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Genealogy Update

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  • SusanneLevitsky@...
    September 21, 2013 UPCOMING MEETINGS -- Sunday, October 13, 2 p.m., Davis -- Allan Dolgow Ukraine Scrapbook” A Journey of 105 Years Sunday, October 20, 10
    Message 1 of 42 , Sep 21, 2013
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      September 21, 2013
      Sunday, October 13, 2 p.m., Davis -- Allan Dolgow
      "Ukraine Scrapbook” A Journey of 105 Years
      Sunday, October 20, 10 a.m., Sacramento --  Dan Warschauer
      "Fleeing Hitler -- One Family's Story"
      Sunday, November 17, 10 a.m., Sacramento --  Steve Morse
      A Case Study on Using Website Tools for Family Research
      Meeting Notes -- September 15, 2013
      President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests.  She read a note from Sid Salinger, who thanked members for his 80th birthday wishes.  Victoria also gave an overview of upcoming meetings (see above) and talked about
      October 5 will be this year's Archive Crawl, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with libraries in Sacramento and neighboring counties offering material on display.
      The following weekend, October 12, is Family History  Day at the State Archives. We'll have a booth -- for details, go to www.familyhistoryday2013.blogspot.com..
      Jeremy Frankel mentioned that he recently took advantage of a deal for DNA testing with 23andme, for $99; the information can later be transferred to Family Tree DNA>
      Bob Wascou noted that we have 57 members, the highest to date, as far as he recalls.
      Teven Laxer passed out an article by Sasha Abramsky, our January 2014 speaker, featured in the Sacramento News and Review.  Abramsky is a descendant of a chief rabbi of Great Britain.  Teven also distributed an article in today's Bee on a legal fight over two wills of an heiress (Google "Katherine Hall Friedman").
      Next Sunday will be the annual Jewish Food Faire, and a blood drive, at Congregation Beth Shalom.
      September Speaker -- Elizabeth Rynecki, "Chasing Portraits"
      Elizabeth Rynecki told the story of her great-grandfather, Moshe Rynecki (1881-1943), who lived in Warsaw before World War II.  He painted scenes of the Jewish community, from religious scenes to workers in everyday life.  He amassed an estimated 800 paintings and sculptures before being sent to the Warsaw Ghetto.
      Before going into the ghetto, he divided his paintings into bundles and left them with non-Jewish friends to protect
      "We believe he was deported to Majdanek, a concentration camp in Poland, because the family received a postcard from him from there," Elizabeth said.  However, camp records do not show him listed.
      In April 1845, her grandfather, son of Moshe, was in prison in Czechoslovakia. He and others were then put on a train and then required to walk in forced march to Dachau.  "But a stray American jeep liberated them near Bad Aibling, Germany, not far from where a camp for displaced persons had been set up.  Her grandfather was then able to locate his wife and son (Elizabeth's father), who had survived, and then spent several years at the camp in Bad Aibling.
      Her grandfather was able to buy a car (some money and things were sent from relatives in Chicago), and drove to Italy where they stayed for a while.  Her grandmother finally returned to Warsaw, hit by heavy destruction during the war, and and found some paintings on the basement floor, some cut, retrieving a total of 120 out of 800 or more. She had to get permission to take them out of Poland.
      "My dad and his parents stayed in Italy until 1949, when they took a Marine Jumper to the U.S.  I grew up hearing my father and his parents speak Polish, but they didn't talk about the Holocaust."
      Elizabeth says in 1992 her grandfather died. "In the trunk of his car, a memoir he wrote was found, which we've self-published.  My grandfather says he was writing this for granddaughter Elizabeth to know the truth.  And I knew I had a responsibility."
      Elizabeth said she went to graduate school at UC Davis and read the Maus books by Art Spiegleman, telling his father's survivor story, and that made an impact.
      Her father had all of the paintings professionally photographed and put on a website.  One of the first people they heard from was a curator at Yad Vashem in Israel who was interested in any artwork done in the Warsaw ghetto.  A painting on refugees is on permanent display at Yad Vashem.
      Elizabeth said she got a call one day from someone in New York saying he had six of her father's paintings, and wanted to sell two of them.  They gave the man a price quote, and he was "unappreciative" and wouldn’t sell the pieces.  "So we don't have those two paintings, and we don't have the four others, which we have never seen."
      Elizabeth said she knew he wasn't the only one who had Moshe's artwork -- she knew there was a museum in Warsaw, Poland -- the ZIH -- Jewish Historical Institute.  She contacted them and found they had 44 watercolors and eight black and white drawings.
      "The Internet has opened the world," she said. "We found a Polish stock photography website with some of his paintings."
