Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quebec City's Newest Hipster Area has Jewish Roots

From ShalomLife

A historic Jewish area is on the rise. The Saint-Roch quarter located in Quebec City’s Lower Town has a long tradition of Jewish commerce and political activity. Maurice Pollack, a leading Canadian entrepreneur and Jewish philanthropist, was first to arrive, establishing in 1906 a department store that would become one of Quebec’s top companies. Other Jewish merchants followed, offering credit and serving a working class clientele. Prominent Quebec figures such as labour leader Lea Roback and Jewish feminist Sadie Lazarovitz also helped shape the area’s early identity. But with the migration of businesses to the suburbs in the 1950s, the district fell into decline. Now, thanks to an infusion of cash and artistic vision, the slump is over and Quartier Saint-Roch is enjoying a revival.

Click here to read the rest of the article.


To learn more about the Jews of Quebec City, please see:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Announcement: JGS of Greater Miami

DATE:
Sunday October 3, 2010 10AM

PLACE:
Greater Miami Jewish Federation Building,
4200 Biscayne Blvd. Miami FL
Call (305) 576-4000 for directions.

COST:
We are delighted and excited to offer this free program to you.

PROGRAM:
Harry Stuart, a local guru expert on FTM 2010 and 2011, will present a "Special Event" next month (October 3rd) about the pros and cons of both versions and how to use them. Harry is requesting that people send in questions ASAP they would like answered or a problem explained about using the software at the October event. He is going to show it live on the large screens in the board room, not on slides. Guests and members may bring their own computers. There is secure WIFI. A MAC version may be brought out, time-line unknown.

Please contact Harry at harry8964@ozcanus.net but please do not send questions to be answered by email. Your questions and concerns will be answered at the presentation.

There is no admission fee for attending this very informative presentation.

We hope to see you there.

Joan Parker, President
JGS of Greater Miami, Inc.
joanparker@intergate.com

Announcement: JGS of Palm Beach

SUBJECT:
Membership Meeting Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County

DATE:

October 13, 2010

TIME:

  • 11:30-12:15 PM (Lithuanian Special Interest Group meets)
  • 12:30 PM (registration and Brick Wall)
  • 1:00 PM Program (followed by brief business meeting)
PLACE:
South County Civic Center, 16700 Jog Road, Delray Beach, FL

PROGRAM:
JEWS IN THE CAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

GUEST SPEAKER:
Helene Kenvin

NOTED AUTHOR AND GENEALOGIST TO ADDRESS JEWISH GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
Helene Schwartz Kenvin, noted author and resident of Delray Beach, is the guest speaker at the October 13 membership meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County. She will lecture on “Jews in the Caucasus and Central Asia.”

The meeting is at the South County Civic Center, 16700 Jog Road, Delray Beach, FL. Registration and the popular Brick Wall Session begin at 12:30 pm with the program following.

Ms Kenvin will speak to the group about the Ashkenazi, Bukharian, Georgian, and Mountain Jews who live in the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union. Ms Kenvin is the founder of an international, all-volunteer organization that has worked in these regions since 1984. She has been a family-history researcher for more than 35 years and is the author of the recently published book, “Silk Road Adventures: Among the Jews of the Caucasus and Central Asia.”

The Lithuanian Special Interest Group under the leadership of Sylvia Nusinov will meet from 11:30 am–12:15 pm in a class room.

There will be a brief business meeting after the Ms Kevin’s presentation, followed by a closing session with genealogy mentors. Guests are welcome. There is a guest fee of $5 for those who wish to attend either the Special Interest Group or the general meeting. The guest fee may be applied toward membership dues.

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 Mona Morris geniemona@comcast.net

For program information contact:
Sylvia Nusinov 561 483-1060 or Helene Seaman 561-487-2738

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ancestry.com To Acquire iArchives (Footnote.com)

Ancestry.com announced September 23rd that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire iArchives, Inc. and its branded website, Footnote.com for approximately $27 million in a mix of Ancestry.com stock, cash and assumption of liabilities.

iArchives digitizes and delivers high-quality images of American historical records of individuals involved in the Revolutionary War, Continental Congress, Civil War, and other US historical events to Footnote.com subscribers interested in early American roots. iArchives has digitized more than 65 million original source documents to date through its proprietary digitization process for paper, microfilm and microfiche collections.

Ancestry.com Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) is the world's largest online family history resource, with approximately 1.3 million paying subscribers. More than 5 billion records have been added to the site in the past 13 years. Ancestry users have created more than 19 million family trees containing over 1.9 billion profiles. Ancestry.com has local Web sites directed at nine countries, including its flagship Web site at www.ancestry.com.

Upon completion of the transaction, iArchives will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com. The transaction is subject to various closing conditions and is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Questions as to what this means have been posed to Ancestry staff, and Ancestry legal staff have replied to certain questions, which they said may be shared with the community:
Q: What will happen to Footnote.com after the acquisition?
A: Footnote will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com and will
continue running as a stand-alone business. Footnote.com will continue to
digitize and deliver American historical records to its customers.

Q: Will I get a Footnote.com subscription as part of my Ancestry.com
subscription?
A: No, Ancestry.com and Footnote.com will continue to work as separate
services focused on their areas of expertise.

