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Genealogy Update

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  • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
    Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento www.jgss.org November 26, 2011 Upcoming Meetings: Sunday, December 18, 10 a.m. – Genealogy Jeopardy with Mark
    Message 1 of 60 , Nov 26, 2011

    Jewish Genealogical Society
    of Sacramento
    November 26, 2011
    Upcoming Meetings:
    Sunday, December 18, 10 a.m. – Genealogy Jeopardy with Mark Heckman
    Sunday, January 15, 10 a.m. -- Lorenzo Cuesta, “Using Facebook and Twitter in Genealogy.”
    Sunday, February 19, 10 a.m. -- Steve Morse, “Getting Ready for the 1940 Census: Searching without a Name Index.”
    Sad News
    Gefter, JudithWe were saddened to learn of the passing of one of our members, Judith Gefter, on November 20, at age 89.  According to her obituary in the Davis Enterprise, Judith worked as a photographer for numerous national magazines, including Time and Life, and her subjects included heads of state such as  President Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin as well as artists, actors and performers.
    Pursuing her interests in genealogy, Judith traveled extensively in Lithuania seeking records for her family research.  She also photographed ancestral towns.
    Services have been held; we extend our deepest sympathy to Judith’s family and friends.
    November 20, 2011 Meeting
    Dues are due: President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests.  She noted that our dues are paid on a calendar-year basis, and it’s time to renew your membership for 2012.  The cost is $25 – checks may be given to Bob Wascou at the next meeting (December 18), or mailed to the JGSS, c/o the Albert Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright Street, # 230 [our box], Sacramento, CA 95825.
    Victoria and Bay Area JGS President Jeremy Frankel attended the recent Ancestry Day in San Francisco.  Victoria passed around the syllabus and brought back extra handouts.
    Sacramento’s Central Library continues its genealogy classes – Barbara Leak will talk about Naturalization Rules and Records on January 8; Steve Morse will be speaking January 15 on the 1940 census; January 22 will feature a presentation on Common Surname Search Strategies.  For details go to www.saclibrary.org.
    Sue Miller noted that Gerry Ross says hello to everyone and hopes to be back at her Einstein home within a few days.  Marvin Freedman is also at home and currently not able to attend meetings, but would welcome calls.
    Mort Rumberg passed around an article from last week’s Sacramento Bee, describing how a Holocaust database reunited two family members many years after they were separated.
    November Presentation – Jim Rader on One-Name Vs. Surname Research
    (Handouts have been sent to you separately.)
    Jim Rader, longtime area genealogist and genealogy teacher, returned to share the benefits of his research for the Rader name (with variations including Roder, Rotter, Roeder, Roetter and Rather).  His surname study is at www.rader.org.  He notes that he has more  information on Raders than you can find in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
    “I’ve discovered after collecting all the people named Rader (and related spellings) that when there’s one couple, there’s more than one couple.  How comfortable are you that you have the right one?  How do you make sure?”
    Jim talked about the British Guild of One name studies, and a book called “The Surname Detective” by Colin Rogers, showing how to do a one-name study.
    Jim says the focus is on statistical methods to see where people appear with a particular surname.  How many people are there with a particular surname in a particular town?
    The surname study emphasizes collecting families and trying to link them together, whereas the one-name study focuses on collecting individuals and determining places of concentration.
    Surname studies focus on relationships and use census records, obituaries, etc.  One-name studies look at birth, marriage and death records at a place in time, with no relationship necessary.  Jim provided a hand-out with a checklist for a one-name study.
    There is an International Genealogy Index, or IGI.
    Family Tree  Wiki approach – the LDS believes if you open it up to everyone to come in and make changes, over time it will become more accurate.
    Jim said he would be attending the February 1-4  Roots Tech conference in Salt Lake City, the second one that’s been held.   “They’re getting tech people and genealogy people meeting together.”  He said there are lectures for programmers, for database people, for genealogists.  They had an attendance of some 3,000 last year, and the next conference is expected to be even bigger.  For more details: www.rootstech.org.
    Jim also talked about DNA testing, and is trying to collect DNA from people with the same surname. 
    He says testing prices have come down, and for $119 you can get a 37-marker Y chromosome DNA test.    "Find a male relative who has a surname you want to research," he says.
