Washington DC: LOC, Latin-American Jewish Studies, May 17

Seeing this program with the mention of the Library of Congress’ Hispanic Division reminded me of an incident quite a number of years ago.

Our daughter was going to visit one of her friends, who was studying Spanish in Seville. The two were planning to visit, among many other places, a town near Zaragoza which might have had a connection to our family’s Sephardic ancestry.

I called the LOC and spoke to a very helpful young man in the Hispanic Division, and gave him the name of the town. He looked it up in an 18th century gazetteer, and among other interesting items, it noted “Hay muchos lobos y zorros” (there are many wolves and foxes).

When daughter and friend took a taxi out to the village from the city, the driver told them to be careful because “hay muchos lobos y zorros.” The two students, of course, were rather amused, and the driver was understandably confused.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In any case, “Jewish-Latin American Historiography: The Challenges Ahead” is the May 17 lecture at the LOC. An increasingly popular area of academic inquiry, many institutions are offering related classes.

History professors Raanan Rein and Jeffrey Lesser will present the free joint lecture at noon, Monday, May 17, in the Mary Pickford Theater, (third floor, LOC’s James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. SE, Washington, DC).

It is jointly sponsored by the Library’s Hispanic Division and the Hebrew Language Table in cooperation with the Embassy of Argentina and the Embassy of Israel. Reservations are not required.

Tel Aviv University’s Raanan Rein is the Sourasky Professor of Latin American and Spanish History and head of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for International and Regional Studies. Author and editor of more than 20 books and several dozen academic journal articles, he’s co-president of the Latin American Jewish Studies Association and a member of Argentina’s National Academy of History.

Emory University’s Jeffrey Lesser is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History and director of the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies. The author of “A Discontented Diaspora: Japanese-Brazilians and the Meanings of Ethnic Militancy, 1960-1980,” “Negotiating National Identity: Minorities, Immigrants and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil” and “Welcoming the Undesirables: Brazil and the Jewish Question,” he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of São Paulo and held the Fulbright Distinguished Chair of the Humanities at Tel Aviv University (2006-7). He is the former president of the Conference on Latin American History..

The Library’s Hispanic collections comprise more than 13 million items and are the most extensive such collections in the world.

Recognized as one of the world’s foremost centers for the study of Hebrew and Yiddish materials, the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division holdings include works in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Arabic, Aramaic, Syriac, Coptic and Amharic. The section’s holdings are especially strong in the areas of the Bible and rabbinics, liturgy, Hebrew language and literature and Jewish history.

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May is Jewish Heritage Month

Since 2006, May has been American Jewish Heritage Month, recognizing more than 350 years of Jewish contributions to American culture.

The Library of Congress offers a portal for activities and events surrounding this celebration.

Partners in this collaborative effort are The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Click here for related exhibits and collection links.

Events  include:

May 4-26
First Person: Conversations with Holocaust Survivors
1pm, Tuesdays/Wednesdays, USHMM.

May 5
Keynote Address: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) delivers the keynote address for the LOC’s celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month. LOC.

May 6
Lecture: “American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust” 2010 Monna and Otto Weinman Annual Lecture. USHMM.

May 10
Book Talk: Author Robin Gerber, “Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her.” LOC.

May 13
Lecture: “Child’s Play: The Judaization of Adolescence in 20th-Century America,” by Jenna Weissman Joselit (Charles E. Smith Professor of Judaic Studies; George Washington University; former Distinguished Visiting Scholar, John W. Kluge Center, LOC), LOC.

May 14
Conversation: with Holocaust survivor Charles Stein, USHMM.

Other exhibits:

A Forgotten Suitcase: The Mantello Rescue Mission (USHMM). The story of George Mandel, a Hungarian Jewish businessman who befriended a Salvadoran diplomat, Colonel José Arturo Castellanos, in the years leading up to World War II. After Castellanos was named El Salvador’s Consul General in Geneva, he appointed Mandel, who had assumed a Spanish-sounding version of his last name, “Mantello,” to serve as the Consulate’s first secretary. Learn about this little-known story.

