Saturday, November 29, 2008

JGS Conejo Valley and Ventura County December 8 Meeting

The Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura Countuy (JGSCV) will hold a general meeting, co–sponsored with Temple Adat Elohim, on Monday, December 8, 2008 at Temple Adat Elohim 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, 7:00-9:30 p.m.

Program: "One-Step Webpages: A Potpourri of Genealogical Search Tools"
The One-Step website started out as an aid for finding passengers in the Ellis Island database. Shortly afterwards it was expanded to help with searching in the 1930 census. Over the years, it has continued to evolve and today includes over 150 web-based tools divided into 14 separate categories ranging from genealogical searches to astronomical calculations to last-minute bidding on e-bay. This presentation will describe the range of tools available and give the highlights of each one.

Speaker: Stephen Morse is the creator of the One-Step Website for which he has received both the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Outstanding Contribution Award from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, Award of Merit from the National Genealogical Society and more. Steve's one-step program has revolutionized how to do genealogical searches in large databases!

Everyone is eligible for the drawing of fantastic genealogical prizes for those who renew their JGSCV membership or join for 2009. You must be present to win! Light refreshments will be served celebrating Chanukah and our membership drive. All attendees receive a genealogical gift!

There is no charge to attend the meeting. Anyone may join JGSCV. Annual dues are $25 for an individual and $30 for a family. Dues paid good through December 2009.
For more information contact: president@jgscv.org Jan Meisels Allen

Jan Meisels Allen
President, JGSCV

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Launch Immigrants to Canada Database

The Library and Archives Canada (LAC)  has launched a database on immigrants to Canada. 
Click here: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/immigrants-canada/index-e.html

The database on Canadian immigration records held at LAC records include, immigration arriving in Quebec and Ontario as well as pre 1865 records  including declarations of immigrants.  When doing a search you can use an (*) as a wildcard.


Thank you to Dick Eastman of the Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter for alerting on this new database.

Jan Meisels Allen
Director, IAJGS and
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

The Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has launched a database on immigrants to
Canada. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/immigrants-canada/index-e.html

The database on Canadian immigration records held at LAC records include,
immigration arriving in Quebec and Ontario as well as pre 1865 records including
declarations of immigrants. When doing a search you can use an (*) as a wildcard.

Thank you to Dick Eastman of the Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter for alerting
on this new database.

Jan Meisels Allen
Director, IAJGS and
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Terror in India

In light of the ongoing terrorist attacks in India we will not offer a regular post today. Instead, on this day of Thanksgiving in the United States, we offer thanks for the bountiful freedoms that we all enjoy in this great country, and we pray for the health and safety of all who have been harmed by the terror attacks in Mumbai.
For continually updated information, please click here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Reconstruction of Oryol Jewish Cemetery


The Jewish cemetery in Oryol, which located in the vicinity of gypsum mill, plans to undertake reconstructive works on the territory, which will include the establishment of a reliable high fence to deter the systematic acts of vandalism that have been occurring here over the past few years.

As explained by Semyon Livshitz, the Chairman of the local ‘Shalom Center’ Jewish community, this particular cemetery was used for Jewish burials for the period 1836 to 1960. This cemetery, which is now closed, has become a constant target for vandalism. These criminal acts have become rather serious, with anti-Semitic hooligans not only knocking over and damaging gravestones, but also digging up graves. (Source: FJC)

Click here for the entire article.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

2010 Census: Coming Soon


This must be the perfect job for genealogy enthusiasts!


The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting temporary part-time census takers for the 2010 Census. The pay is good, the hours are flexible, and the work is close to home.

Census taker jobs are excellent for retirees, college students, persons who want to work part-time, persons who are between jobs, or just about anyone who wants to earn extra money while performing an important service for their community.

Your community is counting on you

Every 10 years, we conduct a census of our population. The results help determine your representation in government, as well as how federal funds are spent in your community on things like roads, parks, housing, schools, and public safety. As a census taker, you'll play a vital role in making sure that everyone is included.

