Illinois: Midwest Jewish Genealogy Conference, June 6

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois has organized a one-day Jewish genealogy conference, “From the Shtetl to the 21st Century,” on Sunday, June 6, in Skokie.

The full-day event features experienced instructors on topics to expand knowledge of genealogical resources, including a two-part Beginners’ Workshop. Five time slots each feature three concurrent programs.

This event can also be considered a great lead-in and preparation for the main event of the Jewish genealogy year, the 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy – JGSLA 2010 – which runs from July 11-16, in Los Angeles.

Speakers at the Illinois event include Ron Arons (keynote speaker), Judith R. Frazin, Harriet Rudnit, Abby and Bill Schmelling, Ralph Beaudion, Leslye Hess, Robin Seidenberg, Irwin Lapping, Alvin Holtzman, Louisa Nicotera, Everett L. Butler and Mike Karsen.

Topics include: Beginners’ Genealogy Workshop, Using the Internet to Research Your Family History, Travel to Your Ancestral Shtetl, Find That Obituary Online, Holocaust Research in Libraries and Internet, Polish Translation Guide, Mining for Gold: Online Newspapers, Waldheim Cemetery, Basics of DNA Testing, Mapping Techniques, Cook County Genealogy Online, Genealogy Research Reasoning, Write Your Family History Now, Ask the Experts.

Before May 15, fees are: Members (of any Jewish Genealogical Society), $45; others, $50, Conference plus JGSI membership (new member only), $70. After May 15, each category increases by $10.

Download an event brochure, and find more program details, at the JGSIllinois website.

Spain: Little-known Sephardic genealogical sources

Here are a few little-known books, from Tracing the Tribe’s own collection, offering much detailed information on Sephardic Jews in Girona and other towns in the province of Catalunya, Spain.

Tracing the Tribe purchased some in Girona Jewish Museum bookshop, in second-hand bookshops in Barcelona and elsewhere. The Library of Congress in Washington DC may hold copies as may other libraries – I have not checked WorldCat.

These provide much genealogical information in the form of archival documents and notarial records.

— Documents dels Jueus de Girona 1124-1595 (Arxiu Historic de la Ciutat and Arxiu Diocesa de Girona), compiled by Gemma Escriba i Bonastre and Maria Pilar Frago i Perez.

It includes an excellent 52-page surname index, a 10-page toponym (geographical) index, 14-page bibliography). The book’s text is in English, French, Catalan and Spanish – the documents are in their original language (Latin, Catalan, Spanish). The volume is marked “Colleccio Historia de Girona, 12,” published by La Caixa and the Ajuntament de Girona. Other features: A 20-page introduction to the document collection in both the historical and diocesan archives; with 250 pages of documents and record extracts.

— Per a una Historia de la Girona Jueva (volumes I and II), by David Romano, (1988, Ajuntament de Girona).

It has a 44-page name index, bibliography, and additional references for each chapter in the book. For each chapter, I’m including the number of articles to give readers an idea of the wealth of information. Texts are in Latin, Spanish, Catalan, French – according to the original language.


Chapters and the numbers of articles in each:


1) Introduction (1)
2) Encyclopedia articles about Girona (5)
3) Epigraphs and Hebrew Inscriptions (7)
4) The synagogues (3)
5) Jewish religion and culture (4)
6) Individuals and Texts (5)
7) Historic and Chronological Studies about the Jews of Girona (22)
8) The Inquisition (2)
–name index
–appendix
–chapter references

— Els Jueus de Valls i la Seva Epoca, by Gabriel Secall i Guell (Edition Vallencs, 1980).

This details the names of Jews of the town of Valls, and also includes some names of those who lived in nearby communities, such as D’Alcover, De L’Aleixar, D’Alforja, De L’Arboc, Cabra, Falset, Montblanc, Pla de Santa Maria, Prades, La Riba, Reus, Santa Coloma de Queralt, Sarral, La Selva, Tamarit, Tarragona, Tortosa, Vallmoll, Vilaplana, Vila-Rodona. It includes the archival references to documents with the names for all towns.

There are separate bibliographies providing additional publications for the Jews of Valls, Tarragona, Comarques Tarragonines (the smaller towns listed above), Lleida, Girona, Barcelona. There’s are general bibliographies for the Jews of Catalunya, and for the Iberian Jews.

