Submitting Data to JewishGen's Online Burial Registry (JOWBR)

Posted by Nolan Altman

To assist donors who are interested in submitting data and/or photos to the JOWBR database, JewishGen has developed a series of “How To” screencasts (short online movies). When you watch these screencasts, you will be able to watch and hear an explanation of how to make a complete and successful JOWBR submission. (Even if you're not making a submission, the first 2 and the last screencast will give you background and a walk-through the JOWBR site.)

The screencasts cover all the questions we typically receive, from “How do I know if my cemetery is online?” to “What will my data look like when I’m done?” And of course, the majority of the screencasts describe how to properly complete the standard JOWBR excel template by making specific entries in the Cemetery Info tab and the Burial Template.

Each screencast addresses a specific topic or type of entry. You can watch the entire series or just the ones you have questions on, and like all online videos, you can pause or replay them as desired. (An alternative to watching the screencasts is the “Submitting Data to JOWBR page at

The following is a list of the screencasts available and their length:

  1. JOWBR – An Introduction (0:57)
  2. Getting Started (3:55)
  3. The Cemetery Info Tab (4:34)
  4. The Burial Template – Overview (2:12)
  5. Entering Names (4:48)
  6. Entering Place Names (2:09)
  7. Entering Dates (2:34)
  8. Entering Plot Locations and the Comments Field (1:13)
  9. Linking Photos to Your Records (2:41)
  10. Putting it all Together - Viewing Your Output (3:09)
We hope this submission aide will help you see that submitting records to JOWBR is not at all difficult. The ability to share data with researchers and family members around the world is invaluable and we hope that you’ll consider making a submission of your own.

If you have any questions, please contact me.
Posted by Warren Blatt

The JewishGen Yizkor Book Necrology Database has been updated with over 12,000 additional entries from 27 Yizkor Books:

  • Byten (190 entries), Lakhva (432), Naliboki (190).
  • Skuodas (288).
  • Marculesti (272).
  • Baranow Sandomierski (161), Bielsko-Biala (61), Brzeziny (868), Chorzele (248), Czyzew-Osada (62), Golub-Dobrzyn (43), Kutno (510), Lomazy (979), Lubartow (75), Sierpc (747),
  • Strzegowo (34), Tyszowce (614), Wieleczka (327), Wielun (1,897).
  • Tasnad (32).
  • Berestechko (474), Dobromil (65), Kamyanets-Podilskyy (57), Komarno (151), Ozerna (392), Tovste (702), Vladimirets (1,124).
The Necrology Database may be searched by clicking here.

The JewishGen Yizkor Book Necrology Database indexes the names of persons in the necrologies -- the lists of Holocaust martyrs -- published in the Yizkor Books appearing on the Yizkor Book Project site here.

This database is only an index of names; it directs researchers back to the Yizkor Book itself, where more complete information may be available.

This database currently contains over 215,000 entries from the necrologies of 241 different Yizkor Books.

Thanks to Michael Tobias, Max Heffler, Lance Ackerfeld, and all of our Yizkor Book donors and translators. Our special thanks to Yad Vashem for contributing many of these necrologies to JewishGen.

We could use additional volunteers to continue the project. If you have HTML or database programming skills, or would like to help transliterate necrologies into English, please contact me.

The JewishGen Yizkor Book Necrology Database can be found here.

Iraq reclaims a Jewish history it once shunned

From the AP

BAGHDAD - It was seized from Jewish families and wound up soaking in sewage water in the basement of a secret police building. Rescued from the chaos that engulfed Baghdad as Saddam Hussein was toppled, it now sits in safekeeping in an office near Washington, D.C.

Like this country's once great Jewish community, the Iraqi Jewish Archive of books, manuscripts, records and other materials has gone through turbulent times. Now another twist may be in store: Iraq wants it back.

Iraqi officials say they will go to the U.S., possibly next month, to assess the materials found by U.S. troops and plan for their return after an absence of nearly seven years.

Some Jewish authorities are skeptical, arguing that since most estimates put the number of Jews in Iraq at less than 10, the archive no longer belongs here. But to Saad Eskander, the director of the Iraq National Library and Archives, it is part of a larger effort to rescue the cultural history Iraq lost during the invasion, and to put Iraqis on a tentative path to coming to grips with their past.