Q: Will the records on Footnote.com be added to Ancestry.com?
A: While some records available on Footnote.com may be added to the
Ancestry.com content collection, the majority will remain exclusive to
Footnote.com as those records are focused on American history rather than
genealogy.

Q: How much overlap is there between the two collections?
A: There are millions of images that are available on Footnote.com that are
not currently available on Ancestry.com

As of the date of this posting there was nothing noted on either the Ancestry.com nor Footnote.com websites. For more information continue to look at:
http://corporate.ancestry.com/press/press-releases/ and
http://www.footnote.com/page/120_footnote_press_room/

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-Large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sukkot Begins Tonight, September 22, 2010, at Sundown

This will be the final blog post before Sukkot (September 22 - October 1). For your Sukkot reading, we have compiled a list of Sukkot related links from various JewishGen pages.

Links:
To learn more about Sukkot, click here, here and here.

From all of us here at JewishGen, we wish you and your family a Chag Sameach and a Happy Sukkot.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cycle of Life: Natural Disasters (Part 2)

Posted by Ann Rabinowitz
Often, it is helpful to research natural disasters in our ancestors' shtetls or countries they originated in. These things put the cycle of life in perspective and explain why families may have left a shtetl or why certain stories may have been passed down the generations regarding these matters. I have chosen to extract a number of various disasters which are taken from The Jewish Chronicle, published in London, England. Dates of the issues of the paper are found in parentheses. The names of shtetls are given as they were in the article and not as they appear today.

This is the second part of a series.
Part 1 is available by clicking here.
FLOODS/HURRICANES/CYCLONES

Floo
ds and hurricanes were seasonal incidents which happened with regularity in various locales. Sometimes, they did not happen for decades and individuals were lulled into complaisance regarding their return. The following are some incidents which happened and made news worldwide.

Posen, Germany, experienced a flood in 1850 (May 16, 1850). In this case, the "Jewish quarters entirely escaped inund
ation." However, the Jews helped their fellow non-Jewish residents.

Gibraltar, January 8-10, 1860 (February 24, 1860). During the Spanish-Moroccan War of 1860, it appeared that fugitive Jews from Morocco fleeing from there were lodged in tents in a refugee camp.

Encampment at Gibraltar of Fugitive Jews from Morocco
(London News, 1860)


A tremendous hurricane blew through and destroyed everything. This encampment on the N
orth Front in Gibraltar amounted to 681 Jews out of a total of 1,754 in the town and a number more who might not have registered with the police.

The Jews were in extreme distress and "it was suggested that it would be a real act of charity could the French Government be prevailed upon to convey gratuitously to Algeria such of the refugees as would be willing to go." It was thought that they could be taken to Algeria, where t
hey could be supported and work found for them. It was suggested further that those from Algesiras and Tarifa, Spain, be removed first as they were the poorest and most ignorant according to the article.

Galatz, Moldova
, February, 1861 (April 19, 1861), had a terrible flood where the Danube and Lake Bratisch overflowed their banks. Approximately, 15,000 residents of the city were reduced to utmost misery. The Danube, at that point, flowed in a single channel from Galatz for approximately 30 miles to Ismail.
A wonderful detailed description of the those times and several mentions of Jews is to be found by clicking here.


Bilistek, Southern Russia, July 2, 1881 (August 12, 1881), there occurred "a terrible hurricane which committed considerable havoc amongst property owned by Jews and Christians."

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
, Tuesday, August 19, 1890, 5:20 p.m. (September 12, 1890). A cyclone (Note: Otherwise known as a tornado) occurred which affected the Jewish family of Moss J. Levy, the son of John Levy of 100 Mildmay Road, Islington North, London, England. The Levy’s had formerly lived at St. Paul’s Road, Canonbury, Islington, London, England, and Mr. Levy had been a founder and secretary of the first Dalston Synagogue which was also located in that area.


Mr. & Mrs. Levy and their children managed to reach their cellar as their house was crushed about them. Their six year old son Montie narrowly escaped death as a door fell on him.


None of the three synagogues in Wilkes-Barre were affected by the cyclone. However, fourteen people were killed and four hundred structures were damaged or destroyed. Ancestry.com confirmed that the Levy family lived at 56 Sullivan in 1890 and that Mr. Levy was a canvasser. In addition, Mr. Levy’s son, Monte (sic) Levy, was born on November 11, 1883 in London, England, and later married Fannie and had a daughter Abigail. He was found in the World War II Draft Registration.

Further, mention was made of all properties affected by the cyclone here.

Galicia (September 9, 1927). There was a catastrophic flood in Galicia in 1927. Perhaps it was what one would call a 100 year flood which is one that occurs once in a hundred years and tops all previous records. Whole villages in the area of Lemberg, Przemysl, Strij, and Borislav were destroyed. The Baron de Hirsch Foundation buildings in Galicia were destroyed. The entire province of Stanislav was flooded and in Lemberg, 132 villages were under water. In Czernowitz, they were completely submerged.

Ica (Jewish Colonization Association) and the Joint (Joint Distribution
Committee) were called upon for emergency assistance and the Polish Cabinet gave 2 million zlotys for the relief of the flood victims.

