Florida: ‘Googling Goodies for Genealogists,’ April 25

“Googling Goodies for Genealogists” will be presented by Paul L. Enchelmayer at the next meeting of the  Jewish Genealogical Society of Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida), in conjunction with Nova Southeastern University (NSU), on Sunday, April 25.

The free program begins at 1pm at NSU’s Alvin Sherman Library, 3100 Ray Ferrero Jr. Blvd, Davie.

Enchelmayer has spoken to nearly two dozen societies and clubs, presenting programs to help others learn how technology can aid in family history projects.

He is chair of the Genealogy Group, University Club, Winter Park; past president and current webmaster, Central Florida Genealogical Society, Orange County; member and webmaster, Florida State Genealogical Society’s Speakers Bureau; member, National Genealogical Society; and member, Hamilton County Genealogical Society, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Seating is limited, pre-registration required, so click here to let them know you’re coming.

For more information, click on the JGSBC site, or send an email. A link on the JGSBC site will lead to the library site, with a map and directions.

Connecticut: Genealogy guru Arthur Kurzweil, May 2

Famed genealogist and author Arthur Kurzweil will give the keynote presentation, “Jewish Genealogy as a Spiritual Pilgrimage,” at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford’s Family History Day, on Sunday, May 2.

His book, “From Generation to Generation,” was one of the first books on Jewish genealogy and inspired a generation of individuals to begin their journey of discovery (including Tracing the Tribe). He was also among the founders of the very first Jewish genealogical society, in New York City.

Kurweill will also be the scholar-in-residence at this summer’s 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy – JGSLA 2010 – July 11-16, Los Angeles.

The venue is Beth El Temple in West Hartford, from 12.30-5pm. Kurzweill will also lead two workshops at the event. One will be for experienced genealogical researchers and one to help those discover what happened to relatives during the Holocaust. Fee: members, $12; others, $15. View the event brochure here for complete information on all 10 workshops and registration.

Family History Day is an opportunity for adults and middle- and high-school aged children to learn how to save family memories and treasures for future generations. The program will include 10 expert workshops on topics including conducting an effective interview; writing your own memoir; conducting genealogical research; archiving precious photos, papers and artifacts; and creating keepsake memories. A vendor showcase will display products and services related to genealogical research.

He was interviewed – “Jewish genealogy as a spiritual pursuit” – in the Jewish Ledger.

Among his other books: “On the Road with Rabbi Steinsaltz: 25 Years of Pre-Dawn Car Trips, Mind-Blowing Encounters and Inspiring Conversations with a Man of Wisdom;” “The Torah for Dummies,” “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Genealogy” and “My Generations: A Course in Jewish Family History,” a popular text used for almost two decades in North American synagogue schools. An accomplished magician, he is also coordinator of the Talmud Circle Project, directed by Rabbi Steinsaltz.

He received the Distinguished Humanitarian Award (Melton Center, Ohio State University) for his unique contributions to Jewish education, and the IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award.
In the interview, Kurweill says:

I believe that in the same way that the Talmud says that when the Temple was destroyed, they rebuilt by doing their family trees, in our generation we have the same task. As a rebuilding generation, we are doing our family trees to rebuild, to put the pieces back together again, to take that shattered people and to bring them back together again. Our work is mitzvah work. I think we are doing a good job.

Learn how he developed an interest in genealogy:

When I began investigating my family history I found that there were no guidebooks. I ended up writing the book I wish I had been able to find.

How does an absolute beginner start?

The first step is to talk to relatives. That’s always the first step. The documents will wait. The people don’t wait. Talk to every relative you can find. Talking to relatives is the most important thing to do. After that, I’d say you should explore http://www.jewishgen.org. This is cyberspace headquarters for Jewish genealogy. If you are interested in Jewish genealogy and you go to this website, we won’t see you again for months!

Interest in Jewish genealogy is growing. More and more people each year are becoming convinced that you can be very successful in climbing your Jewish family tree. There is no question that the major factor in the growth of this pursuit is the Internet and all that it offers the researcher.

The story also addresses how his spiritual life meshes with genealogy:

It seems to me that every step of the way when we pursue our genealogical research, we are involved in mitzvahs. Who more than we honor the elderly? Who more than we reach out to the elderly people in our family and our communities and make them feel like we need them – because we do. And what is that but a mitzvah, to honor the elderly. Who more than we ask questions? The Talmud consists of questions, thousands of ways of asking different questions. Did you ever ask the question, “Where did you get that information from?” Well, there is a little code word in the Talmud for the question, “Where did you get that question from?” And who has perfected the art of asking questions more than we have?

Who like we genealogists performs the mitzvah of ahavat Yisrael, the love of the people of Israel, which really means tolerance. What Jews in the world are more tolerant than Jewish genealogists? Why are we tolerant? We are tolerant because we learn that on this branch of the family there are Galicianers, and on this branch there are Litvaks, and on this branch there are assimilated Jews and on this branch there were intermarriages! And we see that each of our families really is everybody, and in the process we become tolerant.

