Wednesday, September 30, 2009

2010 Jewish Genealogy Conference

Posted by Pamela Weisberger

Go west, genealogists!

The chairs of the 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy -- Pamela Weisberger, Sandy Malek, Ann Harris and Lois Ogilby Rosen -- announce that the conference website is now live!  Come visit us at:

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles (JGSLA) is your enthusiastic host for this event, taking place from July 11-16, 2010 at the JW Marriott Hotel at L.A. Live, the new entertainment and cultural complex in downtown Los Angeles.

Are you passionate about genealogy, but haven't attended a conference before? Have you been going for years and wonder what's special about this one?  Do you need to jump-start research on your family tree?

The 2010 conference will offer rich content, unparalleled learning and networking opportunities, and the intangible experience of connecting with others as obsessed as you are about investigating their roots.

Whether you are a seasoned pro or absolute beginner, there will be a slate of workshops, lectures, films and panels on global Jewish history, resources and methodology that will educate and engage you for five and a half days.  

Our website provides program, travel, and venue information, plus an FAQ section which should answer most of your early queries.  The Call for Papers begins on November 15th and registration will open on January 15th, but hotel reservations can be made now.  Take a stroll through our site to learn more.

If you really want to be in the loop with breaking news, sign up for our conference newsletter here.

Although the JewishGen conference discussion group doesn't open until January 2010, until then we will provide updates via the discussion groups hosted by JewishGen. You can also keep up with our website conference blog and our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

We value your opinions and encourage you to contribute and/or volunteer to make this the best conference ever.  Go to the "Contact" or "Volunteer" or "Sponsor" links on the site to reach us.

Consider making this a true vacation by arriving early or staying late and traveling the length of our beautiful state and throughout the west. (If you live in the Greater Los Angeles area but haven't attended a JGSLA meeting before, check out our upcoming programs. You can get an early start on meeting our members and learning more about conference plans.)

And remember: the number one reason to attend an IAJGS conference is the people -- friends and colleagues, learning and collaborating in a unique, collective experience.  For Jewish genealogists, there's nothing like it. 

Join us in 2010!

Note:  A huge expression of thanks goes to JGSLA member, Brooke
Schreier Ganz, our tireless, creative webmaster who designed and
programmed our website.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Announcement: JGSCV Next Meeting

The Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County (JGSCV) will hold a general meeting, co–sponsored with Temple Adat Elohim, on Monday, October 5, 2009 at Temple Adat Elohim 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. NOTE: Different day of week and time!

The Topic:
"Remembering the Victims: The Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Project"

Professor Dan Brown will examine his work with Stephen Spielberg's "Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Project" as well as examine the memorials to the memory of those slaughtered by the Nazis during World War II. He will also address the need to educate today's youth to the dangers of hate groups and their inclination to use violence against innocent people.

Speaker: Daniel Patrick Brown, Author, Holocaust instructor and Dean, Business and Computer Studies Division, Moorpark College. Dean Brown serves as a member of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust Advisory Board. He has authored several books on the Holocaust including: The Beautiful Beast: The Life & Crimes of Ss-Aufseherin Irma Grese and The Camp Women: The Female Auxiliaries Who Assisted the SS in Running the Nazi Concentration Camp System.

Dean Brown will be selling his book, "The Beautiful Beast" for $20 including tax. Please bring cash or a check- no credit cards.

Our rotating traveling library will have Categories A and C -and our holocaust books from Category B at this meeting. To see which books are listed under which category, please go to our website, www.JGSCV.org and look under traveling library. The books are available starting 30 minutes before the program to 30 minutes after the program.

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.

For more information including directions to the meeting, see our website for directions and more information: www.jgscv.org

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: information@jgscv.org

Jan Meisels Allen
President, JGSCV

Friday, September 25, 2009

Eleanor Laub, A Loss

Posted By Ann Rabinowitz

 
Nowadays, when one wants to find out about Jewish genealogy, you turn on your computer and search the Internet and make a first stop on JewishGen before proceeding to more in detail stops at other places, all on-line.  You will usually interact with other Jewish genealogists on digests or choose to attend International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies Annual Conferences.

Mainly though, your contacts will not be directly with other human genealogists.  Not so when I started my genealogical career prior to the Internet (Can you believe there was such a time?).  The main means was joining a Jewish Genealogical Society or JGS as it is commonly termed.

These societies still exist and are an important part of the Jewish genealogical landscape despite the advent of the overwhelmingly popular Internet.  The very first person I met when I joined the JGS of Greater Miami, Inc., was Eleanor Laub, who was a founding member from February, 1989, a Board member and the meeting Registrar.

She put me in the know about how the Society ran, who was who and how to get the most out of the experience.  She was helpful and succinct in all that she told me and encouraged me to participate directly in the Society.  When I became involved in “Branches”, the Society newsletter, she was there to help with other volunteers and made sure that it went out on time.  She was also active in the collection of Dade County, Florida, cemetery data and her work is part of the IAJGS Cemetery Project.

Through the years, I would occasionally meet Eleanor when I came to meetings and she would often write to me about various topics we had in common.  Or, if I, in turn, found items about her Austrian Laub family, we would share those.  She would often make me smile with her quirky sense of humor.

So, it was with real regret that I just learned that Eleanor had passed away.  I thought she would be at the registration desk for each meeting of the Society forever.  She was the type person who is the stalwart of any organization, one of the many volunteers who keep things going in a quiet and effective way.

I often wonder what we would do in Jewish genealogy if it were not for people like Eleanor, those who selflessly give of their time and energy, year after year, for the benefit of others.  I hope that the JGS of Greater Miami will find other volunteers like Eleanor and will carry on their valuable work as before.

If anything can be learned from Eleanor and her passing, it is that JGSs are important and the people who participate in them can be the very ones who can assist you in your research.  Never mind the e-mailers on the Internet, try the real people in your local JGS.  They have done the gritty work of researching their families and are always there to lend a hand at helping you out with your brick walls.

I hope that in this New Year, many of you will volunteer either in your local JGS or with JewishGen or other hosted organizations such as the Litvak or other SIGs, or JRI-Poland and many of the other genealogically-related groups or whatever you have a fancy for.  You are needed and will be welcomed with open arms. 



Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County, Inc. Celebrating Nineteenth Year

Posted by Jacqueline Fineblit
 

SUBJECT: Membership Meeting Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County, Inc. Celebrating Nineteenth Year
DATE:
  October 14, 2009
TIME: 12:30 pm-12:55 pm: Brick Wall Session
              1:00 pm - 2:30 pm:  Brief business meeting, followed by program
              (Special Interest Groups to meet 11:30 am-12:15 pm: Poland, Room 1; Romania, Room 2)
PLACE: South County Civic Center, 16700 Jog Road, Delray Beach, FL
FEE: non member guests--$5

GUEST SPEAKER:  Mona Freedman Morris, A.P.G.
TOPIC: Genealogy Then and Now: Resources Available to the Modern Researcher/


(Special Interest Groups to meet 11:30 am-12:15 pm)

PROFESSIONAL GENEALOGIST MORRIS TO ADDRESS JEWISH GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY Professional genealogist Mona Freedman Morris, A.P.G., is the guest speaker at the October 14 membership meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County. The meeting is at the South County Civic Center, 16700 Jog Road, Delray Beach, FL at 12:30 PM. Ms Morris’ topic is Genealogy Ten and Now: Resources  Available to the Modern Researcher.