Next: EARTHQUAKES

Ost Meets West: Immigrant Film Moguls, Émigré Directors, and the Rise of Film Noir JGSCV Meeting October 4

Come celebrate with JGS of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County (California-USA) as we celebrate our 5th anniversary on October 4!

There will be light refreshments served. We are also starting our 2011 membership drive at this meeting. For those who renew or join, the membership will be good through December 2011! As in past years, those who join or renew "at" or "before" the December 6 meeting and attend our December 6 meeting are eligible to have their name drawn for great genealogical gifts. Membership forms are on our website: www.JGSCV.org under membership. Annual dues are $25 for an individual and $30 for a family. Anyone may join JGSCV.

Date: October 4, 2010 Monday 7:00-9:00 p.m. Please note the different day of week and time of day for this meeting.

Program: Ost Meets West: Immigrant Film Moguls, Émigré Directors, and the Rise of Film Noir

A group of Eastern European Jews, who headed most major American film studios, founded the Hollywood film industry. Another influx of German/Austrian Jewish film directors were driven to the US by the Nazis in the 1930s. A number of them, such as Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger, and Edward G. Ulmer would play a determining role in the rise of what was later called "film noir". * The speaker will examine the ethnic origins of the two groups and how their different backgrounds enabled their considerable contributions to the cinema, and in particular "film noir".

Speaker: Vincent Brook has a Ph.D. in film and television from UCLA and teaches media studies at UCLA, USC, Cal-State LA, and Pierce College. He is the author of Something Ain't Kosher Here: The Rise of the "Jewish" Sitcom and dozens of journal articles, essays, and reviews. Brook's book, "Driven to Darkness: Jewish Émigré Directors and the Rise of Film Noir will be available for purchase for $20. Please bring cash or check to purchase the book.

* Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as stretching from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key black-and-white visual style that has roots in
German Expressionist cinematography.

We will also have our new features of the schmoozing corner with a senior member of JGSCV facilitating available for 15 minutes before the meeting to answer questions attendees may have about their genealogy and JGSCV member, Diane Wainwood, will be reporting on "The Thirteenth Tribe " about the ancient Khazar Empire by Arthur Koestler. (this book report is held over from the last meeting when Diane was unable to attend).

The Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County is dedicated to sharing genealogical information, techniques and research tools with anyone interested in Jewish genealogy and family history. There is no charge to attend the meeting.

Our rotating traveling library will have Categories A and B. 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 shortly 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: www.jgscv.org

Jan Meisels Allen
President, JGSCV

Georgia (USA) Archives Cuts Public Hours Due to Budget Problems

As with so many states/countries the budget crises effect libraries and archives. The Georgia (USA) Secretary of State under which department the Georgia Archives is located has announced that effective October 1, 2010 the public hours for the Georgia Archives will change to Thursday-Saturday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Due to the reduction in public hours, when the Archives are not open to the public, the Archives staff will be redeployed to different functions. The core duties of the Archives had been genealogy requests.
For more information see: http://www.sos.ga.gov/archives/

Thank you to Stephanie Weiner, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee for bringing this to our attention.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-Large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

FamilySearch Has 5 million New Records of Free Indexed Names

FamilySearch.org now has over 5 million new records of free indexed names and images. These 48 recently published collections feature names from 19 different countries. The information on their pilot site and beta sites are now the same...to access the records go to: http://beta.familysearch.org/
and click on "all collections" to see what listing of records are available. Due to privacy laws, some records may not be displayed--just indices. The records that have a camera icon in front of the index name are available for viewing, printing and downloading.

Thank you to Dick Eastman and his Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter for alerting us to this addition of new records

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cycle of Life: Natural Disasters (Part 1)

Posted By Ann Rabinowitz
Often, it is helpful to research natural disasters in our ancestors' shtetls or countries they originated in. These things put the cycle of life in perspective and explain why families may have left a shtetl or why certain stories may have been passed down the generations regarding these matters. I have chosen to extract a number of various disasters which are taken from The Jewish Chronicle, published in London, England. Dates of the issues of the paper are found in parentheses. The names of shtetls are given as they were in the article and not as they appear today.

This is the first part of a series.
Often, it is helpful to research natural disasters in our ancestors' shtetls or countries they originated in. These things put the cycle of life in perspective and explain why families may have left a shtetl or why certain stories may have been passed down the generations regarding these matters. I have chosen to extract a number of various disasters which are taken from The Jewish Chronicle, published in London, England. Dates of the issues of the paper are found in parentheses. The names of shtetls are given as they were in the article and not as they appear today.

LIGHTNING

An unusual natural disaster was that of lightning. At times, it affected individuals who were struck or buildings too. However, one such disaster I found was noted in the September 22, 1911 issue of The Jewish Chronicle in London.

They were advising that on the Saturday previous, during the afternoon service, when the Torah was being read, lightning had struck the synagogue in Czezanow, Galicia. As the article stated, “Everyone in the synagogue fell to the ground, insensible, and remained so for some time." It was further reported that one person was killed.

FIRE

Fires were the scourge of communities as they either had inadequate resources to curb fires or their housing stock was made of materials which could easily catch fire such as the case with wooden buildings or thatched roofs. Accidental sparks from fireplaces and people smoking pipes or cigarettes also were the cause of such conflagrations. Lastly, there were those arsonists, who set fires on purpose, but those are not areas which will be covered herein.


