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Genealogy Update

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  • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
    Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento www.jgss.org May 5, 2012 Upcoming TV: Finding Your Roots, PBS, Channel 6, 8 p.m, Sunday, May 6: -- Sanjay Gupta,
    Message 1 of 43 , May 5, 2012
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      Jewish Genealogical Society
      of Sacramento
      May 5, 2012
       
      Upcoming TV:
      Finding Your Roots, PBS, Channel 6, 8 p.m, Sunday, May 6:  -- Sanjay Gupta, Martha Stewart, Margaret Cho
      Who Do You Think You Are?, NBC, Channel 3, Friday, May 11  -- Jason Sudeikis
       
      Upcoming Meetings:
      Here's our schedule for the next few months.  Big thanks to Mort Rumberg for his work on obtaining these speakers.
      Sunday, May 20, 10 a.m. – Robinn Magid, “California Jewish Cemeteries”
      Monday, June 18, 7 p.m. – Glenda Lloyd, “City Directories – A Problem-Solving Approach.” 
      Monday, July 16, 7 p.m. -- Tamara Noe, “Names: What Are You Missing?”
      Monday, August 20, 7 p.m. --  Ron Arons, "Finding Living People on the Internet"
       
      April 15, 2012 Meeting Summary
      President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order and welcomed members.  Mort Rumberg shared the details about the upcoming Jewish Heritage Festival, April 29 from 10 to 4 p.m.  This year it's located at 20th and Capitol.  We'll have a table and could use volunteers to staff it for an hour or two.
      Art Yates noted that it was his birthday today, and also the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  He said that one of his relatives, William Thomas Stead, who was friends with George Bernard Shaw, went down with the ship. [Note from Susanne -- just googled Stead, and quite a few entries, including a lengthy Wikipedia profile about him.]
      Lester Smith noted that 100 years ago was also eventful for his family -- it was the date of his father and mother's exit papers from Vilnius.
      Burt Hecht talked about the 1940 census information, and that he found all of his remaining cousins in the census, and sent them copies of the documents.
       
      April Presentation: U.S. Customs and Immigration Services, Lynn Brown
       
      Lynn returned to speak to us about U.S. citizenship and immigration records, and how to order them online.
      Main website: http://www.uscis.gov
      On March 2, 2003 the immigration and naturalization function was placed under the Department of Homeland Security, and became the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service.
      Lynn said prior to that, there had been a lot of lapses in visas, expired passports, etc. and it was felt they needed to restructure the functions.  Two other departments were put under USCIS -- the Border Patrol and ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement), but they have nothing to do with genealogy.
      Under the new USCIS, Lynn said they've created a genealogy research department.  In May 2009, a new fee-for-service online ordering and e-pay system was initiated:
      Lynn talked about records currently available:
      -- naturalization records from September 1906 to March 1956
      --immigration/visa records from July 1924 to May 1951
      -- alien and registered aliens, from 1940
      -- there are pre-1906 citienship records, updated
      -- women's naturalization from 1906-1920, when they had to be naturalized under their husband's name
      -- alien registration form Form AR-2, from 1940-44
      -- immigrant files (A-Files), from April 1944 to May 1951.
       
      Congress requested that states destroy World War I draft registration reocrds, but it was a request.  Some states cooperated, some didn't.   So some records still available.  ?But for sure, Lynn says, the World War II records are available, and there was no request to destroy them.
      Immigration A Files -- 1944-51.  There was a card immigrants ahd to carry in their wallets -- "today we call them green cards."
      Registry Files --
      From March 1929 to 1944, created a registry file for immigrants -- included letters, Bible or church records, employment records, and two sponsors.
      Visa Files -- From July 1924-1944 -- contained information normally found on a ship's registry.
      Lynn said the USCIS does not have:
      -- NARA National Archives records
      -- state or local archives records
       
      Before you can order a record, you need to determine if the record still exists.
       