    Jim passed out his surname-study handout.  "Collect all the people with your surname in the world," he says.  Then merge them together in one file, see the places where they live, and have them do DNA tests if you can.
    "You don't have all the family Bibles," he says -- they generally go to the daughter, and five generations later, you don't know that daughter's last name.
    Jim says the methods he's used for the past 35 years have been supplanted by new tools.  "Break your old habits and find new ways of collecting and processing data."   That's one reason he's going to the RootsTech conference in February.
    Jim takes research done by someone else, no matter how accurate it is, and takes it as hints, not facts.  "I collect everything to do further research.  I try to go on both sides of the brick wall."
    He suggests going to Googlebooks and typing in the word "heraldry," for coats of arms, but you can also type in your surname and see what comes up.
    By making your information public, that may help people get in touch with you.  "By putting your stuff out where someone can find you, you can start talking to them about taking DNA tests -- you want to become best friends with that young man."
    And Jim asked if people were comfortable with the fact that your name has more than one spelling -- "otherwise you're only looking at 10 percent of the records.  Let go of the concept of how you spell your name."
    "I have everything I've got every place I am, in hopes that my cousin I don't know about will find me."  Jim says he received a few calls from people in the stacks at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, holding his book.
    To print a book about your family, Jim recommends www.lulu.com. For a full-color book, the cost is about $96.65; for black and white, $32.50.  They will take something in PDF form and in less than a week, put a printed book in your hand for less than $10.  You pay nothing until you print it, searchable on the Internet, and another place your cousins can find you.
    Jim says he has 95,000 people in his database, all the people in the U.S. with his name.
    "Ignore what they tell you about needing to know the village -- start by gathering people of the same surname, " he says.
    Legacy Family Tree has a family mapper, mapping where surnames show up.  Jim also mentioned https://familysearch.org  (records, trees, catalogs, books) and www.findyourfamilytree.com.
    Jim can be reached at jim@....
    Woman claims ‘Adam’ is her ancestor
    By Adam Voge  adam.voge@... lacrossetribune.com | Posted: Saturday, November 19, 2011
    Donna Portner of Galesville started researching her genealogy nearly 50 years ago, and has now traced her roots back to Adam in a family tree she’s detailed on a 24-foot scroll she began keeping in 1967.
    GALESVILLE — Donna Portner feels insignificant. On a 24-foot scroll containing names, locations and birthdates of her ancestors, her name takes up only inches.
    The unusual scroll details the complicated lineage of Portner’s ancestors, from Underground Railroad activists and American pioneers to royalty. As she looks over names like Henry Hudson, Charlemagne the Great,  and Adam — yes, that Adam — and she’s filled with pride.
    “I’m a sum total of all my ancestors,” she said. “There are seeds of greatness in me that I didn’t know I had.”
    Portner began researching her family line nearly 50 years ago as a way of discovering herself and finding a link to the past. In 1963, while living in Illinois, she started by talking to relatives and combing through family artifacts, Bibles and census records. She traveled to Madison, Indiana and Salt Lake City to search genealogical archives
    Four years later, she got on her hands and knees and began drawing the family tree on the scroll.
    At first, names came slowly — it took Portner five years to trace the first few generations. But one breakthrough led to another, and eventually Portner traced her family line back to her earliest American kin. Just when new leads appeared to dry up, the Internet opened a new world, allowing Portner to trace her family across the oceans. She connected her lineage to King Robert III of France, then moved into Asia.
    The tree eventually  narrowed into one long, thin branch that reached into Biblical records — and ended, she says, with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
    Portner knows the root of her record sounds farfetched. But she doesn’t let the doubts faze her.
    “All I can do is write down what I’ve discovered and researched,” she said. “If people choose to question it, they can.”
    After a near half-century of research that’s led Portner to start telling people she has “Heinz 57” for blood, Portner has learned a lot about herself. And learning about her early relatives has further inspired her: She’s now writing her own life history, which she plans to pass down to each of her children, along with a copy of her scroll.
    But tracing her lineage back to the original man doesn’t mean her work is over. Portner has entire branches to trace back to the root, new people to discover, and new stories to tell.
    “That’s the thing about genealogy,” she said. “It’s never done.”
     See you Sunday, December 18!

