- Oct 5, 2006
Jewish Genealogical Society
October 5, 2006
Family History Day Saturday, October 14
It's time for the annual Family History Day at the State Archives, downtown at 1020 O Street. We'll have a booth along with other genealogy groups, and need a few more volunteers to spare an hour or two. The event lasts from 8:30 to 4 p.m. -- contact Gerry Ross at 381-3213 if you can help out. Those who've participated in the past have greatly enjoyed it.
For more details on the day's activities, check out: the State Archives' Web site: www.ss.ca.gov/archives/level3_famhistday.html
Upcoming Meeting Dates -- Mark Your Calendar!
Monday, October 16, 7 p.m.
Mark Heckman -- Travels in Ukraine -- the 2006 Czernowitz Reunion
Sunday, November 19, 10 a.m.
Ron Arons -- The Internet Beyond JewishGen and Steve Morse's Web Site
Sunday, December 10, 10 a.m.
Reva Camiel -- Family Videotaping Production
A few items shared from Avotaynu's e-newsletter:
WeRelate.org: The www.werelate.org Web site claims to be an Internet search engine that only finds genealogy-related sites. Avotaynu editor Gary Mokotoff tried it and found it works fairly well. Searching for information about his ancestral town of Warka, Poland, using Google resulted in only three genealogically relevant sites on the first page. Others included hotels and weather reports. Using WeRelate.org he said all could be considered relevant. The first was the Wikipedia entry for the town giving its history; the second was a description of the voivodship (county/province) that included Warka. The third was a Warka entry from the catalog of the Family History Library.
WeRelate.org is a general search engine. It can be used to search for people, surnames or places. Mokotoff used "ice cream" as keywords, and the first few hits were a genealogy site with the heading "Italians, Ice Cream and Settlement;" a second page from the same site; a page about the history of ice cream; a RootsWeb site that included the words.
1837online.com: 1837online.com claims 400 million British records, including complete birth, marriage and death records from 1837–2004; census records, 1861–1891, with an all-name index; living relatives indexes; and military records. Future plans call for passenger emigration lists, 1890–1960, with an all-name index. It is expected to be available in mid-2007.
For birth, marriage and death records, provided are images of pages from the government index. The 1837online.com index only captures the first and last name on each page. This means you must know the year of the event to find the entry in the government index. Otherwise, you must browse year by year until the entry is found.
Military records include a National Roll of the Great War 1914–1918; soldiers who died in the Great War; Army Roll of Honor 1939–1945; and Armed Forces births, marriages and deaths.
You can search for records free of charge but retrieving the information is fee based. The cost is £5 for 50 units; £10 provides 110 units. Many records cost more than one unit. Alternately, there are annual subscriptions for unlimited use of certain offerings.
New Book: A Field Guide to Visiting a Jewish Cemetery
A Field Guide to Visiting a Jewish Cemetery, by Rabbi Joshua L. Sega offers a good book on understanding the ways of Jewish cemeteries and how to interpret the Hebrew inscriptions on tombstones.
Hebrew tombstone inscriptions can be a challenge to some researchers. But the material presented in this book is simple enough that it can be understood by those with the most limited exposure to Hebrew, yet comprehensive enough to be a valuable resource to the most sophisticated readers.
There is a dictionary of Hebrew words and common expressions that appear on tombstones. Since the carving of a tombstone can be expensive, sometimes Hebrew expressions are represented in abbreviated form. An appendix shows commonly used abbreviations.
The book is 220 pages, softcover, and lists for $19.95. Avotaynu is currently offering it for $18 plus shipping. Additional information, including the Table of Contents and a sample chapter can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/cemeteryfield.htm.
Google Provides Online Index to Old Newspapers
Google's latest is an index to old periodicals, located at http://news.google.com/archivesearch/. The Google site appears to be a merging of many fee-for-service indexing services plus a few that are available for no charge. The sources are worldwide. Avotaynu's Gary Mokotoff found references to Polish sources when searching for "Mokotow."
The first line of every hit states the source and date. When there's a fee to retrieve the item, the price is shown on this line. If there are a substantial number of hits, the system allows the user to narrow the list by time period or source.