Thousands are needed for temporary jobs

Conducting the census is a huge undertaking. Thousands of census takers are needed to update address lists and conduct interviews with community residents. Most positions require a valid driver's license and use of a vehicle. However, public transportation may be authorized in certain areas.

Earn good pay

Census takers receive competitive pay on a weekly basis. In addition, you will be reimbursed for authorized mileage and related expenses.

Bilingual speakers are encouraged to apply!

All census takers must be able to speak English, but bilingual skills in English and other languages are needed in communities that have a large number of residents who speak a language other than English. If you have such skills, we encourage you to apply.

Get more than just a paycheck

Besides good pay, you'll have flexible hours, paid training, and the chance to work within your own community. You'll earn a place in history, as well as work experience you can add to your resume.

Apply today by contacting your Local Census Office or by calling 1-866-861-2010!

Click here to visit the offical 2010 Census website

Monday, November 24, 2008

Success!

"... Kind regards and many thanks for all what you do for genners like me. Thanks to JewishGen I have found family and recently managed to locate someone, within 24 hours, via JewishGen, who now is in touch with cousins, who all live within a small radius around NY. - Shulamit"

A contribution to JewishGen will help ensure that many other people experience the same level of success as Shulamit. Please click here and donate to our worthy cause - it will make an immediate difference.

Holocaust By Bullets

Prince Charles Marks "Kindertransport"

Prince Charles has marked the 70th anniversary of a decision to allow thousands of children from Nazi-occupied Europe into the UK.

He told Kindertransport refugees at a reunion in London he was proud his own grandmother had sheltered Jewish refugees when WWII broke out. 

About 10,000 mainly Jewish children were allowed into the UK following a 1938 Commons debate on refugee policy.

The Association of Jewish Refugees says the UK saved them from "certain death".

In a speech, the prince said his paternal grandmother, Alice, Princess Andrew of Greece, took in a Jewish family when she was living in Athens. He said: "That's one reason why I wanted to be with you today because my grandmother would have approved. She was a very remarkable lady." He added he was "incredibly proud a member of my family did the right thing". "That I think is something we always need to remember on these occasions. What is the right thing to do?" he added.

"We must never ever forget the lessons from what you had to go through."

He said the refugees' experiences were "almost unimaginable, even though I promise you I have tried to imagine what so many of you had to go through". We are celebrating one of the single most important decisions ever taken by the British government

Steven Mendelsson, 82, who now lives in Sheffield, was one of the "kinder" who met the prince.
Born in Bresslau, Germany, which is now called Wroclaw in Poland, he arrived in Britain aged 12. Recalling his arrival in Harwich, Essex, he said: "We arrived very thirsty they gave us hot tea which we had never heard of before and bananas. "They put us on a train to Liverpool Street Station. We needed our parents to hug us and tell us it was a bad dream, but they were left behind in Germany."

The Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR) estimated the parents of 90% of kinder were murdered in the Holocaust.

But Mr Mendelsson's parents were able to follow him to England a few months later. Charitable organisations such as the Red Cross organised the Kindertransport, involving unaccompanied children - aged five to 17 - travelling to Britain by train and boat via Holland. Many were orphaned and remained in the UK.

The gathering of the refugees, many of whom are now elderly, took place at the Jews' Free School in Kingsbury. The school was instrumental in helping many of the youngsters to be moved from London to Ely, near Cambridge, at the beginning of World War II. Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, welfare minister Tony McNulty and director Lord Attenborough also attended.

Erich Reich, chairman of the Association of Jewish Refugees' Kindertransport committee, said: "We are celebrating one of the single most important decisions ever taken by the British government.

"Thanks to its intervention some 10,000 children, myself included, were saved from certain death."

Click here to read the entire article

Friday, November 21, 2008

Berlin University Gives Man Degree - 65 Years After Nazis Expelled Him

An 88-year-old Berliner, who was expelled from university by the Nazis because of his Jewish ancestry just before his final examination in 1943, has just now received his diploma with a 65-year delay.

