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Genealogy Update

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  • SusanneLevitsky@...
    May 8, 2013 Upcoming Meetings Sunday, May 19, 10 a.m. -- Jim Rader, New Super DNA Tests Longtime genealogist Jim Rader will return to show us how the new DNA
    Message 1 of 47 , May 8, 2013
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      May 8, 2013
      Upcoming Meetings 
      Sunday, May 19, 10 a.m. -- Jim Rader, "New Super DNA Tests"
      Longtime genealogist Jim Rader will return to show us how the new DNA tests can help us learn where our ancestors lived before they had surnames.  These tests provide information about a more historic time period that's covered by the science of anthropology.
      Jim Rader has been a civil engineer, computer programmer and adult education insturctor.  He's been lecturing about genealogy since 1991 and published his first family history book in 1992.  His genealogy pursuits include coordinating the Rader family surname study at Family Tree DNA and researching all the Rader families in the world.
      Sunday, June 16, 10 a.m. -- "Breaking Through Brick Walls"
      Sunday, July  21, 10 a.m. -- Gina Ortega, The WPA: Sources for Your Genealogy   
      Notes from April 14, 2013 Meeting
      President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order.  She noted that the Sacramento Public Library offers free 45-minute sessions with a genealogist; call (916) 264-2920 for details.  It was mentioned that Bernie Marks does some sessions on Tuesday afternoons.  The Library continues to hold Sunday classes, on April 28, May 5 and May 29.
      April 28 is the Jewish Heritage Festival, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  We'll have a booth as in years past, have books of surnames for visitors to look up names, etc.
      Liz Igra passed out a flyer seeking as many Holocaust survivors as possible for next year's commemoration of Yom HaShoah.  She's looking for photos, documents, letters, artifacts for an exhibit.  Liz can be reached at liz@...
      April Speaker -- Sherri Venezia, "Finding My Ancestors-- Our Amazing Trip to Ukraine"
      Sherri Venezia says that the older she got, the more interested she became in finding out about her family history.  She lived with her grandmother in New York, and remembers her grandmother saying she came from Austria. It was really the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now Ukraine.

