to hear from anyone who has the original book and is able to scan pictures from it.


TIA,

Lance Ackerfeld

Israel

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Real Story Behind Defiance

Our good friends at the MJH Staff blog have previously written (see here, here and here) about the new movie Defiance, which officially opened last night. In conjunction with the opening, a local news team presented the "Real Story Behind Defiance." Take a look.

HTML volunteers needed for the ShtetLinks Project

By: Susana Leistner Bloch
When we submitted a previous message, asking for volunteers to help create ShtetLinks web pages several people responded and we now have 10 dedicated and overworked volunteers.
We have a long waiting list of people who have significant material about their ancestral town/ shtetl and would like to create a web page dedicated to the Jewish community that once lived there. Unfortunately, they do not have the necessary technical skills to create a webpage.
Our web pages are Cyberspace Yizkor Books. Just as the former residents and survivors of a shtetl took it upon themselves to record all they could remember and publish a Yizkor Book in memory of the Jewish community that once lived there, so we, the next generation, should make sure that whatever we have, every little bit of information that sheds light on the lives of our people is recorded and preserved.
If you have the necessary skills, we urge you to volunteer and help someone create a web page dedicated to a shtetl / town and in this way honor and memorialize the Jewish community that once lived there and provide a valuable resource for future generations of their descendants.

Susana Leistner Bloch
VP, ShtetLinks, JewishGen, Inc.

JGSCV Meeting on Secret Jews: History and Culture of Crypto-Jews and Their Research For Jewish Roots and Identity

The Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County (JGSCV) will hold a general meeting, co–sponsored with Temple Adat Elohim, on Sunday, February 8, 2009 at Temple Adat Elohim 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Program: Secret Jews: History and Culture of Crypto-Jews and Their Research For Jewish Roots and Identity

In the 14th and 15th Centuries, Jews of Spain and Portugal were forced to convert to Catholicism. Many families kept the knowledge of their Jewish past for 500 years, transmitting it in secret to their children and often continuing to practice Jewish rites covertly. Many of the descendents of these Crypto-Jews are now seeking their Jewish heritage. Mr. Benveniste's presentation will follow the history of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, their forced conversion, the emergence of crypto-Judaism, how it came to the Americas, and the discovery of their Jewish background by many Hispanics in the Americas today.

Speaker: Arthur Benveniste, has been active in the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies since 1993, where he was president of the society from 2001 to 2003. He served as the co-editor of Halapid, the newsletter of the society. Mr. Benveniste has visited Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Peru, Italy, Morocco, Turkey and Greece. In 1992, he was invited by King Juan Carlos to return to Spain to commemorate the quincentennial of the expulsion of Jews.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County is dedicated to sharing genealogical information, techniques and research tools with anyone interested in Jewish genealogy and family history.

There is no charge to attend the meeting. Anyone may join JGSCV. Annual dues are $25 for an individual and $30 for a family.

For more information contact: publicity@jgscv.org
Jan Meisels Allen@ 818-889-6616

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Yizkor Book Translation - Kolki, Ukraine


Kolki is a town in the district of £uck, located on the Styr River. During its history it has been part of Russia, Poland, USSR; today it is in Ukraine. There are records of a Jewish population in Kolki at least since the late 16th century.

One yizkor book has been written about Kolki, Fun Ash Aroysgerufn (Summoned from the Ashes), edited by Daniel Kac, and published by Czytelnik, Zydowski Instytut Historczny w Polsce in Warsaw in 1983. Written in Yiddish and not yet translated, the book is 399 pages long and consists of 37 chapters. It includes a hand-drawn map of Kolki and the surrounding region and 28 photographs that include a Kolki shul and various individual and group photographs of people from Kolki.

This project will support the services of a professional translator to translate the full book of Yiddish text. Translation will begin with the table of contents and figure captions, and then will proceed with the chapters of the book.


Key Audiences

Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots in this town constitute the primary audience for the material.  However, the material has the potential to be of broader interest to scholars specializing in Jewish history and society in this region.

