Jewish Genealogical Society
August 15, 2010
Monday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m. – Sandra Harris, When Was That Picture Taken?
Sunday, Oct. 17, 10 a.m. – Dale Friedman, Introduction to Jewish Genealogy
Sunday, Nov. 21, 10 a.m. – Glenda Lloyd, Maiden Names
August 8, 2010 Meeting Notes
President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests. He said our library is growing – Mort brought in a box of books from RootCellar, and Lester Smith donated three boxes from his personal collection. Gloria Powers donated Family Tree magazines.
Mort mentioned that Footnote.com is continuing to offer a 50% off price for subscriptions.
The Sacramento Central Library will continue its Sunday genealogy programs September 19 and 26 as well as October 3. Call (916) 264-2920.
Family History Day at the State Archives is coming up Saturday, October 9. We’ll probably share space with the Bay Area JGS. Why not sign up to staff our booth for an hour during the 8:30 a.m .to 4 p.m. day.
Mort mentioned that Victoria Fisch has been asked to be northern California editor of the Western States Jewish History Journal.
Allan Dolgow has notified us that the second cousin he met during his trip to Ukraine, Dr. Berta Chernmorskya, has passed away at 89 years old. Allan had shared his genealogical trip during a presentation last year.
August Speaker – Erwin Joos
This was the fourth of Erwin Joos’ lectures in California, which included speaking at the Los Angeles conference. Tomorrow he’ll address the Bay Area JGS in San Francisco.
Erwin is curator of the Eugeen Van Mieghem Museum in Antwerp, Belgium. He first became interested in the artist when he bought a painting 30 years ago.
Erwin gave some history of Antwerp and its relationship to emigrants and Jews. He said when Jews were expelled from Spain, many came to Antwerp. The most important Jewish businessmen even lent money to Henry the 8th. Antwerp was a Protestant city, and in 1585, it was decided that the Jews must leave. In the 1860s, free access to the river returned, and many Jews returned from Amsterdam.
Today, Erwin says Antwerp is the fourth most important port in Europe, ranking over Hamburg.
Van Mieghem lived with his parents across from the warehouses owned by the Red Star shipping line. The first ship left in 1873 and a month later reached Philadelphia. Ultimately, the shipping line would bring 2.5 million people to the United States, only 5 percent of them from Belgium.
“Antwerp was the port par excellence for Europe,” Erwin said. “About one million Jews left from there.”
He said the main emigration took place around 1903 when the pogroms started in Odessa and Kishinev. Jews went to Brody and from there could make their way to the ports.
All the Red Star line ships’ names ended in “land,” but they also chartered other ships.
Erwin showed photos of Van Mieghem’s work of the emigrants at the Antwerp port – he is believed to be the only artist in Europe who made a testimony of the Jewish emigration experience.
Among the well-known people who sailed on the Red Star line were Golda Meir, Albert Einstein and Irving Berlin.
Since the shipping lines didn’t want passengers being sent back at the line’s expense, they began to add controls in Antwerp. Those who were sick had to stay in Antwerp until they were better; some, like blind emigrants, probably never left.
Erwin showed similarities between Van Mieghem’s work and that of other contemporary artists. Sometimes the pieces are exhibited together. “I had eight works next to Picassos in Barcelona,” he said.
Van Mieghem never had a commercial instinct, Erwin said, but rather had a compassion for the emigrants. He was supported by money from his mother.
There are very few photographs of the emigrants at the ports, Erwin said, but Van Mieghem “really captured the soul of these people.”
“These paintings are really the missing link, between the photos of the shtetls and the photos of Jacob Riis on the lower east side of New York.
“My dream is that his pieces will end up in the major Jewish museums of the United States.”
Erwin said that the City of Antwerp wanted to tear down the port warehouses, but after some intense lobbying on behalf of “one million Jews – all the Jews in America,” the buildings were saved. They will open as a museum in 2012.
