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Genealogy Notes

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  • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
    Old Laptop to Spare? In search of a laptop computer -- if you have upgraded your laptop recently and have an old version you‘d like to donate to the Jewish
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 12, 2004
      Old Laptop to Spare? In search of a laptop computer -- if you have upgraded
      your laptop recently and have an old version you‘d like to donate to the
      Jewish Genealogy Society of Sacramento, please let us know. It would be used with
      scanning software to help keep track of our growing library. As a nonprofit
      organization, your donation to us would be tax-deductible. E-mail us
      jgs_sacramento@... or leave a message at 916-486-0906 ext. 361.

      JGSS Meeting Notes for November 21, 2004

      President Mark Heckman called the meeting to order and noted that the JGS of
      Southern Nevada is anxious to interest people in attending the upcoming
      international conference (IAJGS) set for July 10-15 at the Flamingo Hilton in Las
      Vegas. They’re offering $5 raffle tickets for a chance to save on registration

      Lester Smith said that he is a member of the IAJGS committee monitoring
      public records access. He noted the trend in the last few years to limit birth and
      death record information to limit identity theft. He participated in an
      internet chat meeting and learned the following information:

      -- California is supposed to have non-comprehensive birth and death
      certificates, without maiden name or SSNs included

      -- Canada and their census -- have a 92-year rule. Starting with the next
      census, will ask those surveyed if it’s okay to release 92 years from now. (“
      Thank God they didn’t ask my father that question in 1900,” Lester said.)

      --Romania-- has an anti-semitic approach to release of data

      -- Hungary -- dispute between two agencies as to who is responsible for the

      -- HR 10 -- part of the federal National Security Act --clause relating to
      making it hard to get birth, death, marriage licenses.

      Art Yates reported that he attended the council meeting of the Sacramento
      Historical and Genealogical Alliance. They’ve asked for brochures from every
      organization and participate in the Family History Day at the State Archives.

      Allan Bonderoff presented the treasurer’s report -- we have $1.663.72 in our

      Burt Hecht mentioned our upcoming meeting December 19, which will featured
      the Jews of Sing-Sing, the New York prison, presented by Ron Arons of the Bay

      Our speaker for the November meeting was Nancy Zimmelman of the California
      State Archives. She mentioned an upcoming change in the law -- as of January 1,
      any records in the state archives that are 75 years old or older will be open
      without restriction. This includes mental health records, corrections
      records, education records and more.

      Nancy’s topic for the meeting focused on what genealogists need to know about
      doing research in the state archives. First, she said, don’t call us
      librarians, we’re archivists. Library materials, she said, are published and there
      are usually open stacks. Libraries usually collect item by item. Archives,
      however, are a repository of records or documents relating to communities,
      governments, states or nations. Archives materials are unpublished -- “we collect
      things relates to one another.” They are arranged by who created them -- the
      agency, county, etc. They are stored in closed stacks, with a higher level of
      security and don’t circulate. The original documents include bound copies
      of bills signed into law by the Governor.

      Nancy said archivists identify, preserve and make available records of
      enduring value. “We never said they’re permanent -- most records won’t last
      forever,” she said. The archives may be able to extend their life through its care.
      She also noted that the research value of some documents may change over the

      Do your homework for the archives, to most effectively do your research.
      Everything you want is not available on the computer -- there is an effort to put
      descriptive guides about collections on line in most states, and provide
      finding aids about the repository.

      Nancy stressed the need to follow the rules set up by the archives, from
      registration forms to the use of only paper and pencil. The Bancroft Library in
      Berkeley even provides the paper; sometimes there’s a hole in the middle to
      ensure documents aren’t being taken out. Typically, no personal belongings or
      binders are allowed in the room. Theft is a real risk to archives.

      Archives use is confidential, except for provisions of the Patriot Act, and
      the trend is getting more restrictive, Nancy said, to the concern of the
      Society of American Archvists.

      Nancy said the main room in the Sacramento archives can accommodate 90
      researchers at a time; digital photography is allowed with no flash, but ask first.
      As to photocopying, it depends on the condition of the document.

      Talk to the reference archivist for assistance. Genealogists are frequent
      users of most state archives, although Nancy said in California there are
      probably more lawyers, interested in the legislative intent of legislation. Also,
      the California State Archives doesn’t have the birth, death and marriage
      records that most states do.

      Handle any documents with care, Nancy said, and keep them in the order in
      which you receive them. “The most dreaded people of all are the finger-lickers,”
      she said, who have the habit of turning pages that way. If you have an
      oversized roll document, ask an archivist for weights. You might also be offered a
      book cradle. Wear white cotton gloves if necessary, especially if photos are
      not in protective sleeves. If you take notes, do not write on top of the

      Nancy also emphasized the need to budget your time and to take notes that
      include listing the identification number of the collection and the source of the
      information. Also, bring change for the copy machine, if available. The
      archives can generally copy about 50 pages while a researcher is there, and can
      mail additional pages.

      Finally, she suggested researchers thank the archivists -- “it’s helpful for
      us to know how something is used -- you can also gently offer constructive

      Nancy said the state archives receives corrections records 30 years after the
      inmate is inactive or released, with some information not available to
      researchers. After 75 years, no information would be screened out.

      No appointment is necessary to visit the archives, just walk in. The
      Sacramento archives also includes the Root Cellar library collection, with volunteers
      to assist you three days a week. “We’re also open the first Saturday of the
      month,” Nancy said.

      Next month’s meeting will be held on Sunday, December 19 at 10 a.m. and will
      feature Ron Arons of the Bay Area discussing “Uncovering Your Family History
      -- The Jews of Sing-Sing and More!”

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
      Jewish Genealogy Society of Sacramento December 19, 2004 Meeting Notes Burt Hecht called the meeting to order and outlined upcoming meetings. On Sunday,
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 11, 2005
        Jewish Genealogy Society of Sacramento
        December 19, 2004 Meeting Notes

        Burt Hecht called the meeting to order and outlined upcoming
        meetings. On Sunday, January 23, Teven Laxer will discuss the new online Yad
        Vashem database of Holocaust survivors. Teven already has his own success story
        with the database, connecting with new cousins, including some in Roseville.

        We’ve got a host of interesting programs coming up in 2005. Burt
        announced that our February 27 meeting will feature Steve Morse, famed creator
        of one-step Web access for the Ellis Island database and numerous others. In
        March, we'll hear from Pam Dallas, giving us a whirlwind tour of records
        needed for family research. In April, Jason Lindo will discuss Sephardic roots;
        in May, Mark Heckman will talk about creating Ken Burns-like video
        presentations, and in June, Lester Smith will focus on tools for immigration research.
        July is the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held this year in
        Las Vegas.

        - - - - - - - - - - -

        Ron Arons – The Jews of Sing-Sing

        Ron Arons, a Bay Area genealogist and a past JGSS speaker, returned to
        Sacramento to make a presentation on the Jews of Sing-Sing. He has made similar
        presentations at the international conferences in London, Toronto and Washington.

        Ron said there are a number of materials available for
        researching criminals, including federal and state censuses, admission records, court
        transcripts and newspapers. In researching his great-grandfather, he looked in
        the 1900 census and found someone with his name in Sing Sing prison. Ron
        found his record of admission, and learned he was sentenced for the crime of
        bigamy. He then contacted the Kings County courthouse to look for more materials,
        and also the New York City municipal archives. He ultimately found more than
        30 records, including a transcript of the criminal case.

        Through Italian records online (and recently cited by Gary
        Mokotoff), Ron found a record of his grandfather's marriage to his third wife. He
        found articles on the court case in the New York papers, and through the UC
        Berkeley periodical collections, he found a New York World article.

        Sing Sing prison was built in 1825, with a current population of
        about 1700, probably 15 or so Jewish.. At its peak it probably had some 2400
        to 2500 inmates. We're used to hearing the phrase about someone being "sent up
        the river" – Sing Sing is about 30 miles from Manhattan.

        Ron noted that Hollywood featured the prison in a number of
        films, including "The Big House" (1930), "20,000 Years at Sing Sing (Warner
        Brothers, 1932), "Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), "Castle on the Hudson" (1940), "The
        Producers" (1961), and "Analyze That" (2002) among others. Sing-Sing was
        even alluded to in a Bugs Bunny cartoon in 1948. Ron mentioned the link
        between Jewish studio owners and the prison – the Warner family donated the money
        for the gymnasium.

        Ron said you can argue that Sing Sing is important in Jewish
        history – it has housed more Jewish criminals because it's one of the oldest and
        largest prisons. The earliest known Jewish criminal was Samuel Rothschild,
        released in 1852. In 1875 there is a record of Passover services being
        conducted, and High Holy Day services in 1877, so there had to be a Jewish population
        of some size, Ron surmises.

        Who was not in Sing Sing? Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Mickey
        Cohen and David Berkowitz. Who was there? From 1870 to 1920, Edward Osterman and
        Mark Eastman; Benny Flin (Dopey Benny); Irving Wexler (Waxey Gordon);Charles
        Becker, Harry Horowitz and Louis Buchalter, probably the most notorious of
        those in Sing-Sing. There was also Jacob Shapiro, Emanuel Weiss, Harry Strauss,
        Martin Goldstein and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Close to 50 Jews died in the
        electric chair, of more than 600 total.

        There were also lesser known Jewish criminals in Sing Sing, that
        Ron discovered from newspaper articles. In 1908, there was an article quoting
        the New York City police department, that Jewish immigrants were responsible
        for half the crimes in New York, something that was later retracted.

        Ron said there were thousands of Jewish criminals from 1880 to
        1950. He went through all of the admissions records and looked at the names.
        He said the vast majority were serving time for grand larceny, burglary and
        larceny, some with multiple terms.

        Other points of interest:

        * There have been Jewish chaplains in Sing Sing since 1877
        * Houdini performed at the prison twice
        * There were incentives to claim you were Jewish, including kosher
        meals, you could leave your cell to go to the Jewish chapel and you could
        meet with the Rabbi twice a week.

        Ron is writing a book on the Jews of Sing Sing and has applied for a grant
        from the New York State Archives to assist him. He may also look at other

        - - - - - - - - -

        At the conclusion of the meeting, Mark Heckman presented a 7-foot screen to
        Les Finke of the Einstein Center, for use by residents as well as the JGSS.
        We usually make a donation to the Einstein Center each Chanukah; this year the
        screen was our gift.

        See you Sunday,January 23!

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
        Upcoming Meetings Next Meeting: Sunday, December 16, 10 a.m. Aaron Kornblum, Western Jewish History Center, Berkeley January 13, 2008, 10 a.m. Video Virtual
        Message 3 of 9 , Dec 5, 2007

          Upcoming Meetings


          Next Meeting: Sunday, December 16, 10 a.m.