Project Importance

Yizkor books are unique sources of information on once vibrant towns, primarily in central and eastern Europe, whose Jewish populations were destroyed in the Holocaust. Written after World War II by émigrés and Holocaust survivors, yizkor books contain narratives of the history of the town, details of daily life, religious and political figures and movements, religious and secular education, and gripping stories of the major intellectual and Zionist movements of the 20th century. The necrologies and lists of residents are of tremendous genealogical value, as often the names of individuals who were taken to extermination camps or shot in the forests are not recorded elsewhere. Usually written in Hebrew or Yiddish, these important books are not accessible to most users, who cannot read these languages. Thus, the translation of these books into English unlocks this information to many more researchers all over the world. The JewishGen Yizkor Book Project received the award in 2002 for outstanding contribution to Jewish genealogy by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

During WWI, in September 1915, Kolki was attacked and burned to the ground in fighting between Russian and German armies on the Styr River. The Jews of Kolki were dispersed. However, a portion of the Jewish population returned to rebuild under Polish rule, and the town began to grow again between the two world wars. The Germans entered Kolki in July 1941. Several months later Kolki became a ghetto and Jews from nearby towns as well as Kolki were confined in the ghetto and assigned to forced labor. In September and October 1942, the Germans murdered almost all the Jews in the Kolki ghetto. Only a group of 15 youths escaped to the nearby forest to fight as partisans. Some of the group survived to join the partisan fighters led by Sydir Kovpak. What was left of Kolki was liberated by the Russian army in 1944.

Jews from Kolki have settled in the U.S. and Israel. Kolker Jews formed communities in Baltimore and Philadelphia in the early 1900's. Yet little has been written about Kolki. There is nothing left today of the Jewish presence in the town. The Jewish cemetery site contains no remaining gravestones. The yizkor book contains one of the only remaining sources of information about the town. Translating it to English will make this resource available to many readers.

Project Description
The project goal is to put the translation of the full 399 pages of text online. Translation will begin with the table of contents and figure captions, and then will proceed with the text of the book.

To accomplish that JewishGen will hire a professional translator. The project coordinator will select the order in which to translate the chapters and will work closely with the translator to ensure a grammatically correct and idiomatic translation. Specific tasks the project coordinator will perform include proofreading, editing, and preparing the work for submission to the Yizkor Book Project.

Estimated Cost:
Costs are estimated at $8,000.

Contributions:
We need your help to fund this project. Please donate generously by clicking here.

Other JewishGen Resources Online
  • Click here to visit the JewishGen ShtetlPage for Kolko.
  • Click here to read the translation of "Kolki" chapter from the Pinkas HaKehillot Polin.

Friday, January 9, 2009

American reconnects with the Polish woman who saved his life during the Holocaust

Following up this story, the Jerusalem Post has a moving story about a holocaust survivor who reconnected with the woman who saved his life 65 years ago.
Even today, more than 65 years later, 71-year-old William Donat of New York cannot forget the week in the spring of 1943 when as a boy of five he was sheltered from the clutches of the Nazis by a 17-year-old Polish girl.


The image of the "sweet, heroic young woman," as he described her Tuesday, never faded from his memory over the years, even though their time together was short.


The woman, Magdalena Grodzka-Guzkowska, was active in the Polish underground during World War II. Donat had been smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto, but was in desperate need of shelter after some Polish neighbors had informed on the elderly Polish couple who had been safeguarding him for some weeks. The couple managed to bribe the police into silence but were warned to get rid of the Jewish child lest they all be killed the next time.


A short time later, the Polish teen, nicknamed Magda, appeared at the door of the home and took him to another apartment until his adopted "aunt and uncle" - his father's childless Polish coworkers who had agreed to take the child in - could find a safer place for him to hide.


"You took two chairs together and made them into a bed for me, and then you showed me the stars and said that the good spirit would watch over me," Donat told his now 84-year-old Polish rescuer at a ceremony Tuesday at Yad Vashem, where she was granted the honor of Righteous Among the Nations.


During that fateful week, as the Warsaw Ghetto was being razed, Grodzka-Guzkowska, who had similarly sequestered other Jewish children, brought Donat food every day as well as colors for drawing pictures, and boats made out of paper.


She also taught him Christian prayers and customs, to help disguise his Jewish identity.


The next week, the child was placed in a Polish orphanage outside of Warsaw, where he remained for the duration of the war.


After the war ended, he was reunited with his parents, who had managed to survive the Holocaust even though they had been separated after being sent to the Majdanek concentration camp.


The family of three moved to the United States in 1946.


Donat's reunion with the Polish woman who rescued him happened by chance. The boy's father, Alexander Donat, who had been a publisher of a Polish-language newspaper before the war, mentioned the story of the angelic Polish teen who had helped save his son's life in his memoir, The Holocaust Kingdom.


Then, two years ago, an American filmmaker who had read the book came across Grodzka-Guzkowska in Warsaw, where she was working on a project about the late Polish rescuer Irena Sendler, and he asked the elder Donat if he knew that "Magda" was still alive and living in Warsaw.


Donat quickly traveled to Warsaw with his wife to reconnect with the person who had helped save his life and then successfully worked to have her recognized by Yad Vashem.