With the location about three hours from Paris, Erwin hopes to organize a tour in advance of the Paris IAJGS conference in 2012, and perhaps included Amsterdam as well.
There will be a Van Mieghem exhibit in Philadelphia in October at the Gershman Y Center with about 50 original paintings. Erwin hopes to bring the exhibit to Washington D.C. during the time of the 2011 IAJGS conference. Erwin will also have a new book out on Van Mieghem at that time.
He is considered the leading expert on his paintings. “Sotheby’s and Christie’s contact me when they have a Van Mieghem painting.”
He reflected on the importance of Van Mieghem’s work to Jewish emigrants to the United States.
“About 30 to 40 percent of the people I meet in America have a link to the Red Star line.”
From Avotaynu August 14
Lost Synagogues of The Bronx Planned
Ellen Levitt, author of The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn, is planning books on other boroughs of New York City. Her next project is The Lost Synagogues of The Bronx. While she has excellent information about former synagogues in the Riverdale section of The Bronx, she is weak on those synagogues that existed on or near the Grand Concourse. If you are familiar with ex-shuls in that area, please write to her in care of Avotaynu identifying the name of the synagogue and exactly where it was located. Write to info@....
The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn describes 91 former synagogues and includes photographs of how they appear today. Many are now churches. Additional information can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/LostSynagogues.htm.
A few articles of that may be of interest
Below are some recent articles ranging from the cost of the 2010 census to theft at the National Archives to a Web site that allows you to see the evolution of a town from the 1400s to today. And pieces about the new Alex Haley museum and an interesting term, “pajama genealogy.”
Census coming in at least $1.6 billion under budget
By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 11, 2010; A15
Higher-than-anticipated response rates and an overqualified temporary workforce helped the U.S. Census Bureau keep the 2010 Census at least $1.6 billion under budget, officials announced Tuesday.
Congress appropriated $14.7 billion over 12 years for the 2010 head count, which began with planning meetings in 1999. More than half of the money was spent this year.
"This did not happen by chance," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told reporters on Tuesday, adding later, "We demanded accountability and stretched every dollar as far as it could go."
This year's census was still the most expensive in U.S. history, but census budgets have climbed every decade since 1950 as the population and number of households increase. The Census Bureau managed to return $305 million from a $7 billion total budget in 2000.
Locke and Census Bureau Director Robert Groves credited the American public for its 72 percent response rate this year, on par with the 2000 count. The response rate helped control the costs of the labor-intensive follow-up process.
The 565,000 temporary workers hired to conduct follow-up interviews at the 47 million households that didn't return census forms also were more educated and experienced than in previous years, Locke said. Census officials said that because of the economic slump, they had a more qualified applicant pool than a decade ago, when the agency struggled to fill the temporary positions.
The workers included former government employees, police officers, and veterans of Democratic and Republican political campaigns, who applied their political street sense to the bureau's efforts to track addresses, Locke said.
"That highly skilled workforce came up with efficiencies on their own and ideas that were then incorporated community-wide and then system-wide," Locke said.
Groves also credited the agency's multimillion-dollar multilingual advertising effort that spanned television, radio, the Internet, billboards and public transportation. Larger ad buys in 23 low-responding markets helped boost response rates in most of the markets, Groves said.
The actual amount of money that will be returned to the government is still unknown, because census operations are scheduled to continue through the end of September. The amount will be no less than $1.6 billion and Congress will have the final say on what happens to the money, officials said.
About $800 million of the savings came from a reserve fund that the Census Bureau didn't need to help pay for additional operations in the event of a natural disaster or epidemic. Congressional Republicans, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), blasted the agency for including the fund as part of its savings figures.
"Does the Obama administration really believe it deserves credit for the weather during the 2010 Census?" Issa said in a statement.
Issa noted that the original census budget was closer to $11 billion, but grew when the agency abandoned plans to use special handheld computers to compile data.