Ms. Morris, a resident of Boca Raton, has traced her family back to 1760 and currently has documented over 6,000 family members. Ms. Morris, who started her own research in 1976, will discuss the development of Jewish genealogical research and the resource tools available today.

A renowned professional genealogist, she is co-founder and President Emerita of the JGSBPCI. She is author of Scattered Seeds: A Guide to Jewish Genealogy
 
and has presented many genealogy workshops. She has been an adjunct professor at Palm Beach Community College, was keynote speaker for the Professional Librarians Association and has presented at the Distinguished Lecturer Series.
For further information about the Brick Wall program, or to submit questions in advance, e-mail Program Chairperson Helene Seaman helene@jgspalmbeachcounty.org. For special Interest Groups, contact Marvin Lopatin, lopatin@jgspalmbeachcounty.org.
 

Special Interest Groups for Poland and Romania will meet prior to the main meeting from 11:30 am-12:15 pm: Poland, Room 1; Romania, Room 2.
 

The $5 guest fee may be applied towards an annual membership.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Online Jewish Genealogy Class: How to Make a ShtetLinks Page

Posted By Phyllis Kramer

Have you seen the many wonderful Shtetlinks pages and wondered, "When will someone make one for my town?" Or have you collected genealogical material about your ancestral town and wanted to make a ShtetLinks page, but didn't know how? Now's your chance!

In this 6 week course you will learn how to create your own ShtetLinks page. Creating web pages is not difficult: If you have basic computer skills, you can create web pages.

We will use a free, downloadable, simple-to-use web page editor to create our pages. This editor runs on both PCs and Macs (OS X or later), so practically everyone will be able to use it. The course is self-paced, so you can read the lessons at your leisure; we have a bulletin board so you can post your questions and get answers from the instructor.

Requirements:

  1. You must have basic computer skills such as knowing how to click on hyperlinks, how to "copy and paste" text using a computer mouse, etc. If you are comfortable using a web browser like Internet Explorer or Safari, and with using word processing programs like Microsoft Word or WordPerfect, then you already have all the basic skills that you will need to make web pages.
  2. You will need to spend 2-4 hours each week to read the lessons and make your web pages. The class will have its own ShtetLinks website, where lessons will be posted and students can upload their new pages.
  3. You should have some idea about the town for which you want to make a ShtetLinks page. One of the first lessons will be to choose a shtetl for which you want to make a site (if you already have a ShtetLinks page and just want to learn how to improve it, that's OK too).
The course will begin October 15th. To enroll and pay online, click here and then “enroll link” and pay for the course online by credit card at our secure server or by check drawn on a U.S. Bank.

The $36 tuition for this course is specially reduced to encourage people to make web pages for the Shtetlinks project. Registration will close when the class is full.


If you have any questions, please email us by clicking here (the education administrator will be on holiday through october 4th, so please be patient if you have any questions)


Hope you can join us!

JewishGen Discussion Group Success Story

From Ancestry Magazine

My grandparents’ farmhouse stood outside North Branch, New Jersey, a village settled by the Dutch. Its thick Dutch-brick walls reputedly hid several walk-in fireplaces. Its hand-fashioned windowpanes offered rippled views of the old water pump and outhouse in the back. Its cellar, gloomy with packed dirt floors, led to a string of dim storerooms filled with squat jars of indeterminate, ageless content. Beyond the kitchen lay an unheated passageway leading to a locked door. Though we children frequently fetched muddy boots and other items from the passageway, we never ventured further—until the day we found the door wide open. Slipping in unnoticed, we discovered a warren of rooms, probably built for my grandfather’s farm hands.

Stacks of dishes and rickety furniture lined one wall and a huge black metal stove another. Beyond lay a clawed bathtub overflowing with dusty children’s books. After leafing through them, enjoying their old-time illustrations, I turned to the squat dresser just beyond. I unearthed yellowed tablecloths and faded Saturday Evening Posts. And beneath it all, I found a neat package tied with a red ribbon. Valentines, sweet lacy valentines. Each was addressed by a child: To My Dearest Mother, from Anita. But who was Anita?

When I asked my mother, she minced no words. When they were children, she explained, her sister Anita had been killed in a traffic accident in North Branch. End of story. But for me, the story had just begun. While I never dared breach my mother’s wall of silence again, the mystery of Anita haunted me as surely as her death haunted my mother.

Years later, in the midst of a genealogy project, an exciting thought arose. Why not use my investigative skills to find the answers that had eluded me as a child? After all, no one need know, no one need suffer.

Because I had left North Branch far behind, I turned to JewishGen for help. Joining their online discussion group, I asked if anyone lived in or around North Branch. One kind soul, when he heard my tale, offered to do the legwork for me. Since the death of a child in a small village would be big news, he visited the nearest newspaper office for me. And it worked. Although I had supplied him with only Anita’s surname, I was soon reading the Somerville Messenger Gazette’s front page report of her death, “Local Baker’s Deliveryman Driver in Death Machine.”

According to the article, Anita and her sisters had been walking along the main road that ran through North Branch. Perhaps they were horsing around or singing or arguing or daydreaming. One of them crossed to the other side, and Anita followed. Midway across, when she noticed a bakery truck bearing down on her, Anita hesitated, changed her mind, and turned back to the curb. As her horrified sisters watched, the truck plowed into her, dragging her along. Anita sustained a fractured skull, broken ribs, a broken leg, and more. Three days later, home in the farmhouse, she died.

My JewishGen angel did more than visit the newspaper office—he visited the local Jewish cemetery, located Anita’s grave, and, as is traditional, left a stone there in my name. He also photographed Anita’s grave for me. Her slender gravestone stands tall, perhaps as tall as she stood at the time of her death in 1931. As I stare at the old-fashioned oval portrait embellishing her gravestone, my beautiful aunt, forever young, stares back at me. Hello, Anita.
—Melody Amsel-Arieli

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ukraine plans Euro 2012 hotel on site of WW2 massacre

