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Genealogy Update

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  • SusanneLevitsky@...
    March 5, 2013 Upcoming Meetings: Discovering a Family Branch That Survived the Holocaust -- Shlomo Rosenfeld Sunday, March 17, 10 a.m., Albert Einstein
    Message 1 of 44 , Mar 5, 2013
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      March 5, 2013
      Upcoming Meetings:
      Discovering a Family Branch That Survived the Holocaust -- Shlomo Rosenfeld
      Sunday, March 17, 10 a.m., Albert Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright Street, Sacramento
      Shlomo Rosenfeld of Berkeley will talk about his family discovery, learning about some of the Rosenfelds who survived the Holocaust, living relatives his father did not know about.
      Shlomo, who was born in Tel Aviv, says his detective story started about two years ago, when he found an old family envelope and correspondence along with records from the German Lodz ghetto. Using birth and marriage records, he was able to trace his family back to the mid-1700s.  When Israel's Yad Vashem posted Holocaust archive records, Shlomo found a living branch of his family.  He and his sister now have three newly discovered second cousins, whom he's met in the Bay Area, Florida and Israel.
      Sunday, March 24, 2013, 2 p.m., Davis  
      "A Walk Through the Jewish Gen Website" -- Bob Wascou
      Congregation Bet Haverim, Davis
      Sunday,  April 14, 10 a.m., Sacramento
      "Return to Galicia, Land of My Ancestors" -- Sherry Venezia  
       Albert Einstein Residence Center.
      February 17, 2013 Meeting Notes
      Program Chair and Past President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order. He passed around several recent articles -- "genealogy is in all the papers!"  They included an obituary of someone deeply involved in genealogy; a story from The Forward on an Italian converso finding his roots; a genealogist focusing on African-American research; and more.
      The Sacramento Central Library continues to hold genealogy classes.  you can also book a genealogist for a free consultation.  Call 916-264-2920 for details.
      April 28 is the date set for this year's Jewish Heritage Festival, to be held at 20th and Capitol.  We'll have a table -- if you'd like to spend a half hour or an hour and volunteer, then get a chance to see all the others booths, let Mort know.  "It's a fun day," he says.  Art Yates added, "Wear your JGSS T-shirts!"
      Upcoming meetings were announced -- see above.
      The recent February presentation in Davis, on Super Bowl Sunday, generated five new members.
      If you haven't yet paid your $25 dues for 2013, you need to do it.  And Bob Wascou is seeking someone to take over the treasurer's job from him.  "Most of the work is done online," Bob says.  His time is increasingly occupied as the research coordinator for ROM-SIG (Romanian Special Interest Group).  They are focusing on a project involving Bucharest vital records.
      Mort said a slate of officers for the coming year will be put together soon -- "Join us and help us get some new blood involved in the organization."
      Teven Laxer said the Jewish Film Festival is coming up in March, with another day added.  It will start Thursday, March 7 and run through the 10th.
      He mentioned the PJ Library organized by the Jewish Federation -- every month children get a free book by mail.  It's free to participate.
      Art Yates mentioned that you can sign up now for the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, to be held at the Burbank Marriott, June 7-9.
      Our February presentation was a talk entitled "Doings in the Cemetery," presented by our president, Victoria Fisch, and Jeremy Frankel, president of the Bay Area JGS.  They focused on how Jewish tradition in deaths and burials can aid genealogy research.  Victoria asked that no notes be provided on their talk, as it is copyrighted material.
      From the February 23 and March 3 E-Zines, by Avotaynu's Gary Mokotoff:
      Connecticut Considering Ban on Access to Death Records
      Reacting to attempts by the public to access the death records of the 20 children and six adults shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Connecticut state legislature is considering a bill to restrict public access to records for any children under age 18.
      Specifically, the proposed law states that the copy of the public record could be restricted “when the disclosure of the death certificate is likely to cause undue hardship for the family of the child.” Playing the identify theft card, one town official proposed to the legislature that the public should be denied access to all death certificates. Read an article from the Hartford Courant on the proposal here http://tinyurl.com/CTDeathCert.
      Hi Tech in Grave Identification: Version 4
      There have been many attempts to integrate today’s technology with grave identification.

      1. The simplest was the suggestion that a grave be identified in a genealogical database by its latitude/longitude using GPS (Ground Positioning Satellite) data.