The president of Berlin's Technical University, Kurt Kutzler, personally awarded Dimitri Stein with his Ph.D. in electrical engineering after he passed the final oral exam earlier this month -- 65 years after the Nazis threw him out.

"After the war, Mr. Stein asked the Technical University whether he could re-enroll for his examination but he was turned down," a university spokesman said in a statement, referring to Stein's attempts in the early 1950s to finish his degree.

"In August, after hearing about this shameful incident, the faculty's administration decided that the only way to make up for this injustice was to allow him to take the exam now."

In front of a panel of examiners, Stein week answered probing questions -- adapted to academic standards of the 1940s -- about his 1943 thesis.

"Although much of his dissertation was lost during the war, some of it was preserved in an academic journal," the university said. "Instead of basing our questions on the original manuscript, we therefore based them on this article."

Stein survived the Holocaust in hiding with the help of his professor and in 1947 emigrated to the United States, where he worked as an engineer and academic. He was also a businessman.
(Source: Reuters)

Click here for the complete article.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Jewish Detective in Cyprus

"Call me stubborn. Call me contrary. But I refuse to believe that there is anywhere in the world without a site or two of Jewish interest. The belief is based on observation: Jews travel and trade. They have always traveled and traded. There are Jewish traces from Tahiti to Timbuktu. Therefore, it is likely that wherever I go, there are traces of Jews who have been there before..." (Source: Chabad)

Click here to read the entire article.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On Family Research

One Genealogist's Search of Self

In every family, there's always at least one person who wants to document its existence. The others don't quite get us—why this obsession to track a chain of ancestors, where they came from, and all their most intimate dates? Some may even suspect us of nefarious motives and refuse to cooperate with our desire to dig deep into their personal details.

For some genealogists, there is the joy in finding a distinguished personality among the flotsam and jetsam of the rest. I call this the "fame by association" syndrome. Researchers afflicted with this syndrome will not tell you about crazy Uncle Harold who lived in a stable and smelled. They're only going to tell you about the stars hanging off their trees which appear like so many Christmas decorations.

One of my relatives told me that he changed his surname in an effort to lose his association with a famous ancestor so that he could make his own name, and not rest on the laurels of his grandfather. Yet, he too, delights in tracking the branches of his tree. This relative's motives are altruistic: he enjoys his personal history, but doesn't make use of this to further himself. He is an historian, taking care to preserve a proud family history for his grandchildren.

My own motives are neither fame-seeking or altruistic, but fall somewhere in between.

I am an American who made Aliyah at the age of 18. It is not always simple moving to a new country and to become part of a new society. Some will hear my accent and assume that I am rich and spoiled. They fail to understand why I would want to live in Israel, since I come from a wonderful democratic and wealthy country.

Yet, I want to belong. This is, I believe, a very human instinct. Before I began my research, I knew that my family had a proud history in my chosen country dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Once I uncovered the very exciting story of my family in Palestine, I walked the streets of Jerusalem with pride. I felt I belonged more than just about anyone walking down Jaffa Road. I held my head so much higher with this knowledge, and I think my children, did, too.

But there was another desire I set out to indulge with the fact of my research: finding a community of relatives. I now live far from the warm family circle in which I was raised. By choosing to live in Israel, I have denied myself large family Passover Seders and other family events.

I discovered both Israeli and American relatives in Israel. While they will never substitute for the relatives of my childhood, there have been some wedding invitations extended to my family.

When I stand outside in the cold evening air of Jerusalem, watching a wedding unfold under a wedding canopy, I begin to feel that perhaps my great grandmother Anna (Chana) JANOFSKY KOPELMAN and her sister, Anna (Nechama) JANOFSKY GOLUB (REPNIK) are watching the proceedings somewhere up there in heaven while they hold hands, and happy tears course down their cheeks. They are watching as a new branch of their family is forged in the Holy Land. They are so glad that their descendants have found each other and attend each other's joyous events.

I'm too much of a Kalte Litvak to tear up, I will leave that to that self-created chimera of my maternal ancestors; still I shiver and get goose bumps just the same.