Kiev - The Kiev city council is considering building a hotel needed for the Euro 2012 football tournament on the site of a World War Two massacre of tens of thousands of Jews, a Ukrainian official said Tuesday. German troops and police in a two-day operation in September 1941 killed and buried 33,000 Jews in Kiev's Babi Yar ravine, in one of history's bloodiest mass murders.
The Kiev city council has listed Babi Yar, now a memorial park in a residential district of the Ukrainian capital, as one of dozens of city parks and green zones slated for possible hotel construction, said Serhy Melnik, a city council member, according to a Unian news agency report.
A Kiev city council official contacted for comment by telephone confirmed the existence of a hotel development plan, but declined to give further details.
A council resolution passed Thursday evening, but according to Melnik only made public on Tuesday, set forth as city policy a plan to attract investment for the construction of 28 hotels, on sites largely in green areas around the city centre.
Kiev, a city of some four million, is suffering a severe shortage of lodging space, with currently some 125 hotels offering 17,000 beds: a hotel density between three and six times lower than European Union averages, said Serhy Bronevetsky, a Kiev city council official.
The city development plan would add 28 hotels within Kiev city limits by 2012, Bronevetsky said last week, during city council debate.
Ukraine is co-hosting Euro 2012 with Poland. The former Soviet republic has struggled to prepare for an expected one million visitors for the 2012 tournament, with hotel room shortages and an outdated transportation infrastructure among the worst problems.
More than 100,000 Soviet citizens, predominantly Jews but also ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, and Roma, were murdered and interred at Babi Yar by occupying German forces from 1941-1943, according to Soviet historians.
Western historians have focused on the September 29-30, 1941 massacre, which targeted only Kiev region ethnic Jews, and was the worst mass murder by shooting of the Jewish Holocaust.(Earth Times)

Click here to read the entire article.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lost High School RING Reunion (PICTURES BELOW)


Posted by Nolan Altman

The JGSLI (Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island) routinely receives requests from researchers and family members trying to find school photos and graduation information on ancestors through its online Yearbook Project.  But an email that was received in early August had a request of a different kind.

David Cosgrove, a metal detector hobbyist, sent in the following request:

While metal detecting in Noyac Bay, Sag Harbor, NY I found a graduation ring from Forest Hills High School from the year 1951 with the letters RNP inside. Is there anyway of finding the persons name and address if still alive? I would like to return it to the person. Any help would be appreciated.

Although searching for people who are not tied to a genealogical project is not something we typically do, genealogists are very used to using different resources in order to contact lost relatives and unknown descendents of relatives.  We thought it would be an interesting challenge to try to apply our “people finding” skills to see if we could facilitate the ring reunion.
In a phone conversation with Mr. Cosgrove, he told me, “I was using an under water metal detector in water that was up to my chest.  When the alarm went off, I had to reach down and dig for the object more than once.”  The ring he found was clearly in a place that no one would ever find it by chance since it was in a place covered by deep water even during low tide.  After retrieving the ring, Mr. Cosgrove cleaned it up and found the markings, “Forest Hills High School”, “1951” and the initials “RNP”.
Mr. Cosgrove described the area where he found the ring as a popular hangout in the 50’s.  Considering the amount of grime and sediment he cleaned off, he believed that the ring was probably not lost recently, but back in the 50’s.  He tried a few online searches and found the JGSLI website and sent in his request.
A check of the 1951 Forest Hills High School yearbook, as enumerated in the Yearbook Project listings (http://www.jewishgen.org/jgsli/yearbook_list.htm), gave us two leads on graduates with those initials.  However, the owner of the yearbook reminded us that the book contained only graduates from June 1951 and if “RNP” graduated in January, their photo would not be there.
I thought that anyone who would have purchased a class ring would have a strong connection to their school and might still be associated with the school through an online discussion group.  Further research using online alumni and social networking sites yielded another possibility.  One site, gives the opportunity to send an email to listed graduates and I did so, asking if whether that individual ever lost a school ring.
To my pleasant surprise, the very next day I received the following email from Robert Printz:
I don’t believe I know who you are, but, yes, I did lose my Forest Hills High School ring.  Have you found it?  If so, how can I get it back? I would surely appreciate an RSVP ASAP. T hanks so very much.

I spoke with Mr. Printz to check some facts to make sure this wasn’t a giant coincidence and he told me how he had lost his ring.  “Within a year or two after graduation, I went out east with my parents who had a house in Hampton Bays.  I was in shallow water when the ring slipped of my hand into the water.”  He tried in vain to find it but the more he tried, the harder it was to see anything and the ring was probably buried deeper and deeper.
Mr. Printz, who is now 76, remembers that he went swimming out east when he was a recent graduate and before he went into the army.  He figured that must be around 56 or 57 years ago!  He was greatly disturbed over losing his high school memento but never replaced it.  Although he’s thought about it over the years, he never believed he’d see the ring again.
“It’s so hard to believe that, after all these years, my lost ring may be coming back to me.  I’m looking forward to receiving a message via e-mail from the person who found the ring, and I’m overjoyed at what is happening”, wrote Mr. Printz.
“I’ve found rings and other items before, but I’ve never been able to return the lost articles to the original owner”, said Mr. Cosgrove.
We’re happy to report that the two gentlemen spoke to each other soon after the connection was made.  At the September 13th JGSLI meeting at the Plainview JCC, David and Robert met for the first time in person and the ring was returned to its owner after more than 55 years.

Mr. Printz summed up his feelings, “I am appreciative beyond words.”
 

If you would like to participate in the JGSLI Yearbook Project, please see the description of the project by clicking here. For more information on JGSLI, please visit their hompepage by clicking here


 
Ring Reunion (L-R Cosgrove, Printz, Altman)




Cosgrove Demo


 
Printz with Yearbook



 

Printz Yearbook Photo


Monday, September 21, 2009

Volunteer Spotlight: Dick Plotz


Some people have a talent for juggling multiple tasks without effort.  Dick Plotz, JewishGen’s Technical Service Volunteer is one of those people.  Dick started moderating JewishGen’s main Discussion Group about 10 years ago, and has increased his moderating role to include several of the smaller special interest groups.  If that were not enough, five years ago, Dick was invited to take on the management of JewishGen mailing lists as well.

Dick has been working on genealogy most of his adult life, and from many of the emails he contributes to his discussion groups, you can get a sense of the complexity of his role. He must be familiar with the major research resources on JewishGen’s website so he can direct participants to sites where they might find answers. But the moderating role often takes on more than just database knowledge.  Some of the queries take a combination of intuition and deduction reasoning to figure out the real question behind what is being asked.

Genealogy is only one of Dick’s passions.  He loves creating and solving puzzles and is an active member of the National Puzzlers’ League, www.puzzlers.org. He has already agreed to host the 2011 annual NPL convention in Providence. This is in addition to working as a full time pathologist in Boston, and attending an occasional square dance event.

Dick lives in Providence, Rhode Island with his wife of 38 years, Judy.  He has two children, a daughter Martha who is a costume stitcher in Boston, and a son Mike who is a software engineer in San Francisco.

JewishGen is honored that someone with such energy and sleuthing instincts is working with JewishGen to help our members in their genealogical searches.

Thank You Dick!
If you would like to nominate a  JewishGen volunteer to be spotlighted, please email us by clicking here. If you would like to join JewishGen as a volunteer, please click here.

When Satan Came To Melitz

From the Jewish Press 

Melitz (or Mielic) was a small shtetl in Poland. The following article is based on authentic Yiddish quotes from the original Melitz archives (courtesy Yad Vashem in Jerusalem). All the names are real.

