New York: JDC Archival genealogy resources, May 16

The global archives director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee will speak at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York, on May 16.

The event opens with networking from 12.30-1.45pm, followed by the main program, at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street.

JDC’s director of global archives Linda Levi is responsible for archival centers in New York and Jerusalem. She is also assistance executive vice president for global archives. An NYU graduate, she holds an MA in contemporary Jewish studies (Brandeis University).
Since its inception in 1914, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC, known popularly as “the Joint”) has borne witness to the greatest events of twentieth-century Jewish history. The JDC Archives documents the organization’s operations, overseas activities and serves as a record of life in Jewish communities around the world.
Its extensive holdings include eye-witness accounts, correspondence, reports, logs, passenger lists, emigration cards, photographs, and much more. Participants will learn how the Archives are organized, see examples of rich genealogical records in the JDC archival collections, and find out how to conduct research at its repositories. New efforts to digitize the JDC collections will also be included in the discussion.

For more information, visit the JGSNY website.

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Israel: Already preparing for 2014!

Every 10 years, the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is held in Israel and 2014 is the next one.

The Israel Genealogical Society is already preparing a list of documents to convert into databases to be available at the event.

IGS webmaster Rose Feldman says that many families or parts of families immigrated to Eretz Israel. Some remained and built their lives in the country, and some moved on to other places.

Databases available now may be viewed here. Those which have been completely funded are available for viewing by the public.

The Montefiore Censuses are being prepared as a joint project of IGS and London’s Montefiore Endowment.

The IGS is currently considering the following collections:

—  Names changes as published in the official government publication Yalkut Hapirsumim through 1954;

— 1928 Pinchas Habogrim –  which is the equivalent of electoral lists of those over 18 years of age. Currently, they have been located in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

They are already working on some early 20th century Mukhtar Ledgers of Jerusalem’s Ashkenazi population.

Readers who are aware of any other documents dealing with Eretz Israel covering the early 19th-century through 1930, are asked to contact Rose.

New Resource: SCIRUS finds people!

Are there academics or scientists in your family? Would you like to know? Do you want to cast a wider family search net? Here’s a new resource to help you.

SCIRUS.com is considered the most comprehensive science-specific search engine on the Internet, it searches more than 380 million science-specific Web pages. Researchers can pinpoint scientific, scholarly, technical and medical data; find the newest reports, articles, patents, journals, websites, homepages, courseware and repository information that other search engines might miss; and help scientists and researchers.

Importantly, it is also great for genealogists and family researchers looking to cast a wider net.

My search centered on our TALALAY and DARDASHTI families, and I was very pleased with the results.

There are quite a few academics and scientists in our TALALAY family, and this search engine found them. From Dr. Paul Talalay of Johns Hopkins Medical School, to Dr. Mikhail Talalai (a Russian historian who lives in Italy), Dr. Pavel Talalai (Misha’s brother in Saint Petersburg, a specialist in deep-sea ice), Dr. Alexander Talalai (communications) and many others, including Dr. Boris Talalai (originally of Saint Petersburg, now Beersheva University). Paul’s daughter Rachel, a film/documentary producer, even got a mention.

Results: For TALALAY, there were 9,835 hits;  for TALALAI, 58 hits (this is the Russian spelling and also for a family of Polish Catholics in New Jersey and elsewhere). There were even 261 hits for TALALLA (sometimes the Spanish spelling as LL=LY, which can also be Talalya). A search for TALALAJ (a variant Polish spelling) produced 274 hits for people in Poland, the US and elsewhere. TALLALAY produced 13 hits, seemingly with TALALAY misspelled (I knew the people referred to, such as cousin Paul).

Our DARDASHTI family is also well-represented: Cardiologists Drs. Iraj Dardashti and Omid Dardashti; musician/anthropologist Dr. Galeet Dardashti; some in Iran (although I have no way of figuring out how they might be related at this point in time); some in Germany, Sweden, Norway; Dr. Kambiz Dardashti, our Philadelphia cousin Ephi Dardashti, and more. Tracing the Tribe even got a mention on a posting on the Sephardi Studies Caucus. There were 1,055 hits, with just one for DARDASHTY (a variant rare spelling).