          Aaron Kornblum, Western Jewish History Center, Berkeley


          January 13, 2008, 10 a.m.

          Video Virtual Tour of Lost German Synagogues



          November 18 Meeting Notes


          President Burt Hecht called the meeting to order.  He called upon Gerry Ross, who showed off blue T-shirts we have for sale for $15 -- “We Dig Our Ancestors” is on the back.  Mort Rumberg then gave an overview of the December speaker, Aaron Kornblum, head of the Western Jewish History Center located at the Magnes Museum in Berkeley.  The meeting will be held Sunday, December 16 at 10 a.m.


          Mort said he attended the Sacramento Genealogy Council (it has a longer name) last Saturday at the Family History Library on Eastern Avenue, and came away with three boxes of discarded books and journals for our library. They focus on countries ranging from New Zealand and Tahiti to the Czech Republic.


          Allan Bonderoff’s Treasurer’s report -- there is $1,878.15 in our account.


          November Speaker


          Carol Davidson Baird was our November speaker, with her topic, “Beginning German-Jewish Genealogy From Your Easy Chair.”   She distributed a handout with Web sites and books related to her talk.


          Carol said she began her research before the days of computers.  As a child, she was interested in family history, and heard stories about the rise of Hitler and the German concentration camps.  Her parents were Holocaust survivors, and she was fortunate that four generations of her family made it out of Germany.


          Her family lived in Germany through Kristallnacht, and in 1939, left for London, to stay there until they had visas for elsewhere.  Her parents met in London, when her father was 18 and her mother 14.  Fortunately, they had shipped things out before leaving, including family bibles and school and military records.  Some things, including gold and jewelry had been lost on a ship that sunk.  But other things survived. She showed a slide of a page with handwritten family milestones from her great-grandfather’s family bible, which had been shipped out.


          “My family is German on both sides, at least as far back as 1700,” she said.  Several family trees had been done, but she had to verify what was included.  In terms of names, she noted that in 1938, every Jewish family in Germany had to add either Israel or Sara to their names, “to further dehumanize them.”


          Carol had assumed her parents came through New York Harbor, but it turned out they went through Nova Scotia to Boston in 1940.  She had been given a brooch as a child with the ship the SS. Newfoundland -- that turned out to be the ship her parents came over on.  She found a photo of it on a Web site.


          Carol said she collects antique postcards of German towns and there are several Web sites specializing in German cards.  You can also find them on E-bay and Amazon.com.


          She said the Leo Baeck Institute -- www.lbi.org is a great source of information, with its entire archives online.


          Books:  “One of the best books about the Jews of Germany reads like a novel,” Carol said.  It is “The Jews of Germany -- A Story of Sixteen Centuries” by Marvin Lowenthal.


          Carol also said that between JewishGen and Google, you can find just about anything related to German research.




            -- a German internet archive of Jewish periodicals.


          Stammbaum-- The Journal of German-Jewish Genealogical Research.  “You’ll want to subscribe to this if you’re really interested in German-Jewish genealogy,” Carol says.  It also covers the Alsace region of France.


          Carol also cited several bookstores that are useful.


          Computer Genealogy Tips:  Carol urged those interested in German research to join the GERSIG on JewishGen.  Other tips -- do a Google search for surnames and towns; check Cyndi’s List; check familysearch.org for the Family History Library; check the Ellis Island database and the Yad Vashem database. The Aufbau newspaper on JewishGen is helpful for people looking for surnames.


          Carol talked about her father, when he was 11-years-old, took the only photo of the Voehl, Germany synagogue interior.  “That’s what they used to restore the synagogue,” she said.  “And I have that negative.”


          (For more on German synagogue restoration, you’ll want to attend our January program.)


          Another source of information:

          Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames by Lars Menk, published by Avotaynu.  “He’s an elevator operator in Germany, but has a thing about names,” she said.


          Carol suggested people do a timeline of their ancestor’s life in Germany, using records of new residents, marriages, tax records and census records.  Contrary to popular belief, the Germans did not destroy records, since they hoped to display them in a Museum of Jewish Extinction.


          www.tr62.de  -- a site for historical maps of Germany.  They include areas now in Poland, and you have to go there to get documents, Carol said.


          She said there are a lot of sites for Jewish museums and synagogues in Germany -- type in German synagogues and the town and you should find them.


          Emigration and Immigration: Carol asked, “how did your family get here and how did they leave?”


          According to U.S. census records, 23% of those listed in 1990 claimed German ancestry, (58 million people); 10 percent (39 million) claimed Irish ancestry.


          “Don’t forget to look at Galveston records,” Carol said.  “A lot of Germans came in through that port.”


          Holocaust migration -- Carol said a lot of Jews went through Shanghai. There is an address book published in November 1939 of Germans who were there: “Emigranten Addresbuch”. Includes name, previous residence in Germany, profession and Shanghai address. “Exil Shanghai, 1938-1947” is a German book which includes a CD of a database.


          The Berlin Document Center for Nazi records of Jews 1933-45.



          Bremen Passenger Lists, 1920-1939



          Holocaust Research:


          The German Minority Census of 1939-- An Introduction and Register --  was compiled by Thomas Edlund.  It’s not online but available through Avotaynu.


          US Holocaust Memorial Museum -- www.ushmm.org


          The International Tracing Center of the Red Cross -- Google it.  There are eight buildings of records.  “There is a staggering amount of detail they kept records for, including lice, dental records and more.”


          Military records -- Carol said 18% of German Jews served in military in World War I.  “I found a photo of my grandfather at a Passover service for German soldiers in France in World War I.”


          She said her grandfather received the Iron Cross and the Purple Heart.  But that would soon matter little.  He was taken on November 10, 1938 -- arrested at home and taken to a camp, only to be released five weeks later.  “It was an attempt to encourage Jews to leave,” Carol said.  On December 31, 1938, she said his business was confiscated.


          In questions following her talk, Bob Wascou noted that there is a Sacramento German Geneaology Society.  He also noted that our JGSS library has a lot of the books that Carol mentioned.



          - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


          December 2, 2007




          Robert Caplin for The New York Times

          The Museum at Eldridge Street. More Photos >

          Historic NYC Synagogue Is Reborn


          NEW YORK (AP) -- A historic synagogue in a neighborhood synonymous with Jewish life a century ago celebrated a rebirth Sunday after a renovation that took more than 20 years and cost $20 million.

          Roberta Brandes Gratz, an author and preservationist who spearheaded the effort in the 1980s to restore the Eldridge Street Synagogue on Manhattan's Lower East Side, said the once-grand Moorish-style structure was then in a sad state of disrepair.

          ''The water was pouring through the roof,'' Gratz said. ''Pigeons roosted in the balcony. There was no heat, electricity or water in the sanctuary, and dust was thick on the pews.''

          But the 70-foot vaulted ceilings were intact on Sunday, the brass light fixtures gleamed, and the stained-glass windows, carved wood and intricate murals looked as pristine as when the synagogue was first dedicated in 1887.

          Eldridge Street Synagogue was New York's first congregation built by Eastern European Jews and drew as many as 1,000 worshippers during its peak years in the early decades of the 20th century. But its membership dwindled as Jews left the Lower East Side, and by the 1950s what was left of the congregation met in the basement.

          While that lower floor will continue to function as an Orthodox synagogue, the building will now serve as a nonsectarian museum dedicated to American Jewish history and the history of the Lower East Side.

          Barry Yood, a retired health administrator whose great-grandfather served as Eldridge Street's rabbi, said he was looking forward to being a docent at the new museum.

          ''It is so exciting because to me it represents America,'' Yood said of the restored house of worship. ''The Jews came here poor, forlorn, oppressed. When they walked into this synagogue it was walking into a breath of fresh air. ... It was a place where they basically learned how to be Americans, as well as good Jews.''

          The Museum at Eldridge Street will host programs about vaudeville music, Yiddish literature, family history research and other topics.

          The cantor at Sunday's rededication ceremony, Max Fuchs, had led High Holy Day services at Eldridge Street in 1948.  Many of those in attendance had worshipped there in decades past, or their families had.

          State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said his great-uncle David Silver was president of the synagogue, and he himself went there for Saturday services as a child.

          ''At this moment in history, when the mere mention of the word 'immigrant' can evoke bitterness and stress, it's wonderful that we are here together on Eldridge Street celebrating the restoration and rededication of this precious gem of our immigrant heritage,'' Silver said.

          The synagogue's neighborhood is now part of Chinatown.


          Eldridge Street project: http://www.eldridgestreet.org




          December 1, 2007, New York Times

          Museum Review

          Return of a Long-Dormant Island of Grace


          Stand at the center of the 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue, whose main sanctuary reopens tomorrow after a restoration that took 20 years and cost $20 million, and gaze upward, past the chandeliers with their curled vintage glass, toward the 70-foot-high vaulted ceiling, painted with gilded stars.

          Skip to next paragraph Even now — as this space’s religious function has faded and been folded into the newly named Museum at Eldridge Street, and as Irving Howe’s “world of our fathers” on the Lower East Side in New York becomes more like the “world of our great-grandfathers” — it is possible to be awestruck by the exotic splendor of this meticulously restored sanctuary. It is elaborately ornamented with mock-Turkish motifs, Moorish arches and fantastical trompe l’oeil painting that turns plaster into marble, pine into mahogany and molded decoration into ornate stone. Imagine, then, the impact it must have had on its worshipers when this synagogue flourished, amid its neighborhood’s raucous, grinding poverty and slum tenements, and its residents’ intoxicating American ambitions and devout Old World beliefs.

          At the close of the 19th century, it must have seemed otherworldly. The Lower East Side had become the way station for the United States’ most recent immigrations of Italians and Eastern European Jews. Between 1880 and 1890 alone — as the synagogue was constructed, dedicated and began its intense, all-too-brief life — 60,000 immigrant Jews settled there.

          By 1910, according to the historian Hasia R. Diner, the neighborhood contained half a million Jews; by contrast, Vienna, one of the largest Jewish centers in Europe, had a Jewish population of 175,000, and Chicago, about 100,000. This neighborhood had one of the largest Jewish populations of any city in the world — and surely one of the poorest. Most of the area’s 60-some synagogues were humble gathering places named after the Eastern European towns and shtetls from which their worshipers had fled, resembling the social clubs that develop among many immigrant communities.

          Go to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum a few blocks away on Orchard Street if you want to see how most of those worshipers really lived, crowding generations and occupations into three small, ill-lit rooms without plumbing, and then walk into this ethereal vault, with its expanse of space and skylights and stained glass. Who among those tenement dwellers would not have been amazed?