By the end of 1939, some 250,000 Jews had died in Nazi-occupied Poland through torture, shooting, starvation and disease. Extermination camps were not yet on the Nazi drawing boards.

But it is precisely those first few weeks of the war - so often neglected because they are overshadowed by the extermination machine developed in the years to come - that has a drama all its own. We can capture in it a reflection of the spirit of the shtetl - the last brilliant glow, about to be shattered as Satan began recreating heaven and earth...

Click here to read the complete article.
***JewishGen resources for Melitz include:

Furriers, Glaziers, Doctors and Others: A History of the Jewish Community of Preston England


Posted By Ann Rabinowitz

Recently, I was contacted by Lorna Kay who is the Chairman, Manchester Regional Group, Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain.  I have known her for some time and she often sends me things of interest via e-mail.  This time she wanted to let me know about a new book out entitled:

“Furriers, Glaziers, Doctors and Others:  A History of the Preston Jewish Community” by John Cowell, published 2009.  John Cowell is a member of the Manchester Regional Group and he has produced a book in hard copy form as well as on CD.  The book is over 200 pages in length and is full of detailed information, biographies, tables and much, much more.

With the realization that the Preston Jewish community had almost disappeared, John organized an historical project to retain the memories of the Jews that remained.  Here in John Cowell’s own words is a summary of the contents of his new book and an idea of what it is about.  Please also note info on how to obtain a copy which is at the end of the piece.

The author has mined the Jewish Chronicle online archives, local and national newspapers, local directories, birth, death and marriage records, and some of the surviving archives of the Preston Hebrew Congregation, all of them after the 1930s. Many of the early Jewish residents, and regular visitors, were dentists, one of whom was in the town for over thirty years. There were also, in the 19th century, opticians, pedlars and hawkers (some of them spectacularly boastful about their wares), clothiers, and jewellers. From 1881 onwards a larger trickle of Jewish settlers arrived, many of them in the drapery and tailoring trades, but also a bicycle dealer, a glazier, and eventually, from the late 1920s, a set of doctors who made this rather an unusual small community.

Further increase in numbers came in the 1930s and Second World War with the arrival of refugees from Continental Europe and from British cities, but after the War numbers declined, and with them the range of activities that could be undertaken, not to mention opportunities for work and marriage, and the availability of kosher food.  The synagogue closed, and people moved away, as improved access to universities and the professions made movement in the pursuit of good jobs easy.

There is a full bibliography as well as appendices that give a breakdown of where people came from and where they went to; their occupations in Preston; and the population in the 1911 census. The set of short biographies of members of the community is an outstanding feature of the book, filling out details of members of the Goodman and Goldberg families, the Lewises and Schwalbes, as well as others less well known.  The author has deliberately set out to be inclusive, particularly of Jewish people who were not members of the Congregation, as well as of those who were.  The book is more than 220 pages long, with illustrations and some tables. 
(Available in paperback at £9.99 + £1 post and packing, or as a CD, at £5.25 + £1 post and packing from the author, John Cowell, at jcowellnix@yahoo.com)

It is of interest that prior to John’s book, there was little documenting the Preston community.  One could find a small amount of detail on-line at the JCR-UK web site on JewishGen, but other than that, there was not really anything substantial.  You can view the JCR-UK material at:  http://www.jewishgen.org/JCR-uk/Community/preston/index.htm.

The book should, at least, tempt researchers with Preston roots to investigate more into a town which was noted as having a Jewish population of 89 in 1905, a high point in 1946 of 300, and in 1990, a low point of Jewish growth of 25.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A New Year Tam: Update on Ingber and Shana Tova

Posted By Ann Rabinowitz

Today, I was delighted to receive the following photograph from my Australian reader, Naomi Barnett.  Ever the helpful JewishGenner, she often sends me things via e-mail or refers people to me.  This time, she sent me something I had been searching for and had written about previously in the Blog.  It was a picture of a package of kosher ingber (carrot candy or as it was stated on the package:  imberlach).  It had been imported especially for the New Year to far-off Melbourne, Australia, from Johannesburg, South Africa.



Imberlach from Johannesburg, SA

The product made by Selwyn Segal stated on its label that it was made of sugar, carrots, lemon juice, and ginger and did not have preservatives.  At last, I was actually seeing what this famed New Year’s delicacy looked like, if only in a photo.  The pieces appear to be finely grated carrot cut into squares 1”x1” by ½” thick, all nicely fresh and inviting.


Naomi and her husband have promised to open the package and take another photo of an actual piece of the imberlach.  Hopefully, they won’t take one of them eating it as I will be so jealous!!!

The strange thing is that here in the United States, in South Florida, which has one of the largest Jewish populations in the world, I have never seen ingber or imberlach.  It has never been served during the holidays in any Jewish home I have been in and I have never seen it displayed in any of the many kosher eateries or stores I am familiar with.

Yet, in far-off Australia, the taste of the imberlach has not been forgotten by ex-patriot South Africans, many of them of the Litvak persuasion.  This memory of home and yiddishkeit yet exists in more than stories or tales told by the older generation.  The rekindling of the traditions of the past at one’s Rosh Hashanah table and the remembrance of one’s family is something to keep in mind as we celebrate these upcoming holidays.

With that, I want to wish all of the readers of the Blog a very happy, healthy and, most of all, sweet New Year and well over the Fast.  See you next year!!!

A Soldier’s Voice Rediscovered

(Hat Tip: Ann Rabinowitz)

Like many veterans, Max Fuchs did not talk much about what he did in the war. His children knew he landed at Omaha Beach. Sometimes, they were allowed to feel the shrapnel still lodged in his chest. And once, he had told them, he sang as the cantor in a Jewish prayer service on the battlefield.

On Oct. 29, 1944, at the edge of a fierce fight for control of the city of Aachen, Germany, a correspondent for NBC radio introduced the modest Sabbath service like this: 

“We bring you now a special broadcast of historic significance: The first Jewish religious service broadcast from Germany since the advent of Hitler.”

Click here to read more from the NYTIMES.


See below for a special video:


כתיבה וחתימה טובה

Posted by Warren Blatt
On behalf of the professional staff, I would like to thank all of our volunteers who have demonstrated extraordinary dedication this past year and have helped us remain as the premier online resource for Jewish genealogy.

Much has been accomplished this past year and we look forward to further success in the year to come.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and sweet new year,

Warren Blatt
Managing Director

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time is Essential...Please Help Support JewishGen

Posted by Warren Blatt

Dear Friend,

As an independent, non-profit organization, we rely on the generous support of users like you to perpetuate the memory and heritage of previous generations. Now more than ever, we need your immediate help to continue offering you the essential services provided by JewishGen. Without your help, we won't be able to continue. 

Over the past year, we added thousands of new records and datasets to our online collection, while simultaneously implementing major improvements to our website design, reliability, speed and capacity. These enhancements allow you and over 350,000 JewishGen users worldwide, to access tools, databases, and information in an easy to understand format from the convenience of your home or office.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Odd News - Too Much Research?


