Lebanon: Ashkenazi, Sephardi Beirut burials online

Jeff Malka, creator of SephardicGen.com, informed Tracing the Tribe that Beirut Jewish Cemetery data is online now at his site.

In 1948, some 24,000 Jews lived in Lebanon. Most of them were in Beirut. Today, there only 30 seniors.

Jewish community symbols in Beirut today are the Magen Avraham synagogue and the Jewish cemetery (with 3,300 burials).

Tracing the Tribe has previously written about Beirut and its Jewish community.

 During the Lebanese civil war, the cemetery was the border of  the Christian Phalange forces. Although damaged by bombs, it was never desecrated.

A Lebanese Christian, Nagi Georges Zeidan, has memorialized the Jewish community of his country by researching its history and creating a database, using both cemetery and civil registrations, with 3,184 gravestone inscriptions
.
Both Ashkenazi and Sephardi burials are included in the searchable database.

Click here for the English database and here for the French version.

Do check out the many searchable databases covering numerous countries and topics at SephardicGen.com.

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SephardicGen.com: New searchable databases

SephardicGen.com holds excellent resources for those researching their Sephardic families from many countries.

Search the Consolidated Index of Sephardic Surnames with more than 85,800 names.

Among the new searchable databases on SephardicGen.com, compiled and maintained by pioneer Sephardic genealogist Dr. Jeff Malka, are the following:

– Dictionary of Bulgarian Jewish surnames
– Jewish surnames, Juderia of Tarrazona
– Personal files, Amsterdam Community, CAHJP
– Records of Portuguese Inquisition Trials (1583-1656, 1716-1717), CAHJP
– Victims of the Libya Riots
– Census of Jewish Family heads; Belgrade, Serbia
– Sephardic graves, Mount of Olives cemetery, Jerusalem
– VazDias database of aliases, Amsterdam
– Names from the Pautas (orphan girls, etc.), Amsterdam
– Names from the old cemeteries of Algiers

– Sephardic tombstones, marriages, births; Vienna, Austria
– Surnames from all Hispania Judaica books
– Tombstones, Trieste cemetery
– Jewish Surnames, Lebanon
– Craiova memorial of Jews who died in Balkan Wars and WWI

Access all these and many more here. Mathilde Tagger created these databases for SephardicGen.

Sephardim: Museum of Family History exhibits

The virtual Museum of Family History also has material for researchers of Sephardim.

Holocaust Memorials in Havana and Santa Clara, Cuba

Synagogues of Asia: Burma, China, Hong Kong, India, Lebanon, Singapore, Tajikistan, Turkey [Asian side].

Synagogues of Turkey: (European side of Istanbul)

Synagogues of Spain. The photo at left is the El Transito Synagogue in Toledo.

— Postcards from Home: Turkey

Museum creator Steve Lasky wishes to include more pre-war family photos. Readers with such photos are invited to contact Steve.

Minnesota: Sephardic Jews connect in Twin Cities

Google alerts are a valuable resource and inform Tracing the Tribe about happenings around the world, as well as provide pointers to outposts of diverse groups of Jews in places one wouldn’t ordinarily expect to find them.

The American Jewish World is the Jewish community paper in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In an April article I learned that Sephardic Jews were connecting there. Minnesota is not considered a hotbed of Sephardic life, so I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to read this story.

In an effort to connect with his heritage, local engineer Joseph Israel joined the Sephardi Minyan when he moved to Minnesota in 2002. The minyan, which was started by Lebanese immigrant David Khabie and former Minnesotan Abe Sclar more than 30 years ago, is a welcoming group for local Sephardic Jews who want to retain the worship melodies and traditions with which they grew up.

“Being Sephardic is a state of mind in the broader sense,” said Israel, who is now a co-leader of the minyan. “We come from so many different countries with so many different influences, but there is a commonality among the way we do things, the food we eat, our histories.”

Of the 14 million Jews in the world, about 3 million of them are of Sephardic origin, meaning that they trace their roots to Spain, Portugal and countries of the Middle East (also known as Mizrachi origin).

This minyan (group of at least 10 Jewish males) conducts monthly services in the basement of Kenesseth Israel Congregation in St. Louis Park, and approximately 40 people have attended services on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

The space for the Orthodox minyan is donated by Kenesseth Israel, and the group has been accepted by Kenesseth’s leadership, including Rabbi Chaim Goldberger.

“Many local Sephardic Jews already belong to synagogues here,” Israel said. “We are not trying to create our own synagogue. Rather, we just want to get together periodically and do things the way we remember doing them with our parents and our grandparents.”