"Iraqis must know that we are a diverse people, with different traditions, different religions, and we need to accept this diversity ... To show it to our people that Baghdad was always multiethnic," said Eskander.

The archive was found in May 2003, when U.S. troops looking for weapons of mass destruction got a tip to check out the basement of a building of the Mukhabarat - Saddam's secret police. Passing a 2,000-pound unexploded bomb on their way into the building, they found a flooded basement.

"It was really quite disgusting, to be honest, because it was about chest-deep sewage water," said Richard Gonzales, the Army officer who led the team and has since retired.

The troops found no WMD, but it was worth the trip. Books, photos and papers floated in the murky water. And not just any books, but Hebrew-language books, in a country that had been at war with Israel since 1948 and had once accused Jews of espionage and after a show trial hanged nine of them in a public square.

The fact that the materials survived at all is remarkable, considering how much of Iraq's cultural heritage was looted or destroyed after the fall of Saddam - more than a quarter of the National Library's books and 60 percent of its collection of maps, photographs and records, Eskander said.

Gonzales knew he had something significant on his hands but he didn't have enough people or tools to deal with it. So he went to Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi exile group whose discredited WMD claims had been the main justification for the invasion.

Chalabi got him a pump and some manpower. The materials were pulled out of the basement, laid out to dry in the sun and packed in 27 metal trunks.

Accumulated over the years were photos, parchments and cases to hold Torah scrolls; a Jewish religious book published in 1568; 50 copies of a children's primer in Hebrew and Arabic; books in Arabic and English, books printed in Baghdad, Warsaw and Venice - the lost heritage of what was once one of the largest Jewish communities in the Middle East, dating to the 6th century B.C.

Abraham of the Old Testament is believed to have come from the city of Ur, in what is modern-day Iraq, and despite periods of persecution, the community endured and thrived over centuries. But problems worsened when Iraq sided with Germany in World War II, and came to a head when Israel was created.

By the early 1950s, Iraqi Jews were fleeing the country in droves. The few thousand who remained were harassed, too frightened to hold services, and their assets seized. In 1969, after Saddam's Baath party took power, came the hangings.

The secret police are believed to have confiscated countless books and other archival material from the Jewish community.

"Sometimes they would contact us when they had intelligence about such documents, Hebrew documents or books," said Kamil Jawad Ashour, the deputy director of the National Library. "On one occasion I went with them to a house in Basra of a Jewish family where they confiscated some documents and books from them. And there was only an old woman there."

After the 2003 invasion, Corine Wegener was working in Baghdad as an arts, monuments and archives officer - a rarity in the U.S. military - when she was asked to examine the materials from the basement.

They were still damp, and that meant mold, a preservationist's nightmare.

Only freezing stops mold, so a refrigerator truck was found and kept running 24 hours a day.

"I was out there three or four times a day with a food thermometer checking the temperature," Wegener said.

Agreement was reached, and later approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, to move the archive to the U.S. for preservation.

After being freeze-dried in Texas, the collection was taken to the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland.
There the items were photographed, lightly cleaned, wrapped and boxed.
NARA and the Center for Jewish History, a New York-based nonprofit group, are using the photos to catalog the collection. But to handle and digitize it, more preservation work would be needed.

Read the rest of the article here.

Announcement: JGS of Palm Beach County

Membership Meeting Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County, Inc

Wednesday February 10, 2010

  • 12:30 pm-12:55 pm: Brick Wall Session
  • 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm: Brief business meeting, followed by program
(Special Interest Groups meet prior to the general meeting from 11:30 am-12:15 pm: Galicia SIG in main meeting room [Mark Jacobson, with special guest Pam Weisberger Ukraine SIG in Room 2 [Mona Morris]

South County Civic Center, 16700 Jog Road, Delray Beach, FL

Non-member guests--$5 (guest fee may be applied toward membership dues)

Pamela Weisberger

"When Leopold Met Lena: Marriage, Divorce and Deception in 1892 New York."