"It is ironic that an agency in existence to do simple arithmetic would try to peddle such incomplete and deceptive figures to cover up for its waste of an estimated $3 billion of taxpayers' money," Issa said.
No word yet on the potential size of the 2020 Census budget, but Groves has said it will include an online option for at least some Americans that should help control costs.
© 2010 The Washington Post Company
Guardians of the nation's attic
The National Archives keeps watch over 10 billion historical records. And its treasure hunting team keeps watch over collector shows and eBay for the scraps of valuable history that have been stolen.
The Wright brothers' patent application for their flying machine is missing from the National Archives. (National Archives / August 9, 2010)
By Faye Fiore, Los Angeles Times
August 8, 2010
Reporting from College Park, Md. —
When Paul Brachfeld took over as inspector general of the National Archives, guardian of the country's most beloved treasures, he discovered the American people were being stolen blind.
The Wright Brothers 1903 Flying Machine patent application? Gone.
A copy of the Dec. 8, 1941 "Day of Infamy" speech autographed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and tied with a purple ribbon? Gone.
Target maps of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, war telegrams written by Abraham Lincoln and a scabbard and belt given to Harry S. Truman? Gone, gone and gone.
Citizens of a democracy must have access to their history, Brachfeld understood. But what kind of country leaves its attic door open, allowing its past to slip away? His solution: Assemble a team of national treasure hunters.
They are two earnest federal agents and a bookish historian dutifully scouring Civil War collector shows, dealer inventories and the Internet for bits of Americana that wind up on an EBay auction block. They sift through leads from disgruntled divorcees ("I was going through his junk and I found this document…") and set straight do-gooders convinced they've just gotten hold of the Gettysburg Address.
It is mission impossible by any measure; the National Archives keeps watch over 10 billion federal, congressional and presidential records. The most famous -- the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights -- are enshrined in the magnificent granite headquarters blocks from the White House. But they are a sliver of the nation's important stuff, much of it shelved or boxed all over the country. (Indeed, the dismantled pieces of Parkland Hospital's Trauma Room 1, where President Kennedy was pronounced dead, are in an underground cave in Kansas that no one intends to open.)
Now the Archival Recovery Team, as the treasure hunters are formally known, is asking the American people to help find what rightfully belongs to them. They published a pamphlet on how to recognize an historical federal document, and who to call if you find one. The Wright Brothers patent -- lost or stolen in the '80s, no one knows for sure -- was May's featured missing item on the archives' Facebook page.
"We have taken theft out of the shadows," Brachfeld said, recalling the days when embarrassing losses were kept secret. "We want people to know we live, we exist. If it's gone, we want it back. And if it's stolen, we will do our best to send whoever took it to jail."
This day, Brachfeld and his team are gathered around a conference table here at Archives II, a big, bland building in the Maryland suburbs that belies the history between its climate-controlled walls: Jackie Kennedy's blood-stained pink Chanel suit, the deed of gift for the Statue of Liberty, Eva Braun's photo albums.
Mitchell Yockelson, a veteran archivist, is the team's historical brains. He decides what belongs to the nation and what doesn't. Special agents Kelly Maltagliati and Dave Berry are the law enforcement brawn. They carry guns and raid houses.
Much has changed since Brachfeld, who came out of the Secret Service internal affairs, took the job a decade ago and was alarmed by a string of brazen thefts, some by trusted archives staff.
In 2001, Shaun Aubitz, in charge of preparing exhibits of the Philadelphia holdings, took virtually all of the collection's presidential pardons and the deed to the hillside home of Robert E. Lee, whose front yard became Arlington National Cemetery. A dealer Aubitz tried to sell to became suspicious and reported him. When Brachfeld looked Aubitz in the eye and asked, "Did you take more than we'll ever know?" Aubitz only winked.