Jews in America (National Endowment for the Humanities)

Jewish Veterans of World War II

See the websites of the partner organizations for more events.

Your Tweets are History!

How Tweet it is – for eternity!

If you have ever sent a Tweet, your descendants will now have an even better picture of what you were like, your life, your interests.

For genealogists, this may be quite helpful to future generations who really want to know what their grandparent had for lunch.

Others do not feel quite the same.

Read on for the upside, and the down, of this recent development.

The Library of Congress, according to Matt Raymond’s blog post, has acquired the entire Twitter archive. Every 140-character-or-less tweet that you have ever sent since Twitter launched in March 2006 – in anger, in humor, in simple status updates – will now be available at the LOC.

How many are there? Twitter gets more than 50 million – Twitter says some 55 million – tweets a day, totalling billions of the darned little things.

It was announced to the Twitter community via the LOC’s own feed (@librarycongress); the LOC’s feed has more than 50,000 followers:

Twitter posted the information on its own blog.

Library to acquire ENTIRE Twitter archive — ALL public tweets, ever, since March 2006! Details to follow. (11:36 AM Apr 14th via web Retweeted by 100+ people)

That blog post also mentioned Google Replay.

“… It is our pleasure to donate access to the entire archive of public Tweets to the Library of Congress for preservation and research. It’s very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history. It should be noted that there are some specifics regarding this arrangement. Only after a six-month delay can the Tweets will be used for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation. …”

“… Today we are also excited to share the news that Google has created a wonderful new way to revisit tweets related to historic events. They call it Google Replay because it lets you relive a real time search from specific moments in time. …”

Read about Google Replay here. Although it currently only goes back a few months, it will include the very first Tweets ever created.

Raymond indicated that soon there will be a LOC press release with even more details, focusing on scholarly and research implications.

Other facts gleaned from these announcements: the LOC holds 167 terabytes of web-bsed information. That includes legal blos, national office candidates websites and Congressional members’ websites.

For positive and negative reactions to this development, see the LOC post comments at the link above. Remarks included: Awesome, who owns the copyright (Twitter or the re-Tweeter)?, what right does the government have to a private individual’s Tweets, is the 167 terabytes backed up?, tax dollars at work, waste of time and money, banal and narcissistic, no warning?, awful, access policies?, incredibly valuable resource, be careful what you Tweet online, what happens if a public Twitter account goes private?, can’t put the genie back in the bottle, who owns non-US-generated Tweets? and more.

As should always be the case, be careful as to what private information you post on any social media networking site, such as Facebook, Twitter or others.

Washington DC: NARA Genealogy Fair, April 14-15

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington will participate in the Sixth Genealogy Fair sponsored by the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) on Wednesday-Thursday, April 14-15, in Washington DC.

Admission is free for the two full days of lectures and exhibits at the National Archives Research Center Lobby and Pennsylvania Avenue Plaza. National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC. Enter on Pennsylvania Avenue.

For the full NARA Announcement, program schedule, directors and more, click here. For more information on the JGSGW, click here.

Speakers include historian at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Zack Wilske; professional genealogists Susannah Brooks, Elizabeth K. Kerstens, Marie V. Melchiori, and Thomas Shawker M.D.; and National Archives experts Patrick Connelly, Rebecca Crawford, Damani Davis, John Deeben, Claire P. Kluskens, Trevor Plante, Constance Potter, Mary Frances Ronan, Rebecca Sharp, Katherine Vollen, and Reginald Washington.

Guest exhibitors include the Library of Congress, Washington DC Family History Center, FamilySearch, Federation of Genealogical Societies, and local county genealogical societies.

Programs will run from 9:30am-4:30pm both days and will showcase the diversity of Federal records located at the National Archives as resources for family history research. Speakers include National Archives staff, historians, and genealogy professionals. The fair will provide information and guidance for experienced genealogy professionals and novices alike. The event is presented in partnership with the Foundation for the National Archives and with support from Ancestry.com.