      "I was eight or nine years old, and she said 'Lemberg."  My first thought was of Limburger cheese."
      Sherri says she spent days in the New York public library.  She looked at marriage cards, brides' cards, grooms' cards, birth records, and found the names of her great-grandparents on death certificates. "I had grandchildren, and my own family was going forward.  But I was more interested in my family going backwards."
      So Sherri started doing research on the JRI Poland site  (Jewish Records Indexing) as well as www.ellisisland.org.  She discovered that the family actually came from Tuchapy, currently in Ukraine.
      With Jewish Family Finder, Sherri found a man in Montreal that was looking for the same family.  "I got the name of his guide, and more information."
      Sherri then started planning a trip.  She and a friend flew from Sacramento to Washington, D.C., then to Munich, where they would catch a plan to Lviv. Her next experience was surreal, given her grandmother's family story.  "I got to the boarding area and it said "Flight to Lemberg leaving ..."
      Lviv is the Ukranian name, Lemberg the German name.
      "We landed in Lviv and had a guide and driver standing there."  Sherri said she then had several goals -- to enjoy the area, to not forget the Holocaust, and to cherish and honor my family by going to cemeteries and villages that were still standing.
      Sherri said she found the region very poor, with people still living in little towns. "If my grandmother and relatives were resurrected, the only difference would be the telephone poles and the electrification."
      "It was frozen in time," she said. She urged people to visit their ancestral homes now to get a sense of where and how your family lived. "Your relatives who passed away would know where they were," she said.
      Sherri visited several Holocaust memorials and also Janowska, a Nazi labor camp.
      She can share information on her guide and arrangements, for those who may be visiting Ukraine.  She also mentioned the film "Everything is Illuminated, " based on the novel of the same name, about a Jewish man who goes to Ukraine to search for a woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis.
      Build a Digital Family Tree With These 5 Tools
      By Jill Krasny
      Amateur genealogists hoping to uncover a link to Abe Lincoln can easily turn to the web to dig in their ancestor's closet. But taking the commercial route doesn't come cheap.
      People curious about family history spent a whopping $2.3 billion on genealogy products and services last year, according to a study by market research firm Global Industry Analysts. They took most of their work to sites like Ancestry.com, which charge between $22.95 and $34.59 per month for access to billions of pertinent records. One-on-one consultations set them back $2,000 to $5,000 per session, depending on the length and complexity of the project, a spokesperson told Mashable.
      Despite those sites' popularity, “it’s perfectly possible to do everything without spending a dime,” says Terry Koch-Bostic, a Mineola, N.Y.-based director of the National Genealogy Society, a non-profit education, training and records-preservation group.
      We asked the genealogist to share her favorite tools for building an online scrapbook free of cost.
      1. FamilySearch.com
      Historically known as the Genealogical Society of Utah, Family Search dates back to 1894, the year it was founded. In 2010, the company undertook the daunting task of converting millions of records (from over 100 countries) from microfiche to digital images. Now all those records are accessible on its site, which also helps users create digital scrapbooks of photos.
      “If I’m going to direct someone who’s never done genealogy, I’m going to direct them to this site,” says Koch-Bostic. “In terms of the data and research they have, it’s spectacular.”
      2. Treelines
      Storyworth made headlines last month when it launched its tool to record family lore. But Treelines, still in beta, is just as intriguing and useful.
      “The site allows you to build the tree as you go,” says Koch-Bostic. Add stories and images as time permits. The end result is a visual, photographic narrative that's part tree, part timeline and eye-catching graphic. Hover over a year, for example, and you'll get an in-depth milestone description along with a vintage photo. It's like peering into a digital shoebox.
      3. Family Village
      Launched two years ago, this Facebook game, modeled after Zynga’s Farmville, features a hiker scaling her family tree — it grows as she gathers more research. The point of the game is to teach players the basics of genealogical methodology. Over the course of the hike, players turn up vital records and track their findings on ancestry charts and family group sheets. They also dig through federal census records between 1790 and 1940 to fill in the missing gaps of their lineage. It’s fun and highly addictive for those just starting out on their genealogical adventures.
      4. Various Grave Sites
      A host of sites exists for the sole purpose of storing death certificates. Koch-Bostic recommends Billiongraves.com, Findagrave.com and Legacy.com, that latter of which excels at collecting obituaries. Obits are particularly helpful for finding relatives in certain areas and information about where they lived, where they worked and attended school.
      5. Digitized Newspapers
      “The most wonderful information comes out of newspapers,” says Koch-Bostic, so long as you have access to a computer at home. Start searching by state, then try the Library of Congress — its Chronicling America website offers a treasure trove of historical newspapers published from 1690 to the present. When plugging in search terms, be sure to search narrowly and widely, advises Koch-Bostic. 
      A New Way to Find Obituaries
      GenealogyInTime Magazine has made another major upgrade to its free Genealogy Search Engine. The most recent enhancement is designed to make it quick and easy to find recent obituaries.
      Now instead of searching all over the internet for an obituary of a friend, family member or acquaintance, the Genealogy Search Engine will find it for you. Simply enter the name of the person in quotes into the search box.
      Many obituaries are indexed by the search engine within 24 hours of appearing on the internet. The Genealogy Search Engine also contains a significant number of older obituaries.
      Most modern obituaries are handled by funeral homes. Obituaries appear without delay on the funeral home website or on a dedicated obituary website. In contrast, the traditional approach of looking for an obituary in a newspaper (even an online newspaper) has its limits. Many online newspapers require a subscription, not all obituaries appear in newspapers, and there is often a delay of several days before an obituary is published.
      These issues are solved by the Genealogy Search Engine, which actively scans and indexes funeral home and obituary websites making it a convenient one-stop location to find recent obituaries.
      There are several additional benefits with this recent enhancement:
      • The Genealogy Search Engine can now be used as a people search engine. In many instances, family members listed in an obituary are older and many do not have a strong internet “footprint”. In other words, these people are not very visible in normal internet searches. However, the Genealogy Search Engine will clearly pick them up.
      • Obituaries typically list two or three generations of a family. Thus, finding a living person through an obituary will also often find other close family members. This is very useful when searching for distant living relatives.
      • Obituaries are one of the few places on the internet where a woman’s married name and maiden name are listed together. Thus, the large collection of obituaries indexed by the Genealogy Search Engine provides a powerful new avenue of research for those difficult-to-track female ancestors.
      From recent Avotaynu E-Zines by Gary Mokotoff:
      Digital Public Library of America  was launched recently. It's a project to make the holdings of America’s research libraries, archives, and museums available online and free of charge. It is located at http://dp.la (how is that for a short URL!) and currently contains 2.4 million records. The book portion includes out-of-copyright works or those provided with permission of the copyright owner. Most books date from before the 1920s.