Read the complete interview at the link above

Footnote.com: A new page for beginners

Are you a new user of Footnote.com? There’s now a special page for beginners.

View it here, and see these sections:

— Discover who you are: Find and organize your family history

— Discover through history: See Footnote’s documents online.

— Start by searching for your name among the 63 million-plus documents.

— Are you related? Start a Footnote ancestor page for your family.

— What do others know? Share the page you’ve created at Footnote on Facebook.

There’s new Footnote content to search:

— Naturalization Records: Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania
— City Directories: Des Moines, Indianapolis
— Civil War Union Soldier Service Records: Nebraska, Arkansas, Colored Troops
— Homestead Records: Nebraska
— Texas Death Certificates: more than 3 million images
— Final Payment Vouchers Index for Military Pensions, 1818-1864

And do check out the new enhanced image viewer.

JGSLA 2010: Volunteers needed

Frequent conference attendees will tell you that an excellent way to meet new people and connect with those sharing your interests is to volunteer in various ways before or during the conference.

JGSLA 2010 has put out a public call for volunteers, via conference volunteer coordinator Lois Rosen. (See below for some important jobs that need the right person now!)

A major conference like this relies on an army of volunteers in so many areas. Some jobs can be done from home prior to the conference, others are focused on helping during the conference.

Do you have time to help before or during the conference?

During the conference, help is needed in all areas to help staff important locations, such as registration, hospitality, resource and more.

Volunteering your time adds to the success of the event, and also helps you meet new people and make new friends.

Here are just some of the possibilities:
Hospitality volunteers/Greeters
Registration volunteers
Resource Room staff
Film Festival or Screening Room staff
Tour chaperones or guides
Translators
Computer or tech support volunteers
Outreach to are synagogues
Outreach to area Jewish organizations, schools, or youth groups

and many more opportunities!

Before the conference, there are other jobs that need to be done. Frequent conference attendees who arrive early know all about bag-stuffing! But there’s much more.

Volunteers needed now:

Banquet Journal: Volunteers needed for Ad Solictor and Ad Layout.

Volunteer Scheduling Coordinator: This is a major job and carries a perk (free conference registration).

Carpenter/Artist: For the handy creative types out there: A carpenter/artist volunteer is needed to create a directional sign post for the Market Square event. This needs include arrows showing the distance to, for example, Minsk or Warsaw. Tracing the Tribe is assuming distances will be measured from Los Angeles.

There are many other jobs you can do. See the next Tracing the Tribe post which details some ways that you can help, no matter where you live.

Click here to learn all about volunteering for the JGSLA 2010 event or email volunteer coordinator Lois Rosen for more information.

New York: Beyond the basics, April 11

The Jewish Genealogical Society of New York will present “Basics and Beyond,” an afternoon family history seminar, on Sunday, April 11.

The program will run from 1-5pm, at UJA-Federation of New York 130 East 59th Street, 7th floor, Manhattan.

Experienced genealogists will present two tracks – for beginners and those more experienced.

Beginners’ Track:
— How to get started
— Tracing your family in the US
— Finding/interpreting census/vital records
— Crossing the pond: Finding/interpreting passenger arrival/naturalization records

Advanced Track:
— Organizing, goal-setting, record-keeping
— What’s new in computer research
— Researching European records at home

Tracks run simultaneously; participants may attend sessions in either or both tracks

Topics include:

— Finding and interpreting census and vital records
— Passenger arrival and naturalization records
— Computer research
— Research organization
— Record-keeping and goal setting
— Searching European records from home.

Advance registration required, no on-site registration. For more information and registration, click here.

Fee: JGSNY members, $18; others, $25. New member special: $40, includes 2010 JGSNY membership (annual membership alone is $36).

Today in Jewish history: March 6

Interesting things happen every day, and to keep up with interesting Jewish history, try “This Day in Jewish History.”

On this day in history:

1239: With the Edict of Valencia, Spanish King James I validated privileges of the Jews of Aragon. The Jewish courts (bet din) were authorized to try all cases except capital offenses.

1475: Birth date of famed Italian artist Michelangelo Buonarroti. Say Michelangelo to most people and they respond, Sistine Chapel ceiling. Say his name to Jews and the response is “Moses.” “Moses” is a marble sculpture which depicts the greater Jewish leader. Originally intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II in St. Peter’s Basilica it was placed in the minor church of San Pietro in Vincoli on the Esquiline in Rome after the pope’s death. The statue depicts Moses with horns on his head. This is believed to be because of the mistranslation of Exodus 34:29-35 by St Jerome. Moses is actually described as having “rays of light” coming from his head, which Jerome in the Vulgate had translated as “horns.” This horned Moses provided further proof that the Jews were, as the Gospel says, “the Devil’s spawn.”