A few years later, a buyer shopping on EBay spotted Civil War documents he had seen in Washington's archives collection and alerted authorities. A history buff named Howard Harner confessed to smuggling more than 100 of them out of the archives' research room in his clothes over a six-year period, slicing off valuable signatures with a razor blade. Forty-two were recovered from his home; the team is still searching for the rest.
Security tightened. Surveillance cameras scan the premises at all of the archives' 44 facilities and presidential libraries. Guards patrol. No purses, briefcases or jackets are allowed in the research rooms. Registrars keep track of what goes out and who signed for it. When Archivist of the United States David Ferriero showed up at his downtown Washington office one Sunday morning, the cameras caught him "breaking in" -- and he runs the place.
The easiest course would be to lock it all away and be done with it. But the National Archives prides itself on balancing public access with historic preservation, inviting American citizens "to see for themselves the workings of the federal government." All you have to be is 14 or older with proper identification and a research card that takes minutes to get. A homeless man who used to come regularly to the Washington building got the same access as filmmaker Ken Burns.
"We had one senior manager who wanted to strip everybody naked who came through here," Brachfeld said. "In 99.9% of cases that would stop it. But God help America if it came to that.''
The archives' paper records alone could circle the earth 57 times. There are battlefield maps, Confederate muster rolls, World War II Navy deck logs, grainy footage of Japanese planes strafing U.S. battleships in the Pacific. All of it belongs to the people, and the people have a right to look, even if that means things occasionally walk out the door in somebody's sock.
A lot of what's stolen seems obscure -- a letter to a Civil War saddle-maker -- but can be worth hundreds of dollars on the collectors' market. A Lincoln signature fetches thousands, and a few were recently unearthed by amateur researchers plodding through arcane court-martial records here in Maryland
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- Upcoming Meetings:--Sunday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m. – Glenn Kurtz, “Three Minutes in Poland – Discovery of a Lost World in a 1938 Film”--Sunday, Oct. 18, 10 a.m., Susan Miller, “Jews in a Moslem World”
JGSS minutes for meeting on August 2, 2015Mort Rumberg took the minutes for Susanne Levitsky who was not present. (Thanks, Mort!)President Victoria Fisch made several announcements concerning scheduling and various genealogical events. She noted that the JGSS will participate in the annual Food Faire on August 30. Volunteers are welcome.Mort provided a quick tour of his eight days in Israel for the 35th annual International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. He has a data stick with about two-dozen speaker handouts. The conference program was passed around and if people would like a copy of a conference presentation’s handout, email Mort and he will forward it (his email address is below). He noted that not all presentations had handouts. He said it was an incredible experience being there and would like to return and see the many other sights he missed.President Fisch introduced the speaker, Dr. Valerie Jordan, who spoke about Family Secrets and Genealogy – how genealogy may intentionally or accidentally uncover hidden family secrets.Dr. Jordan is a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, now retired. Born and raised in New York City, she came to California in 1977. She is a second generation American from Odessa (her maternal great-great grandmother), and from Bucharest (her maternal grandmother). She passed around photos of a very handsome couple (her grandmother and grandfather) and a family photo showing four generations.Valerie defined secrets as being an intentional concealment of information from others. The information can be shameful, painful, or harmful to others. She differentiated this from privacy, which she defined as a person not wanting to share information, but the information is not shameful, painful, or harmful. She also differentiated it from unknown or forgotten information or stories.When would you intentionally tell people of a family secret? These are some of the times: When they are “old” enough to handle the information; when a specific milestone or family event is reached and it is appropriate; when symptoms or distress becomes unmanageable and needs to be revealed.Secrets take many forms. Valerie discussed the following examples of secrets that families may not want revealed:Religious secrets – possible crypto or converso Jews in the family history.Biological secrets – she gave the example of Bobby Darin’s story where he was devastated when he discovered that his “sister” was actually his mother.Secret families – Charles Lindbergh had seven secret children.Political secrets – Perhaps someone in the family having, for example, a communist party