MyHeritage acquires major European family network

MyHeritage.com announced today that it had acquired a major European family network, OSN (Verwandt.de).

Users of both sites will benefit from the companies’ combined technologies and make it easier for families to keep in touch as they bridge gaps of geography, language and time.

According to the press release, MyHeritage now becomes the largest international site dedicated to families on the web. The acquisition means the company now has 13 million family trees, 47 million members and 530 million profiles, and operates in 35 languages.

Based in Hamburg, Germany, the OSN Group operates a network of 10 family sites, including Verwandt.de (Germany), Moikrewni.pl (Poland) and Dynastree.com (USA).

MyHeritage founder and CEO Gilad Japhet (photo right) said this integration of services into a single international platform is a big step towards the company’s vision of connecting families around the world, and to support them in exploring family history, sharing memories and staying connected.

With this acquisition, the company builds on its markets in the US, UK, Canada, France and Australia, making inroads into European (Germany, Poland, the Netherlands) and Latin American markets.

The term “family graph” is used in the press release, referring to the millions of family trees and genealogical profiles:

“The increased scale of this privacy-enforced family graph provides instant value to families, making it even easier for them to find long-lost relatives and discover more about their unique family histories. This will help, for example, more North American members connect with their European relatives and ancestors.”

While Facebook offers a social connection graph and LinkedIn offers a graph of professional connections graph, MyHeritage is building a family graph, past and present.

“By extending the scale and geographic reach of its family graph and offering a private place online for families across the world to securely share photos, important events and explore our family history, MyHeritage.com’s service has the potential to become part of the fabric of our online lives.”

To help members manage online family connections, various tools and technologies are available, such as free downloadable genealogy software, Smart Matching™ technology that connects family trees across different languages, pronunciations and spellings; and advanced facial recognition technology to tag family photos.

New OSN technologies will be integrated into MyHeritage.com, beginning with the Family Crest Builder. This feature is fun. Even if your family doesn’t have a crest handed down through the centuries, members can now create their own unique crest (and even use it as background on their trees. There are myriad graphic heraldry symbols, shield shapes, colors, banners and other plug-in elements to form the crest.

On February 1, the site also released a new version of the web tree viewer for easier navigation and better visual graphics.

Ladino Music: Romansas, folksongs CD

“Ladino Reflections” is a double CD set of Ladino romansas and folksongs, released by Hazzan Isaac Azose of Seattle.

Tracing the Tribe met Hazzan Ike in Seattle when visiting our Jassen family. He is a beloved friend of our family and of the Sephardic community.

For some 40 years, he has dedicated himself to the preservation of Mediterranean Sephardic traditions. Although he retired as the hazzan of the Sephardic Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, he wrote me that he’s busier than ever with many projects on his desk. Think of the energizer bunny!

“Ladino Reflections” has been 20 years in dreaming and six months in production.

Hear the samples and find ordering information here. If you enjoy authentic Ladino music, this CD will make you happy.

Songs on the first CD:

Pasharo Dʼermozura, A La Una Yo Nasi, Alta Alta Es La Luna, Arvolikos Dʼalmendra, Durme Durme, Una Matika de Ruda, La Roza Enflorese, Yo Me Akodro Dʼakeya, Noche, Avre Este Abajour Bijou, Yo Tʼadmiro, Kuatro Anyos Dʼamor, La Serena, Sos Muy Ermoza, Los Kaminos de Sirkedji, Puncha Puncha, Eskalerika de Oro, Noches Noches

On the second CD:

Avre Tu Puerta Serrada, Adio Kerida, Ijika Dile a Tu Mama, Esta Montanya Dʼenfrente, Arvoles, Yorran Por Luvyas, La Vida Do Por El Raki, Misirlu, Morenika, El Dyo Alto, Mama Yo No Tengo Visto, Povereta Muchachika, Tres Ermanikas, Eran Siempre Te Ami, Avrij Mi Galanika, Por La Tu Puerta Yo Pasi, Porke Yorraj, Blanka Ninya, Kuando El Rey Nimrod

For ordering information ($28, includes $3 s&h/US orders only), click here.

Readers interested in Sephardic liturgy as sung at Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, should click here, listen to the samples and order this double CD ($23, includes $3 s&h/US orders only).

For international orders for the new CD or the liturgy CD, click here to contact Hazzan Azose.

Look at the calendar – Pesach isn’t that far off. Want to learn the Sephardic melody and the Four Questions in Ladino? Click here.

Florida: Secret Jews of the Caribbean, Feb. 4

“Hidden Jews of the Caribbean” is a symposium at Florida International University on Thursday, February 4.

It runs from 8-10pm, at FIU’s Biscayne Bay campus, in North Miami, Florida.

Dr. Stanley Hordes (University of New Mexico) will speak on “Identities of Crypto Jews in the Caribbean – A Historical Perspective.”

Hordes is an adjunct professor at the UNM Latin American and Iberian Institute. His doctoral dissertation was on the Crypto Jews of the southwestern US. He is the co-founder and immediate past president of the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies, and author of “To The End of the Earth: A History of the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico (Columbia University Press, 2005).

Dr. Seth Kunin (University of Durham, UK) will speak on “Contemporary Identites of Crypto Jews in the Caribbean – An Anthropological Perspective.”

Kunin is vice chancellor of arts and humanities at the University of Durham, and holds a PhD in anthropology. He has many years of experience conducting ethnographic research among New Mexico’s Crypto-Jews, and is the author of “Juggling Identities: Identity and Authenticity Among the Crypto-Jews (Columbia University Press, 2009). Read an interview with Kunin about his book.

Dr. Abraham Lavender (FIU, Sociology) is the respondent.

Hordes and Kunin are currently working together on the history of crypto-Jews in the Caribbean and the identities of their descendants today, with specific attention to Cuba, Jamaica and in the Miami area.

FIU is home to the President Navon Program for the Study of Sephardic and Oriental Jewry.

The program provides academic training in Sephardic/Oriental Studies for undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing a multidisciplinary track certificate (within the College of Arts and Sciences) and, in the future, degrees.

Lectures and seminars are presented by national and international scholars and artists,along with outreach program participation and close ties and cooperation between academic and lay communities.

Academics and artists will lecture or teach relevant courses, conduct research and share their findings and expertise at university-held conferences, seminars, and community-outreach programs.

For more information on the certificate program, click here. For general information, click here.