Guest speaker, Pamela Weisberger, internationally recognized genealogist and lecturer presents "When Leopold Met Lena: Marriage, Divorce and Deception in 1892 New York” at the Wednesday February 10 membership meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County Inc. The meeting is at the South County Civic Center, 16700 Jog Road, Delray Beach, FL at 12:30 PM. There is a $5 admission charge for non-members

Court Records, newspapers, and more bring the past to life as Ms Weisberger unfolds the scandalous story of Leopold and Lena--.beginning in Czestochowa, Poland, Austria and continuing on to Manhattan's Lower East Side and Little Rock, Arkansas. The tumultuous, romantic and litigious world of our immigrant ancestors unfolds as Weisberger demonstrates how present-day genealogical research is used to solve 19th-century mysteries.

Documenting her family’s history for over twenty years, Ms Weisberger has traveled throughout Eastern Europe visiting ancestral towns and villages and conducting research in Polish, Ukrainian and Hungarian archives. A special area of interest has been late 19th to early 20th century city directories, newspapers and court records. She has also produced the documentaries, “I Remember Jewish Drohobycz,” and “Genealogy Anyone? Twenty-Five Years in the Life of the JGSLA.”

She is currently the program chair for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles, President and Research Coordinator for Gesher Galicia, and a co-chair for the 2010 IAJGS Los Angeles Conference
She holds a B.A. in English from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.S. in Broadcasting from Boston University.

For further information about the Brick Wall program, or to submit questions in advance, e-mail Program Chairperson Helene Seaman For special Interest Groups, contact Marvin Lopatin,
For additional program information contact:
Sylvia Nusinov 561 483-1060
Marilyn Newman 561 775-4920

JOWBR Update

Posted by Nolan Altman

JewishGen is pleased to announce its 2009 year-end update to its Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). The JOWBR database can be accessed by clicking here.

This update includes approximately 104,500 new records and 20,700 new photos. The database is adding 118 new cemeteries along with updates or additions to an additional 99 cemeteries from 15 countries. This brings JOWBR’s holdings in excess of 1.3 million records from more than 2,500 cemeteries / cemetery sections from 45 countries!

In addition, JewishGen is also pleased to announce two new partnerships, both starting in the fourth quarter of 2009:

