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Genealogy Update

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  • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
    Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento www.jgss.org November 7, 2012 Our Next Meeting: Sunday, November 18, 10 a.m., Gary Sandler, ViewMate Need help with
    Message 1 of 60 , Nov 7, 2012
    Jewish Genealogical Society
    of Sacramento
    November 7, 2012
    Our Next Meeting:
    Sunday,  November 18, 10 a.m., Gary Sandler,  ViewMate
    Need help with translations of historical or family documents? Our own Gary Sandler will talk about the award-winning ViewMate program he helped create. The program, honored at this summer's Paris conference, is found on the www.JewishGen.org website.  It offers free translations of old passports, postcards, gravestones, official documents and more.  Gary has been the programmer for ViewMate and will introduce its features and capabilities.  It has helped thousands of people move past brick walls in their family research.
    Gary Sandler has been a computer guy and project planner for over 30 years. His interest in genealogy sprang from his curiosity about whether he was related to the actor Adam Sandler (no).  He says he's been applying his obsessive- compulsive behaviors to researching and documenting his Russian, Lithuanian and Polish roots for over a dozen years. In 2006-07, Gary worked with Steve Morse to create the “Gold Form” one-step tool for searching Ellis Island passenger records.
    Future Meetings:
    Sunday,  December 16, 10 a.m. – Lynn Brown, Citizenship Records and Immigration
    Sunday, January 20, 2013, 10 a.m. -- Janice Sellers, Reconstructing Family Information From Almost Nothing
    October 21, 2012 Meeting Notes
    President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests. She said we had a great booth at the recent Davis Food Festival and had 49 people sign up expressing an interest in genealogy. 
    At last week’s Family History Day at the State Archives, the State Archivist, Nancy Zimmelman Lenoil,  was among those stopping by (she has spoken to our group on several occasions).
    Victoria said she will attend Marc Dollinger’s presentation on “Jews of the West” in Davis this afternoon.
    The Sacramento History and Genealogy group has printed up a list of resources; they are selling them for $1 each.  Victoria has some available.
    Art Yates mentioned that for those who may not be able to attend next year’s international conference in Boston, he recommends they try to attend something a little cheaper –the Southern California Jamboree in Los Angeles June 7-9.  He says it’s very similar to attending the international conference; he’s been twice so far.
    The Sacramento Central Library continues to offer genealogy classes.
    Susanne mentioned the value of having  “Google Alerts” set up for less common names you’re researching (or ancestral town names, etc.). You receive daily contacts when the word or words you've selected show up online.  She recently connected with a long lost first cousin, prompted by a Facebook photo that showed up in one of her alerts.
    Victoria expressed thanks on behalf of the group to Maribel Reingold and Susan Rumberg, who alternate in providing baked goodies for us at each meeting.
    (Editorial note about the October program -- in the more than 15 years I've been a JGSS member, this is the first time I've heard a presentation on this topic.  Extremely valuable program, outstanding presentation -- Susanne)
    October Program – Gen-Legacy: What Happens to Your Research After You’re Gone?
    Patricia Burrow was the meeting’s speaker.  She  retired from a Silicon Valley tech career and went on to publish a few articles about her ancestors. She's now working on a book about her adopted grandmother.  Patricia leads several genealogy groups, including an indexing project at the Santa Clara County Archives, a family surname group and a surname DNA project. 
    Patricia started off by asking, “How many of you have been threatened with a dumpster?”
    She said you have to think of your own research and what you’ve done over the years.  “We’re historians, and we don’t want that history to get lost.”
    Patricia said she would like her own descendants to get the benefit of the research she’s already done.
    She asked the group how many had had the experience of cleaning out a relative’s house.  Most had.  She told of helping clean her husband’s uncle’s home, where one family member dumped desk drawers into trash bags.  Patricia was able to rescue his military medals and other things.  “These are the kinds of things that can happen.”
    People may not have more than 8-10 hours to clean out a home and need to move fast.
    She said her own father had a file folder under D in his file cabinet, for death, and things he thought were important to place there.
    “We have to think about some of these things we have and what to do to get them preserved so they can last 1-2-3 more generations.”
    Member Teven Laxer recounted how after his father-in-law, a Holocaust survivor, passed away, he left hundreds of three-ring binders, that Teven is still working on indexing five years later.  He’s been in touch with the Leo Beck Institute and Yad Vashem about the collection.  He also said that his mother-in-law gave away books written in German, some of which he’s been able to retrieve from neighbors and friends, noting their value as family heirlooms.
    Patricia said the major word for today is “Publish.”  --The best way for our work to continue and be available for future generations.”
    She cited a Chinese proverb – “The shortest pencil is better than the longest memory.”
    “My kids are not going to throw away a book that has their name on it,” Patricia said. “It’s a good way to distribute your genealogy.”
    She said if you can’t publish, make the material “look important.”  People might be reluctant to throw away something with their surname.
    Patricia also stressed the importance of:
          --   photos that are labeled  
          --   Memorabilia With a Story
          --  organizing for a stranger
    Photos That Are Labeled
    “My theory is that we’re going to lose 2-3 generations of photos, because of digital photos.
    Patricia suggested place like Shutterfly, Snapfish, the I-Street Press (also Costco) will help you turn your photos into books.  But be sure the captions clearly indicate who is in the pictures (not like a baby book she saw that just identifies the parents as  “Mom and Dad” and provided no details about the baby’s birthdate or other information).
    Memorabilia With a Story
    Patricia said no one will know if there’s a story behind an object – write down the story of where it came from, what it is.
    Organize for a Stranger
    … so  your heirs do not get hysterical, fed up and just give up and toss.
    “And I’m going to call our children strangers,” she said.
    Patricia's Suggestion – Name a Gen-Executor
    When you put together your will or trust, do not think of yourselves as hobbyists – you are historians.
    Patricia provided possible wording for a codicil to a will naming a particular person to take charge of one’s research.  “It is our wish that our daughter Susan Jones Taylor take possession of all files, books, pictures and related materials.  We wish her to, in reasonable time, distribute the materials to the appropriate families at her discretion.”
    Patricia said you might specify a sum of money to go with this request.
    “If you do not do it formally, you do take a chance that your wishes may not be invoked,” she said.  “If you think you have kids that are dying for your family history, good for you.”
    Member Sid Salinger, who has thousands of names on his family tree, said his family members would likely fight over his research:  “You take it – no, you take it.”
    Victoria Fisch said she would try to compile for the group a list of places that might accept material. If you have suggestions, email them to Victoria. For example, the Sacramento archives might take material relating to the area. She said we might want to talk to the State Archivist, Nancy Zimmelman Lenoil, about how material should be prepared. 
    Gen-Executor – Patricia said this doesn’t have to be someone who will finish or continue your research, but someone with a reverence for history and appreciation of the family.  “We’re just asking them to preserve the collection, who might have room for it.” 
    Letter to the Executor
    “I put a letter in front of all my binders,” Patricia said. “We have spent many long hours researching this material, representing our heritage….” 
    “I just put this letter everywhere,: she said.  (Burt Hecht suggested maybe a short video, as well.)
    “I would set aside some money for someone to sort, organize and distribute your research, maybe find someone to finish a family book, if that’s underway.”
    Drop-Dead Book
    “This would include a list of societies I belong to, a pedigree chart, how the material is organized in the computer, paper files, where are photos, books, memorabilia located.
    Teven asked whether she mixed financial assets with genealogical assets; Patricia said no.
    You might also want to consider a back-up Gen-Executor, Patricia said.
    “Describe for a stranger what your work area looks like, where you can find files, binders, etc. 
     Talk your way through the organization you have, include passwords and contact information.”
    Patricia said a screen shot of digital files would also be a good idea.
    Digital Material:
    She explained her 3-2-1 system:
    Three digital copies of everything important to you on two different media  (hard drive,  CD/DVD).  Flash drives should not be used for long-term storage.  Keep one copy offsite – in your safety deposit box, with your brother, etc.
    Patricia said the website www.practicalarchivist.com  has more info on how to care for photos.
    Patricia says the scenario of the grandkids eyeing Nana’s new computer (with all her research), and taking it, is not hard to imagine.
    “I’ve already told my daughter, anything not in binders, throw away.”  Patricia uses metal-edged containers for her paper documents.
    Patricia said her father had Alzheimer’s but responded to photos.  So she made books for him, and had his brothers and sisters send stories and photos to include.
    Do not use magnetic albums – will ruin your pictures.
    Use corners, do not use anything sticky on the photo.
    You need to say “ lignin-free, acid free,” not just archival.   Can buy material at Costco, get Avery sleeves.
    Displaying photos – do not want to put original photos on the wall.  Kinko's can scan large photos for you.
    If digitizing, label, label  --iPhoto can add meta data.
    Books, Bookmarks
    www.librarythings.com – free – can index
    “I put bookmarks in my books,” Patricia said (see samples in photo, attached).  Three kinds – family book, history book, resources book.
    “This tells the Gen-Executor what to do with the book.  Say where you want your books to go.”
    Photograph each item.
    Describe their provenance.
    Teven suggested people open books they’re possibly discarding, to see if there is an inscription inside.
    Books – who do they go to, put this in your drop-dead file.
    The question of family history medical information came up --- Bob Wascou said he used an Excel spreadsheet.
    Patricia summarized her suggestions:
    Make It Look Important
    Organize for a Stranger
    From  Gary Mokotoff's Nov. 4 Avotaynu:
    Cyndi's List: It is reported that some unnamed website has copied Cyndi’s List in its entirety. Cyndi’s List, started in 1996 by Cyndi Ingle Howells, is a list of Internet sites of value to genealogists. It currently identifies more than 325,000 sites divided into 192 categories. The Jewish category has 707 links divided into 26 subcategories.