  • SusanneLevitsky@...
    July 15, 2017 Upcoming Meetings -- No July Meeting Getting Started in Genealogy --- August 20, 9 a.m. to noon September 17, 9 a.m. to noon Meeting Notes --
    Message 60 of 60 , Jul 15

    July 15, 2017
    Upcoming Meetings --
    No July Meeting
    Getting Started in Genealogy --- August 20, 9 a.m. to noon
    September 17, 9 a.m. to noon

    Meeting Notes -- June 11, 2017
    Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests.
    Mort mentioned that the numbered parking spaces are for Einstein residents and we should park elsewhere.
    There will be no meeting next month, when the IAJGS conference will be held in Orlando.
    The California Museum will have a film program through August 6 --“Light and Noir,” exiles and Emigres in Hollywood, 1933-1950.
    Librarian Teven Laxer showed several books we have in our library, including “The History of the Jews in Milwaukee” and “The History of the Jews in Los Angeles” – both have cross-references to newspaper articles.  We also have a Legacy Family Tree 8.0 Manual.
    Teven said we have close to 500 volumes in our library, most targeting Jewish genealogy. The library is one of the benefits of membership.
    The Tikva group will have its next program June 25 on Anti-Semitism. It will take place at B’Nai Israel from 1 to 4 p.m.  The guest speaker will be Nancy Appel from the ADL in San Francisco.
    Judy Persin is organizing the August and September meetings which will focus on Beginning Genealogy Workshops, from 9 a.m. to noon on August 20 and September 17. There will be two sessions each Sunday. “We’ll provide the basics for those who are just beginning and it’s also a great review for old-timers,” Judy said.
    The cost is $10 for members, $15 for non-members, covering both August and September workshops.
    Registration form for the August/September workshops attached. Please reserve now to secure a space.
    June Speaker – Maryellen Burns “The Power of Story”
    Why do we tell stories? What is revealed, what is hidden in the story.
    “Growing up, I was really isolated,” Maryellen said.  “I didn’t discover I was Jewish until I was 10, when my parents invited a friend who had been in Auschwitz. I went from knowing nothing to now having 586 pages of relatives on my maternal grandmother’s side."
    She said her father was on the road from ages 7 to 9 – the only reason he could survive was that he could read the hobos’ symbols and find Jewish families in the South.
    Maryellen noted that while Jews don’t have godparents, two friends of her family, Nate and Laura, filled that role. She also recalls one day when Woody Guthrie, Andre Segovia and Arthur Fieldler’s sister were at her house.
    “I want to know the character of the person who is part of my history,” Maryellen said, something she learns through conversation. She says she has more than 110 conversations on her phone.
    She said the stories we tell and the stories we hide tell a lot about us.
    Maryellen said the family photos she had came from cousins, including many in the last few years. “My parents took a picture and then sent it to relatives.”
    “Each one of us in our lives has a keeper of stories,” she said. “The oral tradition plays a large part in Jewish culture.”
    "What we are named, who we are named for – are names chosen to hide our identity, to perhaps look we were Catholic?” That was the case for Maryellen and her brothers.
    Maryellen asked the group to talk to the person next to them about their names. Who were they named after?
    "And if you had a nickname, how did that affect your identity?”
    Seven Reasons Why We Tell Stories
    --They define who we are – what we choose to tell and what we want to conceal.
    -- To plant ideas in people – ideas, thoughts and emotions.
    -- We like stories
    -- We are born to tell stories.
    -- We are literally wired to relate to people who tell a story
                It’s our own natural tendency to tell fictional stories as well as true stories.
    -- Stories inspire action.
    -- We tell stories to impress.
    Maryellen asked the group, how many of you plan on recording your story in some way? Most of you. What is the mechanism you will use?
    Why is it important to you? Do it for your kids?  Think about donating a copy to the library.  Maybe you can bring something that will spark a story in someone else.
    Maryellen said we tend to rely on lists of questions. “But get into conversation, let the story lead where the person wants to go. What did the house, Grandma, smell like?  What did you hear when you were there?”
    Maryellen does talks on a number of subjects, including book architecture, whipping up a family cookbook, and (for the Renaissance Society), how every wave of immigration affected the food in the local area.
    Maryellen can be reached by email at Maryellen_burns@....
    International Jewish Genealogy Conference hosts a plethora of talent
    Heritage -- Florida Jewish Names  June 23, 2017
    Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, host of the popular PBS television show "Finding Your Roots," will address the IAJGS annual awards banquet with a talk on "Genealogy and Genetics in America.