Bessarabia Vital Records Database Update

The Bessarabia Vital Records Database has just been updated. There are now over 123,000 records in the database. This update includes births, deaths, marriages and divorces. The records are from Kishinev, Baltsy, Bendery and a few births from Chimishliya. You can access the database by clicking here.
We are looking for more people who are fluent in Russian or Hebrew to continue the work of indexing the records from Bessarabia. These records include birth, marriage, divorce and death records.

This work requires that you have Excel on your computer, the ability to receive graphic images in JPEG format and can transliterate the records from Russian or Hebrew. These records will be entered into an Excel template so that this file can be converted to a searchable database on JewishGen.

Contact me at robertw252@aol.com if you are interested in volunteering for this project.

Bob Wascou
Project Coordinator
Bessarabia Vital Records Indexing Project

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Poland Awards Dozens for Saving Jews During WWII

Dozens of Poles were awarded medals Monday for risking their lives during World War II to save Jews from the Holocaust.

President Lech Kaczynski awarded state medals — many posthumously — to around 70 people from across Poland. First lady Maria Kaczynska presented them to the people or their relatives in a gala ceremony at Warsaw's National Theater.

Among those awarded was Zofia Brusikiewicz, 81, whose parents hid 13 Jews in an apartment in Warsaw and Irena Gut-Opdyke, whose dramatic story is narrated in a one-act play, "Irena's Vow," that opened Off Broadway in September.

Gut-Opdyke hid 12 Jews in the basement of an SS officer's house, where she served as a housekeeper. She died, aged 85, in 2003 in New York, where her family recently received her medal.

Poland was the only country under Nazi occupation where helping Jews was punished with summary execution of the entire family.

Most of the recipients are already among the 6,000 Poles holding the title of the Righteous Among the Nations from Israel's Yad Vashem. They were largely found thanks to testimony deposited with the institute.

About 3.5 million Jews, or 10 percent of the country's population, lived in Poland before World War II. Most were killed in death camps, like Auschwitz-Birkenau, that the Nazis built when they occupied Poland between 1939 and 1945.

Around 200,000 survived, but many left for Israel or other countries amid anti-Semitic purges of the 1960s. Jewish life is being slowly rekindled since Poland shed communism in 1989. (Source: AP)

Click here for the entire article

Monday, November 17, 2008

Success (and small-world) story

I find a missing branch in an unexpected place....
Many years ago I learned of four sisters who were first cousins of my wife's great-grandmother. Through family connections I learned that they were from Mainz, and I made contact with descendants of two of the sisters. From one of these cousins I learned that one of the four sisters probably has no living descendants, but the other, Babette, was tantalizing. Her married name was a common Jewish name, which didn't help, but I was told that her granddaughter was a lawyer in Paris with a fairly uncommon name. I contacted someone who had done a lot of research on that family, but they had never heard of the granddaughter.
So I was stuck.
Then a few years ago, I corresponded with a student in Mainz who found Babette's birth record, from 1853, in the Standesamt (these records have not been filmed by the Mormons), and also found her marriage record, fortunately from 1875. So I learned the given name of Babette's husband, Leon, and the fact that he came from Colmar. But I was unable to find any information about Leon's family in Colmar.
Last Monday I was scanning the family tree for lost branches, and decided to try again. This time, when I entered Babette's maiden name and married surname in Google, one of the four hits looked promising, and sure enough, there was the entire family tree of Babette and Leon, with names and dates, not very well organized but clearly the family I was looking for. I transcribed the information into a chart and sent it, along with charts connecting it to our family, to Anne, the originator of the site, who appeared to be in France.
Tuesday morning I got a brief reply from Anne, thanking me for writing and saying she would write more later. A couple of hours later, I got an e-mail from Alison, wife of Anne's brother Axel. Axel and Alison live in a suburb of Providence, and their daughters go to school about three miles from our house!
Not only that, but my wife, who used to run a circus training program, gave a workshop at their school a couple of years ago, and she remembers the older daughter, who was in the class. And Axel works about a ten-minute walk from my work in Boston. We haven't met them yet, but we expect to get together with them soon.
The lesson to be learned from this story is to be persistent. If you don't find what you're looking for, wait a couple of years and try again. It really is a small world, and amazing coincidences really do happen.
Dick Plotz
Providence RI USA
Manager of Mailing Lists
JewishGen, Inc.
rplotz@jewishgen.org

Philadelphia Jewish Archive Center

After 36 years as a standalone organization, the Philadelphia Jewish Archive Center will be shutting down sometime in early 2009 in response to a budget crunch. Its collections, which span nearly 200 years of Philadelphia Jewish history, will be absorbed into the archives of nearby Temple University.