On the island of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, The Beracha Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasidim Synagogue was built in 1802, destroyed by fire in 1804 and 1806; rebuilt in 1813; destroyed yet again in 1832 and rebuilt in 1834. (November 11, 1842).


Beracha Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasidim Synagogue

The synagogue in Bayonne, France, was destroyed by fire in 1842. (February 4, 1842)

Fire destroyed the town of Rzezow, Galicia, June 26, 1842 . . . "the greater part of town reduced to ashes". Lost were five synagogues and the hospital. (January 20, 1843)

This particular disaster can also be confirmed as it was written up in the Yizkor Book for the shtetl. "On June 26, 1843 (Note: This date differs from the newspaper account which was written after the event, so may have been an error in translation or editing), the city suffered from a fire that broke out at night in an inn, and from there spread to Neistadt (the new city). In one house, a Jewish family with five members was burnt. Two large synagogues and two small synagogues, the Beis Midrash, the communal headquarters in which the rabbi lived, and the hospital were all burnt to the ground. This included the well-known synagogue in Neistadt, as well as 32 Torah scrolls."


Another fire was reported in Charleston, SC, where the Beth Elohim Synagogue was destroyed in 1838, but rebuilt in 1840. (July 21, 1843)


Further fires were reported in Bentschen where the synagogue was destroyed; in Smyrna, Turkey, where a portion of the Jewish area was destroyed; and in Loutsk, Poland, where the Jewish community lost all of their belongings. (September 26, 1845)


A terrible fire occurred in Constantinople, Turkey, October 25, 1845 (January 16, 1846). There, it was reported that “The conflagration which broke out here on the 25th October, consumed 600 houses in fourteen hours, has almost completely destroyed the Jewish quarter, and the synagogue. Distress and misery, famine and illness, prevail everywhere.”


And lastly, the Israelite Congregation synagogue in Cleveland, Ohio, was destroyed by fire on February 5, 1845. (May 9, 1845)


An interesting resource regarding fires is “The Insurance Year Book: Fire and Marine, Volume 43," which has a listing entitled “Notable Conflagrations in World History, Pages 480-481.”


Next: FLOODS/HURRICANES/CYCLONES

Anne Frank book unveils letters, photos

More than 6,000 letters, photographs, and documents said to be found recently in the attic of the Frank family home are being transformed into a new book, Treasures from the Attic, set to be released in November 2010.

Click here for the entire article.

Shouldering the burden of forgotten cemeteries

From the JTA

The old Jewish cemetery in Eufaula, Ala., hasn’t been used in years. “The monuments are just crumbling,” said Sara Hamm. She and her family are the last Jews living in this once-booming cotton and railway town on the banks of the Chattahoochee River.

The Jewish cemetery’s first burial dates from 1845, when German Jews began arriving as merchants and dry goods salesmen. They bought a synagogue in 1873, but sold it in the early 1900s when their numbers dwindled to several dozen. The cemetery, with its 84 burial plots, fell into disrepair.

In the mid-1980s Hamm’s grandmother Jennie Rudderman began restoring it, righting headstones and clearing away brush. After she died in 1999, Hamm took over as volunteer caretaker. But the job is wearing her down.

“It’s been left to its own accord now, like everything else in small-town America,” she said.

Similar stories repeat across the land, from the rust belt of western Pennsylvania to the Bible Belt in the South. As factories closed down and populations shifted westward, once-thriving Jewish communities declined and synagogues shut their doors. The only thing left behind, in many cases, were the cemeteries -- with no one, or almost no one, to take care of them.

Jewish donors and volunteers are chasing after their roots in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, cleaning up the abandoned cemeteries of their ancestors, but similar attention has not been paid to the at-risk cemeteries of their parents and grandparents in the United States.

“It’s an error for people to think it’s only in Eastern Europe that cemeteries are in disrepair,” said Nolan Altman, coordinator of the online burial registry of JewishGen, a Jewish genealogical website. “It’s right here at home.”

Click here for the entire article.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fighting Back, British Jewry's Military Contribution in the Second World War

Posted By Ann Rabinowitz


Military history has always fascinated me and now, there is a fine book just out which covers an area of it that I am personally interested in, that of the participation of British Jews in World War II. The book is entitled Fighting Back, British Jewry’s Military Contribution in the Second World War. It is written by Martin Sugarman, the Archivist of The AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women) Jewish Military Museum located in London, England.

It is meticulously documented and filled with the stories of participants, both men and women, combatants and non-combatants, who made a real and lasting contribution to the war. The facts and figures presented in a readable and concise form puts often made anti-semitic allegations to rest that Jews did not give their all to the war effort.

The material in the book could easily deserve expansion into several volumes. It certainly provides a tantalizing initial taste of what is out there on this topic. It can prove to be an enticing exploration for the intrepid genealogical researcher to learn more about the military exploits of their ancestors. Or, for those just interested in military history and Jewish soldiers, they can follow the lead of the book to other resources.

