Aromas of Aleppo

Posted by Ann Rabinowitz

Recently, this blog posted a story about the tragic circumstances of Aleppo, once the center of Jewish life in Syria. There are many ways which genealogists can document the rich history and culture of their families from there.  One is by investigating the food that they ate and the ways it was prepared.

A lovely book by Poopa Dweck has been published which documents the cookery of the Syrian Jews.  It is entitled “Aromas of Aleppo, The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews”.  The book contains 180 mouth-watering recipes of a culture which has been disbursed around the world.

Syrian Jews are supposed to be one of the largest groups of Sephardic Jews and their cuisine stretches back thousands of years.  The staples of Middle Eastern cookery are included in their diet, but it is the manner in which the food is cooked and the special items that are used in particular dishes that make it special and enticing.

Poopa Dweck

The book by Poopa Dweck is a beautifully illustrated, well-written and a deliciously-tempting vision of Aleppo Jewry’s culinary art.  An interesting review of the book can be found at the following link:

In addition to the wonderful food of the Aleppo Jews, one can learn of their history on the JewishGen site at:  The effort put forth by Sarina Roffe to bring this culture to our attention is a work of love.  

The music of the Aleppo Jews will also entrance you, especially the well-known Shabbat Bakashot supplications which can be heard played by noted Isaeli Yitzhak Yedid, the son of Syrian Jews:  The site also provides a fascinating and an extensive explanation of the Bakashot.

This is just a start on what can be learned about the Aleppo Jewish community. 

Jewish Aleppo, Lost Forever

The Syrian diaspora in Israel watches its once-vibrant ancestral home fall to ruin in the country’s civil war.

Click here to read the entire article from the Tablet Magazine.

(USA) National Archives Launches Online Videos of its Most Popular Genealogy "How To" Workshops.

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

The US National Archives and Records Administration launched their online videos of its most popular "how to" workshops . These are short videos which range from 8 minutes to just over one hour can be used as training aides or part of an overall beginning genealogy sessions your society may offer.  All you need is a computer to view them.
These workshops led by National Archives experts are available on the National Archives You Tube channel at:
Here you may find "how to" videos on: military research, immigration research, census records, passport applications, public land claims, access to archival databases and more.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

[UK] Old Bailey Criminal Records On-line

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

The Old Bailey was and still is the central criminal court for England and Wales. It is located in central London and stands on part of the site of the Bailey to the ancient Fleet Prison that was demolished in the nineteenth century.. This court still hears the most serious criminal cases for London and much of the rest of the country. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey website contains a great collection of detailed records from some 200,000 criminal cases spanning roughly 240 years. This collection has been slowly increasing over time. Only the most hardened criminals ended up at the Old Bailey. If you want to know if you had any really interesting characters in your family tree access this free website go to:

To check it out by typing in some "typically Jewish sounding names" Cohen, Levy, Goldberg, Goldstein and found records including all of these names-either as witnesses or as the criminals.

The project  is a collaboration between the Universities of Hertfordshire and Sheffield and the Open University, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Big Lottery Fund.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

(USA) Two New Bills Introduced In Congress Regarding Identity Theft and the Social Security Death Index

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

The issue of identity theft and the Death Master File, also known under the commercial version, Social Security Death Index (SSDI)  has been discussed on this forum previously- with 4 bills having been introduced late last year: HR 3475 (Johnson R-TX); S 1534 (Nelson, D-FL), HR 3482 (Castor D-FL) and HR 3215 (Castor-D-FL and Nugent R-FL).  On July 26, 2012 two more bills were introduced, interestingly by some of the same authors of the bills already introduced:

 S 3432 (Nelson D-FL, co-sponsored by Senator Tom Coburn R-OK)  click on:
 or see original url:

 and HR 6205 (Nugent -R-FL) click on:
 or see original url:

Both of these new bills contain provisions for "certification" and a waiting period of 2 years. This is similar to the bills both authors also introduced in 2011 [S 1534 and H 3215] . The reason for introducing similar bills in 2012 as in 2011 may be as simple as the first bills did not receive a hearing and they wanted the bills to be on the "radar" of the committees they have been assigned.  As IAJGS learns more about these bills information about any potential hearing or other information will be posted to this forum.

IAJGS submitted statements on our position to earlier hearings on the issue of identity theft and the Death MasterFile/SSDI  --the hearings were not on specific bills, and our statements may be viewed at the Legislative Alert that is posted to our website:  . While this alert was updated in late May it is still valid regarding the issue of SSDI/Death Master File.  An updated Legislative Alert will be forthcoming shortly and when it is updated it will be announced on this

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

[UK] A Vision of Britain Through Time

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

For those interested in Britain, this free website may be of interest: A Vision of Britain Through Time  It covers 1801-2001. The website  provides a useful way to search the United Kingdom by place name. A typical search will provide a brief history of the town/village as well as links to historic maps, statistics, writings, census information, etc. on the town. This one website can quickly provide great geographical and historical context to ancestral searches. The website is run by the University of Portsmouth.