      2. Some years ago, a company, Memory Medallion (http://memorymedallion.com) offered placing a microchip in a tombstone that contained information about the deceased including text, photos, videos, etc.

      http://avotaynu.com/Gifs/NWN/QRCodeCatalog.png 3. Memory Medallion has now upgraded their technology by offering a QR code option to the microchip. Scanning the code with a smartphone links to a website that describes the life of the deceased through text, photos, videos, etc, etc., etc. The company has announced plans to link to family trees on FamilySearch. Can links to Geni, MyHeritage, Ancestry be far behind?

      The latest, fourth, innovation is by Otter Creek Holdings, parent company of BillionGraves.com. No chip, no QR code, just use their LegacyTec app on your smartphone, take a picture of the tombstone, and the app will bring up headstone details from BillionGraves, Family Search, My Legacy Memorial “and other sites.”

      American Version of Who Do You Think You Are? To Be On TLC
      Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter is reporting that the American version of Who Do You Think You Are? is returning to television and will be on cable channel TLC. Despite apparent popularity, the show was cancelled by NBC last year.

      As proof of its return, the pop rock star, Kelly Clarkson, was recently spotted in Americus, Georgia, prior to filming her segment of the program at the Andersonville National Historic Site. The location is the home of a notorious Confederate military prison where 45,000 soldiers were held during the Civil War and 13,000 died.

      From the JGS of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County:
      Harriet Rochlin, publisher of a Western Jewish History blog, has reviewed the above-mentioned book and describes it as, “Edited by Dalia Taft, archivist for the Orange County Jewish Historical Society, Jewish Pioneers of Orange County: The Jewish Community of Orange County, California from the 1850s – 1970s is the first comprehensive book about the Jewish community in the area. The book includes updated versions of every Orange County article from the Western States Jewish Journal, personal histories written by long-time residents, and a section ofJewish ads and newspaper announcements from the 1870s to the 1960s. The book can be purchased through the Orange County Jewish Historical Society by emailing historical@... or calling 949-435-3484.