A first stop beyond the book is the AJEX Jewish Military Museum site for more information. In this regard, the Jewish Military Museum sponsors a Record of Honour which has all men and women who served in the military from 1939 to 1960. You can search by either name or service number, if you have it. When I sampled this database, I found a number of my family listed including those who served after World War II. The entries provided the name of the individual, former name (if applicable), date of birth, and service details including their service, branch of service, service number and servicetime home address area. There was also a space to provide a photograph of the individual in their uniform.

After informing my family that the information about their relatives was available in this database, one of my cousins decided to add further information and a photograph of his father. It is just such additions that enhance the database and its utility.

Benjamin Fink (Courtesy of AJEX Record of Honour Database)

One thing I noticed in the photograph above of my Uncle Ben Fink is that there were some fingers around my uncle’s waist. Upon asking my cousin Brian who was also in the photo, I learned that it was his mother Vera. He had cropped the photo to send to AJEX! It goes to show you that you should look carefully at family photos.

Another interesting resource, as a complement to the piece in Sugarman’s book, is a listing of the twenty-four missing Jewish Palestinian commandos who participated in “Operation Boatswain on May 18, 1941. This operation which was launched in Haifa, with the expectation of attacking the oil refineries in the Port of Tripoli, Lebanon, was never realized as the men and their boat simply disappeared. It was one of the little remarked upon episodes of a great war which spanned many continents.

In regard to tales of individual British-born soldiers and their accomplishments, one of the bravest mentioned in the book was Captain Isadore Newman, who Martin Sugarman had written about extensively prior to the publication of his book.

Captain Isadore Newman Recipient of an MBE, MiD, and Croix de Guerre
As Sugarman found, Newman was born in Leeds, England to parents, Joseph Newman and Tilly Cohen. His father, Joseph, one of thirteen siblings, came from Lithuania in 1909 and his ancestral family name was said to have been NAVIPRUTSKY.

Going a bit further with this, I attempted to determine the exact location of the family’s ancestral shtetl. In order to do this, I searched the LitvakSIG’s All-Lithuania Database and found that there were many families with the name NOVOPRUTSKY including a number whose first name was Jossel or Joseph. They all lived in the town of Lida in Vilna Guberniya.

Enlisting the assistance of the LitvakSIG Lida District Coordinator, Judy Baston, I was able to confirm that NOVOPRUTSKY was a well-known name in the town of Lida. This was, in all probability, the same family and could be traced further back once the name of Joseph Newman’s father was found on his tombstone which is in the Old Hebrew Congregation burial ground in Hull . This listing is part of the JewishGen JOWBR database. More information on the Hull community and possibly the Newman family can also be found on the JewishGen’s JCR-UK site for Hull. According to Judy Baston, there are also numerous Novoprutsky families living in Canada which might prove interesting to research.

As a secret agent for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Isadore Newman served behind German lines transmitting messages. His life ended when he was captured and sent to his death at the Mathausen Concentration Camp, a victim of the Nazis. In addition, I found that my cousin Warren Winetroube, a barrister, was mentioned in regard to Newman as he tried to assist his parents gain information regarding his whereabouts.

An interesting adjunct to this story is that Sugarman mentions that there were approximately 1,088 Jewish SOE agents out of a total of 13,000 agents, altogether, who participated in the war. There were 190 Jewish agents who received awards and 115 were killed. The 8.3% of their participation is astonishing given that the Jewish population only made up ½ of 1% of the British population.

Worth mentioning too is the legendary Hannah Senesh, who was an SOE agent attached to the “A” Force 199, Palestinian Jewish agents, Cairo, operating under the alias of “Minnie” or “Georg”. One of three hundred volunteers, she was also murdered by the Nazis.

Two other SOE agents who lived to play crucial roles in post-War Israel were Abba Eban and Moshe Shertok and one agent, Anton Walter Freud, was a grandson of Sigmund Freud. A further chapter is devoted to two Jewish heroines of the SOE: Muriel Byck and Denise Bloch, who represent the thirty-nine women who were utilized by the SOE during the war years.

Not all the heroic military participants mentioned in the book were British as can be seen in the instance of Captain William (Wolfe) Frederick Friedman. He was born in Kishinev, Bessarabia (now Chisinau, Moldova) and came with his family to Pittsburgh, PA. During the War, he ended up as one of the most renowned of the cryptographers of Bletchley Park, the British code-breaking establishment.
Captain William (Wolfe) Frederick Friedman

More about Captain Friedman is available at http://www.nsa.gov/public_info/_files/cryptologic_spectrum/legendary_william_friedman.pdf and http://library.thinkquest.org/27993/features/fried1.shtml. He gained fame for cracking the “Purple” Code of the Japanese and other such endeavors. Apart from individuals who served during the war, one of the Jewish military organizations that was discussed and which I had not heard of before was the “Ha Gedud Ha Sinit”. This was the Jewish Company of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps which was established in 1853.

The Last Annual Parade of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps

In addition to the chapter written about the Corps in Sugarman’s book, he had also previously written about it as follows:http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Shanghai_Corps.pdf. It was an important and little known aspect of Jewish participation in the Far East during the war.

A further chapter of interest is that which covers the participants in the Spanish Civil War (July, 1936 – April, 1939) which Sugarman termed as offering the first blow against the fascists. The chapter includes British and Palestinian (Israeli) Jews who served in the International Brigade. A number of these had provided interviews and first-hand accounts of their service. These pointed to the fact that many were observant Jews and Zionists who went for humanitarian reasons, but were not necessarily either Socialists or Communists as has been specified in other accounts.