Note: to download their databases such as the historical maps, digital boundaries and historical statistics  is limited to users in the UK, universities, colleges and schools. To read the limitations click on the tab "data access".

Thank you to Genealogy In Time Magazine for alerting us to this very interesting website.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

[Belarus] Virtual Shtetl Discovers Belarus

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews has a new video on their website: "The Virtual Shtetl Is Discovering Belarus."  The movie shows Virtual Shtetl workers and volunteers' efforts  to unearth and record the Jewish heritage in Belarus. It is a 17.5 minute video by Julia Poplawska. It shows the virtual shtetl workers search and record the Jewish history of Belarus by visiting several small towns, cemeteries and interviewing residents.  The short film is available in Polish, English and Belarusian--the later two
with subtitles. It can be viewed at:
original url:,virtual-shtetl-discovers-belarus/

The movie was made possible due to financial support of the US Embassy  (Federal Assistance Award for the 'Supporting transition in Belarus by promotion of good practices of preservation of Jewish heritage' project) in Poland and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Poland.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

(France) French Civil Registration Records

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

France has a long history of civil registration of births, marriages and deaths--starting in 1792.  It covers people of all denominations. French records also include "margin records"-- these are hand-written notes that may lead to additional records.  Records of civil registration are typically held in registries in the local town hall, with copies deposited each year with the local magistrate's court. Records over 100 years old are placed in the Archives Départementales (series E) and are available for public consultation. Many Departmental Archives have placed portions of their holdings online, often beginning with the civil records.   To read more about French civil records see:

Most civil registration records, however, are accessible only by knowing the town,  identifying the department that now holds those records and locating the online holdings of the Archives Départementales for your town.  One place to search for these are:
original url:

However, online access to the indexes and digital images has been restricted to 120 years by the Commission Nationale de l'informatique et des Libertés (CNIL)--due to concern over privacy. This restriction has been in effect since late 2011. Forbidden access on the Internet includes the publication
of certain information about people, whether living or dead. That information includes: racial or ethnic origins, political opinions, philosophies or religions, memberships to groups or associations, health, sexuality, crimes, convictions, imprisonments AND marginal notes on civil registrations.  The prohibition of including religion or ethnic origins impedes searching for Jewish records.
To read more on the CNIL edict see:
original url:

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

JGS of Phoenix upcoming meetings and events

 Posted By: Jeanette Silverman
Our schedule for this upcoming year is set!  Please visit our Website for the latest information:
2012 - 2013  Schedule (updated July 31, 2012)
The Phoenix Jewish Genealogy Society holds monthly Sunday afternoon Open-Houses during which we begin with a brief refresher on a particular resource or method of research.  Following that, experienced researchers are available to give individual assistance.  All Sunday afternoon workshops/refreshers meet at Beth El Congregation from 1-3 PM  in the computer lab (enter through the Schurgin Center door in the rear of the main building at Beth El. Participation in any (OR ALL) workshops/refreshers is free to members, $5 for non-members (which includes membership). Our open house Sundays begin with a Research Review and Refresher - each month we feature a review of research techniques or materials. Bring your lap-top (we have wi-fi) or use one of our internet-connected computers.  During the Sunday meetings, we are on-line for those members who cannot join us on-site.  There will be plenty of people on-hand to assist with research questions.

Sunday Meeting dates 
1-3 PM at Beth El 1118 W Glendale Ave, Phoenix 85021

August 26, Sept 30, Oct 28, Nov 18, Dec 16, Jan 13, Feb 10, Mar 17, Apr 21, May 19

Exploring the 1940 Census: join Emily Garber and Janette Silverman on Tuesday, September 4  at 7 PM at the Arizona Jewish Historical Society - Cutler-Plotkin Heritage Center 122 E. Culver Street, Phoenix, AZ  85004 to RSVP call 602-241-7870 or email here
Genealogy 101 -- Beginning genealogy classes – and Cyber-Genealogy if you ever wanted to know how to research your family tree, learn about different formats for maintaining your tree, the questions to ask and who to ask, and how to understand the available resources - records, photographs and other data, please consider joining us.Cyber-Genealogy teaches you how to use a variety of internet tools to help you in your research.

Are you interested in learning about your ancestors?  Researching your family history is not as hard as you think! It just takes time, patience,and persistence. Join us and learn how to create a Family Tree and find out who your ancestors were. The classes will be held at Beth El on Glendale Ave in Phoenix

Wednesdays, 6:30 - 7:45 PM November 7, 14 & 28, 2012 - so, you've started your family tree and want to take advantage of internet resources but don't know where to begin (or how).  This workshop will guide you through using some of the more popular internet research tools and give you some tips on finding others.