      As far as looted Nazi art, Elizabeth says that can't really be claimants, as they can't describe the paintings, subjects, size, signature, back, etc., just generalities about his types of paintings.  "It's easier if you're a collector or dealer rather than someone with family art," she said.
      She said a Boalt law professor she consulted with said she could be a claimant or a historian, and collect the stories.
      Elizabeth said that by Oakland interlibrary loan, she got a book from Poland that she had translated, relating to her grandfather, and found out about paintings she didn't know existed.
      "Use all the help and resources you can get your hands on," she said. She said a cousin with a Fullbright scholarship working in Poland went to the library in Warsaw and found more information.
      "Sometimes you get lucky breaks," she said.  A person who bought her book said she thought she had a piece in it. "Next month I'm going to Canada and will see it., while filming an interview for my documentary."  (She's speaking at the University of Toronto's Center for Jewish Studies on October 17.)
      She said her parents, while walking by a farmhouse in Poland, were asked if they wanted to buy a bundle of paintings, which they did.  Some were given away -- she said a man in Canada has four, a brother has one, and aunt in Israel has seven.
      Elizabeth says she's currently working on a documentary film project, "Chasing Portraits."  Her goal is to connect with all the people around the world who have paintings.
      She showed a short video on her efforts which is also on YouTube:
      The video was produced by the same person who edited "The Rape of Europa," which Elizabeth highly recommends.  And she mentioned a film coming out at the end of the year, "Monument Men," about a crew of art historians and museum curators who work to recover works of art stolen by the Nazis before Hitler destroys them.  Stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Bonneville.
      Donations for Elizabeth's documentary may be sent to The National Center for Jewish Film,  Brandeis University, Lown 102,  MS053, Waltham, MA 02143.  Please put "Chasing Portraits" in the memo line.
      Elizabeth said she's putting her $50 honorarium from today towards her film.
      Her website is www.rynecki.org ; she also has a blog, a Facebook page (Moshe Rynecki: Portrait of a Life in Art) and twitter account -- @rynecki.
      From  Carolyn Hax's Advice Column:
      Dear Carolyn: Over the last few years, I have developed an interest in genealogy and putting together a detailed family tree for future generations. Everybody in my family seems to appreciate this, except my nephew’s new wife.
      I wanted basic information on her parents and her birth. She gave me her information, but only for her stepfather and mother. I asked for her biological father’s information a few times, but she would give me a neutral answer or my nephew would say: “We already gave you what we have.”
      I decided just to look the information up myself, and it turns out her biological father is serving many life sentences for a violent crime.
      She is a lovely girl, my nephew is very happy, and her mother and stepfather have been nothing but kind to our entire family. But now that I hold this information, I don’t know what to do with it.
      Do I owe it to our family (and future generations) to have the truth? Or do I owe it to my nephew to keep this under wraps, because it is clearly what he wanted? My husband thinks it was inappropriate of me to even look this up in the first place and refuses to talk about it. Genealogy Project Gone Wrong
      Dear Genealogy Project Gone Wrong: You pressed “a few times” for information you knew this poor woman didn’t want to give you!? I’m with your husband. Wow.
      This information dies with you, out of belated courtesy for your nephew’s wife. “Future generations” don’t need to know, unless they want to, in which case they can take the initiative to dig for themselves into the same public sources you did.
      In the time you spend not telling anyone about this, consider asking yourself whether you’re as inconsiderate of clear boundaries in other areas of your life.
      From recent editions of Gary Mokotoff's Avotaynu E-zines:
      GenealogyInTime Magazine Indexes 2.7 Billion Records
      The online index of GenealogyInTime magazine contains 2.7 billion records from a potpourri of more than 1,000 websites. The search engine is located at http://tinyurl.com/GITIndex. Searching for my family surnames provided links to such sites as:
         • JewishGen sites that have lists of names
         • Yad Vashem photo archives at
         • Yad Vashem data previously unknown to me such as a list of German Jews extracted from Pages of Testimony at http://tinyurl.com/YVGerman
         • A few Pages of Testimony
         • Jews deported from France
         • Back issues of Mishpacha, the newsletter of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington. They are located on the JewishGen website.
      Findagrave collection
      Google News Archive which includes more than 2,000 historic newspapers