      Since 2.4 million is a small number compared to the potential of this resource, much is the information is from isolated collections. Searching for “Jews” produced 407 results. Of these, 50 were from a collection of the Zionist Organization of America located in the South Carolina Digital Library - College of Charleston. Another Jewish entry was a book, The Jews of Eastern Europe, from the Brandeis University Library and published in 1921 by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. There are many oral histories in the Jewish collection.

      Museum of History of Polish Jews Opens
      Virtual Shtetl Now Documents More Than 2,3000 Towns

      http://avotaynu.com/Gifs/NWN/MuseumJewishHistory2.jpgOn April 19, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews opened its doors and immediately began its cultural and educational programming.  Many of the events planned for April and May commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which began on April 19, 1943. The museum is the implementer of Virtual Shtetl, a site that includes information about more than 2,300 towns, including 78,000 photographs, 900 videos and more than 100 audios. Information about the museum can be found at  http://www.jewishmuseum.org.pl/en/cms/home-page/. The Virtual Shtetl site is at http://www.sztetl.org.pl/en/.

      Index to 2,255 Auschwitz Prisoner Photos Searchable Through Morse Site
      http://avotaynu.com/Gifs/NWN/AuschwitzPhoto.jpgSince last June, the Stephen P. Morse site has had an index to mug shots of 2,255 Auschwitz prisoners. From the opening of the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1941 through the middle of 1942 all entering prisoners were photographed, full face, right and left, with their prisoner number and insignia, i.e. type of prisoner, but not names. With very few exceptions, this process ceased in mid-1942 due to a shortage of photographic paper. As the Russians approached in 1945, an attempt was made to destroy the photos, but more than 30,000 were saved and are held at the Auschwitz Museum. Copies of some of these photos have been shared with the USHMM, Yad Vashem, and the International Tracing Service.

      Volunteers at the USHMM were able to identify by name virtually all of the 2,200 photos in museum's possession, and these names have been placed in a database available at the Steve Morse website. Procedures for obtaining copies of the photos are explained at the website. Volunteers are now working to identify the photos which appear in the ITS collection. When this project is completed, the names will be added to the website.

      While these few thousand photos show a tiny percentage of Auschwitz prisoners, they are an unusual and emotional last glimpse of these previously invisible victims of the Holocaust.

      The index can be searched at http://stevemorse.org/dachau/auschwitz.html.

