Jewish Genealogical Society
Sunday, February 11, 10 a.m. -- "Family Treasures from the Attic"
Bring a family heirloom, treasured photo or special possession and share the story with us. If you don't have an item to talk about, you'll enjoy the presentations by others.
Sunday, March 18, 10 a.m. -- "The Jewish Calendar De-Mystified"
Steve Morse returns to share his knowledge about the Jewish calendar.
Monday, April 16, 7 p.m. -- "Resources in Salt Lake City"
Joyce Buckland helps us prepare for this summer's SLC conference.
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Allan Bonderoff Update
Our treasurer, Allan Bonderoff, has now moved for rehabilitation and extended care to the Eskaton-Greenhaven Country Place, 455 Florin Road, 95831-2024. He is in Room 8A, Unit B, and visitors are welcome from 8 a.m. into early evening. Burt Hecht visited him and is pretty sure he'd like to see some more familiar faces. We continue to wish Allan the best in his recovery.
Art Yates said that GAS, the Genealogical Association of Sacramento, will sponsor another bus trip to the Sutro Library in San Francisco on Wednesday, March 28. For more information and to reserve a spot, contact Melanie Howard, Melnesia@..., 916-383-1221. The cost is $30.
President Burt Hecht said it's not too early to make reservations for the 2007 International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies' conference, this July in Salt Lake City. For details, check out the IAJGS Web site. "This is an affordable site, compared to the others," Burt said.
Schedules were passed out for the coming months. Sunday, February 11 will feature "Family Treasures from the Attic," our annual show-and-tell about heirlooms and special memorabilia. Steve Morse will return Sunday, March 18 to talk about "The Jewish Calendar De-Mystified." In April, back to our Monday evening schedule, we'll hear April 16 from Joyce Buckland about Salt Lake City genealogy resources.
The Sacramento JGS, established in 1989, has a brochure and membership application with a "rock-bottom" $25/year for dues. Membership also allows you to borrow books from the library.
January 21, 2007 Program
Our vice-president, Mort Rumberg, was one of two speakers filling in for Allan Bonderoff in January. Mort's talk was titled, "How I Spent the Last Five Years and Found My New First Cousins."
Mort said that for his father's family, he had "names, dates, places" for almost everyone. On his mother's side, "I had no information on any of her siblings, no contact with any of them." He tried for five years to learn something "and I got zip, literally nothing."
Mort went to the Family History Center several times and finally found his mother's birth certificate. His mother had told him that her father's name was Leavitt, her mother's name was Cutler and both parents were from Kiev. At least that's what Mort was told. "But her birth certificate was totally different from what she said."
He said his grandparents divorced in 1921 and the eight children were put in foster homes and orphanages, where they soon lost contact with each other.
On his mother's birth certificate, Mort said, her last name was listed as Levitt with the mother's maiden name as Kutlow. "Now I had something solid" to pursue.
He had no idea where his grandfather, Harris Levitt, came from, "and I found nothing, just brick walls for five years." He scoured many Web sites "and then I hit pay dirt from six-year-old entry on ancestry.com."
Someone named Joan had posted information that they were looking for the descendants of Harris Leavitt of New York. Mort said they had written that he was born in 1886 --"that was the wrong date" and emigrated from England -- "I knew mine had come from Russia." But, Mort said, they had the children's names right.
"A chill ran through me when I saw those siblings' names," he said. He sent an e-mail to ancestry.com and said that his mother was Mary (Marion), one of the children listed.
Mort provided background information on his mother and the family -- "everything but my fingerprints." "I didn't know where Joan lived, but one of the posters said he he had mentioned UCLA and Joan responded to him."
Mort wrote to the UCLA alumni office, who wouldn't provide information due to privacy laws, but did volunteer to forward his letter to Joan.
"A minor miracle -- Joan responded!" Mort said. She sent him an e-mail said I think we're related. "It was an incredible thing for me." After the second e-mail, Mort was convinced they were related. He said she had been in yearly contact with one other cousin, in Florida, but hand't seen the cousin in 40-50 years.