There have been genealogists who have discovered criminals in their family and written about it. As an example, see this book by Ron Arons. But what if you discover that someone else is related to a villainous character? Do you make that information public?
According this article in the Daily Express, researchers claim to have decoded the DNA of Hitler and think they have made a connection to 39 relatives - some of whom have no idea that they share this relation.
Is there an inherent benefit to informing someone that his/her ancestor may not have been the exemplar of the perfect citizen (or much, much worse)? In addition, is there any benefit of publicizing a familial relation that family members wished not to disclose?
Either way, a thought provoking, if not disturbing, article that deserves its "odd news" title.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mapping the Family of Man

Haaretz describes how the internet has contributed to the ever growing fascination with both general and Jewish genealogy. You can read the article here. It's worth noting that JewishGen is  not mentioned, despite its unequaled value and importance to those researching their Jewish ancestry.

Portugal's secret Jews come out of hiding

A bearded man in a red velvet skullcap, chain-smoking on Shabbat at a garden cafe while preaching to friends about the Torah, would be an odd sight anywhere. And he would particularly stand out in Lisbon, with its small Jewish community.
The man, Joao Santos, a regular at Cafe Principe Real, could easily be written off as another colorful urban character. But in today's Portugal his eccentricity is not out of context. It is part of a national trend: The turning toward Judaism of thousands of Portuguese who believe they are descended from Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity hundreds of years ago.
They trace their Jewish roots to the 15th and 16th centuries, to the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions in which thousands of Jews were murdered and countless others were forced into exile or to convert. Many became crypto-Jews, practicing secretly. They were classified in Jewish law as Anusim, Jews who are forced to abandon their religion against their will, but continue to practice insofar as possible.
Their modern-day descendants call themselves Bnei Anusim - sons or children of the Anusim. They are also known by the derogatory Spanish term "Marranos" ("swine").
Recent genetic studies show that some 30 percent of Portugal's population has Jewish blood. Around 7,000 Portuguese identified themselves as Jewish in a 2006 national survey, although only 1,000 have formal affiliation. As more Portuguese discover their Jewish roots, leading Bnei Anusim figures are taking up prominent positions in Portugal's Jewish community.
Santos, an architect in his late thirties, says he found out he was Jewish a few years ago when he came upon typical Jewish candlesticks that had been passed down through his family. Others speak of deathbed confessions by grandparents, unexplained family customs or the findings of extensive genealogical research.

Little remains of Barros Basto's original community, but Porto's Jewish community today has a few dozen people who identify themselves as Bnei Anusim.  Asked about the Hebrew letters that baptized Jews dared to engrave above their doors during the Inquisition, Mucznik says: "Crypto-Judaism is a Portuguese phenomenon, not a Spanish one. In Spain the expulsion was simpler, clearer. Either you convert, or you go away. In Portugal it was more complex than that because in fact the Portuguese didn't want the Jews to leave. Though ruthless by any standard, the Portuguese Inquisition was less definite than the Spanish one." She adds, "Some towns were so heavily Jewish that the people there depended on the Jews. And so they had to show some flexibility."

Michael Freund, the founder of Shavei Israel, gives three reasons when asked about the roots of the Bnei Anusim revival. The first is that both Spain and Portugal only recently opened up to the world following the fall of their respective dictators, Franco and Salazar. Freund, who was deputy director of communications and policy planning in the Prime Minister's Office during the first term of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, adds that the Internet also plays a role: "In the past, a person wanting to reconnect to his Jewish roots or to study the subject had to make a public act by going to the library or the bookshop. The Internet changed all that." (Haaretz)

Click here to read the entire article. For further research, visit JewishGen's Sephardic SIG and this JewishPress article about the Jews of Portugal.

A Schindler story: Harrowing tale of how a young boy survived in Nazi-occupied Poland

Scrawny 13-year-old Leon Leyson had to stand on a box just to reach the buttons of Oskar Schindler's metal machines while forced to work for the Nazis. The emaciated boy made friends with Schindler - a household name after Steven Spielberg's 1993 film "Schindler's List." 
It was an odd relationship that saved Leyson's life.
Leyson, one of the youngest survivors on Schindler's famous list, is bringing his harrowing tale to Manhattan Tuesday - his 80th birthday. It will be the first time he's spoken here. He will tell the tale of how he made it out of the Plaszow, Poland, concentration camp where he cut metal at Schindler's enamelware factory.
"There was always danger lurking at every corner," he said.
 
Schindler managed to save his employees from the gas chambers, making deals with Nazis through his wits and charm.

Leyson vowed to spend his last years spreading the truth about Schindler. (NYDailyNews)

Click here to read the entire article.
****You can view the entire list on JewishGen by clicking here and here.

Was the Beetle actually designed by a Jew?

 
Source: DasTank
Until now, it has been widely acknowledged that the ever-popular Volkswagen Beetle has a tainted history, having been originally designed and commissioned by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. But could the history behind one of the most fashionable production cars ever be more complex? Paul Schilperoord, a Dutch journalist and historian, certainly thinks so.
Schilperoord alleges in his new book Het Ware Verhaal van de Kever ("The True Story of the Beetle"), to be released later this month, that Ferdinand Porsche's iconic Beetle, officially commissioned by Hitler, may well have been taken from a design by a Jewish engineer called Josef Ganz, who never received due credit. (JPOST)

Click here to read the entire article.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Success!


The following was written by a JewishGen blog reader and was in response to a recent post by frequent contributor and assistant blog coordinator, Ann Rabinowitz. This is published with permission:
Ann,

Many thanks for your link. I tried it and immediately found my GGF (great, great grandfather) in Burton-on-Trent, Adolph Rich.
Ok, there was little in there I didn't already know, but it was great to find all the same. I shall now trawl through the rest of the businesses in there, and hope to find some more. 

I just wanted you to know how useful and helpful your website is, it's a great blog and one I shall be interested in keeping up with. 

Many thanks,
Nick Rich
Would you like to share a success story of your own? Please email us using the contact us form on the right hand part of this page.

Rare medieval Hebrew prayer book to go on display

A rare Hebrew manuscript written in 14th century Germany is going on display for the first time, just before the Jewish New Year, Israel Museum officials said Wednesday.
The text, called the Nuremberg Mahzor, is one of the largest surviving medieval texts in the world. Written in 1331 in Germany, the prayer book remains mostly intact — only seven of its original 528 leaves are missing. Officials said the 1,042-page manuscript will be on display at the Israel Museum starting next Tuesday, days before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year holiday, which begins Sept. 18.
 
The book has 22 illuminations inlaid with gold and silver.

The text includes one of the largest collections of handwritten Ashkenazi, or northern European, prayers and liturgical poems. About 100 have never before been published. Also, rabbinical commentary is printed in the margins.