      From the Washington Post's weekly Travel Chat, April 22, (excellent travel resource-- SL)
      Politics and Travel
      My son just came back from a week in Jewish Galicia, the area of Ukraine and Poland his great grandfather came from, staying for a few days each in Krakow and L'viv. One thing he noticed--the area relies now on a kind of kitchy post-Soviet tourism. He went to one pub in L'viv where you had to give a password of "Slava Ukrainia"--freedom to Ukraine--and you could throw darts at posters of Lenin and Stalin. In Krakow, his hotel was across from the Propaganda Pub, with pictures of Breznhev and other Soviet and Polish communist leaders.
      – April 22, 2013 2:32 PM

      From Avotaynu April 14:

      Online Guide of Murder Sites of Jews in the Former USSR

      Yad Vashem has created an “Online Guide of Murder Sites of Jews in the Former USSR.” The list is provided by town within region for today’s Belarus and Ukraine. It's located at http://tinyurl.com/KillingSites. Included is place, latitude/longitude, actual murder site, event (what actually occurred). General information about the mass killings can be found at http://www.yadvashem.org/untoldstories/database/homepage.asp.

      New Blog:
      Marilyn Robinson has started a blog "Jewish Gem's Genealogy: Mining For Your Elusive Ancestors."  It can be found at yourjewishgem.blogspot.com.
      See you Sunday morning, May 19!
    • SusanneLevitsky@...
      Upcoming Meetings: --Sunday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m. – Glenn Kurtz, “Three Minutes inPoland – Discovery of a Lost World in a 1938 Film” --Sunday, Oct. 18, 10
      Message 47 of 47 , Aug 17
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        Upcoming Meetings:
        --Sunday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m. – Glenn Kurtz, “Three Minutes in Poland – Discovery of a Lost World in a 1938 Film”
        --Sunday, Oct. 18, 10 a.m., Susan Miller, “Jews in a Moslem World”

        JGSS minutes for meeting on August 2, 2015
        Mort Rumberg took the minutes for Susanne Levitsky who was not present.  (Thanks, Mort!)
        President Victoria Fisch made several announcements concerning scheduling and various genealogical events. She noted that the JGSS will participate in the annual Food Faire on August 30. Volunteers are welcome.
        Mort provided a quick tour of his eight days in Israel for the 35th annual International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. He has a data stick with about two-dozen speaker handouts. The conference program was passed around and if people would like a copy of a conference presentation’s handout, email Mort and he will forward it (his email address is below). He noted that not all presentations had handouts. He said it was an incredible experience being there and would like to return and see the many other sights he missed.
        President Fisch introduced the speaker, Dr. Valerie Jordan, who spoke about Family Secrets and Genealogy – how genealogy may intentionally or accidentally uncover hidden family secrets.
        Dr. Jordan is a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, now retired. Born and raised in New York City, she came to California in 1977. She is a second generation American from Odessa (her maternal great-great grandmother), and from Bucharest (her maternal grandmother). She passed around photos of a very handsome couple (her grandmother and grandfather) and a family photo showing four generations.
        Valerie defined secrets as being an intentional concealment of information from others. The information can be shameful, painful, or harmful to others. She differentiated this from privacy, which she defined as a person not wanting to share information, but the information is not shameful, painful, or harmful. She also differentiated it from unknown or forgotten information or stories.
        When would you intentionally tell people of a family secret? These are some of the times: When they are “old” enough to handle the information; when a specific milestone or family event is reached and it is appropriate; when symptoms or distress becomes unmanageable and needs to be revealed.
        Secrets take many forms. Valerie discussed the following examples of secrets that families may not want revealed:
        Religious secrets – possible crypto or converso Jews in the family history.
        Biological secrets – she gave the example of Bobby Darin’s story where he was devastated when he discovered that his “sister” was actually his mother.
        Secret families – Charles Lindbergh had seven secret children.
        Political secrets – Perhaps someone in the family having, for example, a communist party background – “red” diaper babies, slavery secrets
        Secret affairs
        Mental health secrets – such as suicide, addictions, mental illness, sexual orientation/identity, abuse, etc.
        Adoption secrets
        Incarceration secrets
        Military service secrets
        Next, Valerie discussed genograms. Genograms are charts or pictorial displays used in family therapy and medicine to gather family history, relationship patterns, stories and medical histories. It displays medical history and family stories in a creative and non-genealogical chart. The charts use symbols and terms to describe family members and their relationships and are used by many therapists. She provided examples of such charts using Martin Luther King, Jr.’s family and Bill Clinton’s family.
        Obviously these types of charts have advantages and disadvantages.
        Advantages include obtaining useful information in a collaberative and engaging manner; observing family patterns across generations; collecting stories of resilience and hardships; possibly uncovering toxic family secrets and unknown relationships.
        Disadvantages include providing too much detail; exposing secrets too soon; too much focus on the past; identifying relationships that a client or family member may not be ready for or even want to know. There can be little information available or too few relatives to ask.
        Genograms are different from genealogical family trees: vital statistics and absolutely correct data are not essential, since the focus of a genogram chart is on relationships and stories. However, these charts can be useful as an adjunct to family trees.
        Valerie discussed secrets within her own family, indicating that she had known the “story” her mother told her in 1967 about her maternal grandfather, but subsequently found out that her mother’s story was “wrong.” Research convinced her that her mother’s story was wrong, possibly hiding a secret. She used census data, naturalization documents, passport and travel documents, city directories, marriage certificates, and his obituary in a Marin County newspaper in May, 1962, to flesh out her family story. The information was displayed in a genogram. She is still looking for more details.
        This presentation was extraordinarily interesting and exceptional for the questions and audience participation it stimulated.
        Mort has a copy of her PowerPoint presentation and it is available upon request. Send an email to mortrumberg1@....
        Morton M. Rumberg
        From Gary Mokotoff’s Avotaynu E-Zines:
      • JRI-Poland Begins Linking Its Index to Actual Records
        Jewish Records Indexing – Poland has started its previously announced plans to link their 5 million indexed records to the actual digital images of documents in Polish archives. The first major collection comes from fond 300 of the AGAD  (Central Archives of Historical Records) in Warsaw. More than 700,000 records are now linked to images.