Sessions include workshops on records relating to minority and ethnic groups including African Americans, Chinese, German, Irish, Japanese, Native Americans, and women, as well as a session on DNA genealogy testing, and an evening program on the new genealogy-based TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?”

National Archives staff will demonstrate how to use databases including the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) and Access to Archival Databases (AAD). Staff at the “Help! I’m Stuck” table will be available to assist researchers.

See the Complete schedule for Day 1 – Wednesday, April 14; and the Complete schedule for Day 2 – Thursday, April 15. View the condensed schedule for both days, showing session titles, times and locations. See the map of the fair, showing the locations of guest genealogy exhibitors, NARA genealogy exhibitors,and sessions.

Guest genealogy exhibitors include many archival, historical, libraries exhibitors, NGS, FGS, ethnic societies, and more – see the list at the link above.

Readers in the Washington DC area may be interested in other regional spring genealogy meets in addition to the NARA event:

April 10 – The Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society – Bowie, Maryland – brochure
April 10 – The Family History Institute of Southwest Virginia – Wytheville –
brochure
April 16-17, 2010 – The Virginia Genealogical Society 50th Anniversary Conference – Richmond – brochure

Like to plan ahead? The JGSGW will host the 2011 IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy at the Grand Hyatt Hotel (Washington, DC) from August 14-19, 2011.

Library of Congress: Indian, Israeli book talk, March 31

“Being Indian, Being Israeli: Migration, Ethnicity and Gender in the Jewish Homeland” is the title of a book talk by Maina Chawla Singh on Wednesday, March 31.

The event begins at noon in the Asian Reading Room Foyer in the Jefferson Building.

In contemporary Israel, the bulk of Indian Jews live in Israeli periphery, where they were settled by the state from the 1950s to early 1970s.

For the first time, this book presents a deeply researched analysis of three Jewish communities from India, studying them holistically as Indian-Israelis with shared histories of migration, acculturation and identity in the Jewish Homeland.

Based on fieldwork and ethnographic research conducted 2005-2008 among Indian Jews across Israel, the book reflects the authors deep engagement and familiarity with Israeli society and the complexities of ethnicity and class that underlie the cleavages within Israeli Jewish society.

Maina Chawla Singh is Associate Professor, University of Delhi. From 2005-2008, she researched and lectured at Bar Ilan, Haifa and Tel Aviv universities. In 2008, she was Scholar-in-Residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and, in 2009, was a Fellow at Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, Brandeis University. Currently, she is Scholar-in-Residence at American University, Washington DC.

The talk is sponsored by the LOC’s Asian Division, the Asian Division Friends Society and the Embassy of India.

For more information, send an email.

Webcast: Dr. Mark Ozer on the ‘Litvak Legacy’

Calling all Litvaks – and everyone else – to a great webcast by author Dr. Mark N. Ozer of “The Litvak Legacy.”

Ozer spoke at the Library of Congress on October 15, 2009; view the 54-minute talk here.

His talk focused on his book, which documents the contributions of Lithuanian Jews to the English-speaking world and Israel.

From the 1880s to the 1920s, an estimated one million Lithuanian Jews (Litvak) left their native Lita, on the western edge of the Russian Empire, due to the anti-semitism of the Czars. They emigrated to the United States and other countries throughout the world.

He is introduced on the webcast by the LOC’s Peggy Pearlstein of the Hebraic Section, one of the world’s important centers for the study of Hebrew and Yiddish materials.

She personally assisted Tracing the Tribe to find the books of poems by our cousin Leib Borisovich Talalay, a Yiddish poet killed in the Minsk Ghetto uprising in 1941. The two books were at the LOC and Tracing the Tribe received copies of both. The poems provided many details, confirming family and places.

A Boston native Dr. Mark N. Ozer MD, lives in Washington, D.C. He studied modern European history as a Harvard undergrad and, since his retirement as a Georgetown University clinical neurology professor, he has written and lectured extensively on the history of cities through the world.