“This was a decision that we did not want to make,” said Carole Le Faivre-Rochester, the archive’s president. “We wanted to stay here and be our little independent institution as we have been for 36 years. But given the climate, and the fact that we’re an archive and not that popular in the Jewish community, we couldn’t do it anymore.”

The closing comes at a particularly difficult time for small non-profits — charitable dollars are becoming scarce amidst the economic downturn. In Philadelphia, the fundraising field has been further crowded by a massive capital campaign to build a Jewish history museum. But it appears that the center’s most fundamental problem is that archives simply aren’t a big draw for local Jewish visitors or donors.

In most cities, local Jewish archives are affiliated with larger institutions, typically a university or a historical society. But the Philadelphia center has been its own organization since it was founded in 1972 after years of agitation by local historians, who worried that irreplaceable records and artifacts were being destroyed. With funding from the local federation, the archive took space in a basement at the cost of one dollar a year. It soon became the repository for the records not only of the federation but also of synagogues, Jewish organizations, and, perhaps most significantly, the Jewish Publication Society.

“In terms of the quality of the material, it’s one of the best of the local Jewish archives,” said Sarna, who has used the material for his own research. “It has very important collections of national significance.”

The archives are currently housed in a renovated factory building in downtown Philadelphia. In the modern, climate-controlled room, thousands of carefully labeled and sorted gray boxes hold the story of Jewish Philadelphia: records from Congregation Rodeph Shalom, the first Ashkenazi congregation in the Western Hemisphere; the original resolutions of the Hebrew Sunday School Society, the first organization dedicated to American Jewish education; the first Jewish cookbook, published in Philadelphia in 1871; and the only known records of the immigrant banks that thousands of Jews used to buy tickets for their relatives immigrating from Europe.

But despite the wealth of history, the archives don’t draw much foot traffic, aside from scholars, genealogists, and the occasional school group. Staffers said that on an average day, the archives can get anywhere from three or four visitors to none at all.  (Source: Forward)

Click here to read the entire article and here to visit the archive website.

Friday, November 14, 2008

ADL Honors 'The Mexican Schindler'

Gilberto Bosques Saldívar, a diplomat known as "the Mexican Schindler" for his efforts to house and protect refugees during the Holocaust, was posthumously honored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) with its Courage to Care Award for his heroism in rescuing European Jews and other refugees marked for death in Nazi concentration camps.

"Gilberto Bosques Saldívar's life is a shining example of human decency, moral courage and conviction, and his actions highlight the less well known initiatives of Latin Americans who helped to save Jews during the Holocaust," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. "He is an outstanding example of a man who answered the call of his own conscience."

Bosques was posted by Mexico to Marseilles, France in 1939 to serve as his government's Consul General. During his service from 1939-1943, he instructed the Consulate personnel to render help to anyone who wished to escape to Mexico. He rented two chateaux to house and protect European Jews and other refugees, including leaders of the resistance and Spanish Republicans, who were marked for deportation to concentration camps by the Nazis.

In addition, in the port town of Marseilles, Bosques chartered ships to transport Jews and those threatened with persecution to African countries where they later moved on to Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and other countries. In two years' time, under his auspices, as many as 40,000 visas were issued to those fleeing Nazi tyranny.

In 1943, the Gestapo forcibly took Bosques, his wife and three children and 40 other consular staff members into custody, and held them for a year's captivity in the German town of Bad Godesberg, near Bonn. Released by an agreement between Mexico and Germany, Bosques was able to return to his native country. He later served as Ambassador of Mexico in Portugal, Finland, Sweden and Cuba. He died in 1995 at the age of 103.

