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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 43 , Nov 26, 2011
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    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@...
    March 9, 2015 In Memory of BobWascou Bob was a longtimemember, mentor and past president of our society and a tireless advocate forthe JGSS and friend to
    Message 43 of 43 , Mar 9
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      March 9, 2015
      In Memory of Bob Wascou
      Bob was a longtime member, mentor and past president of our society and a tireless advocate for the JGSS and friend to members new and old.  In Sacramento he coordinated efforts to photograph each headstone at the Home of Peace cemetery, among other efforts. But he also took a leadership role in Romanian research and more.
      Bob was placed on the JewishGen Wall of Honor for his work as project coordinator for the Kishinev (Moldova) databases and also became the Research Coordinator for ROM-SIG, the Romanian Special Interest Group.  Through his guidance, more than 290,000 items were added to JewishGen's All-Romanian database.
      Rosanne Leeson, co-coordinator of ROM-SIG, has advised us that a special fund has been set up in memory of Bob at JewishGen:
      http://www.jewishgen.org/JewishGen-erosity/v_projectslist.asp?project_cat=20   The fund will be used to help obtain materials for the SIG in places closest to Bob's heart.
      And we were honored to note that in Bob's obituary his family requested any donations in his memory be made to the JGSS.
      We extend our deepest sympathy to Bob's wife, Linda, and son, Danny, at this difficult time.
      Bob Wascou at far right, at 2010 IAJGS Conference in Los Angeles
      Our Sunday March 15 Meeting, 10 a.m.
      "Anusim -- Crypto Jews on Your Family Tree"
      Join the Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento for the presentation by Jason Lindo and Susan Aguilar on "Anusim" or "Crypto-Jews” from the Iberian Peninsula, Jews forced to convert to Christianity.  The program will focus on customs and countries of origin, the clues most descendants of Anusim first discover.
      Sephardic Jews have their origins in the Iberian Peninsula, what today is Spain and Portugal. Both countries had a sizeable population of Crypto-Jews.
      Jason will discuss customs in the home, food customs, religious customs and those associated with death. Jason is the descendant of Portuguese Crypto-Jews (Marranos). While raised in the Greek Catholic faith in Hawaii, he grew up in a home that continued many of the customs of his Portuguese family's Crypto-Jewish heritage.  Jason converted to Judaism in 1996 and is an active member of the Congregation B'nai Israel.
      Susan Aguilar of Elk Grove is a doctoral candidate in Jewish History and Culture at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.  Her area of specialization is medieval Iberia.
      From Gary Mokotoff's Recent Avotaynu E-Zines:

      A Bit of History:
      Convicts to Australia and the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System

      A recent news release by Ancestry.com noting they have records of Australia’s “First Fleet” of convicts sent to colonize the area reminded me that the first article in the first issue of AVOTAYNU, January 1985, was written by the late Chief Rabbi of Australia, Israel Porush (1907–1991), about the history of Australia.

      The British permanent presence in Australia started on January 26, 1788, when a group of 750 convicts landed there to establish a penal colony. Known as the “First Fleet” to Australians, the penal colony was created because the British colonies in North American had recently gained their independence and Great Britain had no place to dump their excess convicts. Rabbi Porush noted that some of the members of the First Fleet were Jewish but “…Most of the Jewish convicts were guilty of petty crimes such as pick-pocketing, shop-lifting and receiving stolen goods…” He then went on to note that many of these Jewish convicts eventually were freed and became prominent citizens in the early history of Australia.

      In rereading the article, when I came to its end, I noticed it was immediately followed by an article written by me titled “Proposal for a Jewish Soundex Code.” This article was read by Randy Daitch, another Jewish genealogist, who at that time was also contemplating the inadequacies of the conventional Russell Soundex System for German and Eastern European surnames. The two of us collaborated and the result was the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System, which today is the default search option for most of the databases on JewishGen.

      The Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System also is used by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) as its standard soundex system for retrieving case histories and is the standard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. It is used to search the Ellis Island database of 24 million immigrants at the “
      Stephen P. Morse Searching the Ellis Island Database in One Step” site.

      Israel State Archives to Digitize and Place Its Records Online
      Yaacov Lozowick, Chief Archivist at the Israel State Archives, is in the process of fulfilling a dream. His dream is to digitize the documents held by the Israel State Archives and place the records on the Internet (if privacy considerations do not apply). This is the year we can anticipate results. Lozowick indicates that the first record group to be available later this year will be either the 80,000 files of requests for citizenship during the British Mandate period, or the 800,000 files of Israel's first census in 1948. He notes that the paper document collection at the archives is so huge, it might take 25 years to complete the project.

      FDA Eases Access to DNA Screening for Inherited Diseases
      In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the DNA service 23andme from claiming they offered health-related information stating “...you are marketing the 23andMe Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service (PGS) without marketing clearance or approval in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act).”
      Now the FDA has reevaluated the situation and says they are easing access to DNA tests used to screen people for devastating genetic disorders that can be passed on to their children. The Associated Press states, “This announcement offers a path forward for the Google-backed genetic testing firm 23andMe, which previously clashed with regulators over its direct-to-consumer technology.”

      The Winter issue of
      AVOTAYNU describes how a woman used the 23andme service before the ban, which lead to the discovery that she had a genetic propensity for breast cancer (BRCA2 gene). An MRI proved she had the early stage of the disease.

      GenealogyIndexer Adds Automated Hebrew, Yiddish Transliteration System
      Logan Kleinwaks has hundred of scanned directories at his website,
      http://genealogyindexer.org. It includes, to date, 129 yizkor books, most of which are written in Yiddish and Hebrew. To search these books previously required that you use Hebrew/Yiddish characters to search the site. Kleinwaks has now added a new way to search Hebrew and Yiddish sources.