Their second reunion in two years after more than six-and-a-half decades took place at the Jerusalem ceremony on Tuesday.


"I never thought that I would see him again," Grodzka-Guzkowska recounted, noting that he now had three children and six grandchildren of his own. "He was the only one of the children that I have been able to reconnect with."


"I am so happy to have found you again after all these years," Donat concluded. "Unfortunately there were not enough people like you."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Helen Suzman: The Passing of a South African Jewish Freedom Fighter

By Ann Rabinowitz
 
She was a bright, humorous, witty and engaging person her whole life, but that was not the entirety of it.  Her actions and bravery in the face of opposition told a different tale, one worth hearing about and memorializing.

Helen Gavronsky Suzman, age 91, at her death on January 1, 2009, had a long distinguished Litvak lineage, but it was she who was to cap her heritage with much honor.  As a member of the South African Parliament from 1953-1989, she fought apartheid with vigor, often as a lone voice in opposition.  She did not relent even though threatened and beleaguered and stood as a moral guardian for those who could not speak for themselves or were imprisoned.

As genealogists, we celebrate the accomplishments of our ancestors, but we dignify this with the facts of their lives and those of their parents.  The South African Jewish Museum in Cape Town, South Africa, produced an exhibition “Helen Suzman Fighter for Human Rights” dedicated to Helen’s life on March 21, 2005, which can be viewed at:  http://www.hsf.org.za/publications/special-publications/Suz01.pdf.  The exhibit was sponsored by The Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Cape Town, and the convener and consultant was Dr. Milton Shain.  For those interested in Helen’s family history, it is all there.

Basically, Helen was born on November 7, 1917, in Germiston, South Africa, the second  daughter of a fifth son, Shia or Samuel ben Eliakim-Getzel Gavronsky (October, 1887 - August 6, 1965), of Klykoliai, Lithuania.  Her mother was Frieda David, born 1888, whose family was originally from Varniai, Lithuania, and who lived in Kuldiga (formerly Goldingen), Latvia. 

Her mother was to die on November 25, 1917, at the age of 29, just two weeks after Helen’s birth.  Her maternal aunt, Hansa David Gavronsky, who married her father’s brother Oscar Gavronsky, was to raise her until her father remarried later on.  Helen married Dr. Moses Meyer ben Yakov-Aryeh Leib Suzman (1904 – July 11, 1994), whose family was from Salantai, Lithuania, on August 13, 1937, just before her 20th birthday and his 33rd.  They had two daughters.

May Helen’s passing be as a blessing to all those who knew and loved her and those whose lives were impacted by her struggles for their freedom.

©  Ann Rabinowitz, 2009

ViewMate

ViewMate is still not operational on JewishGen, however family researchers can now submit images they need assistance identifying/translating on the JewishGen blog.
Submit an image:  
  1. Save your image in a JPEG or PDF format only. Any other format will not be posted. 
  2. Send an email to this address with your image saved as an attachment.
  3. The subject line must be: ViewMate.
  4. In the body of the email, provide a brief description of what you need help with.
  5. Include your name, email address and JGID. Your email address and JGID will not be posted.
View an image that has already been posted:  
  1. All images will be posted on the blog in the special section for ViewMate. 
  2. The file name will be “Name of Submitter-Current Date.”  (eg John Smith – 01/08/2009)
  3. Visit the JewishGen Blog homepage, and select “CLICK HERE FOR VIEWMATE.”
  4. You will now see a list of all images that have been submitted.
Notes:
  1. We will confirm that images have been received, but we will not confirm when they will be/have been posted. 
  2. Generally speaking the images will be posted within 2-3 business days.
  3. Once your image has been posted, you may announce it on the discussion group. Be sure to include a link to the specific URL with your image or tell people to search for the appropriate file name (eg John Smith – 01/08/2009).
  4. Unfortunately we cannot provide technical support at the current time. If a file image that is sent to us does not work, we will not post it. Please do not email us with inquiries as we do not have the manpower to answer them.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

ShtetLinks Project Report for November / December 2008

By: Susana Leistner Bloch
We are pleased to welcome the following webpages to JewishGen ShtetLinks. We thank the owners and webmasters of these shtetlpages for creating fitting memorials to the Jewish Communities that once lived in those shtetlach and for providing a valuable resource for future generations of their descendants.

