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.

Montreal: Getting-started panel, April 21

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal, in association with the Jewish Public Library, will present a getting-started panel on Wednesday, April 21.

The program begins at 7.30pm at the Gelber Conference Center.

On the panel are Rikee and Maryn Madoff, Susan Shulman and Sorel Friedman – all JGSM members. They will discuss how they got started and their subsequent research, recount their collective experiences and successes, as well as provide tips.

Check out the JGS Montreal site and look at the wealth of information available in databases, projects, cemetery indices, Montreal and Quebec Province vital records. If you had family members who lived there, make sure to look at these resources. 

Ancestor Approved: 10 things about my ancestors

Tracing the Tribe has received the Ancestor Approved award from Pat and Judy, the GenealogyGals.

Their blog is a joint effort.

Award recipients are supposed to report on 10 things learned about our ancestors that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened us, and then pass along the award to 10 more genealogy bloggers who are doing their ancestors proud.

1. Surprised: At the life of my maternal great-grandmother Riva BANK TALALAY – born in a shtetl outside Kovno – who was ran away to the Gypsies – so the story goes – to avoid a disliked marriage. Along the way, she learned herbal healing, midwifery, reading tarot cards and palmistry. When she did marry Aron Peretz Talalay and moved to his agricultural colony Vorotinschtina, some 12 miles southwest of Mogilev, Belarus, she was known for creating the first closet in the shtetl. In Newark, New Jersey, she was also a midwife and healer and well-known for getting her way to make living better for her family.

2. Surprised: That the generation-to-generation one-liner – “This was our name in Spain” – has been corroborated by archival research in Spain and DNA genetic testing.

3. Enlightened: Our TALALAY family’s first immigrant ancestor met an English-speaker on the boat over in 1898 who advised him to change his name as no one would give a job to Mr. Tell-a-lie. Thus TOLLIN, TALLIN, TAYLOR, TOLL, TALL and – of course – those lost Philadelphia FEINSTEINs, came about.

4. Enlightened: My maternal FINK (Suchostaw, Galicia -> Ukraine) grandfather and his brothers had a large building maintenance company in New York City. Once, during a window-cleaners’ strike, a worker was quoted as calling his employers, “those rats, the FINKs.” According to family story, the term “rat-fink” was born.

5. Surprised: On hearing that my mother, as a teen, used to swim across Kauneonga Lake (Catskills, Sullivan County, about 10 miles from Monticello) frequently. It is a very large lake!

6. Humbled: To have found at least one lost branch of the Dardashti family, and thus fulfilling a request of my husband’s eldest aunt Nane-jan – made more than 35 years ago in Teheran – to find the lost branches (descendants of relatives who became Moslem) and tell them that they had cousins who thought about them all the time.

7. Humbled: To think about the difficulties Nane-jan underwent as the first Jewish girl to go to school in Teheran in 1902. The community stopped buying from her father, a butcher, and she endured taunts and attacks on her way to school. All her sisters also went to school, with some of them becoming French teachers. It wasn’t easy being a father with such advanced enlightened thinking in those days.

8. Frequently flabbergasted when thinking of our newly-connected TALALAY-KATSNELSON relatives (from Bobruisk, Belarus) in Melbourne, Australia. Their eldest daughter Nelly is a journalist and her daughter is Miliana. I’m Schelly, a journalist and our daughter is Liana. Do you also hear Twilight Zone music?

9. Surprised at how much cousin Leon in Melbourne and I resemble each other. His mother was a Talalay whose father (Gamshei) had moved (reasons still unknown) from Mogilev to Bobruisk.

10. Still shocked: My late cousin Victor Talalay (Toronto) and I both located information about the family branch in Israel at the same time, decades ago, when we separately visited Israel and found the data in the English phone book. We each dutifully copied the info and held onto the scraps of paper with name, address and phone number for decades. I finally wrote and located the granddaughter as her grandfather, who placed the entry every year, had died only a year or so prior. He had placed the info in the English phone book every year hoping that US relatives would find it and contact him. He had arrived from Berlin (after leaving Mogilev in 1902 and going to London and Germany) to Israel in 1933. Moral: Never procrastinate when it comes to following up on all clues to family history.

Since I am coming into this award late – procrastination still runs in our family – and I believe almost all bloggers have already been tagged, I am awarding this coveted prize to everyone who has not already been noted.

Vancouver, BC. Jewish Museum, April events

The Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia has April programs focusing on women’s history and Jewish summer camps, and has announced a new book and a new online archive for a local Jewish newspaper.

The Women’s History Fair will display more than 20 displays from museums, archives, historical societies, cultural groups, schools and more in cooperation with the Women’s History Network of British Columbia. Jewish women pioneers are part of the exhibit.