Mort found listings for three Goldenbergs (the last name) in the Boca Raton area, but one seemed more appropriate. He sent a "non-threatening" letter providing family information to that person as well as others he found in the Google "white pages." Ultimately, he got 5 repsonses back --"all first cousins." All except two did not know about the others -- "I brought them all together."
One, in New York, did not respond. Mort had his brother there give her a call without success. But he hopes to try again in about six months.
"So I have six new cousins and I'm going to meet them," he said. In December 2006 he met one who lives in Laguna Niguel, and next June will visit the cousin in Boca Raton, with the others hopefully to follow. "The one in New York lives right around the corner from where I used to live."
Mort noted some items that he found along the way, including census forms for Harris and Yetta from 1900, 1910,1920 and 1930. He found some military records from World War I and census records for two of the siblings. He got the ship's manifest that Harris Levitt came over on in 1890, and learned about the ship, the Germanic, which took 30 days to cross. (Burt Hecht noted that Steve Morse's Web site, www.stevemorse.org, has a lot of ship information sites for arrivals and departures.)
Mort was also successful in finding petitions for naturalization, a second marriage certificate, a death certificate which mentioned a third wife, and more.
Apparently his grandfather, in the three marriages, had a total of 16 children, and Mort's next goals is to find more of these siblings.
And, he advises, "anything is a clue -- follow up on it!"
January Program Part 2
The second part of the program featured Victoria Reed and "How I Looked Up My Family History." Victoria, who plans to become a professional genealogist, got interested about 15 years ago when she was living in San Francisco. "We are motivated by the mysteries in our family," she said.
She suggested 1) following clues by organizing the data you have; 2) look for substantiating documentation, and 3) use the rich resources of online genealogy groups.
"I do handwritten charts, not computer-generated," said the former graphic artist. By putting things down on paper, writing it out and looking at it in front of you, she said she can see patterns and relationships that might otherwise elude her.
She encouraged guesswork, stretching your mind, and creativity. The last ingredient in a successful search she said is chutzpah -- be willing to take a chance and call people out of the phone book.
Victoria described her search for her missing uncle, Louis, a postal worker who was living in California and then apparently went off to Spain fight against Franco in the 1930s. He was never heard from again.
Victoria learned that many who went to Spain used aliases. She contacted the author of an article on the Franco era than ran in the San Francisco Chronicle, then contacted Brandeis University where there is much information from that era and also used JewishGen for online searches and discussion group queries, which she highly recommends.
Victoria got a family photo from a cousin in Lima, Peru, through JewishGen, and also met Mort Rumberg through the site.
She described how she got death certificates for two Louis Rabinowitzes (the name of her uncle) and sent away for his social security application. "And on there were the names of my grandparents."
She ultimately learned that Louis died intestate, without a will, although they discovered he lived until 1966, so that gave the family some closure.
Victoria also shared the story of a photo and how it lead to information on her family tree. She was trying to track down a little girl in a photo, a cousin, and had an address, hoping that maybe someone in the family was still at that home. Using a reverse directory from a real estate agent, she linked up with the widow of a family member, and got the address of Annie Passman, the little girl in the photo.
Victoria wrote to her, got documents, and Annie came out to visit . "I never met anyone in my family who resembled my mother so much," Victoria said.
Victoria also discovered some family connections in Argentina and Australia, contacted the families, and received some photos of mutual relatives. (She said many of her own family's photos were left in a box on the closet shelf in one of the New York apartments they vacated in the middle of the night, to avoid paying rent.)
Victoria encouraged making a chronological list of family comings and goings, and where you got the information. Once that's done, she said you can make a family narrative based on the chronology. "It has a more readable style and brings the family to life," she said.
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Some articles that may be of interest:
Genealogy Search Engines Now Online at WorldVitalRecords.com
Provo, UT -- 01/30/2007 -- International genealogy search engines for 11 different countries have been built at WorldVitalRecords.com to allow users to have a better experience searching for their ancestors throughout the world.