      The site is definitely worth a visit.

      American Version of Who Do You Think You Are? Renewed for Second Year

      The American TLC channel has announced that Who Do You Think You Are? has been renewed for a second season in 2014 for 10 episodes. The program has averaged 1.8 million total viewers in its first season on TLC. The announcement can be viewed at

    • SusanneLevitsky@...
      January 31, 2015 Upcoming Meetings: Sunday, February 8,2015, 10 a.m. What s in a Name -- Victoria Fisch Finding our ancestors in the 21st century is a
      Message 42 of 42 , Jan 31
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        January 31, 2015
        Upcoming Meetings:
        Sunday, February 8, 2015, 10 a.m. "What's in a Name" -- Victoria Fisch
        Finding our ancestors in the 21st century is a process of exploring online databases.  Poor transcription of names to create indexes is the most frequent cause of our inability to discover valuable records.  Victoria Fisch will explain the reasons for these errors and methods of circumventing the obstacles.
        Sunday, March 15, 2015, 10 a.m.  -- "Anusim -- Crypto-Jews on Your Family Tree"   -- Jason Lindo, Susan Aguilar
        All meetings are at the Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright Street, Sacramento.
        January 11, 2015 Meeting
        President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order and welcomed members and visitors.
        She noted that the 2015 International JGS conference is in July this year. July 6-10 in Jerusalem.
        Locally, we hope to have a work day in February to help our librarian, Teven Laxer, organize the library.  Teven says we have more than 500 books, and he just bought one, "The Hidden Package," that relates to a Dutch story involving a cousin on his wife's side.
        Teven asked for a minute of silence in memory of those who lost their lives in Paris this week. Susanne read from an email she received from a Paris cousin, whose wife would normally have gone to the kosher supermarket Friday morning.  However, she stayed at home to watch a grandchild.
        January Presentation -- Steve Morse
        "Genealogy and the  Y Chromosome: Autosomes Exposed"
        Steve presented an updated version of a presentation he gave us in 2011.  He reviewed the basics of genetics: DNA is a sequence of base paris, 22 of the 23 chromosomes are numbered.  The numbered pairs are called autosomes.
        Mitochondria are the "energy bars" of the autosomes; they are passed intact from a mother to all her children.
        Mendel's laws -- postulates.  His first law, "segregation of characteristics." You inherit one gene randomly from your parents. Second law: "Independent Assortment" "Had a mistake in it," Steve says. You inherit each gene independent of the other genes, but Mendel didn't know about chromosomes.
         Steve discussed cell duplication (mitosis) and cell reproduction (meiosis).
        Morgan -- 1 centimorgan equals about a million base pairs.  It's a unit for measuring distances along the chromosomes.
        You can -- map the genome, find your ethnicity, find your cousins.
        Find your ethnicity  -- the Heinz 57 variety test.  Don't have standard DNA sequences, very unreliable test.
        Find your cousins -- more reliable, follow the chromosome.
        Steve noted that a child inherits 50 percent of the autosomnal DNA from each parent, and inherits 25 percent from each grandparent.
        Autosomes -- exact for one generation and reliable beyond that.
        Y Chromosomes -- 100 percent rule -- exact for all generations
        X Chromosomes -- 100 percent rule at each generation for male ancestor
                                          50 percent rule for each generation up from female ancestor, but is                                       very unreliable.
        Steve: On my One-Step website (www.stevemorse.org) -- there's a section on DNA and a paper I've written.
        Autosomnal testing-- "not worth the money," Steve says. "You'll get so many false matches."
        Testing labs -- "we're giving you a lot of false hits, but now we have it right, trust us."
        "There will be true hits but so much garbage that goes with it."
        Steve says both Family Tree and Ancestry --same statement: Not all your 2nd cousins will be there.
        Y Chromosome only a useful test for finding out cousins.  Do it if you suspect a match with another family, with other evidence.
        After his DNA presentation, Steve showed photos and talked about his trip last fall to Romania where his wife's maternal grandparents are from.
        From Gary Mokotoff's January 11 Avotaynu E-Zine:
        New Guide to Salt Lake City
        http://avotaynu.com/Gifs/NWN/SLCBook.jpgPlanning a trip to Salt Lake City to do research at the Family History Library? Yet another book has been written about how to make the trip a success—with a twist. The book does not discuss any aspect of the Library but instead focuses on all the other considerations for making a trip a pleasant experience.