Fifth Cemetery in New York City Area Goes Online
Mt. Ararat Cemetery, located in Lindenhurst, New York, has placed its 45,000 burials online. This is the fifth New York-area Jewish cemetery to make their burials available on the Internet. It is located at http://www.mountararatcemetery.com. Previous listings are
Mt. Carmel Cemetery (Queens, New York) at http://www.mountcarmelcemetery.com;
Mt. Hebron Cemetery (Queens, New York) at http://www.mounthebroncemetery.com;
Mt. Moriah Cemetery (Fairview, New Jersey) at http://www.mountmoriahcemeteryofnewjersey.org; and Mt. Zion Cemetery (Queens, New York) at http://www.mountzioncemetery.com.
New Blog: http://tracingthetribe.blogspot.com
Schelly Talalay Dardashti is a freelance journalist specializing in Jewish genealogy, travel and food. A New Yorker who has lived in several countries, she began her research in 1989, as the researcher for her husband's family and her own. Anyone bearing either of the rare names is sure to be related. With origins in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Spain and Iran, each extensive tree dates to about 1740. Her articles have appeared in a host of Jewish press and genealogy publications and journals.
Old BT phone books now available online
News from Britain: People researching their ancestry have been given an online boost after telecommunications company BT launched more than 100 years' of phone books on the Web. The company hopes to tap into the nation's huge interest in genealogy by providing millions of names, addresses and phone numbers covering the period 1880 to 1984.
At one stage, BT allowed brief job descriptions. The author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, of Victoria 1436, was listed as a barrister, while Houdini could be found under 'handcuff king'. BT has linked up with genealogy site Ancestry.co.uk to host the phone books. The project's partners have started with Greater London, which contains 72 million names and covers the areas of Surrey, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent and Middlesex. The goal is to complete all 250 million names by the end of next year.
Family history enthusiasts will be able to search by name, year and county, helping them fill in any gaps in their ancestor and house histories.
September 18, 2006 Meeting
President Burt Hecht called the meeting to order and announced that Allan Bonderoff's presentation, "From Shtetl to Hester Street," would be given in January, to allow sufficient time for a review of the New York conference.
Burt noted that Bob Wascou had received a special mention from the Romanian SIG (Special Interest Group) for his work with the Kishinev/Moldova databases. Bob has devoted many hours to coordinating and encouraging volunteers and research, with more than 290,000 names added to the database. Congratulations, Bob!
Bob made a plug for more volunteers -- "we can always use people who can translate Hebrew, Yiddish or Romanian."
Allan Bonderoff gave the treasurer's report, requesting a moment of silence for the current balance. With the recent purchase of a laptop computer, our account now has $905.91.
Mark Heckman gave an update on our library, which will have a full CD set of the New York conference. We now have a completely indexed library with information scanned into a database. Mark said we'll soon have a bar code for every person and every book. To find out what's in our library, go to our Web site, http://jgss.org
Bob gave an update on the cemetery project -- he's trying to get data into the right format for JewishGen. "We also have two things to update -- information on the headstones, which we didn't have, and photos of the headstones."
Family History Day, October 14: Members are being sought to staff our table at the annual Family History Day at the State Archives, 1020 O Street. The day runs from 8:30 to 4 p.m.; contact Gerry Ross at 381-3213 if you can help out for an hour or two. Those who've participated in the past have had a great time.
Sept. 18 Program: The New York Conference
Art Yates and Teven Laxer reported on attending the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies conference last month in New York City.
ART: Art began the presentation. He said he's attended about seven conferences and this one was the most gratifying in terms of doing personal research.
He gave a day-by-day description of his experience. On Sunday, he went to the talk by Ada Green on cemetery research. The speaker said she got death certificates on every one she was researching, something Art noted is much harder to do in California.
"Don't believe anything you see on a tombstone," the speaker said. She said someone's name may be on a tombstone but the person may be buried in Florida. She talked about how couples often would have both their names put on a tombstone in advance of their deaths, with the surviving spouse often moving away.
Green said she also looks for burial permits for additional or confirming information. "Unless the cemetery has the date of death, you don't know if the person's buried there -- it may be only a nice headstone."
Some other concerns -- no middle names on most headstones, so if it's a common name, should verify; the translation of lettering can vary, sometimes the parent and sibling are named on the same tombstone; with changing borders, the cemetery may be in a different town.
The following day, Art had signed up for a tour of Ellis Island. He had wanted to go since his father had come through there and Art had had great success on the Ellis Island database, finding the street address where his father had lived. In addition, Art's children had put their grandfather's name on the wall at Ellis Island.
He found the guide from Big Onion Tours very knowledgeable, sharing information such as they had immigrants climb the stairs so they could be observed for physical disabilities, hair lice, etc.