Genealogy 101
Wednesdays 6:30 - 7:45 PM January 16, 23 and 30 - learn how to start your own family tree and how to maintain it

Janette Silverman CJE, RJE
Director of Education and Youth Programming
Beth El Congregation
1118 W Glendale Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85021-8698

Bethel Phoenix
Bethel Phoenix Youth

ext 123
fax 602-944-3565

Yizkor Book Update

Posted by: Lance Ackerfeld 

I would like to hope that those of you who attended the IAJGS International Conference returned home with their genealogy "tank" refilled and eager to become involved in one of the JewishGen projects - for instance, let's say the Yizkor Book Project <g> I'm quite sure that those of you who attended the Yizkor Book Birds of a Feather meeting under the leadership of Jan Meisels Allen are particularly inspired by her to become involved in our project. Anyway, if you were or weren't at the conference and would like to take some part in the Yizkor Book Project in some fashion - translating, transliterating, coordinating, editing or... I would certainly like hear from you and discuss what part of the project calls out to you.
Once again, I am pleased to let you know that a further book is now completely online - "Rabka Four - Instruments of Genocide and Grand Larceny"
that was written by Robin O'Neil, who researches the Holocaust with insights and skills he acquired in his years as police major crimes investigator at Scotland Yard. Robin has generously donated a number of his manuscripts and for those who are yet to be familiar with this unique research, I'm sure you will find them a real eye-opener.
We are very fortunate to have a long-standing arrangement with Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, which enables us to receive Excel files of necrologies extracted from a wide range of Yizkor books. On our side, a team of conscientious volunteers transliterate these lists into English and allow us to make them available to the general public. This month, in particular, we've added in a number of necrologies which come from books that are not widely available and are particularly important for researchers and, at the same time, allow us to immortalize the names of our people who met their death during the Holocaust. Later on, yet another team of conscientious volunteers led by Max Heffler, convert these lists into a format which can be uploaded to our necrology database and the help of all these volunteers is very much appreciated and allow us this wide range of research options.
Now to facts and figures - as far as the July figures go, during this last month we have added these 5 new projects:
- Kremenets, Ukraine (Memorial Book of Kremenets, Vyshgorodok, and Pochayiv) 
- Regierungsbezirk Schwaben (region), Germany (The ordeal of the Jews in Swabia) 
- Satoraljaujhely, Hungary (Vanished Communities in Hungary) 
- Secovce, Slovakia (The History of the Jewish community in Secovce) 
- Skala Podolskaya, Ukraine (Memorial Book of Skala) 

Added in 4 new entries:
- Cepeleuti, Moldova (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Romania, Volume II) 
- Nimereuca, Moldova (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Romania, Volume II) 
- Telice, Czech Republic (The Jews and Jewish Communities of Bohemia in the past and present)
- Tuchola, Poland (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Poland, Volume VI) 

We have continued to update 25 of our existing projects:
- Bedzin, Poland(A Memorial to the Jewish Community of Bedzin) 
- Biala Rawska, Poland (Memorial Book to the Martyrs of Biala Rawska)
- Bialystok, Poland (The chronicle of Bialystok) 
- Chelm, Poland (Commemoration book Chelm) 
- Czestochowa, Poland (The Jews of Czestochowa) 
- Czyzew, Poland  (Czyzewo Memorial Book) 
- Dieveniskes, Lithuania (Devenishki book; memorial book) 
- Galicia, Poland (Rabka Four - Instruments of Genocide and Grand Larceny) 
- Golub-Dobrzyn, Poland (In Memory of the Communities Dobrzyn-Gollob) 
- Goniadz, Poland (Our hometown Goniondz) 
- Grajewo, Poland (Grayewo Memorial Book) 
- Jaroslaw, Poland (Jaroslaw Book: a Memorial to Our Town) 
- Korets, Ukraine (The Korets book; in memory of our community that is no more) 
- Krivichi, Belarus (Kryvitsh Yizkor Book) 
- Leczyca, Poland (Memorial Book of Leczyca) 
- Molchadz, Belarus (Molchadz, In Memory of the Jewish Community) 
- Ostrolenka, Poland (Book of Kehilat Ostrolenka; Yizkor Book of the Jewish Community of Ostrolenka) 
- Serock, Poland (The book of Serock)
- Sierpc, Poland (The Community of Sierpc; Memorial Book) 
- Smarhon (Smorgon), Belarus (Smorgonie, District Vilna; memorial book and testimony) 
- Sokolka, Poland (Memorial Book of Sokolka) 
- Stowbtsy, Belarus (Memorial volume of Steibtz-Swerznie and the neighboring villages Rubezhevitz, Derevna, Nalibok) 
- Tarnogrod, Poland (Book of Tarnogrod; in memory of the destroyed Jewishcommunity) 
- Tarnow, Poland (The life and decline of a Jewish city) 
- Volodymyr Volynskyy, Ukraine (Wladimir Wolynsk; in memory of the Jewish community)

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

All the best,
Lance Ackerfeld
Yizkor Book Project Manager