background – “red” diaper babies, slavery secretsSecret affairsMental health secrets – such as suicide, addictions, mental illness, sexual orientation/identity, abuse, etc.Adoption secretsIncarceration secretsMilitary service secretsNext, Valerie discussed genograms. Genograms are charts or pictorial displays used in family therapy and medicine to gather family history, relationship patterns, stories and medical histories. It displays medical history and family stories in a creative and non-genealogical chart. The charts use symbols and terms to describe family members and their relationships and are used by many therapists. She provided examples of such charts using Martin Luther King, Jr.’s family and Bill Clinton’s family.Obviously these types of charts have advantages and disadvantages.Advantages include obtaining useful information in a collaberative and engaging manner; observing family patterns across generations; collecting stories of resilience and hardships; possibly uncovering toxic family secrets and unknown relationships.Disadvantages include providing too much detail; exposing secrets too soon; too much focus on the past; identifying relationships that a client or family member may not be ready for or even want to know. There can be little information available or too few relatives to ask.Genograms are different from genealogical family trees: vital statistics and absolutely correct data are not essential, since the focus of a genogram chart is on relationships and stories. However, these charts can be useful as an adjunct to family trees.Valerie discussed secrets within her own family, indicating that she had known the “story” her mother told her in 1967 about her maternal grandfather, but subsequently found out that her mother’s story was “wrong.” Research convinced her that her mother’s story was wrong, possibly hiding a secret. She used census data, naturalization documents, passport and travel documents, city directories, marriage certificates, and his obituary in a Marin County newspaper in May, 1962, to flesh out her family story. The information was displayed in a genogram. She is still looking for more details.This presentation was extraordinarily interesting and exceptional for the questions and audience participation it stimulated.Mort has a copy of her PowerPoint presentation and it is available upon request. Send an email to mortrumberg1@....Morton M. RumbergFrom Gary Mokotoff’s Avotaynu E-Zines:
New Website Identifies Victims of Disasters
Was a member of your genealogical family the victim of a train wreck, significant fire, flood, shipwreck, plane crash or other disaster? The Eastman Online Genealogy Newsletter notes there is a website, http://www3.gendisasters.com, that identifies such persons.
The authors of the site must have spent hundred of hours copying newspaper accounts of the disaster and lists of the persons dead and injured or missing. There are 99 air disasters for New York State alone. The well-known Triangle Shirtwaist fire is included, of course. There are 90 overall results for persons names Cohen.
Site Identifies More Than 5,000 Facebook Sites That Focus On Genealogy
Katherine R. Willson of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has undertaken the monumental task of identifying more than 5,000 Facebook sites that focus on genealogy. The Jewish section has 25 entries.
The number of Facebook sites devoted to Jewish genealogy is even greater because the list does not cross-reference a number of items. For example, not included in the Jewish portion is “Jewish Memory, History & Genealogy in Moldova” which is found only in the Moldova section, and “Dutch Jewish Genealogy” found only in the Netherlands section. It would be wise to first examine the Jewish list and then use your browser’s search engine to locate any item on the list that has the word “Jewish” or “Jews” in its name. This also applies to place names. Toronto Facebook sites appear in numerous sections.
Browse the Table of Contents to understand the scope and organization of the list. The database is located at https://moonswings.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/ genealogy-on-facebook-list-aug-2015.pdf.
“Right To Be Forgotten” May Be Spreading
If you are interested in following the battle over the European Union’s “Right To Be Forgotten” ruling, the New York Times has published a comprehensive article about the subject describing the position of the rule’s advocates as well as opponents. It is at http://tinyurl.com/R2BForgotten. Another lengthy discussion can be found at https://euobserver.com/opinion/129823.
NARA and Ancestry.com Plan To Renew Their Partnership Agreement
For seven years the U.S National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) and Ancestry.com have operated under an agreement where Ancestry.com and its subsidiary Fold3 can scan documents at the Archives and have exclusive use to these images for five years. Ancestry is permitted to charge for access to the documents. After five years, NARA can use the images in any way it cares to, including making them available to the public at no charge.