  1. The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA) in Cincinnati, Ohio. JewishGen volunteers will help to create searchable databases from paper holdings at the archives for inclusion in JOWBR. We thank the administration at the Archives and Jennie Cole for help facilitating the arrangement. Thanks also to JewishGen volunteer Marian Brown for help on premises.
  2. The Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project, led by Harley Felstein, assists in restoring abandoned Jewish cemeteries around the United States. The Project will be adding burial records from these abandoned cemeteries to the JOWBR database. If you are aware of such sites, please contact Harley here
Highlights from the JOWBR Update:
  • Bayside, NY. Thanks to Maurice Kessler and his team for an additional 23,000 records from the Bayside / Ozone Queens cemetery complex whose original records were documented by Florence Marmor and David Gevertzman.
  • Weil Funeral Home Records - Cincinnati, OH. Thanks to the management of the Weil Funeral Home and the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives for the first installment of 10,800 funeral records.
  • Washington State. Thanks to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State, led by coordinator Nancy Adelson, for over 9,100 records from 11 cemetery locations within the state. Photographs and additional records are still to come.
  • Mount of Olives, Israel. Thanks to the Israel Genealogical Society through a project coordinated by Mathilde A. Tagger and facilitated by Rose Feldman, to add portions of approximately 7,600 records from their detailed Mount of Olives records to JOWBR. Full records can be found on their site at here.
  • Maryland Records. Thanks to the Jewish Museum of Maryland and Deb Weiner for an additional 6,600 records from four Baltimore area cemeteries.
  • Radauti, Romania. Thanks to Yossi Yagur for adding over 5,300 records to the existing Radauti records.
  • Bathurst Lawn Memorial Park and Pardes Shalom Cemetery, Ontario. Thanks to Kevin Hanit and Allen Halberstadt representing the JGS of Canada (Toronto) for more than 4,900 records from 70 sections of these two Canadian cemeteries.
  • Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, the Dakotas and Kansas. Thanks to Terry Lasky who has submitted records and photographs that he has personally created or coordinated with other volunteers in these states. This update includes more than 4,300 new records and approximately 3,600 photographs.
  • Petach Tikvah, Israel. Thanks to Gilda Kurtzman for her ongoing work at the Segulah Cemetery in Petach Tikvah, with approximately 4,300 additional records and 2,300 additional photos
  • Home of Peace Cemetery & Emanu-El Mausoleum, Colma, CA. Thanks to Pierre Hahn and Rosanne Leeson from the San Francisco Bay area Jewish Genealogical Society, for adding close to 4,200 records from the first book of burial records for this San Francisco area cemetery.
  • New York City Metropolitan Cemeteries. JOWBR has added approximately 3,200 records along with their corresponding photos through the Jewish Genealogy Society of New York’s Cemetery Project from various landsmanschaft plots in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and New Jersey cemeteries.
  • Shara Tfilo, West Roxbury, MA. Thanks to Marjorie Duby for adding to JOWBR’s existing records with an additional 2,400 burial records and 3,800 photos.
  • Khotyn, Ukraine. Thanks to Hymie Reichstein for coordinating the submission of approximately 2,700 burial records and photos from the cemetery in Khotyn.
  • Weibstadt, Germany. Thanks to Allan T. Hirsh for adding approximately 2,700 records from the old and new cemeteries in Weibstadt.
  • South Carolina Cemeteries. Thanks to Ann Hellman, president of the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina for their submission of close to 2,100 burial records and 900 photos from seven South Carolina cemeteries.
  • Lodz Ghetto Victims. Thanks to Avigdor Ben–Dov for coordinating submissions of close to 1,400 records from burials marked by the IDF working with the Yad LeZehava Holocaust Research Institute (YZI) Witnesses in Uniform project at three sections of the cemetery in Lodz.
  • Slovakian Cemeteries and Foreign Language Volunteers. Thanks to Bobby Furst for submitting photos from around Slovakia and a special thanks to our team of Hebrew and foreign language translators for their patience working with often very hard-to-read headstones; David Rosen, Ernest Kallman, Gilberto Jugend, Nathen Gabriel, Osnat Hazan, Reuben Gross, Shay Meyer and Zygmont Boxer.
  • Anchorage, Alaska. Last but not least, thanks to Brock Shamberg for submitting records and photos from Anchorage Alaska cemeteries… probably our northernmost burial records.
Whether your name or records are listed above, we appreciate all your submissions! Thank you to all the donors that submitted information for this update.

We appreciate all the work our donors have done and encourage you to make additional submissions. Whether you work on a cemetery / cemetery section individually or consider a group project for your local Society, temple or other group, it’s your submissions that help grow the JOWBR database and make it possible for researchers and family members to find answers they otherwise might not. Please also consider other organizations you may be affiliated with that may already have done cemetery indexing that would consider having their records included in the JOWBR database.

Ron Arons to Speak at JGS Conejo Valley and Ventura County

The Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County (JGSCV) will hold a general meeting, co-sponosred with Temple Adat Elohim, on Monday, February 1, 2010, at Temple Adat Elohim 2420 E Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA 7:00-9:00 p.m. Note: Different day of week and time of meeting.

The Program: "Mapping Madness"

Learn how to use Internet-based on-line mapping techniques including maps, tracking and detecting showing how to find anyone, anywhere, anyhow. Technology is the genealogist's friend, and Ron is a great teacher of imparting new ways to utilize important resources. Ron will review the basics of both Google and Microsoft's Internet-based mapping facilities,, and He will then introduce more advanced functionality of both. Finally, Ron will also discuss less traditional facilities provided my, Microsoft's MapCruncher, IBM's Many Eyes. Things are constantly changing on the Internet and Ron keeps up-to-the-minute with the changes and will discuss them during his

Speaker: Ron Arons a founding member of JGSCV is an accomplished and popular nationally known speaker having given presentations on Jewish genealogy and Jewish criminals at many IAJGS conferences, JGSs including JGSCV, book fairs, JCCs and more. He will provide an entertaining, yet educational discussion.

There will be a schmoozing session starting 15 minutes before the meeting, facilitated by JGSCV Board member Warren Blatt..come and talk on your successes or problems.