        When using the JRI-Poland index at http://jri-poland.org/, if there is a notation "View Image" in the leftmost column, it means the image is now online. Write down the contents of the “Akta” column. This is the consecutive entry number in the AGAD register. Then click "View Image.” This may not bring you to the exact page of the document but it will be close. The last four digits of the URL is the page number of the sub-collection. Increasing/decreasing the value will take you to the next/previous page.

        Example. Searching for persons named “Terner” from the town of “Kolomyya” produces 70 results, one of which is Lazar Terner, born in 1897 in Kolomyya. The record number (Akta) is 92. Clicking “View Image” displays birth entries 85–88 (link here). Entry 92 is on the following page. To get to that entry, change the four-digit number at the end of the URL from “0022” to “0023.” This displays entries 89–92.

        There is a major advantage to these highly structured URLs: You can browse the collection by changing the value in the URL and searching page by page. This may be useful when an entry isn't found in the JRI-Poland index but the approximate date of the event is known.

        Preliminary Program of 2013 Conference Now Online

        Planners of the 33rd annual IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy have placed a preliminary program on their website at http://iajgs2013.org. It includes lectures, Special Interest Group luncheons, and computer workshops. The program can be searched in a number of ways: by title, speaker, date, experience level, type of presentation (e.g., lecture or workshop), topic category, and geographical focus. For example, there are 13 events that include Hungarian information and 13 on the topic of “Genetics and DNA Research.”

        Some of the notable speakers include:
           • Ward Adriaens - Head of Archives, Kazerne Dossin (Memorial, Museum and Documentation Center of the Holocaust) , Mechelen, Belgium,
           • Dr. Lenka Matusikova - Archivist, Deputy Head of the First Department (responsible for the pre-1848 state and church archival holdings) of the National Archives in Prague, Czech Republic
           • Olga Muzychuk - Deputy Head of the State Archival Service of Ukraine
           • Zsuzsanna Toronyi - Head of the Hungarian Jewish Archives
           • Yochai Ben Ghedalia - Director of the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People

        Register for the conference now by going to the home page at http://iajgs2013.org. The conference is being held from August 4–9 in Boston at the Park Plaza Hotel & Towers.