Among the volunteers was Morry Levitus/Levitas, the only Irish Jewish volunteer, born in Dublin, on February 1, 1917. His write up includes the fact that he was the son of Harry Levitas, who came to Ireland from Kovno, Lithuania in 1912, and who married Leah Rick. Additional information is provided which is invaluable as it pertains to a family who would not have been found in the 1911 Irish or British Census or other such records.

There are also mentions of those many other Jews who served in the Jaroslaw Dombrowsky Brigade (Poland), Abraham Lincoln/Washington Brigade (America), Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion (Canada), Latvian Volunteers (Latvia), Franco-Belge Brigade (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands), Georges Dimitrov Brigade (Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria), Thaelmann Battalion (Germany), the Austrians, and the Garibaldi Brigade (Italy).

An area of Jewish participation in the War about which little is known by the general public is covered in Sugarman’s book . . . this was the Fire Service. The book honors and lists the 84 individuals who were killed during the war and there is a project afoot which will document the thousands more who valiantly and steadfastly served their country amidst the German bombs during the Blitz of London.

In commemoration of the participation of individuals in the Fire Service, a charitable group entitled World War II London Firemen and Firewomen’s Remembrance Group has been created which covers the period of 1939-1945. The group can also be found on Facebook. Stephanie Maltman is quite active in this group and assisted Martin Sugarman in accessing records from which those who were killed and further individuals who served will be documented.

An example of the Jewish participation in the Fire Service was Harry Errington (originally Ehrengott). He was the only London wartime Fire Service member who was awarded the George Cross.
Harry Errington (Ehrengott)

Not only is he mentioned in Sugarman’s book, but he can be found referred to in the August 2006 issue of B-J News (online journal of British-Jewry) by Mike Joseph, assisted in his research by Sherry Landa, and in Volume 3, Number 2, MONTREAL FORUM, December, 2007.

Given the information in Sugarman’s book and that included in the articles, one can then further trace the Ehrengott family in London. Basically, Harry Ehrengott was born on August 29, 1910, in London, England, the son of Shepsel and Baila Ehrengott (later Solomon and Bella Errington), who had arrived in England from Lublin, Poland, in 1908. They had followed other Ehrengott relatives, Samuel and Fanny Ehrengott and children, to England. In 1911, they were found living in London along with Solomon’s mother Masha, a widow, and his several siblings.

A final note is about Wing Commander Lionel Cohen, son of Joseph Andrew Freeman Cohen, of Prussian-Jewish ancestry, who was born June 7, 1875, in Newcastle upon Tyne, and who died in 1960. He was known as the “man of one hundred lives”. As a teenager, he ran away to join the military, served in all three military services and was awarded the following twelve decorations: DSO; MC (First World War); DFC (Second World War); Matabeleland Campaign Medal; Queen’s South Africa Medal (Boer War); 1914-1915 Star; War Medal; Victory Medal with MiD (First World War); 1939-1945 Star: Defence Medal; War Medal with MiD; American Air Medal (Second World War).

An amazing character, the chapter devoted to his exploits is fascinating. Looking further into his ancestry to perhaps find the roots of behavior, I found that Lionel had gone out to his paternal uncle in South Africa. His uncle was Harry Freeman Cohen, a well-known South African personality, who married Annie Graumann, the sister of Sir Harry Graumann, the first Jewish Mayor of Johannesburg and a Member of Parliament. In addition, he founded the Rand Daily Mail which Lionel and his brother Jack inherited when their uncle died.

The editor of the Rand Daily Mail, Edgar Wallace wrote about Harry Freeman Cohen in detail. His writings give an idea of the venturesome spirit exhibited by Harry which was also the inheritance; it seems, of his nephew Lionel as well.

The Sugarman book is filled with many genealogical tidbits and fascinating historical facts which can open a window into an all-encompassing world of genealogical research on a specific family. For that reason alone, the book is well-worth reading and is available through regular online booksellers.

Keep At It and Never Give Up!


Buzzy Jackson recently published a book about her family search entitled Shaking the Family Tree. According to a Boston.com review of the book, it offers a "a deep look inside the often-obsessive world of genealogists, people notable for their
willingness to just keep at it and never give up.’’

Click
here to read the article.

Temporary home for key Jewish archive

From the Jewish Chronicle

Archives documenting the history of Manchester's Jewish community have been moved from the central library as part of a four-month transfer of one million books, cleared from over 20 miles of shelves. The process, [completed in August] included the moving of 300 metres of shelves of Jewish documents, which contain burial records dating back to 1798, and records from four Jewish schools and the Great Synagogue dating from the 1850s.

But in a major effort to keep access open to academics - and dozens of Jewish genealogy enthusiasts researching their Manchester roots - the entire archive will be temporarily stored at the Greater Manchester County Record Office in the city centre.

Click here for the entire article.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Announcement: JGS of NY

The next JGSNY Meeting will take place on September 19th, 2010 at 2:00 PM.