He’s also authored or edited nine books on health and learning issues, and is currently working on a book on Massachusetts Avenue.

Library of Congress: Yiddish radio webcast

Scholar Henry Sapoznik of the Yiddish Radio Project spoke on the Yiddish radio phenomenon at the Library of Congress.

View the webcast – “Hear, O Israel: Yiddish-American Radio 1925-1955” (recorded in October 2009) – here.

Sapoznik says Yiddish radio existed only in America. At one time, 180 stations were broadcasting (1925-1955) in mame loshen; 25 in New York. Most were in large cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago, but Yiddish programs were also broadcast in Memphis, Dallas, Salt Lake City and Sioux City, Iowa

While some stations reached a large geographical area, one small 50-watt station in Brooklyn broadcast from a clothing store. If they opened the window, he said, they’d reach more people!

The lecture offers a glimpse of the most memorable and powerful moments in this nearly lost world of ethnic American broadcasting.

In the 1940s, the New York radio stations provided a place for the community’s diversity to show. Programs included cantorial music (and even female cantors, who couldn’t then sing in synagogues but reached listeners on the radio), pop music, quiz shows (with Victor Packer), rabbinical advice programs, live Yiddish theater acts, man-on-the-street interviews to the news of the day in verse (with Zvee Scooler) and much more.

To hear 26 gems from these shows, click here.

In 1933, the first-ever broadcast court program was House of Justice, with Rabbi Rubin, who listened to problems listeners brought to him. It was a first time for public mediation.

Yiddish radio also kept Yiddish theater alive. One anecdote concerned a series, “Men Without Eyes,” the story of a girl disfigured in a fire and married off to a blind man. One episode announced there would be a live wedding and invited listeners to attend. Not only did they come, but they also brought wedding gifts!

According to Sapoznik, the radio took a folk culture and adapted it to a popular culture. And there were shows that showed how people really interacted in their own language.

An announcement was made on one station that Mr. Goldberg was 111. There was a musical interlude, and the announcer returned with a correction. Goldberg was ill, not 111 years old.

Commercials were important, giving local businesses and local products an opportunity to be a patrons of the arts, to buy air time to support specific shows.

Do you remember My-T-Fine pudding? It was one show’s sponsor. Usually the ad was for chocolate pudding. One day, the company announced a new flavor, nut-chocolate. Of course, it was broadcast in Yiddish. Listeners called in and asked “If it is NOT chocolate, so what flavor is it?” Accents and language were everything.

Another popular show was “The Jewish Philosopher” (Der Pilosof), the Dr. Phil of his day – even though the supposed letters from listeners were written by his brother-in-law. What was more interesting was that St. Joseph Aspirin, a national product, was the sponsor.

Manischewitz sponsored the Jewish Children’s Hour. Its producer had seven shows running simultaneously. It focused on Yiddish cultural education in New York among listeners who came from various communities (Yiddish, religious, social, etc.). Sholom Segunda was its musical director, and he wrote “Bei Mir bist du schoen.”

“Song Book” aired Yiddish songs and compiled a book of favorites for their audience. If a listener sent in a postcard, s/he would receive the songbook. It may have been the first audience survey and done on a very low budget. It helped the show to understand its audience size.

Some announcers, like Zvee Scooler, read the news in verse. mixing daily folk and culture life with the responsibilities of a news show. This wasn’t found in mainstream media.

Read more about the Yiddish Radio Project and view the 57-minute webcast by Sapoznik.

Sapoznik is a record producer (four Grammy nominations), a radio documentarian, an author, and a performer of traditional Yiddish and American music. He received a 2002 Peabody award for his 10-week National Public Radio series on the history of Jewish broadcasting, The Yiddish Radio Project, the 2000 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Music Scholarship for his book “Klezmer! Jewish Music from Old World to Our World,” and an Emmy nomination for his score to the documentary film, “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.” He founded the Max and Frieda Weinstein Archives of Recorded Sound at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, as well as Living Traditions’ annual KlezKamp: The Yiddish Folk Arts Program.