          Now the synagogue seems otherworldly in a different way, framed by the shops and bustling sidewalks of a newer immigrant community. Just as the nearby Garden Cafeteria, once frequented by Isaac Bashevis Singer, became a Chinese restaurant, and as the building of the great Yiddish newspaper The Jewish Daily Forward came at one time to house a Chinese church, no doubt something similar would have happened to this synagogue.

          Indeed, by the mid-1950s, without funds or a substantial congregation, the main sanctuary was sealed shut; only a remnant of the original congregation continued to use the smaller ground-floor study hall. Then, in 1971, the water-damaged main sanctuary was surveyed with astonishment by Gerald R. Wolfe, a New York University professor, who founded the Friends of the Eldridge Street Synagogue. Fifteen years later, the preservationist and journalist Roberta Brandes Gratz was so taken by its latent promise that she started the Eldridge Street Project, helped obtain its landmark status and began a fund-raising drive that gradually brought the sanctuary back to life.

          But what purpose could such a place serve if its religious function and community were gone? Rather than leave it a monument to an earlier faith, the Eldridge Street Project turned the building into a symbol of a contemporary, secular faith. In the 1990s, the synagogue, its renovation unfinished, became a museum, a center, in the words of the Project, “for historical reflection, aesthetic inspiration and spiritual renewal.”

          The Project welcomed 15,000 to 20,000 visitors yearly, offering a glimpse of 19th-century Jewish religious life along with insights into the broader immigrant experience. Lectures and events, some involving the local Chinese community, anchored the building in its altered neighborhood.

          Now, with the stunning restoration, overseen by the architects Walter Sedovic and Jill H. Gotthelf, almost four times the number of annual visitors are expected at the renamed building. This spring, public programs will include an introduction to oral history in a Family History Center, which will offer genealogical information; a concert featuring immigrant music of the vaudeville era; and lectures on Jewish fiction and Yiddish movies.

          Next summer, under the guidance of the education director, Annie Polland, a five-day teacher workshop on “Immigration, Religion and Culture of New York’s Lower East Side” will take place, financed by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

          The Museum at Eldridge Street opens tomorrow at 12 Eldridge Street, between Canal and Division Streets, Lower East Side; (212) 219-0903.


          From Avotaynu’s E-Zine, December 2, 2007, by Gary Mokotoff


          USHMM To Have Public Access to ITS Records This Month
          The U.S. Holocaust Museum (USHMM) plans to accept inquiries regarding the Holocaust-related records of the International Tracing Service this month, perhaps as early as December 3.  What USHMM currently has is part of the record collection of ITS plus the entire Central Names Index (C

          (Message over 64 KB, truncated)

        • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
          Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento _www.jgss.org_ (http://www.jgss.org) July 5, 2008 Upcoming Meetings Mark your calendar for: Monday, July 21, 7 p.m.
          Message 4 of 9 , Jul 5 8:30 PM



            Jewish Genealogical Society

            of Sacramento



            July 5, 2008

            Upcoming Meetings

            Mark your calendar for:

            Monday, July 21, 7 p.m. -- Schelly Dardashti, Israeli genealogist and journalist who created the  “Tracing the Tribe” blog.

            Monday, August 11, 7 p.m. -- Dr. Donald R. MacRae, Scottish professor, on                      “The Science of Names,” including Sephardic names of Western Europe .


            June 16 Meeting Notes

            President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order.  He introduced Ron Arons, who is the author of a new book, “The Jews of Sing Sing.”  Ron, who has spoken on this topic to us in the past, said his book profiles about a dozen people, “including my great-grandfather who was in for bigamy.”

            Bob Wascou introduced a special guest, active in the RomSig Romanian research efforts: Reuven Singer who lives in Israel but is working for the next month or so as a physician in Modesto .

            Mr. Singer is involved with research of burial records for the town of Iasi (pronounced Yash, often spelled before World War II as Jassy).  With help from JewishGen, he said Romanian officials finally allowed Iasi records to be duplicated.  There are some 3600 pages -- about 72,000 names -- which have been copied, of burial records from 1883-2000.

            Treasurer’s Report: There is $1,995.13 in our account.

            June Speaker

            Our speaker for the meeting was Steve Morse, focusing on “From DNA to Genetic Genealogy.”   Steve has spoken to us many times and is infamous for his one-step aids to accessing the Ellis Island Web sites and many others (see his own Web site at www.stevemorse.org).  And check out the PC World article on Steve and his Intel days via the link under the Avotaynu items below.

            Steve said he is not a geneticist or biologist but had gone to many lectures where it was assumed you had a certain scientific background .  So he began to delve into the subject.

            He gave us a brief history of genetics, going back to 1865 and Gregor Mendel’s famous pea experiment.  Fast-forward to 200 and genealogist Megan Smolenyak’s coining of the term “genetic genealogy.”

            Steve then talked about genes, chromosomes and DNA.  Traits are determined by genes, which are located on chromosomes composed of DNA.

            Genes: According to Mendel’s conclusions: each trait is determined by a pair of genes; one comes from each parent; genes don’t blend -- one will dominate.

            Chromosomes: Each human cell has 46 chromosomes; they are numbered, in 22 pairs, plus X and Y; chromosomes 1-22 called autosomes; X and Y determine sex.

            DNA:  A chromosome is a DNA molecule; a double helix with two strands running in opposite directions.  Each strand consists of four repeating compounds.

            History of genes: In the late 1800s, chromosomes were seen under a microscope.  in 1924, a microscopic study showed DNA was present in chromosomes.  In the 1940s, biologists realized that it is DNA that encloses the gene.

            How many pairs in a gene? About 27 thousand.  How many base pairs in a chromosome, between 50 and 250 million.  There are about 6 billion in all 46 chromosome pairs.

            Eye color -- we know which chromosome (15) and where it’s located.

            How do we inherit chromosomes?  There is autosome inheritance and sex chromosome inheritance. The Y chromosome (male) is passed intact, so you can look back generations.

            Steve said mutations are a good thing -- you can see how far back they are common in base pairs.  “A change is a single base pair ,or SniP, is a rare event, and never gets undone.  It can be used to trace early migration patterns. “Each time a SniP mutation occurred, we can identify a different “branch” of mankind.  By seeing where the branches are indigenous today, we can determine migration patterns.”

            There is also a StiR -- Short Tandem Repeat -- once every 500 events, can increase or decrease.  It can be used to estimate the time back to a common ancestor.

            Steve said women’s ancestry is not from chromosomes but from mitochondria.  “By following the mitochondria trail, you can find out who’s your mother’s  mother’s mother.

            Kohanim (Jewish High Priests)  -- Steve said we can trace the Jewish priests since they are all the direct male descendants of Aaron, brother of Moses. Therefore, all Kohanim should have Aaron’s Y chromosome (with some mutations).

            Steve said the Kohanim designation has usually been passed on in families as part of a folk tradition -- your father told you.  But not all who claim to be Kohanim have the genetic markers.

            Genetic diseases Steve mentioned include Down Syndrome (an extra copy of chromosome 21); Sickle Cell Anemia (chromosome 11, mostly found in sub-Saharan African populations); Tay-Sachs: (chromosome 15, Ashkenazi, Louisiana Cajuns, French Canadians).

            Common applications for DNA testing: human migration patterns, population studies; genealogy; genetic testing for diseases; forensic identity checking (think O.J. Simpson); paternity testing.

            Steve noted that he has a DNA/genetic genealogy section on his one-step Web site, www.stevemorse.org.



            From Avotaynu’s E-Zine, by Gary Mokotoff

            More About Stephen P. Morse
            Stephen P. Morse has added an Enumeration District (ED) finder for the 1900
            U.S. census to his web site. Previously covered were the census years 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940. This is extremely valuable when you can’t find a person in these censuses—perhaps due to misspelling of the name—but you know the street address. U.S. censuses divided major cities into Enumeration Districts.

            Locate the address of the individual on some map such as the one at http://mapquest.com. Determine the ED at the Morse site by identifying the street on which the house is located and the intersecting streets.

            Even More About Stephen P. Morse -- PC World Article
            When I first met Steve Morse I knew he was involved in the computer industry so I asked him for particulars. Among the accomplishments he stated was that he invented the PC. I responded by saying, “You mean you were on the team that invented the PC.” “No,” he said, “I invented the PC.” I was taken aback, but Morse explained to me the circumstances that led up to him being the sole inventor. You can now read about that accomplishment, published by PC World, at http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,146957/article.html?tk=nl_bexnws

            Searchable Eastern European Business Directories Grows to 31
            There are now 31 searchable Eastern European business directories at Logan Kleinwaks’ site: http://kalter.org/search. There is also an 1894 Commercial Business Directory of the Jews of the
            United Kingdom. The search engine was created with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software. This process is not 100% accurate, so the results aren’t either. A search produces a list of numbers of images (or pages, for the 1929 Polish business directory) in which your search term appears.

            How to use the various search engines and display the results pages is not necessarily obvious and Kleinwaks suggests reading the first Frequently Asked Questions at http://kalter.org/searchfaq.html
            Kleinwaks allows searches in a variety of manners, each described in detail at the site. They are: Regular, Sensitive, Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex and CR-Adjusted.

            The directories are divided into sections. Those currently available are:

            Poland/Danzig Business Directories
            1926/1927 Poland and Danzig Business Directory (Trade, Industry, Handicraft, and Agriculture)
            1928 Poland and Danzig Business Directory (Trade, Industry, Handicraft, and Agriculture)
            1929 Poland and Danzig Business Directory (Trade, Industry, Handicraft, and Agriculture)
            1930 Poland and Danzig Business Directory (Trade, Industry, Handicraft, and Agriculture)

            Poland and Galicia
            1901 Galicia Industry Directory
            1904 Poland Manufacturers' Directory
            1912 Galicia Telephone Directory
            1914/1915 Galicia and Bukovina War Refugees Address Directory, Vol. III (excl. Lwow, Krakow)
            1914/1915 Krakow War Refugees Address Directory
            1921/1922 Poland Joint Stock Company Directory
            1923 Poland and Danzig Commercial Directory
            1932 Bialystok Address Directory

            More Poland/Galicia
            1925 Western Poland Business Directory (Great Poland, Pomerania, Silesia, Danzig)
            1937 Poland Business, School, and Organizational Directory (Selected Cities)
            1938 Economic Directory of Kielce, Krakow, Silesia Provinces

            1914 Upper Silesia Industry Directory
            1914 Upper Silesia Trade Directory
            1927 Lower Silesia Industry, Trade, and Craft Directory
            1939/1940 Silesia Business Directory

            1925 Romania Business and Organizational Directory, Vol. I (Bucharest)
            1924/1925 Romania Business and Organizational Directory, Vol. II (rest of Romania)

            United Kingdom
            1894 Commercial Directory of the Jews of the United Kingdom (Harfield)

            1826 Warsaw Directory
            1938/1939 Warsaw Telephone Directory

            1885 Posen (City) Address and Business Directory
            1924 Poznan Telephone and Business Directory
            1930 Poznan (City) Address Directory
            1936/1937 Poznan Business Directory
            1946 Poznan Business Directory

            1902 Lwow Address and Business Directory
            1910 Lwow Address Directory
            1913 Lwow Address Directory
            1914/1915 Lwow War Refugees Address Directory

            News from the SIGs
            SIGs are Special Interest Groups primarily focusing on geographic areas of ancestry. You can subscribe to their Discussion Groups at http://lyris.jewishgen.org/ListManager. A log in is required. You can link to the SIG home pages from http://www.jewishgen.org. There are also more than 80 Jewish Genealogical Societies throughout the world. A list of societies can be found at http://www.iajgs.org/Member-Index.htm.

