Ohio: Cleveland’s cemetery database, May 5

Do you have roots in Cleveland, Ohio?  There’s a new database that may help you document individuals of interest in some 71,000 burials from 16 Cleveland-area cemeteries.

The project was carried out by the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland’s Commission on Cemetery Preservation. The Federation staff person coordinating the project is Susan Hyman and she will be the speaker at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland on Wednesday, May 5.

The program begins at 7.30pm, at Menorah Park, 27100 Cedar Road, Beachwood, Ohio.

The topic is “Using 21st Century Technology To Find Your 19th Century Ancestors – Jewish Cleveland’s New Cemetery Database.”

She has been, since 2007, the Federation’s Information and Referral Specialist in the Community Planning, Allocations and Community Services Department. In addition to helping those affected by the economic downturn, sharing information about community programs and services, her portfolio includes cemetery preservation and other areas as well.

On March 13, a story – “A new database helps Jewish families find graves of ancestors” – by Grant Segall appeared on Cleveland.com detailing the project and successes.

According to the story, genealogists in Cleveland and elsewhere are networking via computers to share and collaborate on family history.

A California woman slogged through Cleveland snow this month and found more than 50 family graves.

In a way, the snow helped. Ricki Lee Davis Gafter of San Jose used handfuls to moisten headstones and make the letters stand out in her photos.

Gafter got much more help from a new database compiled by the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland’s Commission on Cemetery Preservation. A dozen volunteers, some of them from the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland, spent about six years compiling some 71,000 records of burials in 14 Jewish cemeteries and in Jewish sections at two other cemeteries.

“It’s been really helpful,” said Gafter, who spent a few days here in her hometown visiting the living and finding the dead. “My family came to Cleveland in the late 1800s, and no one knew where everyone is. There was no record.”

Using the database, she discovered not just stones but facts. “I just found my great great-grandma, who I didn’t even know had made it to the U.S. Now I know who paid for her plot.”

While some area Jewish cemeteries are professionally staffed, others are run by volunteers and there are no burial lists.

The project brought together data from cemeteries, synagogues and other sources. In one example, someone had filled a scrapbook with Jewish obituaries.

There are some estimated 85,000 area plots, so the 71,000 records in the database offer a good sense of history. Volunteers will continue to expand and update it, and it is expected to be online in a few months.

If your family comes from the Cleveland area and you’d like more information, email Hyman.

JGSLA 2010: New programs, classes, workshops!

In addition to lectures, JGSLA 2010 will offer programs on maps, roots travel, films and filmmakers, classes and crafts.

“This year in LA” is the 2010 mantra for Jewish genealogists around the world.

Don’t miss the early registration discount for the 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, July 11-16, in Los Angeles. Discounts end April 30, don’t miss out. Go to JGSLA 2010 and register today.

Two fascinating speakers have been added to the program, and see further down for even more additions to the program.

Holocaust

USC Shoah Foundation Institute executive director Dr. Stephen Smith will speak on Wednesday evening, July 14.

He was founding director of The UK Holocaust Centre, the UK’s first dedicated Holocaust memorial and education center. For this work, he was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.). Additionally, Smith co-founded the Aegis Trust, withe the goal of prevention of crimes against humanity and genocide. He chairs the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, which organizes the UK national Holocaust commemoration.

A dynamic speaker, he is dedicated to bringing the Shoah Foundation’s survivor testimonies into the 21st century by making them accessible to a worldwide audience. His talk will address this topic.  The conference resource room will offer streaming Shoah Foundation survivor testimonies daily during the conference, beginning on Sunday, July 11, at 10am.

Sephardim

Professor Delores Sloane will discuss her new book, “The Sephardic Jews of Spain and Portugal: Survival of an Imperiled Culture in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries,” a storyteller’s account of what happened to the expelled Iberian Jews who built new lives in exile after leaving what had been their home for 1,500 years.

Sloan believes that history is best understood through the experiences of those who lived it.

In 1996, she traveled through Spain and Portugal for five weeks, by train, bus and by foot, looking for footprints left by the remarkable Jews who had created a golden age of learning and discovery.

Her new book offers a compelling portrait of Sephardic Jews, who created a Golden Age on the Iberian Peninsula under Moslem rule for nearly seven centuries, and continued to advance science, medicine, political economy, government and the arts under Christian rule that followed. See the link above for more information.

Here’s even more to absorb:

Maps and more

Ukraine and Galicia are on the menu with the famous Brian Lenius speaking on cadastral maps and landowner records; Alexander Dunai (from Lviv) on maps in the Ternopil (Tarnopol) archives; and Alexander Denysenko (from Lviv), on roots travel. Dunai and Seattle’s Sol Sylvan will present how you can plan the trip of a lifetime. Other experts will be able to discuss roots travel to Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Latvia and Lithuania.

Films

Filmmaker, researcher and travel planner Michael Masterovoy of Moscow is flying in to  speak at the Belarus SIG luncheon (don’t forget to sign up for this added event!). He’ll speak about his recent trip to several Belarus towns, including Vitebsk, home to Movsha Shagal (AKA Marc Chagall).

He has created documentary and campaign videos for North American Jewish organizations and the film festival will screen several of his films, including “Brailov: A Town Without Jews.”

In about two weeks, the complete Film Festival schedule will be online.

Arts & Crafts, Workshops, Classes

Frequent conference-goers know we all need breaks from lectures.

Some classes and workshops:

  • Sunday, Lil Blume will offer a two-part workshop on “Writing Family Stories and Memoirs.”
  • Monday-Thursday: Lynn Saul – “Creating and Retelling Your Family’s Stories: A Participatory Writing Workshop;” Mike Karsen – “How to Create Your Family History;” and Marlis Humphrey – “I Couldn’t Put it Down! New Ways to Publish Family History.”

Crafts:

  • A Tallit–making class will cover the history of the Jewish prayer shawl, the Hebrew prayer for the atarah (or collar), the aleph bet chart with various Hebrew fonts, images to stitch to decorate the tallit, how to tie tzitzit (corner fringes), and sha’a’tnez. (prohibition of using two different fibres in the same textile).
  • “How to Create a Genealogical Quilt” using ancestral photographs as the artwork.
  • “Pomegranate Jewish Papercut” session to learn the art of Jewish paper cutting, using scissors. References to Jewish paper cutting date from 14th century and it became an important folk art among both Ashkenazim and Sephardim in the 17th-18th centuries. Each participant will have a papercut that they can display at home. There’s a $10 kit fee for the project materials.

Holocaust, Sephardim, maps, roots travel, writing, films and filmmakers, along with arts and crafts! No matter your specific interests, there will be something – and lots of somethings – for you.

Tracing the Tribe looks forward to greeting you in Los Angeles.