Click here to read the complete press release or here to vist the ADL site.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Guest Post: Name Changes

by Ann Rabinowitz



A common misconception about name changes is that they were made at ports of arrival, such as Ellis Island, and were the result of a miscommunication between the immigrant and the port official. Given that this is such an old and enduring “bubbe meise,” what did happen? This was on my mind the other day when a friend asked me if there are registers or indices of name changes that can be researched online.


Emigrants sometimes changed their names prior to departure. Others changed them sometime after arriving at their destinations or when they or their children entered the educational system in their new countries.


Immigrants were not required to undergo a legal process to change their names, and a variety of options were available to them. In English-speaking countries, such as the United States, Great Britain, and South Africa, if an individual's name was, for instance, Chatzkel Shulevich but he wanted to be known as Charlie Shool, he simply used that name. He may have changed his name for business purposes or to register his children for school. In non-English speaking countries, much the same occurred but with less frequency.


The major means of determining if a name had been changed is researching an immigrant’s naturalization papers. It is there that, very often, name changes were denoted with the phrase “prays name change to” or “prays his name be changed to” or "I hereby petition to have my name changed to". This can usually be found at the bottom of the page or in an inconspicuous spot on the naturalization record.


Two examples of this standardized process follow.


What is of interest is that Schloime Riven CHEIFETZ’s father, Meyer, was also naturalized but did not change his name at that time.

April 2, 1923
Schloime Riven CHEIFETZ, 311 Winton Street, Philadelphia, PA, a tailor, born October 10, 1894, Bazar, Russia, emigrated from Bremen on July 27, 1922, on George Washington, arrived NYC August 11, 1922. Wife Molly, born 1902, Chernobol, Russia; children: Nathan, 9/15/1920, Bazar, Russia, Hyman 11/25/1922, Philadelphia, PA. 5'6", fair complexion, blonde hair, blue eyes, bald and glasses; and prays change to Sam Shavitz.

Another example is an individual who made a completely different choice for his new name.

August 7, 1928
Chaim CHEIFETZ, 21 Waumbeck at Boston Rox, MA, born May 27, 1896, Ekaterinoslav, Russia, came to America from Southampton, October 20, 1922, arrived NYC, October 29, 1922; and prays his name be changed to Mitchell Chaffin.

If you look for Schloime Riven CHEIFETZ and Chaim CHEIFETZ in the 1930 Census under CHEIFETZ, you will not have any luck. You need to know that they had changed their names. Sure enough, Mitchell Chaffin is listed as a roomer in a Boston rooming house. By 1942, he is listed in the World War II Draft Registration as being from Dnepropetrovsk, Russia, and married. Sam Shavitz is not found in the 1930 Census, but he is listed in the World War II Draft Registration as being married and from Kiev, Russia.

If Mitchell Chaffin’s grandson (if he had one) took a DNA test to see if he was related to other CHAFFIN families, the results would be negative. He might guess that his grandfather changed his name to avoid the draft in Russia, yet no such reason was true.

It is critical that naturalization papers be obtained for your male immigrant ancestors. Not all, of course, will have changed their names, but many will have.

One of the newer means for locating full naturalization paperwork -- rather than just the naturalization card, which you may find on Ancestry.com -- is through Footnote.com, a subscription database. You can search the index for free, but a paid subscription is required to look at the record. I have not included all of the examples of where you can look for name change information, just the one that I have been using on a regular basis.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Surprise Discoveries at Australian Genealogical Conference

Participants at the first Australian Jewish Genealogical Conference held in Canberra discovered some surprising family connections.

Delegates Evie Katz and Rose Gunsberger discovered that they were born at the same hospital in Shanghai where their families were refugees from the Nazis.

Peter Nash and Professor Ben Selinger learned they were connected via their fathers’ interlocking professional lives in pre-war Berlin.