International search engines have been set up at WorldVitalRecords.com for Australia, Austria, China, France, Germany, India, Kenya, Philippines, Tonga, Turkey, and Ukraine.
In addition, WorldVitalRecords.com is rapidly building international search engines for Brazil, England, Ireland Japan, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Switzerland, and the Ukraine. International search engine sites for these countries, along with others, will be launched soon at WorldVitalRecords.com.
Each search engine has been created to allow users to search the best genealogical sites for that country in English, as well as the native language.
Search pages for each country contain related key words, historical background, languages, provinces, a map of the country, and a flag.
Individuals who would like to provide input as to countries for which they would like WorldVitalRecords.com to build a search engine site should send an email to international@....
Finding your ancestors can be overwhelming, and expensive. At WorldVitalRecords.com, we’ve made it easy and affordable for individuals to connect to their families and find answers to their genealogical questions. WorldVitalRecords.com was founded by Paul Allen, who also founded Ancestry.com, one of the leading genealogy companies.
From Avotaynu's E-Zine:
All back issues of Nu? What's New? are available on the Internet at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu.htm. On that page is a Google search engine that searches only the Avotaynu web site, including all back issues of Nu? What's New? The e-zine is in its eighth year of publication with nearly 150 editions. Use the search engine to see if there is anything previously published that can help your research.
Avotaynu also offers all back issues of AVOTAYNU on CD-ROM. It contains all articles that have appeared in the journal from 1985 to 2005. In the past 22 years more than 2,000 articles of interest to persons tracing their Jewish family history have appeared. You can view the titles to these articles at http://www.avotaynu.com/indexsum.htm
German Genealogy Society:
Sacramento German Genealogy Society (SGGS) is having their Annual Spring
Seminar -- LOST AND FOUND-YOUR GERMAN ANCESTORS. - Speaker John T. Humphrey
It will be Saturday, April 28, 2007 at the Carmichael Park Community Center,
5750 Grant Ave, Carmichael Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. The program runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information and fees: http://www.sacgergensoc.org or Chuck Knuthson
February 4, 2007 -- New York Times
In Cuba, Finding a Tiny Corner of Jewish Life
By CAREN OSTEN GERSZBERG
CLAUDIA BARLIYA, a 6-year-old Cuban-Jewish girl, stood on a cobblestone street in Trinidad, a small centuries-old city on the south coast of Cuba. A donkey carrying an old man passed behind her; a group of 30 Jewish-Americans, including this reporter, stood before her. The girl had asked if she could perform a song for the group, which was on a humanitarian mission with the Westchester Jewish Center of Mamaroneck, N.Y. She now had their full attention. When her song rang out — not in Spanish, but in the Hebrew words of “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” or “Jerusalem of Gold” — the group couldn’t help joining in.
Claudia is one of about 1,500 Jews who live in Cuba; 1,100 reside in Havana, and the remaining 400 are spread among the provinces. There is no rabbi living on the island, and there is only one kosher butcher. This small Jewish presence is in stark contrast to the bustling community that existed before Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. In those days, there were 15,000 Jews and five synagogues in Havana alone. Still, Jews in modern-day Cuba manage to keep their culture and traditions alive.
As Maritza Corrales, a Cuban historian who lives in Havana and the author of “The Chosen Island: Jews in Cuba,” remarked, “To be Cuban and Jewish is to be twice survivors.”
Visits by groups like the Westchester Jewish Center, one of many United States Jewish entities that organize occasional humanitarian or religious trips to Cuba, are one of the ways that Jews in Cuba nurture their communities. Although the focus of these trips allows American travelers to bypass United States restrictions on tourism to Cuba, they require a full schedule of religious and humanitarian activities that often include donations of medications, clothing and religious objects needed for prayer.
On a weeklong trip in November, the group traveled around the island by bus, accompanied by two English-speaking guides who were well versed in Jewish-Cuban history and culture. When the visitors from Westchester entered Adath Israel, Cuba’s only Orthodox synagogue — and one of three active synagogues in Havana