Topic: “Memories of Ancestral Homes”

Location: Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street

Non-Members Admission: $5

Members of panel: Professors Mihai Grunfeld, Mimi Schwartz, Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer. Moderator: Renee Steinig

The presenters will discuss life in the towns after the Holocaust, personal experiences, impressions, and anecdotal stories.

Mihai Grunfeld, author of Leaving, Memories of Romania, offers a rich and stimulating account of growing up in post-war Romania, haunted by the Holocaust his parents do not speak about. At age 18, he and his brother travel to Czechoslovakia and escape to Austria, Their journey takes them through several countries and finally the United States where he settles. Mihai Grunfeld is a professor of Spanish and Latin American Literature at Vassar College.

Mimi Schwartz, author of Good Neighbors, Bad Times, Echoes of My Father’s German Village, grew up in America, hearing her father’s boyhood stories about his German village. Only when she heard about the remarkable story of the Torah being rescued by Christians on Kristallnacht, did she begin to understand what these stories mean. For twelve years, she traveled seeking answers, collecting stories, checking historical records. Mimi Schwartz, the author of five books and numerous essays, is a professor emerita at Richard Stockton College in N.J. where she teaches workshops in memoir and creative nonfiction.

Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer are the co-authors of Ghosts of Home, The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory. Professors Hirsch and Spitzer narrate an exciting multilayered tour of Czernowitz, through story-telling, part history and part memoir that includes voices of parents, survivors, and witnesses. It is also a delicate and moving story of how individuals connect to each other, giving us back the richness and frailty of the past. Marianne Hirsch, the daughter of Czernowitz Holocaust survivors, is Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Director of the Institute for research on Women and Gender at Columbia University. She is the author of many books. Leo Spitzer, a historian, and Hirsch’s husband, is Kathe Tappe Vernon professor of History Emeritus at Dartmouth College and also has authored many books, most recently Hotel Bolivia: A Culture of memory in a Refuge from Nazism.

Book-signings will follow the meeting.

The Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute at CJH will be open at 11:00 AM for networking with other researchers and access to research materials/computers before the meeting at 2:00 PM.

Press Release: National Postal Museum launches Wiesenthal exhibit

Press Release:

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum has launched a new online exhibit, “Hunting for Wiesenthals: Postmarks from the Simon Wiesenthal Collection” on its award-winning Arago website.

Simon Wiesenthal was a Holocaust survivor who tracked down Nazi war criminals for more than half a century and located about 1,100 fugitives during his career, but he spent his evenings on a different quest—searching for vintage postage stamps. This unique online exhibit explores postmarks from towns in Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany. The postmarks are a part of Wiesenthal’s larger stamp collection, which he started in the late 1940s to occupy himself at night when he could not sleep. The exhibit also features Wiesenthal’s own collecting tools, which were donated to the museum by his family.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Library of Congress (USA) Photograph Collection

The (US) Library of Congress has posted on Flickr a number of incredible photographs http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/
If you type in the search box Jewish Photographs they have 989 under Yiddish Photographs ; 4,800+ photographs of Jewish People and History-ancient and modern

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

National Archives (USA) Relocates Alien Files to Kansas City Regional Archive

The National Archives and Records Administration (USA) has posted a notice about relocating the Alien files [case files on alien residents of the UN born 1909 and prior] to the Kansas City regional National Archives. The files were previously kept by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) the successor agency to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). A-Files are eligible for transfer to the National Archives when 100 years have passed since the birth date of the subject of a file.
To read more on the files go to:
http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2010/nr10-137b.html

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

NARA (USA) Proposed Rule on NARA Office Hours; Comments by US Archivist on NARA morale

The National Archives and Records Administration (USA) has proposed a rule revising its regulations that provide NARA's facilities hours of operations. This will remove the hours from the Code of Federal Regulations and establish procedures that NARA offices must follow when changing facilities hours of operation. Individuals will be directed to obtain hours information directly from NARA's website (http://www.archives.gov) Comments on the proposed rule are due by November 8, 2010--see the proposed rule of where to submit comments or see:
http://www.archives.gov/comment/regulations.html.

US Archivist Ferriero released a statement on the ranking of NARA by employees compared to other government agencies. The rankings are based on the results of the 2010 Employee Viewpoint (FedView) Survey, which was administered to Federal employees by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management earlier this year--and NARA ranking was poor. To read the statement go to:http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2010/nr10-138.html

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-Large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wishing You a Sweet New Year

Dear Friend,

It has been a great year for JewishGen, and we are glad you have been part of it.

According to a survey conducted earlier this summer, 70% of our users described JewishGen as important to their research, and more than 90% stated they would recommend JewishGen to a friend - impressive statistics that will surely increase as we continue to improve and expand our online collection of records, tools and information.

All in all, our programs are thriving. More than 1 million records were added to JewishGen this past year, including more than 200,000 new entries for JOWBR (our online burial registry). As you may have noticed, the website redesign that began last June is now 90% complete. Thousands of people make use of our Discussion Groups on a daily basis, and more than 30,000 new users have registered since January 1st of this year.

Most important, our loyal users continued to provide us with a strong base of financial support - allowing us to balance our budget despite global economic uncertainty. This feat was possible only because our users made a conscious decision to participate - according to each individuals ability - in the important service we are providing. While we received some donations in excess of $1000 or as little as $5, each was significant and important to us, and we are grateful.

