Los Angeles: Galeet Dardashti, May 16

Tracing the Tribe is delighted to announce that our cousin Galeet Dardashti will receive a special award on Sunday, May 16, in Los Angeles.

The event, sponsored by the Iranian Jewish Women’s Organization will be held at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

I wish it were a few weeks later so that I could attend this wonderful event.

The objective of this organization, in addition to its social, cultural and charitable activities has been to protect the dual identity of the Iranian Jewish community in Los Angeles, as well as to recognize the impact and role of Iranian Jewish women in society.

The Shamsi Hekmat Achievement Award will be given to three outstanding Iranian Jewish women: Azadeh Farin, MD, neurosurgeon; Mojgan Rahbar, journalist, editor and anchorwoman; and Galeet Dardashti, PhD, vocalist and composer.

Galeet Dardashti is the first woman to continue her family’s tradition of distinguished Persian and Jewish musicianship. She leads Divahn—a renowned all-female power-house ensemble that performs edgy interpretations of Middle Eastern Jewish music internationally. She received a Six Points Fellowship and a Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Fellowship to pursue her independent project “The Naming”, a multi-disciplinary (original music, dance, video art, monologues) work performed in Hebrew, Persian, Arabic, and Aramaic that re-imagines some of the compelling women of the Bible.

Galeet holds a PhD in anthropology and completed her dissertation on the cultural politics of contemporary Middle Eastern music in Israel in 2009. Her work was supported by fellowships from Fulbright-Hays, The National Foundation for Jewish Culture, The Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, among others. She has published her academic work widely and offers lectures and artist/scholar-in-residencies throughout the country. She lives in New York with her husband and son.

Azadeh Farin is currently chief resident and clinical instructor of neurosurgery at the Department of Neurosurgery, Keck School of Medicine, LA County-USC Medical Center. She is one of fewer than 200 female neurosurgeons in the US, less than 4% of all US neurosurgeons.

Among her numerous accomplishments are dozens of publications, including first-author publications, several of which have been featured on the covers of the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals in her field.

Azadeh has served as a consultant for the hit ABC television drama, Grey’s Anatomy.

Mojgan Moghadam Rahbar is a journalist, writer, translator and humanitarian who has worked in the Iranian and American media for the past 20 years. Currently editor-in-chief of Shofar Magazine, the quarterly publication of the Iranian American Jewish Federation’s quarterly publication, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.

Congratulations to the three honorees.

JGSLA 2010: Belarus events set

As a charter member of the Belarus SIG, this group is dear to Tracing the Tribe’s genealogical heart.

Belarus SIG began life as a crowded birds-of-a-feather meeting spearheaded by Daveid Fox, at the Boston 1996 conference and became a SIG at the 1998 Los Angeles event. The speaker in Boston was a then-recent Mogilev immigrant to Brooklyn, Bella Nayer, who had been very involved in community affairs.
The map (above left) is a 1916 map of Belarus. 
The graphic (below right) is a woodcut of the Mogilev synagogue.

What does the SIG have planned for its return to its birthplace?

Tracing the Tribe has already covered the Belarus luncheon (Tuesday, July 13) speaker: Moscow born, Jewish filmmaker, researcher and travel professional Michael Masterovoy.

The luncheon description reads:

 “In 1793,the central part of Belarus, including Minsk, became a part of the Russian empire. In addition to being the capital of Belarus it was also a center of Jewish life and home of many Torah sages and Yeshivas that attracted students from all over Europe. Before World War II, Jews made up 40% of the total  population in the city. Join Moscow born, Jewish filmmaker, researcher and travel professional, Michael Masterovoy, as he takes you on a tour of a present-day Belarus, which resonates with the past. View a short video of several Belarusian shtetls, walk the streets of Movsha Shagal’s (Marc Chagall’s) Vitebsk with Michael (and view the museum) and learn about the positive aspects of travel to a socialist state with a human face, the land of vodka and honey that echoes with the footsteps of our ancestors.”

The luncheon is a fee-added event. Belarus SIG luncheons are always well-attended – sign up early and avoid disappointment.

The Belarus SIG business meeting is set for later the same day and will feature the group’s progress and achievements.

The group also plans to be part of the Sunday opening day Market Fair, from 2-4.30pm.

The Market Fair will feature experts and mavens staffing “pushcarts” and offering assistance and guidance, representing nearly every region where Jews once lived. “Wares” will include old maps, vital records, landowner records, historical photos and postcards, translation, crafts, cooking and much more.

Food (including kosher) will be available for purchase. And don’t miss the great klezmer concerts (yes – two of them!) by Yale Strom and Hot Pstromi, after the Market Fair and again in the early evening.