            Austria-Czech SIG. There are extremely detailed 18th-century maps of
            Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia located at http://oldmaps.geolab.cz/.

            Early American SIG. The Institute for Southern Jewish Life has undertaken a project to compile an online history of every congregation and significant Jewish community in the South. This digital archive project is accessible at http://www.isjl.org. Click on the “New Digital History Archive.” Currently 83 communities in
            Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee are completed.

            German Jewish SIG. The Aufbau Indexing Project plans to index all the announcements of birth, engagement, marriage, death and other special occasions that appeared in the pages of Aufbau between 1934 and 2004. The project’s web site is located at http://calzareth.com/aufbau/index.html. To date there are about 42,000 entries in the database, primarily from the 1940s and 1975–2003. An additional 2,500 records from 1945 will be added shortly. Aufbau is a German-language Jewish newspaper published in
            New York City.

            Israeli Online Telephone Book
            It’s possible once again to search the online Israeli telephone book for a person without knowing their address. It is located at http://www.b144.co.il/default.aspx?_private=0. The site is in Hebrew. If you don’t t have a Hebrew-character keyboard, use the Stephen P. Morse site at http://stevemorse.org to convert names from the Roman to Hebrew alphabet. Then copy and paste the result to the B144 site (the rightmost box) and click the button to the left. Morse plans to add a one-step process to his site allowing you to search the telephone directory without going through this involved procedure..

             “Jewish Data” Adds More Records
            Jewish Data, located at http://www.jewishdata.com, contains a melange of more than 500,000 indexed records primarily from the Albany, New York, area but now extended to various locales throughout the world. For example, the site recently was updated to include more than 52,000 records for burials at the
            Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Several thousand record listings have been entered for Hebrew tombstone images from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

            The site is worth a visit to determine if there is any information valuable to your research. It is a fee-for-service site, but members of the Jewish Genealogical Society Inc. (
            New York) have free access. Information about the society can be found at http://jgsny.org/.

            Ohio Obituaries Online
            Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center web site, located at http://www.rbhayes.org/index, has and index to more than 1.2 million Ohio obituaries. Other newspaper items are in the index, including wills and estates and marriage notices, and a variety of sources such as funeral home and cemetery records, scrapbooks and history books. Dates range from 1810 to the present.

            #      #      #

            Gas prices getting you down? Search AOL Autos for fuel-efficient used cars.
          • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
            Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento _www.jgss.org_ (http://www.jgss.org/) December 27, 2008 Upcoming Meetings -- Mark Your Calendars Sunday, January 18,
            Message 5 of 9 , Dec 27, 2008


              Jewish Genealogical Society

              of Sacramento


              December 27, 2008


              Upcoming Meetings --  Mark Your Calendars

              Sunday, January 18, 10 a.m.  -- Barbara Leak, Naturalization Rules and Records

              Sunday, February 15, 10 a.m.  -- Gary Sandler,  How My Family Unexpectedly Materialized in Ellis Island Records

              Sunday, March 15, 10 a.m.  -- Allan Dolgow -- Ukraine Scrapbook


              Membership Dues Due


              If you haven't had a chance to pay your 2009 dues yet, bring a $25 check made out to the JGSS for treasurer Allan Bonderoff to the January meeting, or mail it to him c/o the Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright Street #116, Sacramento, CA 95825.  Your dues allow us to make library acquisitions and pay expenses for our speakers.  Any extra donations you'd like to make would be greatly appreciated.


              Genealogy Classes Offered


              The Folsom Cordova Unified School District  and San Juan School District are both offering genealogy classes beginning in January.  These include Beginning Family History, Intermediate Genealogy, Ancestry.com, Using Roots Magic Version 4, New Family Search and Computerized Genealogy.


              It’s unclear when registration deadlines are; for further details, contact


              Folsom Cordova Unified School District


              Folsom Cordova Online Registration



              and  San Juan Spring 2009 Catalog & Registration Form



              Mail In Registration Form Only




              December 14, 2008 Meeting

              President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order.  He provided an overview of upcoming meetings: in January we’ll hear from Barbara Leak re naturalization records; in February, it’s our 20th anniversary party -- “there’ll be a surprise for everyone” along with a presentation by Gary Sandler on his success with Ellis Island records; March will feature Allan Dolgow on his recent trip to the Ukraine; and April we’ll hear from Steve Morse on another way to do name matching, to get closer to the records you’re seeking.

              Mort noted that Sue Miller is recovering from knee replacement surgery, and we send her our best.

              Every quarter, the Sacramento Valley Genealogical and Historical Council meets.  Mort said they now have an updated speaker’s directory.  If you know of anybody who would like to be a speaker, let Mort know.  We have the speaker’s directory both on paper and CD.

              Dave Reingold mentioned he is involved with the Florin Historical Society, for those who might be interested, or know of a possible speaker.

              Mort discussed the possibility of what happens when a speaker doesn’t show up -- what options do we have?  Some suggestions -- learning more about JewishGen online; watching the “Brooklyn and Soto” video on Los Angeles; watching a video on the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Sid Salinger  mentioned his “Googling for Grandma” genealogy talk;  it was also suggested members could each share their backgrounds and what they’re searching for.

              Bob Wascou noted that our library now has a copy of the CDs from the Chicago conference, donated by Carl and Sue Miller, along with a printout of what’s on each disk.  The CDs are available to be checked out of the library, and each one has an index.

              Bob proposed that we again make a donation to JewishGen of $100 and suggested that everyone who uses it also make a contribution.  For a donation of $100 or more, you receive immediate notification of someone searching your name on FamilySearch.  Bob said he went into the JewishGen database, researching his father’s mother’s line, through the Bessarabia database (of which he’s in charge) -- one hit of his name from the Message Board, from a woman who wrote him, turned out to be a relative -- “her grandmother was my father’s first cousin.”

              December Program

              Our December program featured “Treasures from our Attics.”  Those attending shared items of personal family interest.

              Marv Freedman brought in a mortal and pestle which his mother’s family brought from Russia.  He recalls whenever he was sick his mother would put in by his side and he’d ring it if he needed anything.  Marv also mentioned that his mother had huge copper pots brought from Russia and used for things like soup and gefilte fish.

              Susanne Levitsky shared a 1910 photo of her great-grandfather in front of his general store in Yolo County, and a framed Christmas-time grocery ad from the store from 1931, that she has up in her kitchen.  Many of the products included in the ad are still around today.

              Gerry Ross showed a gold ring with initials that belonged to her great-grandfather who died when she was about four.  Gerry was given the ring when she graduated from high school and has used it to seal things, with sealing wax.

              Allan Bonderoff recounted his efforts to try to track down his maternal grandfather.  “My aunt said he deserted from the Czar’s army and the Russians were chasing him,” he said.  Allan has been unable to find his grandfather’s naturalization records and he’s not in the 1920 census.  “My grandmother said he probably never answered the knock on the door.”   One suggestion from Bob Wascou -- search the Yad Vashem database.

              Burt Hecht said one branch of his family was in the printing business and he had hoped to bring in an old calendar, but hadn’t yet received it from the relative who has them.

              Mort brought in two binders that showcase his family history.  The first contains legal documents, census and naturalization records and family trees.  The second includes humor, recipes from the old country, photos and more.

              David Reingold showed an old photo of his great-grandfather and great-grandmother --“it has to have been taken in the old country, since they never emigrated.” He also brought several other old photos of his family, who lived in the Belarus region.

              Bob Wascou brought a small silver kiddush cup from his father’s family, who came from Russia.  There were marks on the bottom and apparently the cup was made in Moscow.


              From Gary Mokotoff’s Avotaynu E-Zine Dec. 21

              Status of Internet Access to Canadian Census and Passenger Lists
              If Canadian genealogy is an important part of your research, I suggest you subscribe to “Gordon Watts Reports.” His latest e-zine summarizes the status of the digitizing and indexing of the 1851 through 1911 and 1916 censuses and Canadian Passenger Lists.  Watts’ latest release is located at http://globalgenealogy.com/globalgazette/gazgw/gazgw-0114.htm.

              The planned Index to Quebec Passenger Lists 1865–1900 is now available at 

              Videos of Pre-Holocaust Jewish Poland
              Tomasz Wisniewski of Bialystok has placed on YouTube 16 videos of pre-Holocaust Jewish Poland. They can be found at http://www.youtube.com/bagnowka7. They are mostly still pictures presented in video format.

              Titles include Jewish Cemeteries til 1945, Hassidim Chasidim - Holocaust, Jewish Cemeteries til 1945, Bielsk Podlaski Synagogue, Jewish Children in Holocaust and
              Bialystok 1939-1944
              One film, Chivalrous Wehrmacht, shows photos and films of the German occupation of
              Poland taken by German soldiers. In one portion, there is a photo of German soldiers who had plundered a synagogue and were mockingly wearing keters (crowns of the Torah) on their heads. Another soldier was removing precious stones from the plates that adorned torahs.

              Wisniewski has a major website at
              http://bagnowka.com/, which includes nearly 60,000 photographs --some from postcards -- of Poland. Most are pre-World War II and many are of Jewish life in Poland. A search engine at the site allows you to search by surname or town name. Warning: A tiny note states the search is case sensitive. When I searched for the Mokotow ancestral town of “warka” (lower case “W”) there were no hits. Searching for “Warka” (upper case “W”) produced 18 results.

              Foundation for Jewish Heritage in
              The mission of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland is to protect and commemorate the surviving monuments of Jewish cultural heritage; they're also working to reclaim and restore properties which before WWII were the property of Jewish religious communities and other Jewish entities. They have a web site at http://fodz.pl/?d=1&l=en. This site has a list of Jewish cemeteries in Poland and their current status that can be searched from the home page. The home page also links to current and past projects of the organization. Click on “Gallery” to view information about specific projects.