    What do Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alexander Hamilton and Aida have to do with discovering your ancestors? To find out, join other genealogists at the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy from July 23–28 at the Disney World Swan Resort in Orlando, Florida.

    Henry Louis Gates Jr., host of the PBS hit series "Finding Your Roots," will be the featured speaker on "Genetics and Genealogy in America" on Thursday evening at the conference. Some of the many celebrities that Gates has successfully helped to find their Jewish roots include Barbara Walters, Julianna Margulies, Gloria Steinem, Norman Lear, Tony Kushner, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey, Jr., Carole King, Alan Dershowitz and Dustin Hoffman.

    "This is a one of a kind opportunity for the Greater Orlando Jewish community to trace their ancestors-both for those totally new to family history research and those already experienced in genealogy," said Dr. Diane Jacobs, local host conference co-chair.

    Sunday evening will feature "Alexander Hamilton, the Jews, and the American Revolution," presented by Dr. Robert Watson, professor, historian, author, and media commentator.

    Wednesday evening, there will be a special showing of the 2016 acclaimed documentary "Aida's Secrets" (sponsored by MyHeritage). This documentary is a story about family secrets, lies, high drama and generations of contemporary history. The international story begins with World War II and concludes with an emotional 21st century family reunion. Izak was born inside the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp in 1945 and sent for adoption in Israel. Utilizing the resources of Yad Vashem and MyHeritage, secret details of his birth mother, an unknown brother in Canada and his father's true identity slowly emerge in this extremely personal investigative film. 

    Featured Monday evening, acclaimed expert and author on etymology and geographic distribution of Jewish surnames, Alexander Beider and Harry Ostrer will debate "Setting the Record Straight: What Yiddish and DNA Tell Us About Ashkenazi Origins" (sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA).
    On Tuesday evening, "1917: A Turning Point in American Jewish History" (sponsored by JGSLA) will be presented by Hasia Diner, author and Paul and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish history at New York University.
    Professor Robert Watson, a featured speaker at the IAJGS Florida/Caribbean conference, will talk about our Nevis-born founding father "Alexander Hamilton, the Jews, and the American Revolution."