And Enid Yoffa Elton and Cecily Parris found they shared the same great-grandfather, who had come to Australia in 1847 from Krakow via England.

Hosting a reception for conference participants, [Israeli] Ambassador Rotem, whose family name was formerly Frenkel, recounted his emotional discovery of surviving family members from Poland in Melbourne.

That astounded conference participant Sarah Meinhart, who now plans to check whether she might also be related to Rotem via her mother’s Frankiel family from Poland.

Click here to read the entire article

Click here to visit the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society website or here to vist the conference website.

Deaf Society Seeks Clues About Jewish Benefactors

The Deaf Society of New South Wales is searching for clues about the lives of a late Sydney Jewish couple and their deaf Holocaust survivor niece, in order to set up a permanent memorial in their name.

Sydney couple Alfred and Elsa Epstein bequeathed more than $1 million to the society in 1989, after their niece, Elisabeth (Lotte) Schiller, went to live at the society’s facilities years earlier.

To this day, the donation provides income from investments, which fund the society’s services.

The Deaf Society is planning to name its new Parramatta headquarters the Epstein-Schiller Centre, and it is currently attempting to locate extended family or community members, who can provide additional information that may help establish the memorial.

According to previous staff testimonies, the Epsteins fled Austria to escape Nazi persecution in 1936. After the war, Alfred Epstein returned to Europe to find his deaf niece was the lone survivor from among 43 members of his family.

The Epsteins later approached the society to help care for her, and she eventually took up residence in the Deaf Society Hostel in 1982, where she lived until her death, a decade later.

“Lotte survived the concentration camp because the commander of the camp, in which she had been interned as a child, took pity on her by providing work in the camp kitchen, as he had a deaf child himself,” said the society’s executive director, Sharon Everson. (Source: Australian Jewish News

To help the society with its search, call Sharon Everson at (02) 9893 8555.

Click here to read the entire article.

Click here to visit the Deaf Society Website

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Jews have played an active and key role in the military of the United States since they first arrived from New Amsterdam in 1654. From that time until today, Jews have risen to the highest ranks and have served with valor and distinction in defense of this great country.
This link (http://www.library.fau.edu/depts/spc/brody_military.pdf) points to an online exhibit focusing on Jews in the American military. It was put together by Seymor "Sy" Brody and it tells the story of how Jews became a part of the armed forces of America (both before and after the declaration of Independence in 1776).
After you read the story, click here to view stories that Jewish war veterans who served during WWII shared with the museum as part our "Ours To Fight For: American Jews In The Second World War" exhibit.
It will serve to foster an even greater appreciation for all of the United States soldiers who have and continue to protect this great country.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Manchester Jewish Records Going Online

Tens of thousands of Jewish genealogical records will be made public under initiatives by the Manchester Council of Synagogues and the city's Jewish genealogical society. People will be able to access the records over the internet through a pay-as-you-view facility. (Source: Jewish Chronicle)

Click here for the full article

Auschwitz Architectural Plans Uncovered

The floor plans, cross-sections and maps on yellowing paper, mostly on a scale of 1:100, were reportedly found during evacuation of an abandoned Berlin apartment. They were drawn up between 1941 and 1943. (Source: Jerusalem Post)

Click here for the full article

Monday, November 3, 2008

Graveyard Rabbits



Our good friend Schelly from Tracing The Tribe is involved in an exciting new blog called "Jewish Graveyard Rabbit.” Yes, you read that correctly and no, it is not misspelled.

From Schelly's opening description, this new blog will

“be international in scope, with a team of contributors providing expert knowledge of cemeteries around the world in all countries, preservation/restoration projects, Jewish burial and mourning customs, Jewish tombstone symbols and how to read a Hebrew tombstone to learn what genealogical information may be gleaned. Where differences exist, the blog will address Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Mizrahi customs and issues. Photographs will be included, as well as extensive links to sites providing relevant Jewish cemetery information.”
Judging by the content already posted, this new blog will serve as a valuable resource to current and future geneaologists.

You can visit the blog here: www.JewishGraveyardRabbit.blogspot.com