              Ancestry.com Now Has 1935 and 1945
              Florida Censuses Online
              Ancestry.com has digitized and indexed Florida state censuses for the years 1867, 1875, 1935 and 1945. Florida is one of only two U.S. states (South Dakota is the other) to have completed a census as recently as 1945. This adds to Ancestry’s Florida State Collection which already includes the 1885 state census, marriages (1822–1875 and 1927–2001), death index (1877–1998), passenger lists (1898–1951) and land records. The Florida census search is located at http://content.ancestry.com/iexec/?htx=List&dbid=1506&offerid=0%3a7858%3a0

              A Viennese-based organization, Centropa, has developed a remarkable Internet site, http://centropa.org/, that is an oral history project which combines old family pictures with interviews. Centropa interviewed more than 1,350 elderly Jews living in Central and Eastern Europe; the former Soviet Union; and the Sephardic communities of Greece, Turkey and the Balkans. They combined the text of the interviews with 25,000 digitized images to created professional-looking autobiographies of these people. The intent was to document—at the family level—what it was like to live as Jews in 20th-century Europe.

              When browsing this site, be sure to include http://centropa.org/?nID=1 which provides a list of the surnames, cities and countries of the people they interviewed. From this page you can click on a specific surname, city of country that will lead to a list of persons who met the criteria. From there you can select the interview and photographs of the particular person.

              Living in America: The Jewish Experience—Philadelphia
              In recognition that the 2009 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held in Philadelphia this summer, the online Museum of Family History has created a component titled “Living in America: The Jewish Experience—Philadelphia” at http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-philadelphia.htm. It currently includes three articles with photographs about Jewish Philadelphia: “The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia,” by Harry Boonin; “The Fabric of our Lives: A History of Philadelphia's Fourth Street,” by Michele Winitsky Palmer; and “Four Jewish Families in Philadelphia: The End of the 19th Century,” by Leonard Markowitz.

              See  you at our Sunday, January 18 meeting!

            • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
              Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento _www.jgss.org_ (http://www.jgss.org/) December 6, 2009 Upcoming Meetings: Sunday, Dec. 20, 10 a.m. – Ron Arons,
              Message 6 of 9 , Dec 6, 2009


                Jewish Genealogical Society

                of Sacramento



                December 6, 2009


                Upcoming Meetings:

                Sunday, Dec. 20, 10 a.m. – Ron Arons, “Mapping Madness”

                Sunday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m. – Joann Weiser, “Everyone Has a Story”

                Sunday, Feb. 21, 10 a.m. – Victoria Fisch, “Jews of the Gold Rush”


                Dues are Due

                Treasurer Allan Bonderoff has e-mailed a notice for 2010 dues.  The $25 per year helps us purchase new books, assist with speakers, provide the Einstein Center a Chanukah gift each year, and more.  You can bring your check to the next meeting or mail it to Allan Bonderoff, 1935 Wright Street, #116, Sacramento, CA 95825. Any additional sums donated are always appreciated.

                Magnes Museum Archives Closure


                Bob Wascou advises us hat that the collections of the Magnes Museum, including the archives of the Western Jewish History Center, will be closed to researchers starting January 1, 2010 due to the imminent move of the Magnes collections to the University of California at Berkeley. Reference and other collection services will resume in 2011, once the Magnes relocates to its new facility near UC Berkeley Campus.


                Reference desk hours are by appointment only.  http://www.magnes.org/


                Sacramento Spring Genealogy Seminar

                Now’s the time to save the date for the Root Cellar –Sacramento Genealogical Society Spring Seminar.   It will be held on Saturday, March 27, 2010;

                The annual event will feature Daniel M. Lynch, author of “Google Your Family Tree.”  He will discuss techniques for using Google to conduct effective family history research.

                The Spring Seminar will be held from 9 a.m. to  3:45pm at the Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, 11427 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks, CA.  Check the Root Cellar website www.rootcellar.com for registration details and updates. Contact Sammie Hudgens at 916-481-4930 or e-mail samihud@....  This event is open to the public.

                Visiting the National Archives in D.C.?

                If you’re planning a trip to Washington D.C. and visiting The National Archives, there is a new online reservation system, to make it easier to visit the National Archives. The convenience fee for online reservations is $1.50 per person.  While reservations are not required to visit the National Archives and admission is free, this new system will eliminate the long lines and often lengthy wait. By going online, visitors can reserve their choice of dates and times.


                Reservations will be handled through the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS). Visitors to the National Archives Experience can make reservations online http://tinyurl.com/d4by4o from the NRRS Web site at www.recreation.gov. Reservations can also be made through the NRRS Call Center: 1-877-444- 6777.


                Meeting Notes – November 15, 2009

                President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order.  He mentioned that he had attended the recent meeting of the Genealogical and Historical Society of the Sacramento Valley, and they had passed out a CD with all the genealogy books in the Sacramento Library. They offer free genealogy classes and also have a speakers’ bureau.

                Bob Wascou noted that all the headstones at the Home of Peace Cemetery in Sacramento have now been photographed, thanks to help from Carl Miller, Mark Heckman, Burt Hecht and Mort Rumberg.  Bob said they found an original plot book and beginning minutes from the cemetery from 1924.

                November Speaker

                Our speaker for the meeting was Jim Van Buskirk of San Francisco, discussing “My Grandmother’s Suitcase.”

                Jim said his grandmother, Georgette Simon, was an opera singer in France in the late 1920s and 1930s.  She met her an American doughboy during World War I, Theodore Burns, who later became her husband. It was not a happy marriage but they had a little girl, Anne Marie,who Theodore took at age six to the United States in 1933.  He ended up with the girl in Los Angeles.  In 1945, after the war, Georgette went to the U.S. and found Theodore and her daughter.  Jim remembers his grandmother, Georgette, and especially a large ring she promised him.

                In October 2000, Jim, who had been estranged from his mother, heard from his brother that she wasn’t doing well, so he went up to Seattle to see her.  “My mother said I have something to tell you – ‘you are Jewish.’”

                His mother said there was a document somewhere with the name Bernstein. 

                Jim said he had written an essay a few years before entitled “At the Museum of Jewish Heritage.” And he had just published an article on “Identity Envy” about the Jewish faith.

                He was having brunch with his mother when she said “I have your grandmother’s suitcase.  The next day we went through it,” Jim said. “I envisioned an old suitcase maybe with stickers from places around the world – it turned out to be a piece of Samsonite.”

                In the suitcase were documents, photos, contracts and letters, including letters from a young child to her mother.  His mother said there was also a document in another suitcase or trunk somewhere mentioning the word “Israelite.”

                Jim said when he got home he attended a Jewish genealogy seminar by Judy Baston in San Francisco, and Judy helped him get started with his research.  He found a World War I draft registration card for his grandfather, Theodore Burns, which listed both Burns and Bernstein on it.  It also listed his place of birth in Russia.

                “My mother then started doling out cousins – one side had not changed its name and were Jewish.”  One cousin sent a photo and family tree.

                “I sent away for four siblings’ applications for Social Security – all had different names for their parents and different places of birth,” Jim said.

                Theodore’s brother turned out to be president of a synagogue in Beverly Hills, but was introduced at the time as his lawyer.

                Then Jim found a 1906 ship’s manifest for a Bernstein family and five children arriving in New York, noting they were going to meet a J. Bernstein in New York.

                Jim said he read Arthur Kurzweil’s book, “From Generation to Generation,” talking about Jewish genealogy as a spiritual pilgrimage.  “I realized that was what I was on.  Kurzweil said the most important thing was to interview people while they were still able to tell the story.  So I told my mom I was coming up to visit with a tape recorder.”

                “She said it was fine for her to tell me the stories, but she didn’t want to be identified as Jewish,” Jim said. “It turns out she was sworn to secrecy by an aunt by marriage.”

                Jim ultimately was able to convince his mother to talk with him, noting how he had come out to his mother years earlier as a gay man.

                “I was estatic with this new-found heritage,” Jim said.  “It confirmed the feelings I had had.”

                He threw a party for himself – “a combination 55th birthday/retirement/bris/bar mitzvah – my acknowledgement to my friends of my Jewish heritage.”

                After his mother passed away, Jim cleaned out her apartment but never found the suitcase with the “Israelite” document

                On a trip to New York, he did find a Jennie Bernstein – his grandmother -- through his research, and ultimately, her gravestone.

                Jim joined a Jewish congregation in San Francisco and is in the process of writing his memoir.




                This article first appeared in the October, 2009 issue of “Family Gatherings, Newsletter of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Broward County, Inc.” It is reprinted with their permission and that of the author, Ed Kritzler.



                By Ed Kritzler


                Google “Christopher Columbus” and you find more than three million entries. Thousands of towns and cities bear his name. Yet, the wayward sailor, honored this week on the anniversary of his discovery of a New World, remains a mysterious figure. Italy, Spain and Portugal each claim his birthright, and much about him is debated. However, beyond dispute is a previously unreported relationship involving the Great Explorer and his family, and the Jews of Jamaica. From 1536 to 1655 (when England conquered Jamaica), the island was ruled by Columbus’ family who provided a haven for Iberian Jews on the run from the Inquisition.


                Columbus’ close relationship with Jews began before his voyage of discovery. It was in the spring of 1492. Columbus was meeting with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. They agreed to sponsor his voyage but balked at his demand for hereditary rights to any land he might discover.Columbus, disheartened, was leaving the royal quarters when the king's financial advisor Luis de Santangel caught up with him. “Hold firm to your demand” he urged the explorer, explaining that he would try to get the royal couple to reverse their decision.


                Santangel, a covert Jew, knew what was at stake. As the king’s counselor, he was aware that soon, town criers throughout Spain would proclaim the Expulsion Order of the Inquisition that mandated all Jews under penalty of death must leave. If Santangel could persuade the royal couple to accede to the explorer’s demand, Columbus, as ruler of a new land, would be in a position to provide a haven for banished brethren.


                Granted an audience, the counselor addressed the monarchs. Columbus’ demand should not trouble them, he said. He and his crew could not possibly subdue one of the powerful Asian nations. However, if he was allowed to rule over a few islands he captured in the course of his  voyage, Spain would gain strategic way-stations for her trading ships plying the shortcut passage to Asia. Ferdinand relented, and Columbus set sail, having gained hereditary rights over any newly discovered lands – to be “enjoyed forever by his heirs.”


                With Santangel (not Isabella’s jewels) paying for the voyage, Columbus – on the same day that Jews were expelled from Spain – set sail with a hidden agenda. Along with his stated goal to gain the riches of the East, he hoped to acquire a land where Sephardi could live free from the Inquisition. It was not to be. He never reached Asia. Nor did he secure hereditary rule over any land in his lifetime. However, his promise to provide a homeland for covert Jews was kept by his family in the one “new land” the Crown eventually ceded his heirs – the island of Jamaica.


