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  • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
    Sunday’s Meeting: Ron Arons -- The Musical “Chicago” and All That Genealogical Jazz Sunday, May 17, 10 a.m.     Some Items From the May 11 Avotaynu
    Message 1 of 1 , May 15, 2009
      Sunday’s Meeting:
      Ron Arons -- The Musical “Chicago” and All That Genealogical Jazz
      Sunday, May 17, 10 a.m.
      Some Items From the May 11 Avotaynu E-Zine
      ITS Plans Program to Preserve Original Documents
      It is not uncommon for archives that have digitized or microfilmed documents to throw away the originals as an economic measure. This has at least one disadvantage, the quality of the co pying of the original documents.
      Apparently the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany,considers their collection of such historical importance that they have undertaken a program to conserve, this year alone, 400,000 of the 30 million original documents in their possession. Among the original documents to be preserved this year are individual files from the Buchenwald concentration camp such as prisoners’ registration cards and personal property cards; lists from the concentration camps Neuengamme, Natzweiler and Mauthausen; and Gestapo cards from Koblenz and Frankfurt am Main.
      In addition, facsimiles of their most historical documents are being used for visitor tours. These include the original Schindler’s List, a transportation card listing Anne Frank, and a Gestapo card for Konrad Adenauer.
      The chief ITS archivist said the documents have been at the facility’s archives for at least 60 years. The quality of paper declined drastically near the end of WWII, so the documents are extremely acidic and thus decay faster. In 2001, the ITS conducted a damage analysis and made a priority list; the documents have been conserved ever since. The German federal government currently subsidises this effort with 250,000 euros annually.
       New Book: Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn
      Jewish life in Brownsville, East New York, Flatbush-East Flatbush, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and other nearby areas of Brooklyn through the 1950s was a lively, rich, and varied environment. During the next few decades it dissipated greatly. As Jews moved to other areas, they left behind their synagogues.  Avotaynu’s latest book, “The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn,” is a photographic essay of these ex-shuls; it tells what happened to them and how they appear today. Many became churches whose facades still have Jewish symbols.
      The book by Ellen Levitt offers photographs, interviews and analyses on 91 of these
      former Jewish houses of worship. Some have been faithfully preserved while others are in disrepair. Described in the book are memories of Jews who belonged to these old congregations.  Additional information as well as the Table of Contents and a sample
       Ancestry.com Has German Phone Books
       Ancestry.com has added phone directories (1915–1981) for certain cities of
      Germany. They are Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt am Main and
      Leipzig. Additional information is at
      Searching Ancestry.com By Given Name
      Those readers who subscribe to Ancestry.com may not be aware that it’s possible to search their databases by given name only. I (Gary Mokotoff) recently put it to good use when I was looking for the Ellis Island record of a man whose came to the U.S. with the surname Weskobojnik.  Searching Ancestry.com for many spelling variants of the surname yielded no results. (Using the Morse site to search the Ellis Island Database—EIDB—was fruitless too.) Fortunately, I was able to get the naturalization record for the person. It included the Certificate of Arrival which indicated his name was Srolik Weskobojnik.
      Certificate of Arrival documents were used by the U.S.to confirm a person arrived in the U.S. legally.  A government employee went to the ship’s manifest to confirm his arrival and wrote down the name as it appeared on the manifest. Clearly this person was more skilled at reading the handwriting than the Ancestry.com person who extracted the record. Knowing the year of arrival and the person’s name as it appeared on the
      Certificate of Arrival, I searched for any person named Srolik who arrived in 1911 and came up with only one hit; Srolik Westerback, the person I was searching for. I subsequently found he was listed in the EIDB as Srolik Webobojuik.
      I prefer finding the person in the Ancestry.com database because the image of the ship’s manifest is superior to the EIDB.
      Another trick. If you find a person in the EIDB but cannot find him/her in the Ancestry.com database, undoubtedly the name was indexed improperly. Pick any other person on the page where the spelling of the name is obvious, and search for that person to retrieve the page.
      News from FamilySearch.org
      FamilySearch, the genealogy arm of the Mormon Church, has added a number of databases that might be of value to Jewish genealogists. The records described below can be accessed at  http://pilot.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html#start.
      To limit the search to a specific record group, at that web page, click on the correct continent and locate the record group from the resulting list.
      Alabama death index 1908–1974 has been added.
      A number of record groups—without indexes—have been added including:
         • 1892 New York census for selected counties. The only county of New York City included in the collection is Brooklyn (Kings County)
         • 4 million Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, civil registration records (1889–2006) organized by municipality.
      JRI-Poland Now Has 3.5 Million Records Indexed
      Jewish Records Indexing-Poland project—now in its 14th year—has indexed more than 3.5 million records from 500 towns. Located at http://www.jewishgen.org/JRI-PL/,
      it is an index primarily of birth, marriage, and death records.
      Mormon/Jewish Controversy: The Problem That Won’t Go Away
            President Obama’s Mother Posthumously Baptized
      The continual practice by Mormons of posthumously baptizing Holocaust victims made the headlines once again in an indirect way. It was discovered that President Barack Obama’s mother was posthumously baptized by the Mormon Church in June 2008. The Church’s response  was identical to what it was when they were informed that thousands of Holocaust victims are—to this day—being posthumously baptized, namely, it is counter to Church policy for a Church member to submit names for baptism for persons to whom they are not related.
      A few years ago the Church added a “famous-people” filter to the procedure for submitting names for temple ordinances. Adolph Hitler can no longer be rebaptized because he is on the famous-people list. Apparently President Obama’s mother wasn’t famous enough and passed the screening system.

                                                                                      See you Sunday, May 17 at 10 a.m.
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