      There now is an option for automated transliteration, so the search term can be typed in Latin letters and the system will find matches in Hebrew and Yiddish. To enable this option, change the pull-down menu, "Add Latin -> Cyrillic," to "Add Latin -> Cyrillic + Hebrew" or "Only Latin -> Hebrew." The transliteration only works with single-word search terms and the Regular Match option (not D-M Soundex or OCR-Adjusted). It is limited by the accuracy of the OCR software used to convert scanned documents to (Hebrew, Yiddish) text.

      Guarding Denmark’s Jewish Heritage

      A memorial service on Feb. 16 in Copenhagen for the victims of attacks on a synagogue and an event promoting freedom of expression. Credit Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
      COPENHAGEN — The attack on Copenhagen’s synagogue earlier this month that left a volunteer Jewish watchman dead is a tragedy for a society that, for more than two centuries, has insisted that there is no tension between being Jewish and being Danish. It was precisely this sense of national solidarity across religious lines that helped save Denmark’s Jews from the Nazis during World War II.
      And that’s why it rubbed many Danes the wrong way when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Danish Jews to “come home” to Israel after the attack. Even if Denmark’s Jews clearly face a new threat, this time from a small group of extremist Muslim Danes, Mr. Netanyahu seemed to be belittling the social unity that is so treasured by most Danes and denying both Denmark’s proven ability to protect its Jewish population — something that Danes are very proud of — and Danish Jews’ affinity for their country.
      Denmark is a very unusual case in the troubled history of Europe and its Jews. Two hundred years ago, many European thinkers argued that there was an insurmountable contradiction between being patriotic and being Jewish. Much of Europe’s subsequent anti-Semitism was rooted in this idea.
      But in Denmark, Jews were welcomed and in 1814 obtained a charter assuring them access to employment while submitting them to civil law. With the Danish Constitution in 1849, Jews became citizens with full and equal rights. Although prejudice and a hint of anti-Semitism existed, there was no basis for the ideological anti-Semitism that flourished in Europe in the 1930s. Indeed, in 1939 the Danish Parliament passed laws against it.
      With the German occupation of Denmark in 1940, the nation’s relationship with its Jewish minority was put to a fateful test. The Danish government ruled the country under German “protection,” and in many areas caved in to German interests. Still, the government insisted that there was no “Jewish problem,” and declined repeated German requests to single out the Jews. King Christian X told the prime minister that if the Germans obliged the Danish Jews to wear the Star of David, then “we must all wear yellow stars.” The remark led to the myth that the king wore the yellow star during his daily ride around occupied Copenhagen.
      Resistance to the idea of discriminating against the Danish Jews became a patriotic symbol. When the government resigned in August 1943, and thus could no longer grant the Jews protection, the Nazi occupiers moved against the 7,000 Danish Jews. A raid was organized on Oct. 1, 1943, but few were captured. The vast majority of Jews were warned in advance — when Hitler’s own representatives tipped off leading politicians, who then spread the word within the Jewish community. Even leading Nazis feared the raid would provoke an uprising in the Danish population and in total less than 500 Jews were deported. The rest sought refuge and with the help of their countrymen managed to escape to safety in neutral Sweden.
      The rescue was perceived as an act of patriotism and as a quiet rebellion against the occupation and its terror. After the war, most Jews returned to Denmark, where they generally found their property and apartments untouched and often cared for by neighbors and friends. Of the 500 who were deported to Theresienstadt, approximately 90 percent were rescued and brought back to Denmark in a dramatic last-minute operation just before the collapse of the Third Reich.
      The fact that the vast majority of Danish Jews were spared the horrors of the Holocaust has become a national rallying point and a central part of modern Denmark’s national self-understanding.
      The targeting of Jews today is particularly troubling because, with immigration, mainly from Muslim-majority countries, rising in recent decades, prominent members of the Jewish community have been among the foremost advocates of integrating these new Danes deeply into society. While right-wing parties have grown in popularity here, Danish Jewish leaders have emphasized the dangers of exclusion, prejudice and intolerance.
      While anti-Semitism isn’t widespread in Denmark, there are a number of radicalized second- and third-generation immigrants who project the Israeli-Palestinian conflict onto local Jews, and see any Jew as a representative of Israel. This creates a latent threat of violence against Jews — as was so sadly demonstrated earlier this month.
      Most interesting is the number (or lack of numbers) of comments to this article. Apparently concern for and/or fighting antisemitism,...
      Other groups have been targeted as well. Newspapers and cartoonists have been forced to beef up security due to direct threats and failed attempts to attack them. Indeed, the first deadly attack this month was on a seminar about the freedom of expression. Still, handling this threat presents the Jewish minority and the rest of Danish society with a particular dilemma.
      For two centuries, Denmark’s strategy of not treating Jews differently has been highly successful. Yet the threat from violent extremists is now undeniable, and no one can guarantee that a similar attack won’t happen again.
      But how do we provide for special protection when nobody wants the Jewish minority to be seen as special? How can we protect not only the security of Jews and Jewish institutions, but also their traditional position as a well-integrated part of Danish society?
      The key is to address directly the extremism and the radicalization leading to threats against Jews, cartoonists and others targeted by violent extremists without erecting walls and barriers.
      In the short run, protection measures will be necessary, but in the end it’s about avoiding escalation and safeguarding Denmark’s open and safe society, and the idea that religious minorities shouldn’t be treated any differently than any other citizens. That’s a much harder challenge — and a more important one.
      Bo Lidegaard is editor in chief of the Danish daily Politiken and the author of “Countrymen: The Untold Story of How Denmark’s Jews Escaped the Nazis.”
      See you at next Sunday's meeting, March 15, 10 a.m.
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