      Lynn then outlined the online process for obtaining records.  There are two services:
      1)  Index search
      2)  Record Copy Request
       
      Lynn said you should start with the index, for a specific immigrant/individual.
      The fee for this is $20, using the G-1041 form.
       
      Record Copy Request:
      This can range from $20-35.  The form is the G-1041A
       
      You need to provide what you know, all that you know, to help them narrow down the search.  Within 90 days you should get a reply back.  You're looking for the individual's file, not one record -- you don't know what's in that file.  They'll give you the file number.
      You have up to a year to order the case file.
      "You may get one page or 27 pages," Lynn said. "Then they have another 90 days to get back to you, although mine took nine months."
      Lynn says if you search and say go to record, you'll get one record, not the whole file.
       
      Go to USCIS.gov/genealogy and make a genealogy request.  Start with form G-1041.  You can pay online or send a money order.  There is no refund if no records are found.
      "Lately this has gotten to be a very popular website," Lynn said.
      She suggests you read the FAQs first before ordering.
      Lynn said she had an interesting experience with her mother's file.  "They wrote me an e-mail, and said her file was classified, dlo you still want it?"  She recounted some activities of her mother here and in Sweden.
      Because of the privacy act for deceased individuals, their birth must either be 100 years or more from today, or you will need to provide a death certificate.  For proof of death, they will accept funeral notices.  They don't want the original death certificate, just the proof of death.
      "I recommend you print the request form, fill it out and then go back and transfer the information to the online form," Lynn said.  "When you order, they'll give you a case number.
      Lynn can be contacted by e-mail at Lgbrown@....
       
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      Some articles that may of interest follow:
       
      FHC Classes on Wednesday
      The Regional Family History Center on Eastern Avenue (2745 Eastern Avenue) holds genealogy classes on Wednesday afternoons and evenings. For details on upcoming classes, go to http://www.familyhistorycenter.info.
       
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      Perform Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness
       
      Boston Genealogy Examiner
       
      Started in 1999, Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) is a web-based volunteer organization that provides a wealth of services, from photographing graves to retrieving vital records, finding obituaries, researching in libraries and much more. Volunteers never charge for their time, just for expenses (photocopying or record fees, postage, parking fees, etc.). Each volunteer has committed to making at least one RAOGK a month.
      In October 2011, a catastrophic computer failure took down the RAOGK web site. The following month, founder Bridgett Schneider (1946-2011) died. As stated in her obituary, Bridgett had "thousands of genealogy friends around the world." Her dedication, and that of her husband Doc, inspire many of us to volunteer or perform random acts to our fellow genealogists, one at a time.
      Recently, RAOGK was reborn as a wiki site. It includes sections divided by state and country, detailing what volunteers are available to research and the rules of making requests. Volunteers are listed on the Massachusetts page by county, starting with "all." People who cover more than one county have their entries added more than once.  
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      FIFTY BEST BRICK WALL SOLUTIONS  -- from the JGS of the Conejo Valley/Ventura Co.
       
      The website GenealogyInTime has published solutions to what are considered the top 50 ‘brick wall’ problems.  Problems searching Names, Geography, Local Resources and Migration are separated with very specific suggestions on how to overcome those brick walls. Go to: http://tinyurl.com/c9lthc6
       