                It’s been theorized that Columbus’ pledge to Santangel was reinforced in 1504, when,

                marooned on Jamaica for one year, he rewarded the young sailors who, led by his brother Bartholomew, defeated a mutinous uprising by older members of his crew. One may ask the reasons for the youths’ allegiance. First, they had a fiscal interest in the voyage, as their fathers helped finance it. Second, their families, being wealthy conversos (Jews who converted to the Catholic faith), were suspect and therefore targeted by the Inquisition. To keep their sons safe, Columbus agreed to take them along.


                While the Jewish boys may have looked to Columbus as their Moses (as he himself did), Jamaica was no Promised Land. Still, after leading underground lives in Spain, a year’s idyll on a tropical island was likely no hardship. How much their support played in fulfilling Columbus’ early promise to Santangel cannot be quantified. When rescued from Jamaica, Columbus and his crew were first taken to Hispaniola before departing for Spain. But the young Jews, rather than go back to the dreaded Land of the Inquisition, remained in Hispaniola and in 1509 returned to Jamaica as the island’s first settlers.


                For more than a century, Columbus’ heirs kept Jamaica – alone in the Spanish Empire

                off-limits to the tentacles of the Holy Inquisition that had spread over the New World. As far as Jamaica’s proprietors were concerned, as long as their Jewish settlers wore a Christian mask, no one in power might question the sincerity of their religious beliefs. Protected by the Columbus family, Jamaica’s Jews posed as New Christians from Portugal (known as Portugals), the only category of settlers that did not require proof of Catholic ancestry.


                 The family in partnership with Jewish traders and merchants ran Jamaica as a major smuggling port. This was revealed in 1568 when the Crown accused the current heir, Don Luis Colon, of “blocking an investigation into charges [he] used his private jurisdiction on Jamaica to cover illegal trade.” This violated Spain’s trade policy that required all goods to and from the New World to go via Seville.


                Given that the Columbus family owned every inch of the island, Jamaica attracted few

                Spanish settlers. No matter how prosperous they were, Spanish ranchers were little more than legalized squatters. To gain title to their estates, they needed the king to reclaim the island. Their means was the Inquisition. If they could expose Jamaica as a heretic island, it would give the Crown a reason to oust the Columbus family. In 1654, the opportunity arose when a Dutch ship carrying Jewish and Calvinist refugees from Brazil (after Portugal re-conquered the colony), was blown off course and forced to land in Jamaica. Local hidalgos thereupon invited Inquisitors from Columbia to investigate these “suspect heretics.” Jamaica’s covert Jews, fearing the inquiry could lead to their own exposure, sent a note to Oliver Cromwell’s agent: Jamaica could be conquered

                with little resistance, and pledged their assistance.


                The following year, a Jewish pilot led 36 English ships into the harbor, and two local

                Portugals negotiated the treaty that surrendered the island. The Spanish were exiled, and Cromwell invited the Portugals to stay on as openly practicing Jews. Welcomed by the English, covert Jews throughout the New World shed their Christian cloaks and immigrated to Jamaica.


                Until the 19th century, when its role as sanctuary was supplanted by the land of the free and home of the brave, Columbus’ island served as the principal haven for Jews in the New World.


                In September, America’s Jews celebrated their New Year in freedom, thanks in part to the Discoverer and his family’s mitzvah in providing a sanctuary in Jamaica for Jews on the run from the Inquisition.


                Author's note: Ed Kritzler, author “Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean” (Doubleday 2008), lives in Jamaica where he researched the island’s extraordinary Jewish history. He may be contacted asedkritzler@...


                See you at our next meeting, Sunday morning, Dec. 20.

              • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
                Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento _www.jgss.org_ (http://www.jgss.org) January 31, 2010 Upcoming Meetings Sunday, February 21, 10 a.m. –
                Message 7 of 9 , Jan 31, 2010


                  Jewish Genealogical Society

                  of Sacramento



                  January 31, 2010

                  Upcoming Meetings

                  Sunday, February 21, 10 a.m. – Victoria Fisch, Jews of the Gold Rush – Who Knew?

                  Sunday, March 21, 10 a.m. – Liz Igra, Connections Small and Grand – Reflections from a Holocaust Survivor

                  Sunday, April 18, 10 a.m. – Daniel Horowitz, Facial Recognition Technology for Genealogy


                  January 17 Meeting Notes

                  President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests. He noted that new members will receive a copy of the “Introduction to Jewish Genealogy” book, as well as all the other benefits of membership.  For continuing members, the $25 annual dues are due.

                  Coming attractions:  Upcoming meetings will include our own Victoria Fisch February 21, on Jews of the Gold Rush, Liz Igra on March 21 on her experience as a Holocaust survivor, Dan Horowitz on April 18 on facial recognition technology, and on May 16, Leslie Nye on handwriting analysis.

                  Mort passed around information about classes being held at the Sacramento Central Library during January and February, including a January 24 class by Glenda Lloyd.

                  The Nevada City genealogy group is holding programs on January 26 on Web sites and February 23 on the upcoming census.   And the Family History Center on Eastern Avenue in Sacramento is holding classes on Wednesday evenings through March.

                  Dave Reingold noted that the Sacramento County History Day is coming up and judges are needed to spend about a half a day reviewing student programs. Call Myron Piper at 916-868-1049 if you might be interested.

                   From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on February 6 will be the county’s annual Museum Day, with free admission.    See www.sacramentomuseum.org . And Dave also passes on the Web site for the Sacramento County Historical Society: www.sachistoricalsociety.org.

                  Bob Wascou said he is looking for photographs or other information on Sacramento burial plots going back to the 1800s.  Contact him if you know of someone who might have something to share on burials prior to the establishment of the Home of Peace Cemetery.

                  Treasurer Allan Bonderoff reported a checking account balance of $1,414.39 after a providing a $50 honorarium to December speaker Ron Arons.  Your dues go to help us pay for speakers, books for our library, and more.

                  January Program -- “Everyone Has a Story to Tell”

                  Our January speaker was Joann Weiser, who was born in Oakland in 1948, on Israel’s Independence Day.  At age 5 she moved to Sacramento, where she grew up and attended school.  She attended college at U.C. Berkeley and earned a degree in American History.  Unsure of what to pursue next, she talked to a rabbi at B’nai Israel who linked her up with a program in Israel.

                  “I spent a year in a kibbutz, and fell in love with Israel,” Joann said.  She returned home and began a teaching credential program at Sacramento State, where she met the head of an Israeli organization.  Two years later, she had married him and moved to Israel, where she and her husband raised a family and remained for 28 years.

                  They are now back in the Sacramento area, where her mother, Dorothy Novack, still lives.

                  “Everyone Has a Story to Tell” is the name of Joann’s business, which focuses on the importance of memories.  “If we don’t know where we came from and who we came from, how do we know where we’re going in the future,” she asks.

                  In Israel, Joann noticed the surge in personal histories being done.   There was considerable interest in interviewing Holocaust survivors after Steven Spielberg set up his foundation. Then, in the last decade, there was an effort to interview many of the early pioneers of Israel.

                  Joann started with her mother (who was on hand at the meeting) but has since completed 7 or 8 books.

                  “We start with a family tree -- there’s always someone who’s been collecting family information.:”

                  Joann has subsequently become a member of the Association of Personal Historians, which has about 600 members across the country.  “Most got involved by wanting to do their own family history.”

                  She said family stories are very personal but also reflect a time or place in history.

                  About her mother’s book, she said her children were unaware of a lot it, and there was of characteristics brought out that they’d like to share or emulate.

                  “And for many books people say --‘oh, we didn’t put that in the book,’ so there’ll be a second edition.

                  Joann said her mother-in-law was one of the last living members of her generation, and she knew if she didn’t start telling stories, they would never be told. The mother-in-law was born in Frankfurt and had been a dancer.  Most of the family left Germany in 1936 to link up with an uncle in the United States, but she decided to go by herself to Israel.


                  Joann also did a book for Joe Schwartz of Sacramento.  The request came from his children.  While it was hoped to have the book ready for Joe’s 80th birthday, it took longer than expected to complete, about two years in all.

                  In the book, Joann touches upon Joe’s family in Helena, Montana, coming to Sacramento when he was three years old, to later in life when he and his wife, Harriette, took their children and grandchildren on a trip for their 50th anniversary. 

                  “I think one of the biggest gifts in this book,” Joann said, ”was recounting many of the family traditions for Yom Kippur, Chanukah, seders, etc.”

                  “At the end of the book, there is a place to reflect back -- Joe talks about the technological changes he’s seen in his life.”

                  What is the process Joann uses?  Here is her basis approach:

                  1)Taped interviews

                  2) Word-by-word transcription (for every interview hour, about 4-5 hours to transcribe)

                  3) Edit material into flowing text (the most laborious part)

                  4) Make corrections, additions, changes

                  5) Choose pictures, letters, documents

                  6) Design book

                  7) Add family tree and dedication

                  8) Coordinate book printings

                  9) Delivery of family heirloom books   

                                                                                                                                                 The books are written in a first-person narrative, so the person is telling his own story.  “It’s your book; I’m just an instrument for you.”

                  Among the areas Joann asks about in her interviews are:

                  Childhood memories, parents and siblings, school days, college, marriage, profession, becoming a father or mother, significant people, hobbies and passions, becoming a grandparent, losing a spouse, reflecting on life.                

                  In terms of reflections, things to ask about include the legacy the person wants to leave behind, hopes and dreams, lessons learned, accomplishments, values, life then and now, what you wish for your children, the way you’d like to be remembered.

                  Joann said the benefits of telling your story include sharing your thoughts and feelings, connecting the generations through a common thread, a positive emotional experience for the storyteller, enabling children and grandchildren to identify with family members from the past, capturing and giving life to a period of history that children and grandchildren never knew, and showing appreciation and telling someone how much you love them.

                  “It’s an opportunity to preserve your family heritage and give a lasting gift to your family.”

                  Joann added that “it’s not a confessional -- you don’t want to leave a bomb.  You have to be sensitive and discreet.

                  The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

                  -- Andy Rooney



                  Kimberly's Genealogy Blog  By Kimberly Powell, About.com Guide to Genealogy

                  Two New iPhone Genealogy Apps

                  Tuesday January 26, 2010

                  This month two nifty new genealogy apps have made their way onto my iPhone, which I thought some of you might find interesting.

                  The first is a great app for iPhone / iPod Touch users of Ancestry.com Family Trees. The free new Ancestry.com Tree to Go iPhone app offers up a lighter version of your family tree that you can easily access on the go. You can search or browse your family tree while at the library, easily add a new tombstone photo right after you take it at the cemetery, or add interview notes directly to your tree as you talk to your relatives.