— Corografia Portuguesa, published by the Fundacao Ana Lima, Brazil (Fortaleza, 2006) contains:

Two detailed indexes for proper names and toponyms for Portugal. It refers to a 1,500-page history by Father Antonio Carvalho Costa, which in addition to detailed geography includes detailed genealogical information on Portuguese Jewish and other families up to the year 1700. The work was published in three volumes of some 500 pages each in 1706 and 1708, but I do not see a date for the third volume. The second edition of the complete, published in 1868, is the basis of this index. Each name and geographical location provides the original volume and page for more information. The introduction is in Portuguese and English, and contains some very detailed examples of the entries.

— Jews of the Caribbean, by Mordecai Arbell, provides extensive information on the history of these communities.

— Sangre Judia, by Pere Bonnin, is the first book of choice for those who wish to see if their name has Jewish roots, but only the most recent edition (the 4th expanded edition) contains the surnames, year and geographical location. Documents are from pre-Inquisition, Inquisition and other sources. A previous edition is part of the large Name Search Engine at Sephardim.com, but the edition used provided no year or city.

This is available online from a Barcelona bookshop, Casa Llibre. The price is 18€ or $28.26; the official title and author’s name: “Sangre Judia”  (edicion Aumentada y Revisada, 2006), Pere de Bonnin Aguilo. To find it in the catalogue, use the English page (see top right of the page for other languages).

Pere has also just published a second book, “Sangre Judia 2: La Brillante Estela de los Espanoles expulsados,” (2010), the price is the same. I have not yet seen the second book so cannot advise on it. Both books are in Spanish.

— In 1988, the city Historic Archive (Arxiu Historic de la ciutat) in Girona discovered that multiple layers of 14th-15th century Hebrew manuscripts were used to pad covers of  books and registers held in the archives. They were recycling even in medieval times, and after the Jews were expelled, the Hebrew documents were not needed. The discovery led to a still on-going process of painstaking restoration.

Learn more about this here (unfortunately, it is in Catalan, but is easy to follow if you have some Spanish, French, Italian or Latin) and there is aan 11-minute video here (also in Catalan) showing the process in some detail.

Additionally, there is a search engine for these Hebrew manuscript fragments. Search by title (titol), place name (desriptor toponimic), subject (ambit tematic), date (data del document), and/or name (descriptor onomastic).

Have you seen these resources?
Have you used them?
What have you found?
Now that you know about them, are you planning to work with them?

New York: Three Catalan Sephardic programs, May 2-4

The American Sephardi Federation has scheduled three programs from Sunday, May 2-Tuesday, May 4.

— A History of Jewish Catalonia
4pm, Sunday, May 2

A lecture on this book, along with a sale and signing, will feature authors Sílvia Planas and Manuel Forcano.

This beautifully illustrated book traces the rich and fertile history of the Jews in Catalonia from the time of the late Roman Empire and the Early Middle Ages, until the drastic decree of expulsion by the Catholic Monarchs.

It captures their wedding songs, the smells from their cooking pots, and reconstructs the soaring intellectual edifice they created despite the difficulties of a daily life fraught with religious persecution and social degradation.
 
The program is in collaboration with and the support of NYU’s Catalan Center, an affiliate of the Institut Ramon Llull, and the European Institute of the Mediterranean

Fee: ASF members/students, free; others $5. It will take place at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, NYC. Reservations requested.

— A Certain Identity: Crypto Jews Around the World
6.30pm, Monday, May 3

Thousands of Iberian Jews went “underground” at the time of the Inquisition and the expulsion from Spain. They dispersed across Europe, across the ocean to South America and the Caribbean, to North Africa and the Middle East. With tremendous tenacity, they preserved their heritage, married among themselves, and passed it down from generation to generation.

Gloria Mound, Director of the Casa Shalom-Institute for Anusim Studies in Israel, will illuminate their fascinating history, their presence in the Caribbean and in European countries, as well as previously unsuspected links with French Huguenots.

Fee: ASF members/students, $5; others $10. It will take place at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, NYC. Reservations requested.

— Traces of Esther: The Jewish Presence in Contemporary Catalan Literature
6.30pm, Tuesday, May 4

Manuel Forcano, PhD (Semitic Philology), poet and essayist, will offer a Catalan perspective on Jewish culture as reflected in the writings of the great 19th and 20th century Catalan authors. Offering rich passages from the literature, Dr. Forcano will guide us from the negative stereotypes of the 19th century, through the fascination with Israel as both a religious and political inspiration, and the Bible and the Talmud as references, to the emergence of a modern, nuanced view of the place of Jewish culture in Catalonia.