The two organizations are now renewing the agreement with some changes that benefit the genealogical community.
• The five-year embargo previously started when Ancestry.com placed the images online at their site. Now the clock will start running when they complete the scanning process. Apparently it can take up to two years for Ancestry to place the images online, so the clock will start earlier.
• The updated agreement encourages Ancestry to post segments of large collections immediately rather than waiting for the entire collection to be completed.
• The new agreement outlines NARA’s commitment to protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and more specifically spells out Ancestry’s responsibilities if PII is identified.
Kaunas City Government Agrees to Maintain Jewish Cemetery
Lithuanian governments at all levels have been severely criticized by some Jewish organizations for refusing to recognize government complicity in the murder of Lithuanian Jews during the Holocaust period. Now the Kaunas City Municipality has agreed to maintain a Jewish cemetery in its city at the request of Maceva, the organization involved in maintaining and documenting the remaining Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania. The city plans to tend to the cemetery in several stages and has allocated €8,000 for the inventory and identification of graves. Additional information is at http://tinyurl.com/KaunasJewishCemetery. It includes a number of photographs of the current condition of the cemetery.
Maceva has its own site at http://www.litvak-cemetery.info/en. Its home page includes a map of Lithuania showing the location of all known Jewish cemeteries.
Maceva Matching Grant Program. An anonymous donor has offered a matching grant up to $5,000 for the Maceva Cemetery Project. All donations to Maceva made between August 4 and August 31 are eligible to be included in this offer. Go to http://www.litvaksig.org/contribute to make a donation. Select "Maceva Cemetery Project" as the Special Project.
“New” Database: Name Changes in the Palestine Gazette
The Israel Genealogy Research Association is adding more databases to their site at http://genealogy.org.il/. One of them, “Name Changes in the Palestine Gazette,” is a list of more than 28,000 persons, mostly Jews, who legally changed their names while living in Palestine during the British Mandate period from 1921–1948. This database has an interesting history.
I (Gary Mokotoff) am known for creating some of the earliest—pre-Internet—databases for Jewish genealogy including today’s JewishGen Family Finder and the Family Tree of the Jewish People. A lesser known one is titled “Name Changes in the Palestine Gazette.” This minor database has significance today because it was the genesis of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System.
The story: At the Jerusalem conference held in 1984, I met the late Rabbi Shmuel Gorr, who was one of the first professional Jewish genealogists. He wrote to me a few months later, knowing I was in the computer services business, stating he wanted to create a database of Jews who legally changed their name during the British Mandate period. These names were published in the official publication called the “Palestine Gazette.” He’d send me photocopies of the pages from the “Gazette” and I’d computerize the list organizing them by original name and new name. This database was valuable to genealogy because many people knew they had relatives who made aliyah (immigration) during the 1920s and 1930s and changed their name but they did not know the new name.
The list was compiled, placed on microfiche, and distributed to all Jewish Genealogical Societies.
The project was the genesis of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System. At that time, I observed that the European names being changed had many spelling variants. Being familiar with the American Soundex System developed by Robert Russell in 1918, I applied this system to the European names and found it did not work. One significant problem was that those names spelled interchangeably with the letter w or v, for example, the names Moskowitz and Moskovitz, did not have the same soundex code. So I developed by own soundex system and applied it to the Palestine Gazette names. This modification to the U.S. soundex system was published in the first issue of AVOTAYNU, in an article titled "Proposal for a Jewish Soundex Code." Randy Daitch read the article and made significant improvements to what I had developed. The joint effort became known as the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System which today is used by JewishGen; the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) for retrieving case histories; and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. It can be used to search the Ellis Island database of 24 million immigrants at the Stephen P. Morse One-Step site.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~See you at the end of September.