        Boston University Adds Jewish Genealogy to Its Curriculum

        Since 2008, Boston University has had a curriculum leading to a “Certificate in Genealogical Research.” It now has added a course in Jewish genealogical research to the program. The instructors, both Certified Genealogists, are Nancy Levin and Rhoda Miller. The course will be held at the university’s Charles River Campus in Boston July 29–August 2, the week before the annual conference.

        The course will provide researchers with the tools, resources, strategies, and background information specific to Jewish genealogical research. Among numerous topics, participants will learn about working with foreign languages and alphabets; naming patterns and traditions; border changes; Jewish cemetery research; Holocaust research; and research websites. Country-specific research and documents will be discussed.

        To register and find additional information about the course, go to http://professional.bu.edu/schedule/course-details.asp?CID=15447&dept=CPE. Information about the total program is at http://professional.bu.edu/programs/genealogy/.

        JDC Records from Post-WW II Period Now Online
        The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has placed online their post-World War II New York 1945–1954 collection. This collection contains more than 2,800 files, including policy memos, telegrams, correspondence generated by JDC’s New York Headquarters, and eyewitness reports from JDC field staff working in displaced persons and refugee camps in Germany, Austria and Italy. The database can be searched at http://archives.jdc.org/archives-search/?s=archivestopnav. In some cases, the actual documents are shown. Additional information about the collection is at http://archives.jdc.org/about-us/articles/jdc-records-from-the.html.

        New Website: Digital Public Library of America

        New Website Identifies Victims of Disasters
        Was a member of your genealogical family the victim of a train wreck, significant fire, flood, shipwreck, plane crash or other disaster? The Eastman Online Genealogy Newsletter notes there is a website, http://www3.gendisasters.com, that identifies such persons.

        The authors of the site must have spent hundred of hours copying newspaper accounts of the disaster and lists of the persons dead and injured or missing. There are 99 air disasters for New York State alone. The well-known Triangle Shirtwaist fire is included, of course. There are 90 overall results for persons names Cohen.

        Site Identifies More Than 5,000 Facebook Sites That Focus On Genealogy
        Katherine R. Willson of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has undertaken the monumental task of identifying more than 5,000 Facebook sites that focus on genealogy. The Jewish section has 25 entries.

        The number of Facebook sites devoted to Jewish genealogy is even greater because the list does not cross-reference a number of items. For example, not included in the Jewish portion is “Jewish Memory, History & Genealogy in Moldova” which is found only in the Moldova section, and “Dutch Jewish Genealogy” found only in the Netherlands section. It would be wise to first examine the Jewish list and then use your browser’s search engine to locate any item on the list that has the word “Jewish” or “Jews” in its name. This also applies to place names. Toronto Facebook sites appear in numerous sections.

        Browse the Table of Contents to understand the scope and organization of the list. The database is located at https://moonswings.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/ genealogy-on-facebook-list-aug-2015.pdf.

        “Right To Be Forgotten” May Be Spreading
        If you are interested in following the battle over the European Union’s “Right To Be Forgotten” ruling, the New York Times has published a comprehensive article about the subject describing the position of the rule’s advocates as well as opponents. It is at http://tinyurl.com/R2BForgotten. Another lengthy discussion can be found at https://euobserver.com/opinion/129823.

        NARA and Ancestry.com Plan To Renew Their Partnership Agreement
        For seven years the U.S National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) and Ancestry.com have operated under an agreement where Ancestry.com and its subsidiary Fold3 can scan documents at the Archives and have exclusive use to these images for five years. Ancestry is permitted to charge for access to the documents. After five years, NARA can use the images in any way it cares to, including making them available to the public at no charge.