                  You can't begin a new Family Tree via the Ancestry.com Tree to Go app (at least not yet), but you can actually scroll through your existing trees a bit easier than is offered online. The navigation is different than what you're used to online (no more pedigree view for example) due to the need for streamlining for the iPhone. You also can't yet search Ancestry.com databases and upload your finds to your tree through the app (thought that will hopefully be available in the future). But even with these limitations, I love the new Ancestry.com Tree to Go app. Download it now for free in the iTunes store and let me know what you think.

                  The second is an iPhone / iTouch app for Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems Podcast which streams her free genealogy audio and video content on the go (a nice feature for genealogists like me who are always on the go!), and also offers exclusive Bonus Content. The app streams all Genealogy Gems podcast episodes, which cover everything from research strategies to celebrity and family history expert interviews; new episodes are downloaded automatically. While Genealogy Gems podcasts are free online, the new Genealogy Gems app is available for $2.99 from the iTunes Store with exclusive bonus content such as custom genealogy themed wallpaper as well as Cooke's 20 page e-book, 5 Fabulous Google Research Strategies for the Family Historian. More bonus content will be released with future episodes.

                  Comments  January 26, 2010 at 2:58 pm

                  Maureen says:

                  REUNION (Mac Genealogy program) also has an app for the iphone. This may have already been mentioned in previous discussions. The app has been ‘out’ for about a year.


                  From the January 18th and 31st Avotaynu E-zines

                  Online Information about 10,000 European Jewish Cemeteries
                  An organization, Lo Tishkach Foundation, has developed an online database of more than 10,000 Jewish cemeteries located throughout
                  Europe. It also includes information about mass burial sites in Eastern Europe. Many entries included pictures of the cemetery as it exists today.

                  The current inventory by country is: Austria (66 cemeteries), Belarus (298), Bosnia and Herzegovina (28), Bulgaria (31), Croatia (82), Czech Republic (419), Denmark (16), Estonia (28), Finland (4), France (263), Germany (2401), Greece (31), Hungary (1313), Ireland (3), Italy (66), Kosovo (1), Latvia (169), Lithuania ( 417), Luxembourg (5), Macedonia (5), Malta (4), Moldova (41), The Netherlands (244), Norway (2), Poland (1453), Portugal (13), Romania (870), Serbia (103), Slovakia (415), Slovenia (8), Spain (26), Sweden (6), Switzerland (28), Turkey (50), Ukraine 1666), United Kingdom (196)

                  The site is located at http://www.lo-tishkach.org/. Touch the “Database” tab to open a pull-down menu with the option to search the database. The Search tab on the home page is used to search the web site, not the database.

                  The Lo Tishkach European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative was established in 2006 as a joint project of the Conference of European Rabbis and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. It aims to guarantee the effective and lasting preservation and protection of Jewish cemeteries and mass graves throughout the European continent. Lo Tishkach is Hebrew for “do not forget.”

                  Register Now for the 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy

                  Registration is now open for the 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy being held at the newly built JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles at
                  L.A. LIVE from July 11–16, 2010. The Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles is the host. Full registration prior to May 1 is $265 with spouse/partner an additional $150. There are also discounts for full-time students or those 18 or younger. It is also possible to register on a daily basis.

                  Register at https://www.goeshow.com/jgsla/IAJGS/2010/Registration.cfm. The complete schedule of rates including the cost for late registration can be found at http://www.goeshow.com/jgsla/IAJGS/2010/Registration_Pricing.cfm.

                  The conference is the premier event of the year for Jewish genealogy. It is anticipated that more than 1000 people will attend to hear presentations by renowned scholars, archivists and research specialists from around the world. The conference will offer films, methodology workshops, evening musical and dramatic performances, and opportunities to network and schmooze with a friendly, global community of Jewish genealogists. The resource room will be staffed by representatives from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Shoah Foundation, Steven Spielberg Visual History Archive, Jewish Genealogy Learning Center in
                  Warsaw and Yad Vashem, providing attendees with one-on-one assistance with their research.

                  There are also lunches and dinners sponsored by Special Interest Groups (SIGs), Breakfast-with-the-Experts,
                  Midnight with the Mavens, computer lab and tours of the Los Angeles area.

                  A description of the conference hotel with a link to hotel reservations can be found at http://www.jgsla2010.com/hotel-los-angeles/the-marriott-at-l-a-live/.  The conference has an e-mail newsletter. Subscribe to it at http://www.lyris.jewishgen.org/listmanager. Login required.

                  Mount Olives Cemetery Graves to be Indexed
                  The graves at the world’s oldest Jewish cemetery—that on the
                  Mount of Olives in Jerusalem—are in the process of being indexed and placed on the Internet at http://www.mountofolives.co.il/eng/. Approximately 20,000 of the estimated 200–300,000 graves have been indexed to date. For notable people, there is biographical information. There is an option for anyone to upload data and photographs for a given person.

                  Further information about the project can be found at http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=166478

                  Germany Relaxes Access to Civil Registration Records

                  It was reported on the JewishGen German SIG Discussion Group that the German Standesamt (civil registration offices) have relaxed restrictions on access to post-1875 civil registration birth, marriage and death certificates. Previously laws restricted information to spouses, direct-line ancestors and direct-line descendants. Now exempt from these restrictions are records of births through 1898, marriages through 1928 and deaths through 1978. Additional information indicated that access to information will increase by one year every year. That is, birth records available after 110 years, marriage after 80 years and deaths after 30 years. After these time periods, records will be transferred from the local civil registration office to the local archives. It was also reported that it is now possible to obtain extracts of genealogical information or uncertified photocopies of these documents.

                  RTR Foundation Now Has Databases (searchable by family name) and Photos

                  One site I  (Gary Mokotoff) visit regularly is the Routes to Routes Foundation at http://rtrfoundation.org. The site has the most complete inventory of Jewish record holdings in the archives of
                  Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. If not identified at the RTRF site, the Jewish vital records (birth/marriage/death/divorce) likely do not exist. The Archive Database also includes inventories of other types of documents including census records and family lists; recruit lists; lists of voters, taxpayers, merchants and school records; Holocaust records (lists of victims and survivors); immigration/migration records; land and property records; name changes; pogrom records; local government records (such as wills, notary records, etc.).

                  To search for records of a particular town, click on “Archive Database” on the home page and then click on “Archive Documents.” Type the name of the town of interest, and the next screen will display of the types of Jewish and civil records available for that town, which archive has the records, years available and archive file. There are no actual surnames in this search result, but rather an inventory of the surviving documents.

                  Beginning in 2005, Logan Kleinwaks has placed digitized and indexed Eastern European directories on his Internet site. This started with ten business and phone directories for
                  Galicia, Poland, Posen and Romania and now has grown to more than 100 databases. He has placed them all on their own site: http://genealogyindexer.org. They include directories from Bulgaria, France, Israel, Lithuania, Poland, Galicia, Silesia, Pomerania, Posen, Romania, Carpathian Ruthenia, South America and United Kingdom. A complete list can be found by clicking the word “Directories” at the upper left portion of the home page.

                  Also at the site are 64 digitized and indexed yizkor books and lists of Polish military officers.