The manuscript is one of the heaviest surviving texts from the period, weighing more than 57 pounds (26 kilograms). It probably took about one year to complete, said Michael Maggen, the head of the paper conservation laboratory at the Israel Museum.

"Mahzor" is Hebrew for holiday prayer book.

The Nuremberg Mahzor got its name from its home for more than 300 years — the Nuremberg municipal library in Germany. The manuscript was originally commissioned for private study and synagogue use by a Jewish patron and was most likely used by the Nuremberg community after 1499. Sometime during the 19th century, 11 leaves were removed from the prayer book by Napoleon's army, museum officials believe.

The Israel Museum spent about six months restoring the text after it was stored for 50 years in the Schocken Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Salman Schocken, a German-Jewish publisher and book collector, acquired four of the missing leaves in the 1930s after he fled Nazi Germany. He received the Nuremberg Mahzor as post-World War II restitution in 1951 for property confiscated by the Nazis.

Six leaves remain missing, and one is in a private collection.

Click here to read the entire article.

Temple University Gets Huge Treasure Trove of Local Jewish History

Temple University has taken ownership of one of the most extensive collections documenting Jewish culture and history in the region.
Larry Alford, Temple's dean of university libraries, says the collection -- a gift from the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center -- is breathtaking: "The collection began to be built in 1972. It is five million items, some 4,500 linear feet of boxes."
The collection documents Jewish life, experiences, culture, and history in this area. Alford says it's a historian's dream, packed with hidden jewels throughout:
"And that's what makes it so exciting for researchers. Discovering letters, documents that perhaps haven't been read before that really add to our understanding of history, understanding of life in the 19th century and the early 20th century, perhaps documents that shed light on historical mysteries."
One of the crown jewels, says Alford, is a the diary of  Israel Chanin, written by a teenaged Lithuanian immigrant from 1924 to 1929. (KYW)

Click here to read the entire article.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

ShtetLinks Update: Krasilov, Ukraine

The Krasilov, Ukraine ShtetLinks web site has been updated. If you have any material you can add to the site (for example, stories, pictures, data, links to other websites, etc), please contact the project coordinator, Barry Chernick, by clicking here.

SUCCESS!

Posted by Joan Adler 

My friend has found his KNOLLER family thanks to the unbelievable outpouring of assistance from this wonderful JewishGen community.

To recap: My friend was trying to find out what happened to his first cousin Julius KNOLLER and Julius' daughter Ester Rachel. He knew that Julius was born in 1919, was in Berlin in 1938 and was found in 1948 with a daughter Ester Rachel. He learned this after communication with ITS and then could find nothing more.

Thanks to you he has learned that Julius KNOLLER survived the war but died in Strassbourg in 2002. He had two children, Esther Rachel who owns a language school in Paris and Albert (Bob) who lives in Strassbourg. He's already been in touch with Bob. They promise to let Esther Rachel know about my friend's existence today.

The outpouring of ideas and assistance from you was overwhelming. I've individually thanked everyone who helped but wanted to make certain you all knew the wonderful support this digest community provides.We are thrilled.
I will be making a contribution to JewishGen today to honor all of you.

L'Shana Tova

Joan Adler
Smithtown, NY

Announcement: JGSNY - Exploring the 1940 Census

Next JGSNY Meeting: Sunday, Sept 13, 2009, 2:00 p.m.
Topic: "Exploring the 1940 Census"
Speaker: Dorothy Dougherty

LOCATION:
UJA-Federation of New York
130 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
7th Floor Conference Center

DESCRIPTION
Census records are one of the best sources available for finding family units. It frequently reveals the missing link that vital records and immigration records alone do not provide.  It can confirm a date and place listed in other types of genealogical documents.  A long awaited genealogical gem, researchers will learn what to look for in preparing for the release of the 1940 census in April 2012.  This presentation explores the historical backdrop of the 1940 Population Schedule and highlights new supplemental questions asked of a small sample of the population. 
The speaker, Dorothy Dougherty, is currently the Public Programs Specialist for the National Archives at New York City. As lead for public, education and outreach efforts, she has developed and presented numerous programs on the holdings of the National Archives. In her ten years as an archivist with the National Archives, Ms. Dougherty also worked on the development, training and deployment of NARA's online Archival Research Catalog, (ARC). Prior work experience includes that of a Manhattan research consultant, New York State Archives Records Manager, and a historical museum interpreter. Ms. Dougherty received her Masters in History with an Archives Certificate from C.W. Post, Long Island University, NY. She frequently lectures how to research both original and online records of interest to family historians.
Would you like to announce your JGS event for free on the JewishGen blog? Simply email us using the contact us form on the right hand part of this page.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Commercial Directory of the Jews of the United Kingdom

Posted By Ann Rabinowitz
 
One of the more interesting resources for scouting out information on your ancestor’s commercial activities in the United Kingdom and, particularly, in Ireland, is a book little known outside the United Kingdom.  It was published in 1894 and is entitled “A Commercial Directory of the Jews of the United Kingdom” by G. Eugene Harfield, London and Richmond, U.S.A.:  Hewlett & Pierce, 1894.  This book was brought to my attention by David Lentin who posts regularly on the Shalom Ireland digest and is researching his Irish roots.
When reaching the site, click on the image of the book and then click on the small image of a page above the book.  This will allow you to scroll through each page easily.  There is also a search engine to the right of the page.  Due to the OCR technology used to scan this directory, you may find difficulties in locating what you want as the technology is not perfect, but generally searches will return the correct item. 
The actual entries provide information such as the first and last name of the person, the street number, the description or name of the business the person is engaged in and sometimes the date the business was established. 

The directory provides a wonderful means of connecting its entries with those in the following on-line resources:
The directory, as in many other United Kingdom and colonial resources, only provides a first initial for the first name.  Therefore, these additional resources can be utilized to locate the actual first name of the directory’s entries.  The other resources can also provide further information on the families of those found in the directory.
This book has much to offer, especially for the Irish entries which are to be found encompassed on Pages 230 – 241.  Due to the fact that many Irish records were burned in a fire, the directory provides invaluable information for this period.  When combined with the 1901 and 1911 Irish Census records, much can be learned about the Irish Jews.  The towns listed with the particular streets covered are as follows:   
Belfast – Bedeque Street, Bedford Street, Berry Street, Cromac Street, Cullingtree Road, Divis Street, Donegall Pass, Donegall Square, Fountain Street, Gresham Street, Mill Street, New King Street, Old Lodge Road, Shankhill Road, Ventry Street, York Street. 
Cork – Albert Street (Monrea Terrace), Bridge Street and Candel Place, Douglas Street, Great George’s Street, Hibernian Buildings, Marina Terrace, North Main Street, Old George’s Street, Rockboro’s Road, University, Victoria Road, 
Dublin – Aston Quay, Aungier Street, Bray, Dame Street, Dawson Street, Fleet Street, Grafton Street, Great Brunswick Street, Kildare Street, Leeson Park, Lower Camdon Street, Lower Clanbrassel Street, Lower Gardiner Street, Lower Sackville Street, Mary Street, Merrion Square, Nassau Street, Parliament Street, Portobello Road, Rathmines, Raymond Street, St. Andrew Street, South Circular Road, South Frederick, Suffolk Street, Talbot Street, Trinity Street, Welington Quay, Wicklow Street.
Limerick – Colooney Street, Emmett Place, George Street, Mt. Pleasant Avenue, Westland Street, Windmill Street. 
Londonderry – Victoria Terrace 
Waterford – John Street, Johnstown, Manor Street,