      Published February 24, 2013, 12:00 AM
      DNA testing goes mainstream with genealogy enthusiasts
      Lisa Black, Chicago Tribune
      CHICAGO — As she swabbed the inside of his cheek, Patt Heise assured her 84-year-old father that she wasn’t crazy, just curious.
      She mailed off the saliva sample and waited for results. Her dad died a month later, too early to find out what DNA testing had revealed — a list of potential relatives from all over the world and a migration chart dating back to Adam.
      That would be “Genetic Adam,” who lived between 70,000 and 140,000 years ago in Africa, scientists believe.
      Heise, 61, of Palatine, Ill., acknowledges she is overwhelmed with the information but eager to use it to fill in her family tree.
      “I really would like to see a book on ‘DNA for Dummies,’” she said.
      Genetic testing for genealogists has gone mainstream, with costs plummeting as private companies refine their techniques and improve the accuracy of results. For as little as $99, anyone can order a do-it-yourself kit that comes in the mail, then submit their spit for analysis and receive results within six weeks.
      Genealogy hobbyists liken the quest to track their family tree to a scavenger hunt, laden with clues, surprises and dead ends. For some, a snippet of genetic material has helped confirm a specific family tie or provide new leads when a paper trail has run cold. Others have blown up ancestral land mines along the way, shredding oft-repeated family stories or, as in Heise’s case, discovering a notorious distant relative.
      “I found out I was related to Charles Manson — eeewww,” Heise said. Her e-mail is filled with messages from strangers, at least one in German, asking about her family lineage because of DNA test results.
      Recently, scientists used the technology to confirm the identity of a skeleton buried beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, as King Richard III, who died in battle in 1485. The scientists matched the bones to two living maternal-line relatives, according to the University of Leicester, which conducted the analysis along with radiocarbon dating and a skeletal exam.
      Closer to home, not everyone is excited about the DNA technology, as some remain cautious about privacy or simply don’t see the need, such as Heise’s dad. But for others who are adopted or are trying to explain a gap in their family tree, the tests may provide a crucial breakthrough, experts said.
      “I think a lot of people find it of use to them, personally, especially if they are searching for a form of identity they are able to uncover in this way,” said Noah Rosenberg, associate professor at Stanford University’s Department of Biology and expert in evolutionary biology and genetics.
      “Many people have a missing relative or have a parent die young and are searching for some kind of connection,” he said. “We see a significant trend where African-Americans are searching for some understanding of the populations from which their ancestors originated from Africa.”
      There are no federal regulations that govern the direct-to-consumer ancestry tests, said Hank Greely, a Stanford law professor who specializes in the ethical, legal and social implications of new biomedical technologies.
      “Basically, both state and federal regulation only cover tests sold or done for health purposes,” Greely wrote in an e-mailed response to questions.
      “I would note that various false advertising statutes and regulations could be applied to genealogical testing — and, frankly, I think some of the sites are not always very clear about what they can and cannot detect.”
      Meanwhile, as more people contribute their own DNA to the mix, the pool of potential genetic matches grows. Private companies store the saliva samples and promise more information in years to come — for additional fees — as technology improves.
      Drawing from the large databases, scientists have been able to determine where groups of people who share matching threads of DNA likely came from and where they migrated.
      Terri O’Connell, 41, of Chicago learned through Ancestry.com that she is 37 percent Scandinavian, “which I thought was a little weird. I am Irish, German and Hungarian,” she said.
      “The percentage was rather large,” said O’Connell, who expects the company to release more information this year. “On their website, they group together people they think are related to you. ... I have almost 100 people in this list. It will break it down like, ‘We think you are fourth or fifth cousin.’”
      O’Connell started studying her family’s Irish lineage because she was young when her grandparents died.
      “I wanted to know who they were and what they went through,” said O’Connell, who was saddened by some of what she found. “They had these big families ... but by the time you look back again, half the kids had died.”
      Early on, the DNA tests used in genealogy were limited to studying the male’s Y chromosome, which is transmitted from father to son going back generations. The maternal line is traced in a different test, which looks at the mitochondrial DNA, known as mtDNA, which a mother passes to her children.
      More recently, Ancestry.com began offering a full genome — or “autosomal” — test that analyzes all 23 chromosomes at more than 700,000 places. The test provides a more recent snapshot of the maternal and paternal line, experts said.
      “It’s like a unique fingerprint that only you have,” said Ken Chahine, senior vice president and general manager of AncestryDNA. “By having that many locations that we can identify, we create a unique signature for you.”
      Family Tree DNA, based in Houston, sold about 300 kits when it first offered the service in 2000, President Bennett Green­span said. Last year, “it was tens of thousands of kits.”
      For $219, the test now offers 11 times more information than it did the first year, while increasing the numbers of DNA markers identified, he said. The particular region of the DNA that is analyzed is called a marker. A test that examines more markers can be expected to provide more specific information.
      “Over time, you can start doing more and more,” Greenspan said. “If you were to test your mother and your father ... you start matching more people, you figure out what line that came from.”
      The company has more than 400,000 people in its database, many of whom have discovered common ancestors, he said.
      “The U.S. population is actually far more related than what people first thought,” Greenspan said.
      Potentially misleading