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      April 18, 2012, 10:14 a.m. EDT
      Genealogy Tool Kit Published by Foundation for the National Archives
      WASHINGTON, April 18, 2012 -- Step-by-Step Guide to Family Research at the National Archives /PR Newswire
      The Foundation for the National Archives announces the publication of the Genealogy Tool Kit: Getting Started on Your Family History at the National Archives, written by National Archives genealogy archives specialist John P. Deeben.
      This 160-page step-by-step guide was published by the Foundation and launched in April 2012 to coincide with the celebration of the National Archives' release of the 1940 U.S. Census. The Foundation has long supported research at the National Archives, including its annual support of the Archives' Genealogy Fair, and the development of genealogy products such as this Tool Kit and other archival and research-oriented items.
      The Genealogy Tool Kit will help family researchers of all levels of experience to explore how their ancestors interacted with the Federal Government over the course of their lives. Did they enter the United States from a foreign country? Apply to become an American citizen? Enlist in a regiment during a particular war? File for a patent, homestead, or pension?
      Through such questions, and many more, the Genealogy Tool Kit helps genealogists to navigate the records at the National Archives, from census and naturalization records to military and federal land grant records. With checklists to track the readers' progress, family trees to fill in as ancestors are discovered, and room for taking notes, the Tool Kit will also serve as researchers' own record of their family history research project.
      The Genealogy Tool Kit also includes the personal discovery stories of Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, and author and journalist A'Lelia Bundles, as well as inspirational accounts from several other family historians.
      The Tool Kit is available for purchase in the Archives Shop in Washington, DC, over the phone at 202-357-5271, or via email at nationalarchivesstore@...
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      Floridastoryon1940census
      Stuart woman recalls life in years around recently released 1940 census
      By Tyler Treadway  April 16, 2012Reba Shepard, education director of the Martin County Genealogical Society, searches for the 1940 census records on the National Archives website Tuesday in the Special Collections room at the Blake Library in Stuart. The 1940 census information was released April 2.
      Photo by Grayson Hoffman, special to Treasure Coast Newspapers
       
      Reba Shepard, education director of the Martin County Genealogical Society, searches for the 1940 census records on the National Archives website Tuesday in the Special Collections room at the Blake Library in Stuart. The 1940 census information was released April 2.
      Reba Erlene Masterson was 11 years old when this picture was taken in 1939.
      provided
      Reba Erlene Masterson was 11 years old when this picture was taken in 1939.
      Reba Shepard, education director of the Martin County Genealogical Society, organizes paperwork before starting her search of the 1940 census records on the National Archives website Tuesday in the Special Collections room at the Blake Library in Stuart. The 1940 census information was released April 2.
      Photo by Grayson Hoffman, special to Treasure Coast Newspapers
      Reba Shepard, education director of the Martin County Genealogical Society, organizes paperwork before starting her search of the 1940 census records on the National Archives website Tuesday in the Special Collections room at the Blake Library in Stuart. The 1940 census information was released April 2.
       