Our monthly book report will be given by Carole Webber on a 4-book series by Maisie Mosco. These are stories of a Jewish family who escapes to England and how they survive and prosper

Our rotating traveling library will have Categories A and C. To see which books are listed under which category, please go to our website, and look under traveling library. The books are available starting 30 minutes before the program to 30 minutes after the program.

The meeting is open to all and there is no charge. The meeting is co-sponsored with and held at Temple Adat Elohim, Thousand Oaks, CA

For more information including directions to the meeting, see our website for directions and more information:

Jan Meisels Allen
President, JGSCV

Beit Hatfutsot and My Announce Partnership

This is being posted on behalf of Daniel Horowitz, Genealogy and Translation Manager of My

On December 15, Beit Hatfutsot (Museum of the Jewish People) & MyHeritage announced a partnership to help preserve-for the future-digital information about the Jewish people.

This partnership, with your help, will add millions of data elements to the existing multimedia database at the Museum.

To participate: Go to the special page to accept the terms & conditions and create a *free* account to start building your family tree. MyHeritage will periodically transfer the data to Beit Hatfutsot to update the database.

You and your family are part of the history of the Jewish people. By sharing your family tree with the Museum, preserve your family?s memory and history forever.

Please help everyone learn about this project through providing information on your Website, in your blog, at your synagogues, Jewish schools, Jewish organizations and any other media or group that might be interested to learn about this project.

For more information please visit

For the complete press release click here

Note: This project is not connected with JewishGen's Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP), although some data may appear in both. Submitting data to this project will not make it available on FTJP, and vice versa. For more information on FTJP, go to

Best wishes and many thanks

Daniel Horowitz
Genealogy and Translation Manager

Historic Connecticut Synagogues

Posted By Ann Rabinowitz

Bikur Cholim Synagogue
Photograph courtesy of Connecticut Historical Commission

The Internet provides many resources for historic research of Jewish community resources. One of these is the submission of an application to the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Multiple Property Documentation Form, for Historic Synagogues of Connecticut, 1995.

The historic synagogues of Connecticut in this document were taken from 48 identified properties which were the result of a 1991 Architectural and Historical Survey of Historic Connecticut Synagogues. Of the 48 original synagogues listed, 14 were put on the National Register of Historic Places and 15 did not have sufficient significance to be included. The balance of the 48 synagogues listed were the 19 synagogues in this document.

The application provides a discussion of the history of the Jewish community in Connecticut, 1876-1945 and a description of the three types of buildings to be considered for historic designation and then a listing of nineteen of these buildings:

  • Urban buildings constructed as synagogues – Achavath Achim, Bridgeport, 1926; B’nai Israel Synagogue, Bridgeport, 1911; Rodeph Sholom Synagogue, Bridgeport, 1947; Chevre Lomdai Mishnayes Synagogue, Hartford, c. 1926; Beth Hamedrash Hagodol, Hartford, 1922; Tephereth Israel Synagogue, New Britain, 1928; Beth Israel Synagogue, New Haven, 1926; Ahavas Sholem Synagogue, New Haven, 1928; Ohev Sholem Synagogue, New London, 1917; Agudath Sholom Synagogue, Stamford, 1933-1938; Beth El Synagogue, Waterbury, 1929; Temple Beth Israel, West Hartford, 1933-1936.
  • Non-urban country and resort synagogues – Knesseth Israel Synagogue, Ellington, 1913; Anshei Israel Synagogue, Lisbon, 1936; Hebrew Congregation of Woodmont, Milford, 1926.
  • Buildings adapted as synagogues – Ein Jacob Synagogue, Bridgeport, 1918; Bikur Cholim Synagogue, Bridgeport, c. 1894; Agudas Achim Synagogue, Bridgeport, 1907; Temple B’Nai Israel, New Britain, 1927.
There follows a discussion of each synagogues which includes their history, an architectural description and the derivation of the design, and, in some cases, how the design was copied from other larger edifices in other locales. It has a helpful bibliography and a glossary of terms. In addition, the National Register of Historic Places has a wonderful site and it includes Historic Synagogues many of which are mentioned above.