The directory lists towns in both Northern Ireland and what later became the Irish Republic.  Several examples follow: 

BELFAST - Shankhill Road
  • Appleton, Jac., 23, Cumberland Street; Clothier, draper, and general house-furnisher.
  • Appleton, Ph., 19, Perth Street; Draper and general dealer.
  • Wolfson, S., 28, Crosbey Street; Draper and general dealer.
Note how all of the individuals listed on this street had similar occupations.  Another example from Cork includes the establishment date of the commercial enterprises:

CORK - Albert Street.
  • Clein, L.S. [Lawrence S.], 4, Monrea Terrace; Wholesale draper, furnisher, and boot dealer.  Est. 1882.
  • Elyan, Meyer, 9, Monrea Terrace; General draper and jeweler.  Est. 1881.
  • Sayers, G. [George], 8, Monrea Terrace; General dealer. Est. 1883.
The provision of dates for the establishment of a person’s business is very helpful indeed.  It can assist the researcher in measuring how long an ancestor may have been in a particular locality. The dates for Cork, for example, give 1881 as the earliest of the listed businesses. 
As an aside regarding Lawrence S. Clein, it can be determined from the above listing in the “Commercial Directory” that he was in Cork as early as 1882.  Further, he later moved to Dublin where he is found in the 1911 Census as a commercial traveler in furniture and hardware.  
In 1911, his family had now grown to twelve children (Benjamin, Simon, Esther, Annie, Moses, Rosie, Sarah, Arthur, David, Hymen, Bertha, and Gertie), who were all born in Cork except the last three.  The last child born in Cork, David, was born in 1905 and the first child born in Dublin, Hyman, was born in 1906 which means that somewhere between 1905-1906, the family pulled up stakes and moved.  By just using the directory and the census, one can get a clear snapshot of this family’s comings and goings.

A full list of all those who were listed in Cork, at the time, follows:
I. Abrahamson                             I. Jackson
D., Bremsen                                W. Jackson
L. Clein                                       J. Jalkinowitz
L.S. [Lawrence S.] Clein                 Lewis Glasser
Sol Clein                                      Sol Kriger
A.M. [Abraham M.] Edelstein          Aaron Levin
Meyer Elyan                                 Rev. J.E. Myers
S. Goldberg                                 I. Rosenthal
Prof. [Marcus] Hartog                    G. [George] Sayers
E.L. Jackson                                S. Sayers
Hy Jackson                                  S. [Simon] Spiro
If one were to check in the 1911 Irish Census, many of these Cork Jews would now be found in Dublin.  This move may have occurred due to better business or educational opportunities or because of family ties.
The reason for my interest in Cork was that I had been looking for my cousin Aubrey’s grandparents there.  I found that it was his grandmother Ellen Kopeliansky who was from Cork and her family is not found in the directory as can be seen from the listing above.  Ellen married Hoseas Weiner.  He came to Dublin from Riga, Latvia, in 1883, and was wed to Ellen at 22, Tuckey Street, Cork, by Rev. S.E. Levinson, on September 16, 1887.
Therefore, Hoseas can be found in the Dublin listing of the directory at:

DUBLIN – Talbot Street
H. Weiner & Co., 33, Talbot Street; complete house-furnishers.  Branch:  51, Thomas Street.
The couple lived to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary and played a vital and integral role in the life of the Dublin Jewish community.
A final example from Dublin is for a woman.  This is one of the few entries for a woman and the description below provides a rather encompassing description of her business in which she trades in quite a number of items: 
DUBLIN - Aston Quay
Marks, Mrs. Em. E., 1; Purchaser and dealer in Ladies’ and gentlemen’s clothing, and naval and military uniforms, jewelry, and antiques.  Est. 1859.
Quite the entrepreneur was Mrs. Marks with a variety of merchandise to be had.  It is just such a listing that provides a unique view of the person’s commercial life.
As can be seen, there were many well-established commercial interests in 1894 in the large towns.  However, there were many more unrecorded travelers, peddlers or tally men who roamed the roads and outlying villages in search of customers and a living wage.
The tally man was an individual who went door-to-door and provided credit for his customers.  He kept track of these dealings on a tally sheet and returned regularly to his customers to collect money from them.  The dream of every roaming tally man was to settle down in one place and rent a small niche and carry on a steady business.  Many finally did this as they saved money, learned the customs and language of the country a bit better and found just the right approach to earning a living.
In addition to the Irish entries, the entries for Wales are quite thought-provoking.  A surprisingly large amount of auctioneers and pawnbrokers are to be found throughout the country, if one looks closely enough.  The country was well-known for these professions and there were families where several generations followed in each other’s footsteps.
An example from Cardiff, Wales follows where nearly everyone on the street follows those professions: 
CARDIFF – Bute Street
  • Barnett, Louis, & Son, 19 and 49; and 6 and 7, Caroline Street; Pawnbrokers and jewelers.
  • Jacobs, Barnett, 41, 42; and 1, Herbert Street; Pawnbroker, jeweler, and outfitter.
  • Phillips, Israel, 13; Pawnbroker and jeweler.
  • Shapiro, S., 293; Picture-frame maker.
One of the most well-known Welsh Jewish families was the Wartski family.  However, you won’t find them in this directory as the town they lived in, Bangor, is not listed.  The Bangor Hebrew Congregation was only founded in 1894, the date the Commercial Directory was published, although by 1895, it had twelve seatholders according to “The Jewish Year Book 1896/97”.
It was Morris Wartski, who had first come to Wales in 1865 from Turek, Poland, and set up business in Bangor.  His son, Isidore (1879-1965), the most prominent Wartski family member, became the first Jewish Mayor in Wales (1939-1941).  Mayor Isidore Wartski is not to be confused with another Isidore Wartski (1890-1965) who came to England in 1911 from Kalisz, Poland, and was a well-known Hebraist who died in the same year.
Isador Wartski, Mayor of Bangor, Wales
(Courtesy of The National Trust)