The program is in collaboration with and the support of NYU’s Catalan Center and the European Institute of the Mediterranean.

Fee: no charge. It will take place at the King Juan Carlos Center, 53 Washington Square South (bet. Sullivan & Thompson Streets). Reservations requested.

Canada: Yiddish oxen, tractors in Saskatchewan

The Yiddish Book Center (Amherst, Massachusetts) sends out periodic newsletters on books and events.

The latest update, just received by Tracing the Tribe, has several interesting items, particularly a Yiddish book on a Saskatchewan farming community and an update on the Hania, Crete synagogue fire and attempts at rebuilding its destroyed library.

Learning how our ancestors lived is key to understanding who they were and how they coped with local conditions.
When, in 1911, Michael Usiskin arrived in the Jewish settlement of Edenbridge, in northeastern Saskatchewan, he and the other pioneers struggled.

Weather conditions, isolation and other factors contributed to their attempt to form Jewish cultural life. He recorded this life in his 1945 Yiddish book, Oksn un motorn (Oxen and Tractors).

To learn more about this book, click here.

Readers may remember the devasting fire at the Hania, Crete synagogue that destroyed its library. Many people have already donated books to rebuild that important resource. The drawing at left is part of director Nikos Stravroulakis’ drawing of the town.
Click here to read the thank you message from Stavroulakis and his staff. Read the names of those who donated books and see an interactive map, as well as a list of books they still need.
Subscribe to the National Yiddish Book Center’s newsletter.

Yizkor Book Project: Additions and updates during April

The dedicated volunteers at the Yizkor Book Project at JewishGen were busy in April. See below for the complete list of additions, new projects, updates and more.

Four new Translation Fund Projects have been organized for Debica and Grajewo (Poland), Leova (Romania) and Olkeniki (Lithuania). These projects collect funds to hire professional translators so these books can be made accessible online. Readers with roots in these geographical locations (and others) are invited to contribute to the Translation Fund.

The list, with links to each community, is organized by country:
(NP=New Project; N=New Entry; U=Updated)

AUSTRIA

NP — Neunkirchen (The Holy Community of Neunkirchen: A story of Jews in their native land)

BELARUS

NP — Disna (Disna; memorial book of the community)
U — Antopol (Shards of Memory: Messages from the Lost Shtetl of Antopol)
U — Ruzhany (Rozana; a memorial book to the Jewish community)
U — Smarhon (Smorgon) (Smorgonie, District Vilna; memorial book and testimony)
U — Voronovo (Voronovo: Memorial Book to the Martyrs of Voronovo)

LITHUANIA

N — Backininkeliai (Pinkas Lita)
N — Balsiai (Pinkas Lita)
N — Baltiskis  (Pinkas Lita)
N — Baltmiskis  (Pinkas Lita)
N — Baltusova (Pinkas Lita)
N — Baranas (Pinkas Lita)
N — Bariunai (Pinkas Lita)
N — Barova (Pinkas Lita)
N — Barsenai (Pinkas Lita)
N — Barstyciai (Pinkas Lita)
N — Bartininkai (Pinkas Lita)

POLAND

NP — Grojec (Grizer Scroll)
NP — Grudki (Horodok; in memory of the Jewish community)
NP – Serock (The book of Serock)
N — Baligrod (Memorial book; dedicated to the Jews of Linsk, Istrik and vicinity)
N — Lutowiska (Memorial book; dedicated to the Jews of Linsk, Istrik and vicinity)
N — Ustrzyki Dolne (Memorial book; dedicated to the Jews of Linsk, Istrik and vicinity)
U — Bedzin (A Memorial to the Jewish Community of Bendin)
U — Bialystok (The chronicle of Bialystok)
U — Brzeziny (Brzeziny memorial book)
U — Chelm (Commemoration book Chelm)
U — Czyzew-Osada (Czyzewo Memorial Book)
U — Dabrowa Gornicza (Book of the Jewish Community of Dabrowa Gornicza and its Destruction)
U — Debica (The Book of Dembitz) – additions to Polish section
U — Kaluszyn (The Memorial Book of Kaluszyn) – necrology
U — Katowice (Katowice: the Rise and Decline of the Jewish community; Memorial Book)
U — Kutno (Kutno and Surroundings Book)
U — Lesko (Memorial book; dedicated to the Jews of Linsk, Istrik and vicinity)
U — Miedzyrzec Podlaski (Mezritsh book, in memory of the martyrs of our city)
U — Opoczno (The Book of Opoczno: memorial for the destroyed community)
U — Piotrkow Trybunalski (A Tale of One City: Piotrkow Trybunalski)
U — Ryki (A memorial to the community of Ryki, Poland) – additions to Polish section
U — Zelechow (Memorial Book of the Community of Zelechow ) – added pictures to Polish section