For more information on the Belarus SIG, its treasure trove of databases and much more, click here.

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.

Museum of Family History: New exhibits

What’s new at the Museum of Family History this month?

Walk in My Shoes: Collected Memories of the Holocaust

Chaim Basist (Lida, Belarus): He and his family hid in the forest with the Bielski partisans. Hebrew/English.

Peter Kleinmann (Munkacs/Mukachevo, Ukraine). Nine of 12 chapters of his autobiography are online with more to follow very soon. He was in Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen and Flossenburg.

MOFH Film Series (through April 18): World War II and the Holocaust

“The Jews of Krakow’s Kazimierz District.” 1936 archival film shows Krakow’s Kazimierz Jewish district. Most buildings can be visited today and are in a similar condition – only the people who walked those streets are long gone. Note: A YouTube version of this film states the years are 1938-9, not 1936.

Exhibit: “The Jewish Ghetto” (coming in 2010)

“The Ghettos of Dabrowa Grnicza and Bedzin” (10:51). Two parts shot in the ghettos of Dabrowa Grnicza and Bedzin, probablywhen the ghetto was founded in May 1942, although deportations began in October 1940. Despite cooperation with the occupiers, as shown in this film, several large deportations took place in 1942; the last major ones were in 1943: 5,000, 22 June 1943; 8,000, around 13 August 1943. The 1,000 remaining Jews were subsequently deported. An uprising took place August 1943, was quelled and the ghetto eliminated. Both films are in the Polish film archive (ul. Chelmska, Warsaw.

Al Jolson Film Festival

— Jolson stars in and sings in the film trailer to “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum.” Don’t forget to visit the Museum’s large Al Jolson exhibit, “The Immortal Al Jolson” (see and hear many more videos, more than 40 sound clips).

ERC Lecture Series: The Development of Yiddish Literature

— Since the Czernowitz Conference: In October 2008, Boris Sandler, Forverts editor-in-chief, gave a Yiddish speech at the IAYC (International Association of Yiddish Clubs) conference about the development of Yiddish literature since the 1908 Czernowitz conference on the future of the Yiddish language. A transcript of the talk is now available in English and can be found within the “ERC Lecture Series” at the Museum’s Education and Research Center.

Visit the Museum of Family History online. Learn what’s new at the Steve Lasky’s blog.

Questions for Steve on new exhibits or material you’d like to share? Contact him.

Passover: The perfect genealogy holiday!

As we read the Haggada during our seders, we are reminded that each of us is considered to have come out of Egypt into the Land of Israel.

For many of our families, it was only one stop on the immigration trail.

If our ancestors had not left their homes in many countries, we might not be here today celebrating this ancient holiday.

Here are two resources to consider for this holiday.

Looking for a way to bring some humor into your seder?

Jacob Richman has a list of 108 Passover YouTube videos at his website. It runs from serious to wacky to satiric to just fun – with something for everyone. Here are some of them:

Matzo Man
Matzah Madness
The Passover Seder Symbols Song
20 Things To Do With Matzah
Ask Moses: Why eat Matzah on Passover?
Who Let The Jews Out
Passover Blues
Get Down with Moses
Japanese Passover Tip
The Story of Passover in 7 minutes
Ofra Haza – Deliver Us
Shlock Rock – “Seder Too”
Moshe’s Rap
The Gefilte Fish Chronicles
Passover Recipe – Kosher Brownies
The Aviv Matzha Story
The Barry Sisters Tribute – Passover Yiddish Medley
Sixty Second Seder
Aish: The Great Escape
Dayeinu (Hebrew, Sephardi)
Hand Made Matza Baking with David Sussman
Chad Gadya in Hebrew, Chava Alberstein
Had Gadya in Arabic (Moroccan singer)
Chad Gadya in Yiddish by Moishe Oysher

For a cyber exhibit of non-traditional Haggadot from the National Library of Israel, click here. Unfortunately, I can only find the section in Hebrew. However, there is a number on the right for each of the 28 items. Click on each and view the online exhibit or hit the PDF file on the right for each and see the Haggada that way, page by page. Videos and songs are lower down on the list.

Since the early 20th century, there has been a shift to non-traditional Haggadah – the text that provides the order of the Passover seder – which uses only some of the traditional text and has various additions.

It reflects changes in society, culture, Jewish history, new trends, the creation of Israel and more.

The Library has more than 600 non-traditional Haggadot. Of these, 28 have been chosen for the online exhibit. They represent various types: kibbutzim, youth movements, the Jewish Brigade, satirical Haggadot etc.

It also includes videos (kibbutz Passover and Omer ceremony) and recordings of seder songs.

Enjoy! And search previous Passover postings here on Tracing the Tribe.