    Whether the person did it with malice or because the person feels s/he has a legal right to do it may have to be decided in a court of law. The confusion emanates from a Supreme Court decision in 1991 that you cannot copyright facts, and Cyndi’s List, the defendant can argue, is nothing more than a bunch of facts and, therefore, not protected by copyright law which protects original works.

    Prior to the Court decision, facts could be copyrighted if they were gathered by the “sweat of your brow,” that is, if the facts were very difficult to accumulate. This would be true of Cyndi’s List. Since the decision, federal courts have backed off somewhat on the broad ruling.  My opinion is that based on the “Implications” section of this article, the person violated copyright law.
    From the JGS of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County:
    Sarina Roffe publishes Genealogy Detective, a blog that focuses on Sephardic genealogy. Recently, Sarina listed her top 10 tips for using databases. You can see them at http://tinyurl.com/8lrvqbp.
    Billings woman gets over 4 years for tax fraud
    Published 6:49 a.m., Friday, September 28, 2012
    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings woman who said she filed false tax returns using the Social Security numbers and birth dates of deceased people she found while doing genealogy research online has been sentenced to more than four years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $130,000 in restitution to the IRS.
    The Billings Gazette reports  41-year-old Shannon Kathlina Grimm was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull, who noted she was on probation when she committed the federal fraud.
    Grimm pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud and false claims. She admitted filing at least 90 false tax returns seeking a total of $402,833 in refunds. Prosecutors say she laundered the $129,498 in refund money she did receive through accounts of others to whom she paid a fee.
    Information from: Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com
    See you Sunday morning, November 18th!

  • 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 3:03 PM

    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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