    The conference will include special emphasis on finding ancestors through DNA, finding Converso/Anusim ancestors, Jews in Florida, the Caribbean and the South, and strategies for passing your family legacy on to younger generations. Conference tracks, workshops, and sessions will focus on how to trace your ancestry through the Diaspora: in Poland, Galicia, Germany, Ukraine, Lithuania, Hungary, Austria, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Sub-Carpathia, Czech Republic, North Africa, South Africa, Brazil, Bessarabia/Moldova, and more. The special aspects of tracing Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi, and rabbinic family lines will be covered.
    Stanley Diamond is a leader in Canadian Jewish Research, JRI-Poland
    By Bill Gladstone -   July 13, 2017   Canadian Jewish News
    Stan Diamond, left, receiving his medal from Gov.Gen David Johnston. SGT. JOHANIE MAHEU RIDEAU HALL PHOTO
    In 1986, when Montrealer Stan Diamond sold his decorative-ceiling company after a successful business career, he could not have envisioned that a second career, even more monumental than the first, lay ahead of him. Almost by happenstance, it seems, he became executive director of a large, U.S.-based non-profit organization called JRI-Poland, which would help thousands of people research their family roots – an achievement for which he received a Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on June 23.
    To date, JRI-Poland (short form for Jewish Records Indexing, Poland) has indexed some five million 19th-century and early 20th-century Jewish birth, marriage, death and other records from more than 550 Polish towns. Not only is the database fully searchable online, but more than two-million records are available for download, with more becoming accessible every few months.
    Driven by an executive committee of four, a 16-member board and an international network of hundreds of volunteers, JRI-Poland raises about US$100,000 ($133,000) each year, most of which goes to digitizing and indexing records that are mostly hand written in antique Polish script or Russian Cyrillic. Scores of volunteers from the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia, Great Britain, France and elsewhere participate in the project.
    Diamond has heard countless stories of people achieving remarkable, sometimes even life-changing results from the JRI-Poland database. It has been instrumental, for instance, in uniting long lost family members. Recently, a brother and sister in Jerusalem found a half-brother from their father’s second family, who was previously unknown to them, even though he was living just 90 minutes away. Last year, Diamond used the database to confirm the birth date of 112-year-old Auschwitz survivor Yisrael Kristal of Haifa, who was subsequently proclaimed the world’s oldest man by Guinness World Records.
    His inbox is filled with stories of research “miracles” and people telling him that JRI-Poland has solved enduring family mysteries. “Two weeks ago, a woman in Toronto wrote us that her grandfather had always said they were related to (the late French actor and mime) Marcel Marceau and she wanted to know how,” he said. Taking on the challenge, he found that Marceau’s family was from the Polish town of Bedzin, where their surname had been Mangel, and was able to make the connection to the woman’s family. The lady was thrilled.
    While Jewish record books in most towns survived the devastation of fire, flood and war, there are often gaps in the series of available years. In a few towns, the records disappeared entirely. Sometimes it’s a matter of town officials being careless; and some records were lost during the tumultuous Nazi era, when the occupying Germans took over town halls for their headquarters. In Pultusk, Jewish records before 1875 were reportedly destroyed by the Jews themselves, who feared the Nazis would use them to track down the town’s Jewish families.
    The Warsaw cemetery, Diamond related, once had huge volumes of burial registers that disappeared. “What we were told by the management of the Warsaw cemetery is that they were used as firewood during the war,” he said. “They were huge registers – you’re looking at a cemetery with some 300,000 or more burials.”
    Diamond’s knowledge of Polish geography, developed over many annual two-week trips, seems remarkable for a non-native. “At the end of one trip, we were talking to the director of the archives about all sorts of things and I was pulling the names (of towns) out of a hat and he remarked, ‘You know, Mr. Diamond, I think you know more about the Polish State Archives (PSA) and about Polish geography than anybody else outside of Poland’,” he said.
    His knowledge of both Polish geography and Jewish genealogy began innocently enough some 30 years ago, when he wanted to trace the path of a rare genetic condition called beta thalassemia within his own family tree. Travelling to Poland, he received permission to index the Jewish records from his own ancestral town, Ostrow Mazowiecka. When he was done, he paid a visit to Prof. Jerzy Skowronek, then director of the PSA.
    “When I presented him with the printout of the database, I was not in any way, shape or form thinking about what was going to happen next,” Diamond said. “He said to me, ‘Mr. Diamond, this is very impressive, I wasn’t expecting this.’ And I don’t know what prompted me at that moment, but I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do this for all of Poland?’And he said, ‘Well it’s not our policy, but maybe we’ll start small and do a few more towns’.”
    When he returned to Canada, Diamond began calling people and raising interest. He attributes the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fortuitous co-operative spirit of the PSA as chief factors – along with the rise of the personal computer and the World Wide Web – behind JRI-Poland’s step-by-step development and growth. “Everything came together, the timing was exquisite,” he said. “It was a continuum of one thing happening after another that made all this possible.”
    A key step along the way was the agreement that Diamond signed with the PSA in 1997 that officially recognized JRI-Poland as a partner. “After that, we had the credibility to go to each branch of the PSA, having been introduced by headquarters. Back then, of course, we were still buying photographs of the index pages. When digitalization became a reality, that was also a turning point,” said Diamond.
    Diamond has already received numerous awards for his work, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. Last December, he was nominated for the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
    As for the Meritorious Service Medal, all JRI-Poland leaders and volunteers also share in the honour, he said: “What we have accomplished has only been made possible through teamwork and a level of collaboration and dedication unmatched in the Jewish genealogical world.”
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