Created by Robert Zavos
~~~~~
Created by Yefim Kogan
~~~~~

Created by Adam Smith and Marshall J. Katz
~~~~~

Created by Victoria Barkoff
~~~~~

Created by Eilat Gordin Levitan and Kevin Lo
~~~~~

Created by Adam Smith and Marshall J. Katz
~~~~~

Created by Eunice E. Blecker.
Web design by ShtetlLinks volunteer Ed Vogel
~~~~~

ShtetLinks websites that have been completely redesigned:

Web Design by Marshall Katz. Compiled by Louis
~~~~~

Some of our shtetlpages were created by people who are no longer able to maintain them. We thank them for their past efforts and wish them luck on their future endeavors. We are happy to announce that one of these shtetlach were recently "adopted" :

Shtetlpage adopted by Marianna Hoszowska
~~~~~

If you wish to follow their example and create a ShtetLinks webpage
for your ancestral shtetl or adopt an exiting "orphaned" shtetlpage
please contact us here
~~~~~

GOOD NEWS!! As a result for our appeal for HTML volunteers we now have a team of dedicated people who will help you create a webpage for your ancestral home. Please contact us if you would like help in creating a ShtetLinks webpage.
Susana Leistner Bloch, VP, ShtetLinks
Barbara Ellman, ShtetLinks Technical Coordinator

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Yad Vashem to honor Polish Righteous Among the Nations Tuesday

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, will hold Tuesday a ceremony honoring Magdalena Grodzka-Guzkowska, a Polish citizen, as Righteous Among the Nations for helping children escape from the Warsaw ghetto during WWII.
Born Rusinek, Magdalena was 15 years old when she enlisted in the Polish Underground against the Germans.
In 1943, she met Jadwiga Piotrowska, later recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations, and joined her in helping children escape from the Warsaw ghetto.
Magdalena collected the children, cared for them and escorted them to their places of refuge with Polish families or in monasteries, always with the utmost dedication and love although she was placing her own life at serious risk. Before bringing the children to their hiding places, she taught them Christian customs in an effort to disguise their Jewish identity.
One such rescue activity saw Magdalena save the life of a six-year-old Jewish boy called Adas, who had been severely injured by local thugs. She took the boy for medical care at the hospital, and then moved him to a hiding place in a monastery. She also took five-year-old Wlodzio Berg from the ghetto to an apartment in the city as a temporary refuge. She brought him food every day, as well as colors with which to draw pictures. (Source: EJP)
Click here to read the entire article.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Additional Thoughts on the 1911 Irish Census

By Ann Rabinowitz

As can be seen Part I of my material on the additions to the 1911 Irish Census, The National Archives of Ireland has opened the 1911 Irish Census to on-line free access in a digitized format. This allows the researcher to locate their family by name or address.  An interesting use of the 1911 Irish Census, particularly in Dublin, which was the first county to be opened in the Census, is to expand on knowledge to be gained from other sources.
An example of this is a listing of the goings on of the Board of Guardians, Dublin, Ireland, which appeared in the April 20, 1923 edition of “The Jewish Chronicle” which was published in London, England.  As with many resources in British, South African or other colonial entities of the British Empire, only the initial is given for the first name of the person.  This can be very disconcerting to the genealogist who needs to know the full name of the person in order to make connections with their family.

Utilizing the 1911 Irish Census, one can find the first names of the individuals on the list, or, at least, most of them.  The results of searching the Census for the names found in the above referenced article can be seen below.

The President of the group was W. Nurock (William), a leading member of the Irish Jewish community who had been born May 31, 1865, in Kurshan, Lithuania, and died in Dublin in 1938. The rest of the members of the Loan Fund Council Committee were:

  • A. Bernstein (Abraham)
  • L. Clein (Lewis)
  • Leo Coleman
  • S. Dundon (not available)
  • L. Freedman (not available)
  • F. Ginsberg (Falk)
  • H. Goldfoot (Hyman)
  • M. Golding (Meyer)
  • L. Gurevich (not available)
  • L. Levinson (Lewis)
  • M.S. Newman (Morris)
  • W. Nurock (William)
  • A. Spiro (not available)
  • N. Tolkin (Nathan)
  • A. Weinronk (Abraham)
  • Dr. G.S. Wigoder (George Selia)

(Note, this is not the later Geoffrey Wigoder, born 1922, who was the editor of the Encyclopedia Judaica)

Conclusion

As you see, not all of the names were to be found in the Census.  This may mean that they had not yet come to Ireland in 1911; they were living in a town other than Dublin such as Cork or Limerick; or, they were out-of-town when the Census was taken.  Another option is that their name was different in 1911 than it was in 1923.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

JewishGen

Beginning Wednesday, January 28th 2009, JewishGen.org will undergo a major upgrade in order to create a more powerful and robust search tool for family researchers. 

During the time of these site improvements, it is likely that the JewishGen site will be down and/or work intermittently for a few days.

More details will follow leading up to and during the site improvements.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience and understanding.