The minyan provides an opportunity for Sephardic Jews to join together, socialize and pray using their traditional melodies and customs.

“We have beautiful traditions, and it feels so soothing to hear the melodies that we use for prayer and Torah reading,” Israel said. “I am reminded of how I felt sitting with my father in our synagogue in Egypt when I was a boy.”

Israel’s father was the hazzan in his Cairo, Egype synagogue and at Ahi Ezer Congregation in Brooklyn, New York. Yom Tov Israel, his great-great-great-grandfather, was Egypt’s chief rabbi 1866-1891.

No one knows how many Sephardim live in the Twin Cities area, but he hopes to find all of them. So far, the minyan’s presence has only been spread via word of mouth, but perhaps the newspaper story found more of them. He wants to reach more local Sephardim, those who are Sephardim at heart or who simply want to experience a Sephardic service – all are welcome.

In reference to the story, Israel said,“I hope that this article will create more awareness about the local Sephardic community, bring the diverse Sephardi community together for Shabbat and holidays, help the Sephardi Minyan to grow, and expose the broader Jewish community to the beauties of Sephardic culture.”

A Lebanese woman, her husband and brother are believed to be the only local Jews raised in that country. Lili Khabie hopes to bring women together to celebrate Sephardic culture.

“I love the Jewish community here and I feel very much a part of it,” Khabie said. “But you don’t forget who you are and where you come from, and you don’t ever stop longing for those traditions that are most familiar to you… I believe that all Jews should know where they came from, and one way to do that is for the women to keep our Sephardic traditions alive and share them with the whole
community.”

Those who may want more information, may email the group.

Read the complete story at the link above. The story was published around Passover and includes some information on different Passover food customs for Sephardim.

Minnesota: Sephardic Jews connect in Twin Cities

Google alerts are a valuable resource and inform Tracing the Tribe about happenings around the world, as well as provide pointers to outposts of diverse groups of Jews in places one wouldn’t ordinarily expect to find them.

The American Jewish World is the Jewish community paper in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In an April article I learned that Sephardic Jews were connecting there. Minnesota is not considered a hotbed of Sephardic life, so I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to read this story.

In an effort to connect with his heritage, local engineer Joseph Israel joined the Sephardi Minyan when he moved to Minnesota in 2002. The minyan, which was started by Lebanese immigrant David Khabie and former Minnesotan Abe Sclar more than 30 years ago, is a welcoming group for local Sephardic Jews who want to retain the worship melodies and traditions with which they grew up.

“Being Sephardic is a state of mind in the broader sense,” said Israel, who is now a co-leader of the minyan. “We come from so many different countries with so many different influences, but there is a commonality among the way we do things, the food we eat, our histories.”

Of the 14 million Jews in the world, about 3 million of them are of Sephardic origin, meaning that they trace their roots to Spain, Portugal and countries of the Middle East (also known as Mizrachi origin).

This minyan (group of at least 10 Jewish males) conducts monthly services in the basement of Kenesseth Israel Congregation in St. Louis Park, and approximately 40 people have attended services on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

The space for the Orthodox minyan is donated by Kenesseth Israel, and the group has been accepted by Kenesseth’s leadership, including Rabbi Chaim Goldberger.

“Many local Sephardic Jews already belong to synagogues here,” Israel said. “We are not trying to create our own synagogue. Rather, we just want to get together periodically and do things the way we remember doing them with our parents and our grandparents.”

The minyan provides an opportunity for Sephardic Jews to join together, socialize and pray using their traditional melodies and customs.

“We have beautiful traditions, and it feels so soothing to hear the melodies that we use for prayer and Torah reading,” Israel said. “I am reminded of how I felt sitting with my father in our synagogue in Egypt when I was a boy.”

Israel’s father was the hazzan in his Cairo, Egype synagogue and at Ahi Ezer Congregation in Brooklyn, New York. Yom Tov Israel, his great-great-great-grandfather, was Egypt’s chief rabbi 1866-1891.

No one knows how many Sephardim live in the Twin Cities area, but he hopes to find all of them. So far, the minyan’s presence has only been spread via word of mouth, but perhaps the newspaper story found more of them. He wants to reach more local Sephardim, those who are Sephardim at heart or who simply want to experience a Sephardic service – all are welcome.

In reference to the story, Israel said,“I hope that this article will create more awareness about the local Sephardic community, bring the diverse Sephardi community together for Shabbat and holidays, help the Sephardi Minyan to grow, and expose the broader Jewish community to the beauties of Sephardic culture.”