Areas represented cover medicine, research, patents, culture, technology, anthropology and much more. It is well worth a visit and a search, particularly if you are dealing with an uncommon name.

Tracing the Tribe is not sure if a search for COHEN will turn up useful information for a particular family. Non-family names, such as my old New York pediatrician, Isaac Newton Kugelmass – who was in his 90s when I last knew him – got six mentions.

It is so successful at locating these types of results that it was voted Best Specialty Search Engine (2001. 2002) and Best Director or Search Engine Website (2004-2007).

And, since Tracing the Tribe often brings readers more than esoteric bits of information, here’s the background on how the organizers selected the name SCIRUS:

“To the Eleusinians who were warring against Erechtheus, came a man, Scirus by name, who was a seer from Dodona, and who also established at Phalerum the ancient temple of Athena Sciras. After he had fallen in the battle, the Eleusinians buried him near a winter-flowing river and the name of the region and the river is from that of the hero.”

We chose the name Scirus because seers and prophets are said to judge the signs of what is to come. And science is a visionary discipline in which you are continuously working on new ideas and developments. The Scirus search engine will pro-actively support your role as a seer.

*Excerpt from “The Description of Greece” by Pausanias, translated by August A. Imholtz, Jr., CIS Executive Editor

Check it out and see if Scirus can help you. See what you can find.

Boston: Daniel Laby’s Sephardic roots, April 25

Dr. Daniel Laby will share his family’s Sephardic journey from 13th-century Zaragoza, Spain to the New World with members of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston, on Sunday, April 25.

Read Tracing the Tribe’s post about the meeting, which also features Brandeis Professor Jonathan Decter, here.

The Canton Citizen’s story about Laby and his family is here.

The pediatric opthamalogist, also a professor at Harvard Medical School, also has family connections to Lerida, where Tracing the Tribe found the first document for our family.

His family’s journey has covered Spain, Hebron, Salonika, North Africa, Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Dan began researching his family in high school when the earliest date he knew was his paternal grandfather’s 1904 arrival in the US.

Since then, he’s reached back into the 13th century. Family members worked as financiers, diplomats and doctors for the Kings of Aragon.

A few years ago, three generations of his family visited their ancestral family home in Zaragoza and other cities in Spain. He put together an excellent multimedia presentation on the family trip which he shared with JFRA Israel members.

Research on his grandfather’s family, from Hebron, was furthered by a book on the history of that community. It included detailed land deeds which helped him trace back several hundred years.

“I think to really understand what your future is going to be … you have to understand where you came from and what your past history is,” Laby said.


“I think anyone could do it,” Laby said of tracing ancestry. “You just have to have curiosity and patience and determination.”

It was interesting to see Dan’s quote, that he was “fortunate to have an obscure name.” This is in line with my own views. Dan says if he was looking for Cohen or Levy, it would be more difficult to find the documents for his ancestors.

Tracing the Tribe feels much the same; hunting for Talalay and Dardashti makes it much easier!

While we can trace with probability our kosher winemaker ancestor in Lerida mentioned in a document dated 1358, Dan has gone back to 1202 for his prominent family, which helped arrange the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella, as well as funding for Columbus’s trip to the Americas.

Dan and I have joked that our ancestor made the wine his ancestors drank way back when.

Using ancient property ownership maps in Zaragoza, he was able to visit the site of the ancestor’s home during his trip to Spain.

His family, along with other Spanish Jews, was expelled in 1492. Family members went to North Africa, Italy, Greece and Israel. Through his research, he’s met relatives and, in Israel, met the Alazar descendants, whom their ancestors had known in Spain.

“When you do this kind of family history you learn those small details, which makes it real and makes it personal, which is what is fun about it,” he said.