Another resource, this one a photographic one, can be utilized in tandem with the listing. It is the book by Julian H. Preisler entitled “American Synagogues: A Photographic Journey”, Volume One, 2008 which has photographs of a number of the Connecticut synagogues as well as those from around the United States. The book which contains over 3,200 images is also on a CD which can be quite useful. A second volume is expected in late 2009 or thereafter.

Of further interest is the IAJGS Cemetery Project database for Connecticut. This can provide information on particular cemeteries associated with synagogues such as those in Bridgeport, CT. Here, several synagogues are listed and much is written about the history of the cemeteries.

A fascinating resource which is also available on-line is Archiplanet. Testing out their huge database which is comprised of over 100,000 buildings and 25,000 architects and firms, you can enter the name a Connecticut synagogue. I chose to use that of the Bikur Cholim Synagogue in Bridgeport, CT. A description of the structure taken from the National Register of Historic Places will appear. Not only that, a street map will pop up with the location of the structure and also an aerial map too with the location.

As can be seen, there are many resources to be utilized if you wish to know more about your Connecticut religious heritage.

What Can We Do For Haiti?

Abby Spilka posted the following on the MJH Staff blog:

After two days, Mother Nature’s wrath is still unimaginable. The images, the testimony, and the sheer devastation in Haiti have left us at a loss. Many members of the staff have asked how to help. This humanitarian crisis is an opportunity to reflect on tzedakah, a word that means both justice and charity.*(Please see reflection below – I didn’t want to get sidetracked.) From writing out a check to sending a text, the world community is taking action. We encourage all readers to donate to one of the many organizations providing relief to the area. And our thoughts and prayers are with members of our Museum family who themselves have family and friends in Haiti.

The Jewish Community Relations Council has compiled a list of organizations that will send contributions to Haiti. For the more technologically astute reader, the Red Cross is taking $10 donations for its Haiti relief efforts from donors who text "HAITI" to "90999." Wyclef Jean's YĆ©le Haiti charity is asking donors to text “YELE” to 501501 for a $5 donation toward earthquake relief efforts. The donations are added to your cell phone bill.

*And now back to tzedakah. From our friends at My Jewish To Jews today, the term tzedakah connotes giving charitable contributions, but the term originates in another realm. In the Bible, tzedakah means “righteous behavior” and is often paired with “justice.” In Jewish thought and tradition, material support for those in need is not a matter of “charity”--a term that implies generosity beyond what may be expected--but a requirement.

Of course, social and economic realities of 2010 have blurred the lines of who is in need. With government programs in place, does the individual still need to take initiative? Does one focus on assisting needy Jews or helping all in need? And how does one address issues of social injustice and poverty?

These are good questions to ponder when time is not of the essence, but to quote an advertising campaign of days gone by: Just Do It!

'Operation Attic' aims to rescue Holocaust artifacts

From the Jerusalem Post

The Ghetto Fighters House last week initiated Operation Attic, a rescue of documents, including letters, diaries and testimonies, and photographs and other artifacts from the Holocaust period that are lying in attics, basements and closets in communities around the world.

The Ghetto Fighters House (its full name is the Itzhak Katzenelson Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum and Study Center) was the first museum commerating the Holocaust and Jewish heroism, and was founded in 1949 by survivors who were members of Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot, between Acre and Nahariya.

Operation Attic is a response to the many instances of loss, destruction and disposal of artifacts from the Holocaust period that have historical value, Rami Hochman, director of the museum, said on Monday.

"Lately, we have been hearing about valuable materials that are located in Jewish homes in communities throughout Western and Eastern Europe, Canada and the USA," Hochman said. "One example of document rescue and restoration is the diary of Pola Elster, who was a fighter in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising [in 1943]."

The diary was brought to the Ghetto Fighters House by Nachi Rottenberg, the son of Wanda Elster-Rottenberg, who was also a fighter in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Pola's sister.

Click here to read the entire article.

Abraham’s Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People

Posted By Ann Rabinowitz

Due to a message from one of the Blog readers, Jeff Miller, I was provided with a link to a presentation made by Jon Entine in regard to his book: “Abraham’s Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People”. Written in 2007, the book has sparked debate about questions of who is a Jew among other things.