After Ellis Island, Art visited the National Archives for the New York region where he found indexes for birth, death and marriage licenses (although not the certificates themselves). "But don't believe what your family tells you -- my mother-in-law and father-in-law weren't married in St. Louis but in Albany, New York -- I found the documents."
On Tuesday Art attended the Hungarian luncheon where he enjoyed the exchange of ideas with his fellow attendees. He later attended a three-hour meeting which skirted the controversy of the Mormon baptisms of Jews. "The attitude of those in charge was that this is not something we're going to discuss." That was until Gary Mokotoff spoke up and was able to recount the six days he spent in Salt Lake City focusing on the issue. Gary was able to convince those in attendance that the church is closely looking at the baptisms and revoking the privileges of those who cross the line. A planned vote on a letter about the issue drew a motion but no second. "After Gary's synopsis, there was no need to go further."
Art said they are looking for sites for future conferences -- 2008 will be in Chicago and 2013 in Warsaw.
On Thursday, Art focused on personal research, including, which famous New York deli has the best sandwich -- Katz', Carnegie or the Stage . "The Carnegie has by far the best pastrami sandwich," Art declared.
Next on his agenda was a visit to the White Plains, New York cemetery to see the graves of his aunt and uncle. It was also a chance to visit the city of his birth.
TEVEN: Teven Laxer then shared his impressions of the conference, which went beyond the seminars. His first night there he and his mother enjoyed klezmer music followed by a discussion of Yiddish theater and what it meant to immigrants. Teven said his great uncle was a star of Yiddish theater and he was pleased and surprised to see two slides of him in the Powerpoint presentation made to the group.
A 2006 Jewish Genealogy Yearbook was distributed, with pages on the various societies, including our own. Teven shared copies of our page.
Teven said he went to quite a few seminars; there were many, with 2,000 to 3,000 people attending the conference. Along with the seminars, there were labs, movies, impromptu discussions and "birds of a feather" interest groups that announced meetings. "It was hard to figure out where to go." He went to 6-7 workshops a day, lasting an hour and a half to two hours. "Some days I don't remember if I had lunch." There is one lunch, however, he does remember.
One of the benefits of the conference, Teven said, was meeting people he knew only through e-mail. "My wife is a descendant of a 17th century German rabbi, and there's a guy in Baltimore who's researched with me hundreds of people in the family. We got together for lunch and met for the first time; I found out he was 92. We're having sandwiches in an open area of the hotel talking about our research, when people on either side of us overhear us and chime in about researching the same family -- and one was from London and the other Tel Aviv."
Teven said it was an amazing experience that happened to him several times during the conference.
Teven said many of the speakers we've had here in Sacramento over the years spoke at the conference, including Gary Mokotoff, Steve Morse, Ron Arons and Stanley Diamond, who we've tried to get. Diamond gave an update on the JRI (Jewish Records Indexing) Poland efforts.
Teven went to a workshop on hometown societies and at the end, as he was about to leave, a woman said she had a program from one of the societies. It just happened to be a 1930 program for the Geller society, "and on page 6, my grandmother and grandfather were listed as officers."
"There were maybe 100 people in the workshop and someone happened to have a booklet with my grandparents' names," he said.
Teven brought back several books for the library, including a copy of Judith Frazin's "Translation Guide to 19th Century Polish Documents," and "The Galitzianers, 1772-1918." He also snagged one of the books being given away in a Miriam Weiner workshop, a guide to Kishinev in English and Russian.
Teven put in a plug for a book expected to be out in bookstores this week -- Daniel Mendelsohn's "Lost -- A Search for Six of Six Million." The author's describes his quest in Ukraine and beyond to find out exactly what happened to his relatives.
While in New York, Teven had the opportunity to visit a 90-year-old cousin in a nursing home. "She had no short-term memory but incredible long-term memory," he said. Teven urged that even if someone's in a nursing home, make the effort to talk to them.
ART: Art wrapped up the program discussing his visit to a county records office and a Jewish cemetery in Troy, New York. He observed that the cemeteries in Troy, New York had almost no perpetual care of tombstones; others disagreed. But he was able to find tombstones of his wife's relatives, despite the overgrowth of vegetation. "Pam Dallas would be proud of me," he said. (Pam had told us about finding family tombstones nearly hidden at the edge of a cornfield.)
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An article that may be of interest...
A revolution in Jewish genealogy
Adinah Greene, The Jerusalem Post
Oct. 3, 2006
They are coming from all over the world to claim their royal heritage.
First, on October 19, they will meet in
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