        Written by Janet Havorka, who calls herself the Chart Chick, the 24-page PDF file describes lodging, transportation (getting around), the Wasatch Mountains, where to eat, other libraries and archives in the area, historical sites, religious institutions (noting two synagogues), shopping (with emphasis on the City Creek Center), parks, weather, potential day trips. There is a section on “Bringing the Family” which describes how to keep your family busy and happy while you do research.

        The title of the book is The Chart Chick Insider's Guide to Salt Lake City: Everything a Genealogist Needs to Know Outside the Library. Download the book (PDF format) at no charge at
        http://www.familychartmasters.com/slc/. Registration is required. There is also a printed versionfor $14.95 at http://www.familychartmasters.com/slc/ccd.html.

        FamilySearch Indexing Projects
        For those anxious to know what will be the next indexing projects to be completed by FamilySearch and what other projects are in the planning stage, you can find a list at the FamilySearch site at

        Webinar: Introduction to Library of Congress Online Resources
        The U.S. Library of Congress will be holding its regular webinar—an introduction to its online resources—on a number of days in January-February. This orientation will provide an overview of what's available, provide strategies for accessing the materials, and introduce you to the resources to further research into the Library's collections.

        Upcoming dates/times are: February 18, 11 am; and February 24, 2:30 pm. All times shown are Eastern time. The webinar lasts for an hour. Registration is at

        The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 158 million items—including books, recordings, photographs, maps, sheet music, manuscripts—in its collections.

        Group Trip to Lithuania - July 21–31, 2015
        For the 22nd year, Howard Margol and Peggy Mosinger Freedman are organizing a group trip to Lithuania from July 21–31, 2015. Included are visits to the various archives, synagogues, ghettos, Holocaust sites, meetings with Jewish leaders, sightseeing, guide/interpreters, and two days to visit and spend time in your shtetl, or shtetlach of interest. All meals are included (except for one dinner and two lunches), the finest hotels (new and modern), modern buses, and much more. This year the group size will be limited to 25. Details and a full itinerary of the trip can be found at
        http://www.litvaktrip.peggyspage.org or contact the tour leaders at litvaktrip@....

        1942 Transport lists from Lodz Ghetto to Chelmno
        A posting to the JRI-Poland Discussion Group notes that 1942 transport lists of Jews deported from the Lodz ghetto to the Chelmno extermination camp has been placed online by the Polish State Archives at
        http://szukajwarchiwach.pl/39/278/0/19/1229/str/1/1/15#tabSkany. The list appears to include about 8,000 names.  
        See you at our upcoming meeting,Sunday, February 8.
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