As the New Year quickly approaches, we remain confident that you and other JewishGen users will once again help support our important work to the best of your ability. Each donation makes a difference, and helps us to continue offering a service that has connected thousands of families over the past two decades.

If you are in a position to make a financial contribution to JewishGen, please click here today.

Regardless of your level of financial support, we are glad that you are part of the global JewishGen community - the JewishGen family - and we wish you and your families a happy and healthy new year, a Shana Tova and a K'siva V'chasima Tova.

Sincerely,
Warren Blatt - Managing Director
Michael Tobias - Vice President of Programming
Avraham Groll - Director of Business Operations

Education: Using JewishGen to Bridge Ancestral Roots

Posted by Phyllis Kramer

We are pleased to announce that the JewishGen Education division will now be offering an online course to explain how JewishGen can be used to Bridge Ancestral Roots.

A brief description of our current course offerings are listed below:

  1. The Basic Jewish Genealogy course focuses on your immigrant ancestors lifetime in the United States. The online text lessons begin with data collection, organization and search techniques, and focus on researching census, vital records and Ellis Island passenger arrivals; there is a section on Computer Basics for Genealogy. If you are a Value Added member of JewishGen, you can enroll at no charge. (next class begins January 15)
  2. The Intermediate Course - Breaking Brick Walls in the United States - is right for you if, despite basic online research, you have not yet found the Hebrew names, approximate birth year or former European residence for your U.S. immigrant ancestors as this course covers more complex U.S. topics such as naturalization, military and governmental records, and local archival research (next class begins September 20).
  3. Using JewishGen to Bridge Ancestral Roots begins with an introduction to Jewish History, Culture and Naming Patterns, moves into Finding your Shtetl, using JewishGen Researcher and Country Databases and Jewish Records Indexing (JRI-P), and includes practical hints on translation, finding a researcher and Holocaust research. This course creates a bridge between the American Family data and those left behind in Europe, between records available on JewishGen and related sites and hiring a researcher. If you are an experienced researcher, familiar with everything JewishGen has to offer, and/or have already found your family in European databases, this course would be too elementary (next class begins November 1).
All three courses feature a personal mentoring program using our online FORUM where students are encouraged to post an ancestral branch, set goals for their research, and work one on one with the instructor(s). Courses open for enrollment 2 weeks before their starting dates. Remember that the courses do not include research beyond what is available online and in United States libraries and archives.

As a reminder, please read the course descriptions and requirements before registering. For more information, please visit www.JewishGen.org/education.

We look forward to interfacing with every student.

Nancy Holden, Instruction Manager
Phyllis Kramer, VP, Education

Friday, September 3, 2010

Yizkor Book Update - September 2010

Posted by Lance Ackerfeld

With the New Year just around the corner, it seems good time to reflect on our achievements - that of the Yizkor Book Project - over the past year.

During the last year we have added 71 new books, 83 new entries and updated an average of 20 existing projects each month. These may be just "dry" statistics but they do reflect on the high activity over the past year and it is my hope that we will continue to grow even more this coming year.

As far as the Yizkor Book Project itself goes, during this last month we have added these 8 new projects:


Added 2 new entries:



We have continued to update 22 of our existing projects:


Please remember that all this month's additions and updates have been flagged here to make it easy to find them.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many, many volunteers, translators and coordinators working on the Yizkor Book Project and wish you all a very sweet and happy New Year.

Shana Tova Umetuka,
Lance Ackerfeld
Yizkor Book Project Manager

Thursday, September 2, 2010

ShtetLinks Update - September 2010

Posted by Susana Leistner Bloch

We are pleased to welcome the following webpages to JewishGen ShtetLinks.

We thank the owners and webmasters of these shtetlpages for creating fitting memorials to the Jewish Communities that once lived in those shtetlach and for providing a valuable resource for future generations of their descendants.
Some of our shtetlpages were created by people who are no longer able to maintain them. We thank them for their past efforts and wish them luck on their future endeavors.

Webpages recently adopted:
The following webpages are "orphaned" and are available for adoption.

ShtetLinks webpages recently updated:
If you wish to follow their example and create a ShtetLinks webpage for your ancestral shtetl or adopt an exiting "orphaned" shtetlpage please send an email to: shtetl-help@jewishgen.org

GOOD NEWS!!
As a result for our appeal for HTML volunteers we now have a team of dedicated people who will help you create a webpage for your ancestral home. Please contact us if you would like help in creating a ShtetLinks webpage.
~~~~~~~~~~

Shana Tova Umetukah - A Good and Sweet Year.
Ketiva Ve-Chatima Tovah - May You Be Written and Sealed for a Good Year

Susana Leistner Bloch, VP, ShtetLinks, JewishGen, Inc.
Barbara Ellman, ShtetLinks Technical Coordinator

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mormon church, Jewish leaders tackle proxy baptism

From the AP

The Mormon church says it has changed its genealogical database to better prevent the names of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps from being submitted for posthumous baptism by proxy.

In a joint statement issued Wednesday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors said a new computer system and policy changes related to the practice should resolve a yearslong disagreement over the baptisms.

Click here for the entire article.