A Lebanese woman, her husband and brother are believed to be the only local Jews raised in that country. Lili Khabie hopes to bring women together to celebrate Sephardic culture.

“I love the Jewish community here and I feel very much a part of it,” Khabie said. “But you don’t forget who you are and where you come from, and you don’t ever stop longing for those traditions that are most familiar to you… I believe that all Jews should know where they came from, and one way to do that is for the women to keep our Sephardic traditions alive and share them with the whole
community.”

Those who may want more information, may email the group.

Read the complete story at the link above. The story was published around Passover and includes some information on different Passover food customs for Sephardim.

Lebanon: Jewish oblivion

It is sad to read about small Jewish communities facing problems – Lebanon’s is one of those caught up in politics, aging and attrition.

Once a vibrant thriving community, today it stares at oblivion in this AFP article in the Middle East Times.

It’s not easy being Jewish in Beirut where the synagogue is crumbling, the rabbis have left, the community is dwindling and where Jews are commonly branded “Israelis”.

The last vestiges of the Jewish community in Lebanon, the Magen Abraham synagogue in the Lebanese capital, reflects a community falling into oblivion.

Built in 1920 in the area of Wadi Abu Jmil, formerly known as Wadi al Yahud (the Jews’ Valley), the synagogue is today a place of desolation.

The building is in a state of severe disrepair, the grounds overgrown and the gate shackled with lock and chain.

“Everything was looted during the (civil) war, marble benches and even windows,” bemoaned Samuel, a member of the Jewish Community Council in Lebanon, who preferred to use a pseudonym.

There is no synagogue, no rabbi for years, no kosher food, no Jewish schools. The Jewish cemetery is near the former border between Muslim and Christian neighborhoods.

The inscriptions in Hebrew and the stars of David on the entrance are covered with dust. “Very few people come,” said Samuel.

Efforts are now being made, however, to revive the community with plans under way to renovate the synagogue and the establishment of an online blog called Jews of Lebanon.

Samuel said the synagogue will be renovated later this year or in 2009, funded by expatriate Lebanese Jews. The blog helps raise awareness of the community.

Lebanon recognizes 18 religions – Judaism is one – even as the Jewish community has dwindled after a 2,000-year history. Before the 1975-1990 civil war, some 22,000 Jews lived there. After the 1982 Lebanon war with Israel, it became much smaller.

Most lived in Beirut, Baalbek, Tripoli and Sidon, where synagogues have also crumbled after the community began leaving. Community members say many expat Lebanese Jews still own land but won’t sell it; some even return for vacations.

Click on the above link to learn more.

Lebanon: Jewish oblivion

It is sad to read about small Jewish communities facing problems – Lebanon’s is one of those caught up in politics, aging and attrition.

Once a vibrant thriving community, today it stares at oblivion in this AFP article in the Middle East Times.

It’s not easy being Jewish in Beirut where the synagogue is crumbling, the rabbis have left, the community is dwindling and where Jews are commonly branded “Israelis”.

The last vestiges of the Jewish community in Lebanon, the Magen Abraham synagogue in the Lebanese capital, reflects a community falling into oblivion.

Built in 1920 in the area of Wadi Abu Jmil, formerly known as Wadi al Yahud (the Jews’ Valley), the synagogue is today a place of desolation.

The building is in a state of severe disrepair, the grounds overgrown and the gate shackled with lock and chain.

“Everything was looted during the (civil) war, marble benches and even windows,” bemoaned Samuel, a member of the Jewish Community Council in Lebanon, who preferred to use a pseudonym.

There is no synagogue, no rabbi for years, no kosher food, no Jewish schools. The Jewish cemetery is near the former border between Muslim and Christian neighborhoods.

The inscriptions in Hebrew and the stars of David on the entrance are covered with dust. “Very few people come,” said Samuel.

Efforts are now being made, however, to revive the community with plans under way to renovate the synagogue and the establishment of an online blog called Jews of Lebanon.

Samuel said the synagogue will be renovated later this year or in 2009, funded by expatriate Lebanese Jews. The blog helps raise awareness of the community.

Lebanon recognizes 18 religions – Judaism is one – even as the Jewish community has dwindled after a 2,000-year history. Before the 1975-1990 civil war, some 22,000 Jews lived there. After the 1982 Lebanon war with Israel, it became much smaller.

Most lived in Beirut, Baalbek, Tripoli and Sidon, where synagogues have also crumbled after the community began leaving. Community members say many expat Lebanese Jews still own land but won’t sell it; some even return for vacations.

Click on the above link to learn more.