His documents include arrival records, passenger logs, land deeds, maps, and a 1435 ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract).

The Internet has helped, of course, and he aso worked through reams of microfilm at the National Archives, Washington DC. He also uses DNA to help,

How far back does he want to go? “To Abraham,” he jokes.

Israel: US-version WDYTYA to air on YES (not HOT)

CORRECTION: Tracing the Tribe indicated the news was on HOT, but it was on YES Channel 8 “Docu.”
Do I need more sleep? Yes! Apologies.

Well, well, well. What a surprise tonight!

In addition to learning that BBC will air the American version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” beginning April 25, Tracing the Tribe was also delighted to see the following announcement on TV tonight:

YES cable’s Channel 8 Docu advertised that the US version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” will be airing soon.

Tracing the Tribe will try to get a start date from the channel and inform readers.

South Africa: Seeking Ochberg Orphan descendants

Genealogists are detectives, so here’s a case many of us might be able to help solve.

David Solly Sandler of Australia is seeking 2,000 South Africans – the descendants of 60 Ukrainian war and pogrom orphans, known as Ochberg’s Orphans.

Writes David: 

In 1921, Isaac Ochberg, representative of the South African Jewish Community, travelled to Poland and the Ukraine and brought back with him to Cape Town 167 “Russian, Ukraine and Polish War and Pogrom Orphans” plus 14 “attendants and nurses,” mainly older siblings.

Half the children were placed in the care of the Cape Jewish Orphanage (later Oranjia) and half went to Johannesburg, under the care of the South African Jewish Orphanage (later Arcadia). Many children were adopted by Jewish community members, who contributed generously to a fund to bring the children to South Africa and care for them.

What’s David’s connection to Arcadia? Born in 1952, David grew up from age 3-17 at Arcadia, the South African Jewish Orphanage in Sandringham, Johannesburg. Now a semi-retired chartered accountant, he lives in Western Australia and has completed two books on Arcadia (see below for more information). For the history of the orphanage – established in 1899 – click here.

David is now in month 18 of the 27 months he’s allocated to record the life stories of the Ochberg Orphans. Of the 181 children, the stories of 90 have been recorded, contact has been made with another 30, but 60 still remain to be contacted.

How did he arrive at this number? David believes – for the so far “missing” 60 – that each child was born around 1910, married and had three children, nine grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren, thus there should be more than the estimated 2,000 descendants cited above. Of course, no one knows for sure.

However, what is really important in this story is that many descendants might not know their connection to the Ochberg Orphans. The children did not often speak about this and many tried to hide the fact from their children because of the stigma of being an orphan.

One descendant wrote, says David:

Today, as for the general South African Jewish community, half  of the 2,000 descendants likely have left South Africa and now live around the world in Israel, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US.

“The general attitude of the community was that it was a mitzvah to have adopted one of those poor orphans, a good deed in a dark world, but you really wouldn’t want one of them to marry into your family, would you? After all, you knew nothing of their parents and extended family, their health history and their genetic background. This is a generalisation that isn’t true of all the adopters but it was certainly true of a fair number, nervous, insecure, only to do nothing that would jeopardise their increasing prosperity and emergent social solidity.”

Here’s the kicker – here are the names of these orphans. If you have someone with this name in your family tree, born c1910, there’s a chance you might be an Ochberg Orphan descendant, so read the list carefully and if you find a name of interest, contact David (email below).