                  See you at the next meeting, February 21…

                • SusanneLevitsky@...
                  May 5, 2014 Upcoming Meetings: Sunday, May 18, 10 a.m. Surviving a Secret Childhood in Nazi-Occupied France -- Leon Malmed Sunday, June 15, 10 a.m. The
                  Message 8 of 9 , May 5, 2014
                  May 5, 2014
                  Upcoming Meetings:
                  Sunday, May 18, 10 a.m.  Surviving a Secret Childhood in Nazi-Occupied France -- Leon Malmed
                  Sunday, June 15, 10 a.m.  "The Julian Calendar and Its Importance to Genealogists" -- Steve Morse
                  July -- No Meeting
                  April 20, 2014 Meeting Notes
                  President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order.  Mort Rumberg gave an update on Bob Wascou, who is still in recovery but now at home. He requests no calls or visits but can receive emails.
                  May 4 is the Jewish Heritage Festival in Sacramento, with food, dancing, booths. We'll have a booth once again -- members are welcome to visit or volunteer.  We bring books and chat with attendees. The hours are 11 to 3.
                  Victoria Fisch is the curator of an exhibit, "The Jews of the Gold Rush," at the Folsom History Museum.  Admission is $4.  Victoria says former Sacramento Mayor Anne Rudin has visited twice. On display are artifacts of different descendants. The exhibit runs through May 18.
                  Teven Laxer said he attended the recent RootCellar Spring Seminar.
                  Victoria noted that Paul Stanley of KISS, a former childhood friend, has written a book.  It mentions anti-Semitism he experienced growing up.
                  It was mentioned that Ukraine guides are available to help you with research; due to the unrest, tourism has suffered in the country.
                  On pbs.org, you can see online "The Story of the Jews."
                  April Program -- Lynn Brown -- "Immigration and Naturalization Part II -- Citizenship"
                  Lynn Brown returned  to tell us more about the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service --USCIS.  It has evolved from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, created in 1906 to process naturalizations and keep track of immigrants.  Copies of documents since 1906 are maintained by USCIS, with older records still at the National Archives or related archives.
                  While some earlier records had been requested by Congress to be destroyed, there was no such order in World War II. 
                  In 2003, the INS functions were placed under the new Department of Homeland Security.  In 2009, the USCIS created an online genealogy records request service to obtain post-1906 records.
                              www.uscis.gov/genealogy    (but loads slowly)
                  The new word in the USCIS name was "Citizenship"-- up until 2003, didn't mention citizenship.  
                  Some records currently available:
                  -- naturalization, September 1906 to March 1956
                  -- 1940 Alien Registration Act
                  -- pre-1906 records reissued, updated, many women
                  -- pre-1906 naturalization records, upgraded
                  The Von Trapp Family story in the federal records: www.archives.gov./boston/exhibits/von-trapp.html
                  Historical Records:
                  -- Naturalization certificate files  (C Files): September 27 1906 to March 1956
                  -- Registration Files, 1929- 1944 ( includes Bibles, letters from home)
                  -- Visa Files   1924-1944
                  WW II Alien Registration Records 
                  There were 3.5 million aliens registered from 1940-44; more aliens than naturalized.
                  Two types of alien registration files:
                              AR-2-- a lot of info, and fingerprint and photo
                              AR-3 -- what was returned to alien after processed
                  Researchers must submit a request, including name, DOB, place of birth
                  Germans (including Jewish Germans), Japanese -- enemy aliens 
                  Third party-- can white out information relating to others, but you can call (Lynn did) and obtain more information
                  Lynn says there are some records the USCIS does not have:
                  -- Records stored at NARA and regional archives
                  -- WW I alien registration records
                  -- state archived records
                  -- locally held records
                  USCIS genealogy program -- offer two fee-for-service services:
                  1)    The first -- Index Search, $20, G-1041-- will search citations for a particular immigrant.  (Teven -- took about 60 days to get; Art-- sometimes longer)
                  2)    Record Copy Search -- G-1041A -- $20/$35.  For those with valid record citations, can request copies of historical immigration and naturalization records.
                  For Index Search -- there's an online form --"I highly recommend you download the form, fill it out on paper before you do online."  The more you can provide, the more accurate research the USCIS people can do. Use variations of the name, as well. You may have to provide proof of death, which could be an obituary.
                  "My mother's file had 35 pages of records -- I expected a passport application or ship's manifest," Lynn said. They do censor records, but may tell you if you ask.
                  You can only request records for one immigrant at a time, not a family. You can send an email if you have the case number, and ask them to send additional documents.
                  You have up to one year from the date you requested information to order citations (files) from USCIS. There's a set fee for the whole packet, whether it's one form or 50 forms.
                  Freedom of Information Act Requests -- you can write a letter and specify your requests.
                  National Archives -- you can register (no charge), and they can search.
                  OPA -- Open  Public Access -- anything the National Archives has, including regional offices, updated twice a week.  "After you give up with OPA, you can Google it and may find what you're looking for."
                  AAD -- Access to Digital Archives, search engine
                  Genealogy notebook -- new rules affecting genalogy.  Can have them send you updates.
                  Other places to look for information:
                        -- Family History Library Catalog, familysearch.org
                        -- Family Search wiki (replaces old research guides)
                       -- Statew Archive Records Search
                        -- Fold3 -- can access at the Family History Center (Victoria: good images of people)
                  DeathCertificates.us.org to Help People Learn the Most Efficient Ways to Build Their Family Trees
                  >PRWEB.COM Newswire<=""> 
                  Chicago, IL (PRWEB) April 28, 2014
                  DeathCertificates.us.org is launching an education program to teach people how to use genealogical methods to build a family tree quickly and easily, the company said yesterday.
                  "We've taken a good hard look at the types of questions we receive from our customers," a DeathCertificates.us.org spokesman said. "What we've realized is that most of them are using our service to build their family trees. But they often don't have much experience with basic genealogy. So, it makes sense for us to provide them with that information because it will make using our service that much more valuable to them."
                  DeathCertificates.us.org will work with genealogical experts to create a series of articles that will take people step by step through basic techniques to create a family tree, he said.
                  DeathCertificates.us.org is the top online resource for accessing death and obituary records in the United States. With over thousands of records to search through, DeathCertificates.us.org makes finding any death record simple and efficient. Visit DeathCertificates.us.org today to chat with a live representative, 1-855-674-7444, or email manager@....
                  From the JGS of Ventura County and the Conejo Valley:
                  AUSCHWITZ TATTOO NUMBERS PROJECT -- Arthur Beneviste
                  The Auschwitz  Tattoo Numbers Photography Project is led by Gabriella Y. Karin who is
                  capturing and cataloguing this visual documentation of Auschwitz captives. If you
                  know of an Auschwitz survivor, please contact Ms. Karin at auschwitznumbers@...
                  or at the address below with the following information:
                  •  Photograph  of the person showing the tattoo
                  •  Photo of the forearm with the number and a close-up of the number
                  •  Full name (including maiden name, if applicable), city and country where person
                  •  Tattoo number written clearly
                  Gabriella Y. Karin, c/o Los Angeles Museum of Holocaust, 6435 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90048
                  May 10th:
                  Sacramento German Genealogical Society's Annual Seminar, Fair Oaks 
                  "The Latest German Research Tools" is the theme for this year's seminar. Kory Meyerink will lecture on three different topics. Learn more.:
                  See you at our May meeting -- Sunday, May 18!
                • SusanneLevitsky@...
                  February 27, 2016 Upcoming Meetings: Sunday, March 20, 10 a.m. -- Brooke Schreier Ganz, Reclaim the Records: Using Freedom of Information Laws for Genealogy
                  Message 9 of 9 , Feb 27, 2016

                    February 27, 2016
                    Upcoming Meetings:
                    Sunday, March 20, 10 a.m. -- Brooke Schreier Ganz, "Reclaim the Records: Using Freedom of Information Laws for Genealogy"
                    Sunday, April 17, 2016, 10 a.m. -- Lynn Brown, "Eastern European Research"
                    February 21, 2016 Meeting
                    Announcements: You can get involved in Sacramento History Day by being a judge for the essay contest. Contact Dave Reingold for details -- camp_wiseowl at yahoo.com
                    Jewish Heritage Day is May at Raley Field. We will have a table.
                    Iris Bachman is currently at Eskaton in Carmichael. We wish her a speedy recovery.
                    The JGSS has donated money to JewishData.org, which provides an initial search for free and a quarterly donation of $18 after that.  The site started by posting photos of headstones and does that and more, with images not available anywhere else.
                    Jeremy Frankel noted that March 3-5 is "History Days" at the Old Mint in San Francisco. The Bay Area JGS will have a table; the location is easily accessible by BART and there is also a nearby parking garage.
                    That's the same weekend as the Jewish Film Festival in Sacramento, which will be held at the California Museum.
                    The Root Cellar Spring Seminar featuring Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi's List fame is now sold out.
                    If you haven't paid your $25/JGSS dues for the year, please bring/send a check for $25.
                    February Speaker: Marisa Louie Lee
                    20th Century Immigration and Naturalization Records
                    Marisa is formerly an archivist with the National Archives in San Bruno, involved with immigration records, particularly Asians. She was also responsible for the new Alien Files.
                    The Alien Files, or A-Files, started in 1944. They were kept by the INS, now the USCIS. Before the A-Files, there were different filing systems used by each of the district offices.
                    1940 Alien Registration Act -- all non-citizen adults over the age of 14 had to register  with the federal government, typically at the post office.  Form AR-2
                    Five million individual registration cards, also fingerprinted on card.
                                PSAs, radio campaign to encourage compliance
                    Wealth of information -- aliases, DOB, date of immigration, occupation, military service, crimes, naturalization attempts
                    A-Files System
                    Only immigrants who entered the U.S. after April 1, 1944 will have an A-File. If came before 1956, separate files for immigration and naturalization.
                    What you will find on the A0-File -- No two files are the same; one can be two pages, another 100+
                    Some common documents in A-Files:
                                -- naturalization records
                                --- can include petition for naturalization, list of societies she'd belonged to, marriages
                                -- immigrant visas
                                -- certificate of baptism
                                -- address report cards, allowing you to track address in non-census years
                    Who has an A-File?
                                If naturalized in 1933 -- no
                                If died by 1933, no
                                If never naturalized, probably not, no future interaction with INS
                                But could have been investigated; activity you were not aware of
                                Always worth investigating.
                                Article: "The A Files -- Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors"
                    How do I search for an A-File?
                                Files maintained by NARA in either Kansas City or San Francisco
                                Currently only for immigrants born in 1910 or before.
                                Part of the index for Kansas City searchable on Ancestry
                                Can search NARA catalogue -- organized by name. If an A-File, should find it.
                    Not available online but can find #
                    Send an email to staff, looking for the record with __#
                    There is a charge per page. They should respond within 10 business days.
                    Ancestry has an US Index to A-Files, but nothing from San Francisco.
                    If you can't find, millions of A-Files pre-1911 not yet in holdings or catalog, not yet transferred.
                                Can submit a request to USCIS Genealogy Program
                    To visit National Archives -- make an appt.
                    Can request a copy via mail, email, fax -- 80/cents page, $20 minimum
                    If you see a green unconsolidated notice, your cue to file a request
                    If anyone naturalized 1906 and after, submit a request to the USCIS Genealogy Program.  Have to know the file number, so do the index search.
                    If still living, entirely different request -- need to file a FOIA/Privacy Act request
                    100-year birth rule, proof of death.
                    There are files unique to the INS office in San Francisco --
                                -- Including files relating to Russian Jews detained at Angel Island from 1884 on. A lot from 1910s and after.
                                There is a microfilm index at NARA.
                    Microfilm Name Index to Bureau of Naturalization Correspondence Files
                                for after 1906, published by NARA in 2012
                                140,000 index cards by surname, not online
                                Index to correspondence, including Declaration of Intention to Naturalize
                    For naturalization and certificate files, 1906-56, start by requesting via an Index Search Request to USCIS
                    For more information about Marisa talk, you can email her at marisalouie@...
                    January 2016 Presentation -- Ron Arons on Handwriting Analysis and Graphology
                    A few points he discussed:
                    Ron mentioned that handwriting analysis has figured prominently in several media cases, dating back to the Lindbergh baby. More recently, it was highlighted in the film "Catch Me If You Can."
                    Document examination has been around for about 90 years and used in court cases, law enforcement.
                    With the advent of computers, there is software used by the U.S. Postal Service that begins with a look at zipcodes --"most people write numbers the same way."
                    Ron showed examples of his famous criminal great-grandfather who had two different World War I registration cards, with a different signature on each. "He had nine different signatures."
                    Handwriting is often different for happy events versus cases when someone is in trouble and it's more restrictive.
                    Ron hired some professionals to look at his great-grandfather's handwriting, although he did share his criminal history.
                    Graphology -- the goal is to understand the personality and behavior, past, present and future.  According to one book, should not matter if person right or left-handed.
                    Things that are looked at: slant, speed, zones (Upper, middle, below the line) and margins.
                    Sheila Lowe -- handwriting analysis software.  Some Android and iPhone apps.
                    Andrea McNichol -- Handwriting Analysis, Putting it to work for you. -- good book.
                    Pros and cons of hiring a professional -- no personal connection to you, but costs money ..
                    Re DNA testing, Ron said he didn't think much of it, that it was a waste of money.

                    From Avotaynu's E-Zine: New TV Show: Relative Race
                    http://avotaynu.com/Gifs/NWN/RelativeRace.jpgFurther evidence of how genealogy has become part of our society’s culture is the announcement of yet another TV series with a family history theme. Called Relative Race, it is a variant of the TV program Amazing Race. It features four married couples as they travel across the U.S. in search of long lost relatives, armed with only paper maps, a rental car, $25 per diem and a flip phone.

                    Using the science and technology provided by AncestryDNA, the couples embark on a journey that starts in San Francisco, ends in New York City and leads them to unknown relatives along the way. Cameras follow all four teams as they drive across the country—more than 4500 miles—in just ten days, stopping each day to complete a challenge and find (and stay with) their newly discovered relatives in a different city. At the end of each day, the team that finishes last receives a strike; after three strikes, teams are eliminated and the remaining teams travel to New York City for the grand finale where there is a $25K grand prize for the winning couple.

                    The show premiered on February 28 at 8pm ET on BYUtv (Brigham Young University TV). If your cable network does not include this channel, the program can be watched live at
                    Frank & Ernest
                    Frank and Ernest Feb. 26, 2016
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