One of the premises he mentions is that 75-80% of Jewish males have Middle Eastern ancestry whereas 50% of Jewish females do not. This leads to the assumption that Jewish males, as they traveled and moved from place to place, took on brides from the surrounding locales. These brides assumed Jewish customs and traditions and thereon later brought up their children in their father’s culture.

He further discusses the high IQ of Abraham’s children that has been tested as well as the proclivity for forty or so inherited diseases and the issue of the Cohen Gene. All this is quite interesting stuff which has been followed in the years since its publication with many new inroads into the DNA world for Jewish researchers.

Entine, who is a long-time journalist, think tank philosopher and television producer, provides commentary on his research via his web site devoted to the book

Remember, to look this month on the Blog for the latest DNA success story.

Hungarian Vital Records

Posted by Sam Schleman

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was a dual monarchy, which included the Kingdom of Hungary. Beginning in the 1850’s the Austro-Hungarian authorities decreed that all religious institutions maintain records of births, marriages and deaths for their congregants. This system remained in place until October, 1895, when it was replaced by a centralized system of civil registrations for all religious denominations.

Some communities began keeping vital records as early as the 1820’s and others kept records only sometime after the 1850’s. The local synagogue created the records and sent a copy to the megye (county) archives. Today, most of the records which have survived are in the Hungarian National Archives in Budapest, which is where the Mormon’s microfilmed them. No one has systematically determined what records may still exist in the different megye archives. Recently a considerable number of records were discovered which were supposed to have been turned over to the Slovak archives when Hungary was partitioned in 1920. However, these “unknown” records were kept in Hungary and Slovakia had no knowledge of them, and the local authorities did not wish to acknowledge they had these records. Similar situations may exist elsewhere, but have not been investigated.

A complicating factor is that the Kingdom of Hungary was partitioned in 1920, at the conclusion of World War I, by the Treaty of Trianon. Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory and parts of 19th century Hungary today lie within the borders of Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland and Serbia. Access to these records varies enormously by country.

ShtetLinks Update

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For more information, or to create a page, please contact us by clicking here.

Announcement: JGS-NY

JGS-NY meeting, 2 p.m. January 17, 2010 at Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th St., NYC --  “Polish Records—What They Contain, Where They Are and How to Get Them.”  Speaker: Hadassah Lipsius – Free to JGS-NY members, $5 non-members

Hadassah will discuss the various types of records and documents available from the Greater Poland area.   She will show examples of different vital record formats which were based on the time period and the governing ruler.    She will demonstrate how to identify what records are available for your ancestral town, how to acquire them and how to use them to further your genealogy research.  The regions that she will cover include Congress Poland, Russian Pale of Settlement (Bialystok area), Galicia, and Prussia.
Hadassah Lipsius is a member of the Executive Council of the Jewish Genealogical Society of NY, a board member of Jewish Records Indexing-Poland and a member of the Board of Governors of Jewishgen.   She was co-chair of the 26th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy.  Das takes pride that her family were city dwellers (i.e. Warszawa and St. Petersburg) for over 200 years.

The Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute at CJH will be open 12:30 to 1:45 PM for networking with other researchers and access to research materials and computers.


Posted By Ann Rabinowitz

Recently, Mick Moloney, of New York University's Irish Studies Department, was interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR)'s Terry Gross, regarding his latest album "If It Wasn't For The Irish And The Jews" Moloney, originally from Limerick, Ireland, and a talented performer in the 1970's Irish band, the Johnstons, and later an academic, has performed and written about Irish music.

His topic focused on Tin Pan Alley which was an area in Manhattan devoted to the production and propagation of sheet music for the popular music industry. Its heyday was the late 1800's and early half of the 1900's and it was located approximately Broadway and 5th Avenue on 28th Street.

Many know of the Jewish participation in Tin Pan Alley with such great songsmiths as Irving Berlin and George Gershwin. However, the interview covered the little known topic of the special collaboration between early 20t Century songwriters of Irish and Jewish origins. The lyrics of these composers touched on themes dear to the hearts of immigrants in the crowded tenements of New York and beyond. 

His title song on his album was a popular cross-cultural collaboration between William Jerome (originally Flannery) and Jean Schwartz, born in Budapest, Hungary. Its lyrics are as follows:


I just returned from Europe I've seen London and Paree,

And I'm Glad to get back home to Yankee – land.