      STUART — When the enumerator for the 1940 U.S. Census counted 11-year-old Reba Masterson, her parents, Delmer and Clara Masterson, had just moved the family home to Seventh Street in Grove, Okla.
      Literally moved the family home, that is.
      "We had the same house in three different locations," said Reba Masterson Shepard of Stuart, education director and vice president of the Martin County Genealogy Society, who was born Sept. 2, 1928, in Picher, Okla., and grew up in nearby Grove.
      The sheet of paper filled out by the census taker showing the old house's new location and information about the Masterson family is one of more than 3.8 million digital images of census schedules, maps and other sociological minutiae released April 2 by the U.S. National Archives.
      General statistical information is readily available from every decennial head count conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. However, the "manuscript census," the individual forms filled out by citizens that includes detailed and personal information such as names, ages, race, family relationships, education, birthplace, 1935 residence, employment and income, can be released only after 72 years of confidentiality expires.
      Pamela Cooper, head of the genealogy department at the Indian River County Library in Vero Beach, said the volumes of new information "puts the meat on the bones" of what's already been released.
      The 1940 census had up to 34 questions for each man, woman and child enumerated and up to 15 more for every 14th and 29th person on each 40-person tally sheet.
      The 2010 census, by comparison, was touted by the U.S. Census Bureau as "10 questions, 10 minutes," the shortest questionnaire in the history of the national head count.
      "I'm still very upset with the 2010 census," said Patti Kirk of Vero Beach, creator of Family History Researchers. "It was terrible. There were almost no personal questions. It was just about getting numbers in order to rearrange congressional districts. It's going to be of no use to genealogists in the future. Of course, the excuse is that there's so much personal information about everybody available through the Internet that you don't need to get it from the census."
      The 1940 census, on the other hand, "is so exciting because it brings people who have been lost back closer to reality," Kirk said. "There's lots of personal information, more in-depth information about families that's invaluable to genealogists."
      Genealogists both amateur and professional are eating it up. As of Wednesday, the National Archives website devoted to the census (1940census.archives.gov) had delivered more than 100 terabytes (one terabyte is 1 trillion bytes) of 1940 census data; and the U.S. Census Bureau's website on the 1940 census (census.gov/1940census) had received 1.2 million hits.
      Historians think data from the 1940 census will be particularly enlightening because it documents the end of the tumultuous 1930s, when members of the so-called "Greatest Generation" were coming of age; the country was pulling itself out of the Great Depression; millions of Americans were moving off the farm and into the city; and World War II was looming on the horizon.
      In some cases, the "city" Americans moved to was as small as Grove, Okla.
      "That last move (in 1940) was from the country into town because my brother (Wayne) had just started high school," Shepard said, "and my father thought we should be close to the school. It was the first time we had indoor plumbing, which was a big deal. Before that, my mother used to do laundry in a big pot over an open fire."
      The Mastersons would later join the mass migration from Oklahoma and western Arkansas to California.
      "My father was in construction," Shepard said, "and there was more work in California. It was fine with me; I was ready to get out of that hick town."
      Once in California, Shepard quickly shed her Oklahoma accent.
      "Out there, if you were an 'Okie,' you didn't fit in," she said. "I wouldn't have made junior homecoming queen — which I did — if people had known I was an Okie."
      A census is supposed to take a snapshot of the nation; and in 1940, the Census Bureau and the federal government were particularly interested in the country's economic picture.
      "The reason behind every single question is politically motivated," Cooper said. "This was at the end of the Great Depression, and they were asking a lot about personal income."
      The census asked 13 questions about the employment status of people 14 and older, including No. 32: "Amount of money, wages, or salary received (including commissions)."
      Question No. 23 asked whether the person was seeking work, and No. 27 asked how many weeks the person had been unemployed up to March 30, 1940.
      The census also asked whether anyone in the household was employed with public emergency work projects such as the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps.
      "The government was focused on the economy," Cooper said, "and wanted to know how people were faring."
      The Masterson family was getting by, but just barely.
      Black-eyed peas were a mainstay of the family diet, Shepard recalled, because they were the cheapest bean available. But once, when her father found a quarter lying in the road, he splurged.
      "He told the grocer, 'I'll have pinto beans,'" Shepard said, "and the grocer gave him a sackful. We feasted for a long time on pinto beans thanks to that quarter."
      Every 14th and 29th person listed was asked additional questions about where their parents were from (questions 36 and 37) and what language was spoken in the home "in earliest childhood" (No. 38). Three questions (39-41) were about the respondent's status as a veteran.
      Pat Giordano, past president of the Treasure Coast Genealogy Society in St. Lucie County, said some of the questions were controversial at the time.
      "The census asked women how many times they had been married (No. 48) and how many children they had given birth to (the last question, No. 50)," Giordano said. "As a genealogist, if you know someone has three siblings, but their mother reports she had five children, then there may be some unknown siblings out there to track down."
      Shepard said she doubts the respondents always answered truthfully.
      "Lots of people don't like the government in their business," she said. "They didn't back in 1940, and they don't today."
      The recently released data are a cornucopia of information for genealogists, but the information also has problems. The first is that it's not searchable by name — at least not yet. The data consist of scanned images of handwritten documents cataloged by location. That means researchers have to know the address of the person they're looking for to determine which of 147,000 enumeration districts the person lived in, then scan through pages of records for that area.As soon as the data became available April 2, thousands of volunteers began "indexing" the census by name, an arduous task that could easily take until the end of the year.
      The data have other problems.
      "We've already found that the census takers made a lot of mistakes," Cooper said. "Sometimes they made the worst mistake, which is misspelling someone's name, which in some cases could have been a language problem."
      Census takers were supposed to go sequentially from house to house, Cooper said, "but we've been seeing them zigzagging all over the place."
      Cooper did laud the 1940 census takers' handwriting as "the best we've seen so far. On all the previous censuses, the handwriting is atrocious."
      From Gary Mokotoff's Avotaynu's E-Zine,  April 15, 2012
       