The exhibit takes place Saturday, April 10, from 1-4pm, at the Central Library, 350 West Georgia St. Admission is free. It is co-sponsored by the VPL Special Collections, Herstory Cafe and the Vancouver Courier.

Michael Schwartz will present a curator’s talk on the Home Away From Home exhibit which focuses on British Columbia’s Jewish summer camps, on Thursday, April 15, from 7-9pm. Admission is free.

The exhibit runs through October 7, and includes hundreds of photographs from Camp Miriam, Camp Hatikvah and Camp Solomon Schechter. Explore the camp histories and view interactive displays including camp alumni interviews, photographs and songs. Visit Sunday-Thursday, from 10am-5pm.

Since the 1930s, the children of the BC Jewish community have attended Jewish summer camps in BC and elsewhere. They have learned about Jewish history and ethics, the history and politics of Israel, and developed a strong sense of community. When asked about their experiences at camp, alumni often say that their dearest and longest lasting friendships began at the age of seven or eight, in their first days at camp. The exhibit explores such lasting impressions and features an array of photographs, artifacts and interactive displays. Jewish Camps featured in the exhibit include Camp Miriam, Camp Hatikvah, and Camp Solomon Schechter.

Schwartz was a Camp Miriam long-time staff member and served as executive director in 2006 and 2007, and as programming director in 2005. He earned an MA in History (University of Toronto) and worked as a researcher and coordinator at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre.

The Jewish Western Bulletin which changed its name to the Jewish Independent in 2005, has been the British Columbia Jewish community’s newspaper since 1930. Currently, it is published 49 weeks of the year.

Originally labeled “The Organ of the Jewish Community Centre,” the Jewish Western Bulletin was first published as a newspaper October 9, 1930. It superseded the Jewish Centre News, a publication that had existed under a series of names since 1923. Issues of the Jewish Western Bulletin and its precursor publications dating from 1923 – 2004 have been digitized using OCR technology and are made available on the Multicultural Canada website.

The project was made possible through the financial support of the Irving K. Barber BC Digitization Program, Multicultural Canada, the National Archival Development Program (NADP), Simon Fraser University and the THEN/HiER History Education Network.

A new book on sale at the Museum is the 50-year history of Camp Solomon Schechter, by David Michael Smith.

Established in 1955 by Rabbi Joshua Stampfer and his colleague Rabbi Joseph Wagner, Camp Solomon Schechter aimed to fill a gap by providing the Jewish families of the Pacific Northwest with the region’s first kosher summer camp.

Its 156 glossy pages chronicles the history and life of camp with photos, illustrations and alumni experiences. The price is $10 (softcover), $12 (hardcover) plus S&H.

For more information, send an email, or view the Museum website.

Montreal: Back to the Shtetls, March 15

Return to the shtetlach of yesteryear as John Diener highlights an emotional 2005 journey back to the Ukraine and towns previously in Galicia, on Monday, March 15.

The program begins at 7:30pm at the Gelber Conference Centre, 5151 Cote Ste-Catherine/1 Carré Cummings. It is sponsored by the Jewish Genealogical Association of Montreal in association with the Jewish Public Library.

In “Journey Back to the Shtetl,” Diener, who is the vice-president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Ottawa, will also cover the rewards of this kind of adventure.

He visited Grzymalow, Skalat, Kamenets Podilsky, Zhvanets, Sokolets and Hotin. All are today in Ukraine.

Tracing the Tribe’s paternal grandfather’s FINK connection is to Skalat and nearby Suchostaw.

Diener also visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Belzec camps in Poland, and spent time in Krakow and Warsaw.

If your roots are in Galicia, you might find this program very interesting.

Toronto: ShalomLife article, Part 2, online

The second installment of an interview with Tracing the Tribe is now online at ShalomLife in Toronto.

See some old family photos and read Dan Verbin’s story here.
Questions answered include:
  • How I caught the gen bug (for which there is no known antidote),
  • How far I’ve tracked back on my two main research lines,
  • What’s different about Jewish records vs general records,
  • Is it harder for Jewish genealogists than others to trace their families,
  • The differences among Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Mizrahi research;
  • Crypto-Jews/conversos/bnai anousim, and
  • What I’m doing now (including Hong Kong and Australia).
Back to getting some blogging done in Hong Kong.

Podcast: Save the deli!

The Book of Life offers podcasts on books and Jewish life.

The newest one at Book of Life.com covers the book launch for David Sax’s “Save the Deli!”

Anne Dublin recorded the event live at Caplansky’s Deli in Toronto, speaking with the author and fans, and capturing an a capella song about pastrami written especially for the occasion.

Listen to live event here:

Save the Deli! sound bite
See the accompanying book trailer video here:

Listen to other Book of Life podcasts here.