A country which also has surprises for a researcher is that of Scotland.  As I was looking through the listings I came upon a familiar last name:
GLASGOW – Wellington Street, S.
MARGOLYES, S., 189:  Jeweller
As it turns out, S. [Simon] Margolyes was the great grandfather of Miriam Margolyes, well-known British character actress and genealogist.  Her family came to Glasgow in the 1870’s from Amdur now Indura, Belarus.  
Turning now to entries from England itself, a unique entry is from Liverpool, England which lists the following: 
LIVERPOOL – Hanover Street
Frece, Isaac de, 97; Lyceum chambers; Theatrical American lithographer
Isaac (Jack) de Frece was the brother of Henry (Harry) de Frece, a well-known theater entrepeneur.  Henry opened the Theatre Royal Palace of Varieties on August 21, 1871, in Liverpool.  Relative Maurice de Frece penned a farce which was performed there on February 24, 1873.
Subsequently, in 1874, Isaac de Frece took over as the lessee of the Theatre Royal as it was then known.  Other de Frece’s were Lauri de Frece, a great British comedian and son of Henry de Frece.  Another son of Henry de Frece was Sir Walter de Frece, a director of the De Frece Circuit.  He was one of the initial partners with Warner Brothers, was a creative song writer as well as husband of British music hall star Vesta Tilley. 
Sir Walter and Lady Tilley de Frece, 1917
(Courtesy National Library of Australia)

This entry was of particular note to me as my maternal grandfather, who lived in Manchester, had made clothing for Vesta Tilley.  It was not until I read the listing for the de Frece family in the Commercial Directory that I realized that Vesta’s husband was Jewish.
Another interesting Liverpool entry is: 
LIVERPOOL – Clarence Street

Nurick, H., 18; Wholesale and retail draper.
H. (Herman) Nurick, born in 1859, was the great grandfather of Peter Henry Goldsmith, Baron Goldsmith, who served as Her Majesty’s Attorney General for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (2001-2007).
Lord Peter Henry Goldsmith, QC

Not to forget Manchester in this discussion of places of interest in this directory, there is found the following entry:

MANCHESTER – Nightingale Street
Ranbach, M. (Morris), 13, Nightingale street; and 25 and 43, Bury New road; Grocer and provision dealer.  Dealer in all kinds of tailors’ trimmings, Hebrew and English bookseller.  Silk and woolen talaisim.
This entry shows the diversity of things which one person could undertake to sell and in three different locales as well.  A branch of the family is later found in South Africa.
In London, there are so many fascinating and unique entries including a list of wholesale fruiterers in Spitalfields Market:

Carn, L.        Joel, S.            Nickolls, M.
Cohen, A.        Joseph, I.            Rothschild, D.
Costa, A. de        Levy, Hy.            Solomons, H.
Costo, D. de        Levy, I.            Solomons, R.
Isaacs, H.        Mordechai, Z.        Wehl & Tossell.
Israel, M.        Mordecai, Z. & Sons.    Wolf, G.
This is followed by a comparable listing for wholesale fruiterers in Covent Garden.  And, so, the directory is an excellent means of gathering information on particular professions in a certain location.

Another individual London entry is the following:

LONDON – Mile End East

Lewis Hanreck, 128; Hairdresser, perfumer, chiropodist, and surgical dentist.  He seems a quintessential renaissance man of diverse occupations.  His family also had a branch that went to South Africa. 

One of the more fascinating sections in the directory is called:  “Court Directory of the Jews of Gt. Britain” which is located on pages 123-133.  This pertains to many of the titled Jewish gentry such as: 

•    Sir Julian Goldsmid, Bart., M.P., F.R.G.S., M.R.S.L., D.L., J.P.
•    Sir Francis A. Montefiore, Bart.
•    Baron Alfred Chas. de Rothschild
•    Sir Saul Samuel, K.C.M.G., C.B.
•    Sir Albert Sassoon, Bart., C.S.I.
•    Baron De Worms, F.R.G.S., F.S.A., M.R.S.L., F.G.S., L.D., J.P.

The listing, for example, for Sir Saul Samuel, merchant and politician, reflects his birth in London in 1820, emigration to Australia and then return to London where he died in 1900.  At the time of his death, he was a Baronet and held several directorships and other offices in organizations in the United Kingdom and Australia. 
Sir Saul Samuel (1820-1900)
(Courtesy of State Library of New South Wales)

The listings in this directory further include a synagogal directory of Great Britain which includes the Ecclesiastical Court, Anglo-Jewish Association, Board of Deputies, and Council of the United Synagogue.  An example of a London listing under the Council of Synagogues is as follows:

GREAT SYNAGOGUE, James’ Place, Aldgate.
  • Wardens:  T.R.H. Lord Rothschild, and A. Rosenfeld, Esq.
  • Representatives:  Isaiah M. Marks, Esq., Finance Member; Messrs. M. Benjamin, A.L. Friedlander, H. Meyer, B. Van Staveren, I. Weber, and S. Wharman.
  • Local Committee:  Messrs. M. Benjamin, Ralph Lazarus, Hon. Walter Lionel Rothschild, L. Simmons, I. Webber and S. Wharman, Revs. M. Hast and A.E. Gordon, Readers.  Alfred Henry, Esq., Sec.  Mr. S. Levy, Beadle and Collector.
 
Great Synagogue in 1809
(Courtesy Ackerman’s “Microcosm of London”)

Sometime before 1692, the German or Ashkenazi Jews created a meeting place and the Great Synagogue on James’ Place is a lineal descendant of that first attempt of their religious commitment in London.  The synagogue built in 1772 was the result of bequests from Moses Hart and his family as well as a number of other prosperous German Jews according to “The Jewish Year Book”, 1907-8.  The synagogue was enlarged and a new building constructed with further enhancements before it was destroyed during World War II by Nazi bombing raids.
Additional synagogues are listed under the Federation of Synagogues and there are a number that are ethnically-based such as the synagogue which follows: 
POLISH SYNAGOGUE, Carter Street, Houndsditch.
J. Sternheim and H. Swalf, Esqs., Wardens.  J. Bronkhorst, Esq., Reader.  Mr. S. Bronkhorst, Sec.  Mr. S. Weil, Collector.

There is also a listing of Provincial Synagogues, Officials, &c., as well as a List of Colonial Congregations under the jurisdiction of the Rev., the Chief Rabbi.  Further listings involve charitable and benevolent societies, schools, colleges & literary societies, Jewish hospitals, asylums, &c., and a listing of metropolitan and provincial hotels among other things.

CONCLUSION:

This directory is well-worth looking through if you have ancestors who:
  • lived in the United Kingdom 
  • lived for a while in the United Kingdom and went elsewhere
  • lived in the British colonies
It is quite possible that you will have unexpected luck in finding information that you can then connect to census and other records such as Jewish Year Books that are available both in libraries and on-line as well information to be had on the Jewish Communities and Records-UK (JCR-UK) web site or on the web site of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain (JGSGB) or the British-Jewry Mailing List web site at:http://www.british-jewry.org.uk. Note: The last site is presently experiencing technical difficulties and is not available, but will be in the near future.
Further, researchers can connect to information on Jewish Ireland at the following site: which will lead you to contact Stuart Rosenblatt at the Irish Jewish Genealogy Society & Family History Centre at the Irish Jewish Museum, Dublin. 
Or, if you are interested in Jewish Wales, you can find info on Dr. Nathan Abrams who has done research on the community by clicking here.