      Yad Vashem To Acquire One Million More Testimonial Pages

      Last March, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Yad Vashem signed an agreement with the Ukraine KGB archives that will give Yad Vashem documents from the Holocaust period including such records as deportation lists and lists of murdered Jews. (See Nu? What’s New? Volume 12, Number 11, March 20, 2011.) Now Haaretz is reporting that agreements have been signed with the national archives of Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia that will add more than one million testimonials by survivors.

      The document collection includes passports, identity papers, documents about house use (attesting to entry and occupation procedures enforced under Communist rule), demographic registries, medical records, personal files of school teachers, and more.

      The entire report can be found at http://tinyurl.com/6tl4gzs.


      Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas Now in Book Form
      Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas, located at http://holocaustatlas.lt/EN/, is a website where there is information about mass murder sites of Jews throughout Lithuania. In early February, Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas was released in book form. It describes 227 sites of the extermination of Lithuanian Jews during the Holocaust. The book is available in English and Lithuanian and is part of a project launched in 2010 by the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum in Vilnius and the Austrian Verein Gedenkdienst organization. Under this project, workers at the Vilnius museum and Austrian volunteers visited Jewish extermination sites to take photos and collect information in archives and local offices. The online version of the Atlas was launched last year.

      The Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas claims it is the only chronicle of these historical events, comprising a register of victims, details of the mass murders and proof of the names of the perpetrators of the executions. Nowadays, the entrance to these memorial sites is often times hindered because some are located outside of cities and towns, far away from main roads and/or hidden in forests. The Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas may therefore serve as a guide book with detailed maps and transportation guidelines. Photographs of monuments and memorial boulders that have been placed at execution sites also provide a great source of information.

      Additional information about the project is available at http://www.shtetl.lt/m/en/news/2301/.


      Long Lost Family Returns to British Television
      Long Lost Family, a genealogy-related program about reuniting family members who were apart for years, returned to British television (ITV1) on April 12 at 9pm. The show is sponsored by Genes Reunited. Information about the British program is at http://www.itv.com/beontv/long-lost-family.



      FamilySearch Additions for the Week
      Below are the only additions of images and/or indexes to FamilySearch that I have concluded may be of interest to Jewish genealogists. The complete list can be found at http://tinyurl.com/ca4df22. This site provides links directly to the collection described. Note that announced new collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date.
         Czech Republic, Censuses, 1843–1921 Added images to existing collection.
         Czech Republic, Land Records, 1450–1850 Added images to existing collection.
         Dominican Republic, Civil Registration, 1801–2010 Added images to existing collection.
         Estonia, Population Registers, 1918–1944 Added images to existing collection.
         Germany, Bavaria, Fürth, Emigration Records and City Directories, 1805–1921 New image collection.
         Peru, Civil Registration, 1874–1996 Added images to existing collection.
         Philippines, Civil Registration (National), 1945–1980 Added images to existing collection.
         United States, Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871–1920 Added images to existing collection.
         United States, Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797–1954 Added images and index records to existing collection.
         United States, New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682–1956 Added indexed records to existing collection.
         United States, New York, County Naturalization Records, 1792–1976 New image collection.
         United States, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789–1994 Added images to existing collection.
         United States, Tennessee County Marriages, 1790–1950 Added images and index records to existing collection.


                                              ~~~~~~~~~~~                                                                            See you at our Sunday, May 20 meeting!
       
    • 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 9:18 AM
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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

        http://static01.nyt.com/images/2015/02/27/opinion/27lidegaard/27lidegaard-articleLarge.jpg
        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.”
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        See you at next Sunday's meeting, March 15, 10 a.m.
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