      The Chicago-based National Society of Genetic Counselors cautions consumers about DNA testing that reveals both ancestral and medical information. The tests can be misleading if left unexplained by a professional counselor, company president Rebecca Nagy said.
      “One of the biggest drawbacks to these tests is they are only testing for a few genetic markers, and those few markers represent the tip of the iceberg,” Nagy said.
      Some people have contacted her office, concerned about results that showed they were at risk of developing cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, while ignoring the bigger medical picture.
      “Be prepared for what you learn, and know what questions to ask so you know what the implications might be,” she advised.
      In 2007, a company called 23andMe began offering both medical and ancestry information for $999, a spokeswoman said. Today, a more encompassing version costs $99 and promises 250 reports, including ethnic breakdowns and health risks.
      “Whatever science can tell you about your DNA, we want to make it available,” said spokeswoman Catherine Afarian, adding that participants can choose not to view their health report. “We try to build in control and choice.”
      For amateur genealogists like Heise, the information on her ancestry alone is enough to keep her busy for years. She has bins of documents left to sort through and 137 new potential relatives to track down, courtesy of DNA.
      She has confirmed that her great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was a member of the “French 500” who settled in Gallipolis, Ohio.
      “There are people all over the world who are doing this,” she said, “which is exciting and overwhelming at the same time.”
      See you at our next meeting, Sunday, March 17!
    • SusanneLevitsky@...
      April 22, 2015 Upcoming Meetings Sunday, April 26, 10 a.m. -- JGSS Board Meeting, Card Room, 2nd Floor. All are welcome to attend. Sunday, May 10, 10 a.m. --
      Message 44 of 44 , Apr 22
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        April 22, 2015
        Upcoming Meetings
        Sunday, April 26, 10 a.m. -- JGSS Board Meeting, Card Room, 2nd Floor. All are welcome to attend.
        Sunday, May 10, 10 a.m. -- "Using Genetic Genealogy to Break Through Brick Walls in Your Family Tree," -- Jonathan Long
        April 19 Meeting Notes
        The meeting was called to order by Librarian Teven Laxer. Teven handed out information on the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree and its webinars.  On Sunday, June 7, there will be five speakers focusing on "Researching Jewish, Russian and Eastern European Roots."
        The jamboree is being held at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Hotel. There is an early bird discount for the jamboree until April 30.  For details, go to www.genealogyjamboree.com.
        Teven noted that a Yom HaShoah commemoration will be held at B'nai Israel this evening at 7 p.m.
        Our next meeting will be held on May 10 (also Mother's Day), with Jonathan Long providing a different take on DNA research
        All are welcome to attend next Sunday's JGSS board meeting upstairs in the card room, at 10 a.m. on April 26.
        The meeting's program was a showing of "There Was Once," a fascinating and poignant documentary about a small town in Hungary with no current Jewish population.  However, a Catholic teacher took it upon herself to track down former residents or their descendants, to learn about life before World War II and the fate of the Jewish residents. Viewers watch her efforts unfold through the film.
        GENEALOGY WITH JANICE: What’s in your closet? Old documents tell your family’s history
        Geneology with Janice
        Genealogy with Janice
        These documents were found in my grandmother's closet - in a shoebox!
        Genealogists spend a lot of time searching for old documents in libraries, archives and online databases. But in the excitement of finding new resources, we forget that some of the richest resources are hidden away in our own closets.
        Every once in a while, on visits to my parents’ home, I wander down into the storage room and bring up a box of “old stuff”. Often it contains items I’ve seen before, but sometimes I get a surprise. And I always learn something new, because I open it with my mother or father (and sometimes other relatives) and new stories come to light.
        One of these boxes contains my father’s old school report cards. The oldest describes his adjustment to kindergarten and progress in learning how to share, line up quietly and print his name. It amuses my school-age nephews to read his teachers’ comments about his tardiness and lack of “attention to his studies”.
        Another box is filled with scrapbooks my mother created when she was young. It seems that she kept every birthday card she received since she was four years old! These “old-fashioned” cards are fun to look at, and reading the notes inside them gives me an extra-special perspective on the relatives who sent them, including my great-grandmothers, whom I never got to meet.
        Visiting with my grandparents, I found other treasures: A family Bible from the 1880s contained lists of family births, marriages and deaths; a box of sympathy cards sent to my grandparents when my uncle died 50 years ago provided the names and addresses of many distant cousins; and a yellowed envelope contained a hand-written poem written by my great-grandfather describing his bicycle treks through the countryside to visit his sweetheart (my great-grandmother).
        Letters to other relatives asking about their “old documents” turned up still more exciting finds including a box of letters written by my great-grandmother to her son while was working in a logging camp in 1918. These letters are full of day-to-day family news including the antics of his younger siblings, births of new babies in the family, the progress of the farm and social events happening in town.
        So when was the last time you looked in your closet? Have you asked your parents, siblings, cousins and other relatives about their own old treasures? I hope I’ve given you the inspiration to revisit this precious resource.
        Author of ‘Crime and Punishment in Upper Canada: A Researcher’s Guide’ and ‘York’s Sacrifice: Militia Casualties of the War of 1812, Janice Nickerson lives and breathes genealogy. She believes that we all have interesting ancestors, we just need to learn their secrets. Find her online at UpperCanadaGenealogy.com and facebook.com/JaniceCNickerson