        The two organizations are now renewing the agreement with some changes that benefit the genealogical community.
           • The five-year embargo previously started when Ancestry.com placed the images online at their site. Now the clock will start running when they complete the scanning process. Apparently it can take up to two years for Ancestry to place the images online, so the clock will start earlier.
           • The updated agreement encourages Ancestry to post segments of large collections immediately rather than waiting for the entire collection to be completed.
           • The new agreement outlines NARA’s commitment to protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and more specifically spells out Ancestry’s responsibilities if PII is identified.

        Kaunas City Government Agrees to Maintain Jewish Cemetery
        Lithuanian governments at all levels have been severely criticized by some Jewish organizations for refusing to recognize government complicity in the murder of Lithuanian Jews during the Holocaust period. Now the Kaunas City Municipality has agreed to maintain a Jewish cemetery in its city at the request of Maceva, the organization involved in maintaining and documenting the remaining Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania. The city plans to tend to the cemetery in several stages and has allocated €8,000 for the inventory and identification of graves. Additional information is at http://tinyurl.com/KaunasJewishCemetery. It includes a number of photographs of the current condition of the cemetery.

        Maceva has its own site at http://www.litvak-cemetery.info/en. Its home page includes a map of Lithuania showing the location of all known Jewish cemeteries.

        Maceva Matching Grant Program. An anonymous donor has offered a matching grant up to $5,000 for the Maceva Cemetery Project. All donations to Maceva made between August 4 and August 31 are eligible to be included in this offer. Go to http://www.litvaksig.org/contribute to make a donation. Select "Maceva Cemetery Project" as the Special Project.

        “New” Database: Name Changes in the Palestine Gazette
        The Israel Genealogy Research Association is adding more databases to their site at http://genealogy.org.il/. One of them, “Name Changes in the Palestine Gazette,” is a list of more than 28,000 persons, mostly Jews, who legally changed their names while living in Palestine during the British Mandate period from 1921–1948. This database has an interesting history.

        I (Gary Mokotoff) am known for creating some of the earliest—pre-Internet—databases for Jewish genealogy including today’s JewishGen Family Finder and the Family Tree of the Jewish People. A lesser known one is titled “Name Changes in the Palestine Gazette.” This minor database has significance today because it was the genesis of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System.

        The story: At the Jerusalem conference held in 1984, I met the late Rabbi Shmuel Gorr, who was one of the first professional Jewish genealogists. He wrote to me a few months later, knowing I was in the computer services business, stating he wanted to create a database of Jews who legally changed their name during the British Mandate period. These names were published in the official publication called the “Palestine Gazette.” He’d send me photocopies of the pages from the “Gazette” and I’d computerize the list organizing them by original name and new name. This database was valuable to genealogy because many people knew they had relatives who made aliyah (immigration) during the 1920s and 1930s and changed their name but they did not know the new name.

        The list was compiled, placed on microfiche, and distributed to all Jewish Genealogical Societies.

        The project was the genesis of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System. At that time, I observed that the European names being changed had many spelling variants. Being familiar with the American Soundex System developed by Robert Russell in 1918, I applied this system to the European names and found it did not work. One significant problem was that those names spelled interchangeably with the letter w or v, for example, the names Moskowitz and Moskovitz, did not have the same soundex code. So I developed by own soundex system and applied it to the Palestine Gazette names. This modification to the U.S. soundex system was published in the first issue of AVOTAYNU, in an article titled "Proposal for a Jewish Soundex Code." Randy Daitch read the article and made significant improvements to what I had developed. The joint effort became known as the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System which today is used by JewishGen; the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) for retrieving case histories; and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. It can be used to search the Ellis Island database of 24 million immigrants at the Stephen P. Morse One-Step site.
        See you at the end of September.
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