1815: With the defeat of Napoleon, new restrictions were imposed on the Jews all over Europe.

1816: The Jews were expelled from the Free City of Lubeck, Germany at the instance of the local guilds. This was part of the reactionary backlash that followed the defeat of Napoleon a year earlier.

For more information, go to the Temple Judah website and open the Adult Education Tab.

“This Day…In Jewish History ” is part of the Jewish History Study Group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa: “There is no claim to originality or scholarship by the ‘compiler,’ Mitchell A. Levin. The sources, including texts and websites are too many and too varied to provide academic citations for each entry or part thereof. “

TV: A Noah’s Ark of immigrants – more

A nation of immigrants looks at its ancestors – and its genealogy.

Ancestry and genealogy cut across all ethnic/religious lines. The process of discovery has meaning for all of us no matter our origins.

In for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rob Owen reports on a press conference for the new PBS’ Faces of America, hosted by Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. It premieres tonight (Wednesday, February 10) at 8pm ET. on PBS channels.

“I call it the Noah’s Ark approach,” Dr. Gates said of his new program during the PBS press conference. ” ‘African-American Lives’ was so popular, I got thousands of letters from people who weren’t black, saying, ‘What about me?’ Particularly Jewish people from Russia, with Russian roots, saying, ‘Why don’t you try to trace us?’… Russian, Jewish lineages are very, very hard to trace. People in Japan –very, very hard to trace. So I wanted to take that on.

“So, like Noah, I wanted two Muslims, two Jews, two Asians,” he said. “Yo-Yo Ma is a friend of mine, so I thought it would be intriguing to do him. I had always admired [Yamaguchi], and I thought it would be a great way to do it, to meet her. … We had one person, Tony Shalhoub had said yes. He was my other Arab person, and then his shooting schedule [conflicted]. He had to cancel it. So then, I asked Mehmet Oz, and he agreed right away.”

In the story on the show in the Los Angeles Times, Gates shares more of his concept:

When Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. started his latest genealogical project for PBS, which used historical archives and cutting-edge genetic research to trace the ancestry of a dozen famous Americans, he already had one hoped-for outcome in mind.

“I wanted to pick someone who is Jewish and someone who is Muslim and pray we get the same result in their DNA,” he said.

Sure enough, genetic testing revealed that director Mike Nichols, of Eastern European Jewish heritage, and surgeon and television host Mehmet Oz, the son of Turkish Muslim immigrants, had a common paternal ancestor thousands of years ago.”That is like affirming the story of Abraham,” Gates said delightedly.

Also, the New York Times reviewed the series, which looks at celebs Meryl Streep, Mike Nichols, Queen Noor of Jordan, Mario Batali, Malcolm Gladwell, Elizabeth Alexander, Louise Erdrich, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Yo-Yo Ma, Stephen Colbert, Eva Longoria and Kristi Yamaguchi.

But that is perhaps fitting for the subject: watching this solemn, painstaking examination of immigrants’ roots is a little like trying to pry juicy family stories from an elderly aunt at Thanksgiving dinner: There are some tedious detours and false starts, but the unexpected details and touching sidebars are worth the effort.

Among the surprises: Gladwell learns that a Jamaican ancestor was a free colored woman who also owned slaves. Nichols learns he is indeed related to Albert Einstein. Yamaguchi learns about her nisei grandfather, a WWII war hero., the only Japanese-American in his unit. Alexander is a descendant of King John of England.

Ms. Longoria, who is Mexican-American, is not afraid to look at her pie chart and discover that while she is 70 percent European, she is also 27 percent Asian (and 3 percent African). When told that she has a genetic tie to Yo-Yo Ma, she jokes, “He’s Mexican?”

Queen Noor learns about her first-generation grandfather Najeeb, buried in Brooklyn, and she visits the grave for the first time.

Her ignorance about her own roots is as telling about the willful amnesia that clouds many immigrants’ assimilation process as anything else she reveals. But Mr. Gates doesn’t ask questions, he answers them.

I’m hoping the series will be shown in Israel. The site for the show indicates that the first full-length episode will be available online on Thursday, February 11, so see the show’s website for more.

One very good section is for educators, and includes detailed lesson and learning activity plans, optional activities, additional websites and relevant episode clips for specific lessons from the Video Segments Page.

Here’s some info on the lesson plans and links:

Grades 2-4: Exploring the Past: Lesson Overview
Hands-on, media-enhanced lesson challenges students to gather clues about the past through photographs, drawings and other primary source materials.

Grades 5-7: They’re Coming to America: Immigrants Past and Present: Lesson Overview
Students explore the history of America

Grades 7-9: A Cold Reception: Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in the United States: Lesson Overview
Students explore the hostile reception immigrants have often received from anti-immigrant “nativists.”

Grades 9-12: I Dream of Genome: Lesson Overview
Exploring types of genetic information in the human genome.

Read the newspaper articles at the link above.