UKRAINE

N — Skhodnitsa (Memorial to the Jews of Drohobycz, Boryslaw and surroundings)
U — Kolomyya (Memorial book of Kolomey and surroundings)
U — Ivano-Frankivsk (Towns and Mother-cities in Israel: Memorial of the Jewish Communities which Perished)
U — Vystosk (Our town, Visotsk; Memorial Book)

See all additions and updates flagged here.

Hong Kong: ‘Asian Jewish Life,’ spring issue online

On my recent Hong Kong visit, I met with editor-in-chief Erica Lyons of “Asian Jewish Life: A Journal of Spirit, Society and Culture.”

The new AJL spring 2010 issue is now online with stories covering India, Shanghai, Cambodia, foodies, book reviews, film and more.

“Asian Jewish Life is a contemporary journal of Jewish diaspora life throughout Asia. As Jews in Asia we are but a tiny minority unified by tradition, a love for Israel, common contemporary concerns and shared values. While Asian Jewish Life is a common media forum designed to share regional Jewish thoughts, ideas and culture and promote unity, it also celebrates our individuality and our diverse backgrounds and customs.”

Here’s the table of contents (read each online or download the PDF at the link above):

— Inbox: Your letters
— Letter from the Editor
— India Journal- Life with the Bene Ephraim (Bonita Nathan Sussman and Gerald Sussman)
— Eating Kosher Dog Meat: Jewish in Guiyang (Susan Blumberg-Kason)
— Through the Eyes of ZAKA (Jana Daniels)
— Interview: Ambassador Yaron Mayer

— Replanting Roots in Shanghai: Architect Haim Dotan’s journey (Erica Lyons)
— A Palate Grows in Brooklyn: Birth of a foodie (Sandi Butchkiss)
— Poetry by Rachel DeWoskin
— The Death Penalty: What Asia can learn from Judaism (Michael H. Fox)
— Learning to Speak: A cross-cultural love story (Tracy Slater)
— Book Reviews (Susan Blumberg-Kason)
— Places I Love
— Expat Diary: Raising a Jewish Child in Cambodia (Craig Gerard)
— Film in Focus

Each article provides a diverse look into life in Asia, with a Jewish “hook.” Tracing the Tribe will always remember the line “tenderloin of my heart,” from Tracy Slater’s “Learning to Speak.”

Readers and writers with Jewish Asian experiences are invited to submit articles; click here for more information.

If you enjoyed this issue (the winter issue is also online), let Erica know, and tell her you learned about AJL at Tracing the Tribe. Feedback is always welcome.

A great issue, Erica!

Melbourne Conference: Writing Ancestral Stories

Following Ambassador Yuval Rotem’s family history journey, Australian author Arnold Zable discussed techniques involved in writing family stories.

His own family is from Bialystok; his books and stories reflect those roots.

At the heart of good writing, he said, is imagination. He clarified this by focusing on the meaning of “image,” and the process of creating and seeing the image – of a place.

“If you can ‘see’ it, you can write it,” he said. Walking the streets of that place, talking to people who came from there – all adds to the “image.” Newspapers of the time provide more material and photographs. “If I can’t ‘see’ it,” he said, “I know more research is needed.”

He described a Melbourne place called Cafe Scheherezade, named for the woman who told 1,001 stories. Zable said the place was once – it no longer exists – filled by people, each of whom could tell their own stories – just as many and just as well.

He discussed the scenes that Ambassador Rotem used in his own family history journey, describing vignettes and memoirs, all of which provide missing links in an ancestral chain, and help to explain the mystery of those missing links.

Zable advised researchers to look for their ancestry, to find where they come from and to share their stories.