        Ben Affleck's slave-owning ancestor 'censored' from genealogy show

        Hacked Sony emails raise questions over a decision to omit part of star's family history from PBS programme, but makers say there were "more compelling" Affleck forebears to talk about.

        Actor Ben Affleck
        Actor Ben Affleck Photo: Bloomberg
        By Nick Allen, Los Angeles  10:27PM BST 17 Apr 2015
        Ben Affleck asked that a slave owning ancestor not be included when he appeared on a genealogy programme in the United States, according to leaked Sony emails.
        The star of upcoming movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice explored his family history on Finding Your Roots, which is broadcast by PBS.
        According to the emails he was one of a number of high-profile guests who turned out to have slave owning forebears, but the only one to want it edited out.
        Affleck was not named in the email exchange between the show's host Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr and top Sony executive Michael Lynton in July last year. He was referred to as Batman and a "megastar".
        Professor Gates wrote: "For the first time one of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors - the fact that he owned slaves.
        "Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners. We've never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He's a megastar. What do we do?"
        The professor said he believed the star was "getting very bad advice" and it would be a "violation of PBS rules, actually, even for Batman" to edit out the footage.
        But when the show was broadcast in October last year it focused instead on other ancestors of the actor including one who served under George Washington, an occult enthusiast, and his mother who was active in the Civil Rights era.
        Professor Gates issued a statement today saying he had editorial control of the series and it had "never shied away from chapters of a family’s past that might be unpleasant".
        He added: "In the case of Mr Affleck we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry."
        In a statement PBS said: "It is clear from the (email) exchange how seriously Professor Gates takes editorial integrity.
        "He has told us that after reviewing approximately ten hours of footage for the episode, he and his producers made an independent editorial judgment to choose the most compelling narrative."
        From Gary Mokotoff's April 19 E-Zine:
        JewishGen Creates Educational Videos
        Phyllis Kramer, Vice President–Education of JewishGen, has created a series of five-minute videos about various aspects of JewishGen and genealogical
        research. They are:
           • Prepare For Your Search (for USA researchers)
           • Navigate JewishGen
           • Find Your Ancestral Town (for USA researchers)
           • Communicate with Other Researchers via:
              –JGFF: JewishGen Family Finder
              –FTJP: Family Tree of the Jewish People
              –JewishGen Discussion Groups
           • Jewish Records Indexing - Poland
           • Jewish Genealogy Websites & Organizations:
              –Jewish Genealogy Websites - Part I (JewishGen and IAJGS/JGS)
              –Jewish Genealogy Websites - Part II

        Go to
        http://www.jewishgen.org/education to view them.
        Confucius' family tree sets record for world's largest
        2015/04/19 22:50:40
        Taipei, April 19 (CNA) The Confucius genealogical line has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest family tree in history, containing the names of more than 2 million descendants, according to the latest edition of the Confucius genealogy book published in 2009.

        The 2 million figure is thrice that included in the previous edition of the genealogy book for descendants from Confucius -- the famous Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher -- who lived 551–479 BC.

        The first Confucius Genealogy was published in 1080 and has undergone a major revision every 60 years and a small revision every 30 years. The fourth edition, printed in 1937, contained 600,000 names.

        With a history of over 2,500 years covering more than 80 generations, the latest and the fifth edition of the Confucius Genealogy was printed in 80 volumes in 2009.

        This fifth edition is the first edition to include women, ethnic minorities and descendants living outside China.

        Confucius has 2 million known, registered descendants, with some estimated 3 million in all. Tens of thousands live outside of China.

        In the 14th century, a Kong descendant went to Korea, where some 34,000 descendants of Confucius now live. One main branch fled from Qufu, the Kong ancestral home, during the 1940s Chinese Civil War and settled in Taiwan.

        Kong Weiqian (孔維倩), a 78th generation descendant of Confucius, traveled all the way from mainland China to Taiwan last year and now studies at the National Chung Cheng University in Chiayi, southern Taiwan.

        Kong was a junior and marketing major at Jiangxi Normal University in China. She is now an exchange student at the National Chung Cheng University, a sister school of Jiangxi Normal University.

        Kong's middle name "Wei" is universally adopted among those in the 78th generation of Confucius and the middle name "De" is used among those in the 77th generation, according to Kong Weiqian.

        Based on family tradition, women usually are not listed in the Confucius' genealogy book. However, with the rise of gender equality, and the insistence of her father, her name is now in the family book as well, Kong Weiqian added.

        The family-run Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee (CGCC) was registered in Hong Kong in 1998 and began collecting data, according to Kong Xing (孔祥祺), a 75th generation descendant of Confucius, who was then in Taiwan to look for the descendants of the family.

        The latest project to revise and update the Confucius family tree began in 1998 and was completed 10 years later.

        Notably, in South Korea, the descendants of Confucius have made outstanding achievements in various sectors, while the government attaches great importance to an annual grand worship ceremony held to commemorate him.

        In addition, South Korea's Sungkyunkwan University has been the center for studying and promotion of Confucianism as well as the cradle of distinguished scholars and statesmen starting from the Chosun Kingdom period for over 500 years to the present.

        (By Chiang Yuan-chen and Evelyn Kao)

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