— BARMATCH Sara, BARUCH Leya, BERNFELD Hersh,
— CWENGEL Saul,
— ELMAN Blume, ELMAN Jentl/ Izzy, ELSHTEIN Abo, ENGELMAN Jakob,
— FREMD/FRIEND Max,
— GARBUS /GOLDSTEIN Shmul, GAYER Chawa, GEBENCOL/GOLZ Rochel, GERYNSHTEIN Abram, GINSBURG Mintcha, GUBER/GEIBER/GRUBER Tcharna (Charlotte ODES),
— H/GURWITZ Rosa,
— ISRAELSON Chaim,
— JUDES Rubin,
— KAHAN Channe, KAHAN Golda, KAHAN Morduch/Mordche, KAHAN Shachna, KAILER Rywka, KAUFMAN Cypora, KAUFMAN Soloman/Shlama, KAWERBERG Mayer, KAWERBERG Mees/Moshe, KIGIELMAN Jacob, KNUBOVITZ Zlata, KREINDEL Rejsel, KRUGERr Rejsel, KRUGER Abram, KRUGER Jacob,
— LIPSHIS Moishe, LIPSHYTZ Perel,
— MARGOLIN Sara, MILER Braindel, MORDOCHOWITCH Gutro, MORDOCHOWITCH Estel,
— NUDERMAN Gdalia,
— OCHSTEIN Salomon, ORLIANSKY Abram,
— PERRCHODNIK/PERECHODNIK Ussr, PINSKY/PINSKA Faywel, PINSKY/PINSKA Feyga (Birdie GLASER), PINSKY/PINSKA Maisha, PINSKY/PINSKA Zlata,
— REICHMAN Abram, REICHMAN Chaim, REISENDERRubin, REKLER Leya, RINSLER/RINZLER Chaskiel/Chaykel, ROSENBAUM Leon, ROSENBLIT Gdalia, ROSENBLIT Szamay,
— Y/J/SAGOTKOWSKY Jacob/Jacov, SCHTERN/SHTERN Szlema/Solomon, SCHWARZ Josef, SHTEINER/STEINER Chaskel, SHTEINER/STEINER Hersh, SHTEINER/SZTEINER/STEINER Isaac, SMITH Morduch/Mordche, SHTRASNER Feyga, STILLERMAN Hersh/Harry,
— TREPPEL Jacob
— WEIDMAN Sheindel.

David adds that by the end of 2010, the lifestories of some 130 of the children will have been collected. They will be included in a book to be published and sold internationally with all proceeds going to Arcadia and Oranjia, as are the Arcadian Memory Books.

Readers who recognize names of interest should email David for more information, or if you are a descendant and want your family’s story included.

“100 Years of ARC Memories” (March 2006) celebrates the centenary book of Arcadia, formerly the South African Jewish Orphanage.

“More ARC Memories” (December 2008) is the sequel to the first volume, and includes 17 chapters on the Ochberg Children.

Together, the books total 1,100+ pages and hold the memories of more than 250 children. All proceeds go to the Arcadia Children’s Home that still exists and looks after children in need. By the end of 2009, some Rand 365,000 had been raised and the target is Rand 1 million. The set of two books costs $100 plus $10 shipping (click here for more information).

Yom HaShoah: 2,000 memorials database, April 12

On April 12, Yom HaShoah – Shoah (Holocaust) Remembrance Day – commemorates Jewish communities that vanished all over Europe. It also marks the results of pogroms following the creation of Israel in Arab countries.

The Israel Genealogical Society has a database of nearly 2,000 memorials and monuments for such communities. They are in cemeteries and towns, synagogues, forests and also live in street names.

IGS invites readers to search the database and see if your ancestral towns have memorials in Israel, see photos of them and note their locations. Here’s the search box:

Search parameters:

— Select the “country” list to see all lands where Sephardim used to live. According to IGS, the project is dedicated to an Algerian Jew who perished in Auschwitz.

— Search by town name, region name, or country; near town, country, or location of the monument in Israel.

— Places may be listed with different spellings depending on pronunciation in native language or in Yiddish.

— Search by “is exactly,” “starts with” (three-letter minimum), “contains”(three-letter minimum).

— Search by Hebrew name of the community.

— If you can’t find a memorial in Israel that you know is there, search by country (today) name of that location.

— Use creative spelling.

Readers aware of memorials in Israel not found in the database are invited to send in photos and documentation so locations may be added.