In fact the little U.S.A. looks better now to me.

It's the real place for the real folks under stand?

But still I often sit and think what would this country be,

If we hadn't men like Rosenstein and Hughes.

You'd surely have a Kingdom there'd be no democracy.

If it wasn't for the Irish and the Jews.


What would this great Yankee nation

Really, really ever do?

If it wasn't for a Levy

A Mon-a-han or Don-a-hue

Where would we get our policemen?

Why Uncle Sam would have the blues.

Without the Pats and Isadores

You'd have no big department stores.

If it wasn't for the Irish and the Jews. Jews.

McDonald built the subway and his name we'll not forget,

A word of praise is due to Nathan Strauss

For pasteurizing baby's milk the world owes him a debt

He's a friend to every kiddie in the house

Without Big Tim Sullivan what would the Bowry do?

Just ask the man that needs a pair of shoes

There wouldn't be an East Side in the City of New York

If it wasn't for the Irish and the Jews


Talk about a combination.

Hear my words and make a note

On St. Patrick's Day Rosinsky

Pins a shamrock on his coat

There's a sympathetic feeling

Between the Blooms and McAdoos

Why Tammany would

Surely fall there'd really be no Hall at all

If it wasn't for the Irish and the Jews. Jews.

You all know Charlie Frohman and his brother Dan of course,

How often have you laughed at Louis Mann?

And Lew and Joe who used to run the Little Music Hall

And that wonder, clever George M. Cohan.

Dave Warfield, Peter Daly. Charlie Ross and Andrew Mack,

For years and years they drove away the blues

Where would you get your actors from I'd really like to know

If it wasn't for the Irish and the Jews?


What would you do for amusement

There would be no place to go

If it wasn't for the Shuberts,

Frank McKee and Marcus Loew

K. and E. and Billy Brady

Hammerstein I mustn't lose

I once heard Dave Belasco say,

You couldn't stage a play today

If it wasn't for the Irish and the Jews. Jews.

Copyright MCMXII by Jerome & Schwartz Publishing Co., 1445 Broadway, New York.

The match of Jerome and Schwartz resulted in many hits and also additional couplings with other Jewish lyricists and composers for Jerome with such as Harry von Tilzer (Aaron Gumbinsky) and Charles Tobias.

Another site, rich in information about early American popular music songwriters and composers, is Parlor Songs <> which provides biographies as well as photographs of the individuals. The very famous as well as the not so are included along with song attributions. The biographies are good sources for genealogical information about these individuals. Examples of those included are Louis Wolfe Gilbert (1886-1970), who was from Odessa, Ukraine, and his collaborator Anatole Friedland (1881-1938), who was from St. Petersburg, Russia.

Unfortunately, this site does not provide information on the religious affiliation of those profiled, so one has to guess if the person is Jewish or not which may sometimes be difficult since many of the composers changed their names to more Americanized versions thereof.

A helpful site is that of the Songwriters Hall of Fame which has a section devoted to Tin Pan Alley <>. There is a discussion of the various aspects of the music along with the inductees in the Hall of Fame. One can view a photo gallery, a biography, song catalog and audio clips as well as recommended materials and where to purchase the sheet music of the individual. One example of a Jewish inductee is prolific lyricist Gus Kahn, who was born in Germany, and who wrote such hits as "It Had To Be You" (with Isham Jones) and "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" (with Walter Donaldson). He wrote many, many other songs such as "It Had To Be You", "I'll See You In My Dreams", "Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye" and "The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else" which can be found referenced on the site.

One more site covers four women who made their mark in Tin Pan Alley

<>. These women were Dorothy Fields, Ann Ronell, Kay Swift, and Dana Suesse.

Other on-line resources for Tin Pan Alley are the following: 

There is much to find on-line regarding the music industry and Jewish participation in it. In addition, there are many Jewish-related collections in universities and Jewish institutions which hold sheet music, recordings and other items to help researchers learn more about their relatives who chose the music profession.

This includes sites which have on-line portals to the actual music such as:

Many more sites abound which provide access to Jewish music and those who composed, performed and recorded it. These are not covered here due to space limitations. Perhaps they will be covered in a later article.