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.

New York: Non-Jewish research in Jewish resources, May 13

Looking for new research resources? “Non-Jewish Research in Jewish Resources” is set for Thursday, May 13 at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s new location.

David M. Kleiman, president of Heritage Muse, is the speaker. The program starts at 5.30pm at 36 West 44th Street, 7th floor, in New York City.

Explore resources from around the world for Eastern and Western European research, often available for free.

Discover the research aids, books, and online content most often associated with the world of Jewish genealogy. These tools can open extensive research avenues for families of all faiths. Find surprising connections and general research sources in 17th-century colonial, and revolutionary American material, through to late 20th century immigration and burial data.

Publisher, researcher, folklorist and popular educator, Kleiman has been involved in family history works for more than 35 years. As president of Heritage Muse, Inc. and co-founder/chair of the NY Computers and Genealogy Special Interest Group. he is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Genealogical Speakers Guild, and serves on the Executive Council of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York.

In 2009, he took on the duties of curator for the new Loeb Visitors Center at Touro Synagogue (Newport, Rhode Island), overseeing an extensive exhibit on the synagogue’s history, Colonial Newport, and the founding of America’s First Constitutional Amendment on Freedom of Religion. His company built the web site for both the Visitors Center and the sponsoring George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom.

Heritage Muse is a New York City digital publishing and research firm offering historical, genealogical, and design services to individuals, foundations, museums and corporations.

Fee: NYG&B members, $25; others, $40.

Visit the NYG&B website for more information and registration.

Hong Kong: ‘Asian Jewish Life,’ spring issue online

On my recent Hong Kong visit, I met with editor-in-chief Erica Lyons of “Asian Jewish Life: A Journal of Spirit, Society and Culture.”

The new AJL spring 2010 issue is now online with stories covering India, Shanghai, Cambodia, foodies, book reviews, film and more.

“Asian Jewish Life is a contemporary journal of Jewish diaspora life throughout Asia. As Jews in Asia we are but a tiny minority unified by tradition, a love for Israel, common contemporary concerns and shared values. While Asian Jewish Life is a common media forum designed to share regional Jewish thoughts, ideas and culture and promote unity, it also celebrates our individuality and our diverse backgrounds and customs.”

Here’s the table of contents (read each online or download the PDF at the link above):

— Inbox: Your letters
— Letter from the Editor
— India Journal- Life with the Bene Ephraim (Bonita Nathan Sussman and Gerald Sussman)
— Eating Kosher Dog Meat: Jewish in Guiyang (Susan Blumberg-Kason)
— Through the Eyes of ZAKA (Jana Daniels)
— Interview: Ambassador Yaron Mayer

— Replanting Roots in Shanghai: Architect Haim Dotan’s journey (Erica Lyons)
— A Palate Grows in Brooklyn: Birth of a foodie (Sandi Butchkiss)
— Poetry by Rachel DeWoskin
— The Death Penalty: What Asia can learn from Judaism (Michael H. Fox)
— Learning to Speak: A cross-cultural love story (Tracy Slater)
— Book Reviews (Susan Blumberg-Kason)
— Places I Love
— Expat Diary: Raising a Jewish Child in Cambodia (Craig Gerard)
— Film in Focus

Each article provides a diverse look into life in Asia, with a Jewish “hook.” Tracing the Tribe will always remember the line “tenderloin of my heart,” from Tracy Slater’s “Learning to Speak.”

Readers and writers with Jewish Asian experiences are invited to submit articles; click here for more information.

If you enjoyed this issue (the winter issue is also online), let Erica know, and tell her you learned about AJL at Tracing the Tribe. Feedback is always welcome.

A great issue, Erica!

Ancestor Approved: 10 things about my ancestors

Tracing the Tribe has received the Ancestor Approved award from Pat and Judy, the GenealogyGals.

Their blog is a joint effort.

Award recipients are supposed to report on 10 things learned about our ancestors that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened us, and then pass along the award to 10 more genealogy bloggers who are doing their ancestors proud.

1. Surprised: At the life of my maternal great-grandmother Riva BANK TALALAY – born in a shtetl outside Kovno – who was ran away to the Gypsies – so the story goes – to avoid a disliked marriage. Along the way, she learned herbal healing, midwifery, reading tarot cards and palmistry. When she did marry Aron Peretz Talalay and moved to his agricultural colony Vorotinschtina, some 12 miles southwest of Mogilev, Belarus, she was known for creating the first closet in the shtetl. In Newark, New Jersey, she was also a midwife and healer and well-known for getting her way to make living better for her family.

2. Surprised: That the generation-to-generation one-liner – “This was our name in Spain” – has been corroborated by archival research in Spain and DNA genetic testing.

3. Enlightened: Our TALALAY family’s first immigrant ancestor met an English-speaker on the boat over in 1898 who advised him to change his name as no one would give a job to Mr. Tell-a-lie. Thus TOLLIN, TALLIN, TAYLOR, TOLL, TALL and – of course – those lost Philadelphia FEINSTEINs, came about.

4. Enlightened: My maternal FINK (Suchostaw, Galicia -> Ukraine) grandfather and his brothers had a large building maintenance company in New York City. Once, during a window-cleaners’ strike, a worker was quoted as calling his employers, “those rats, the FINKs.” According to family story, the term “rat-fink” was born.

5. Surprised: On hearing that my mother, as a teen, used to swim across Kauneonga Lake (Catskills, Sullivan County, about 10 miles from Monticello) frequently. It is a very large lake!

6. Humbled: To have found at least one lost branch of the Dardashti family, and thus fulfilling a request of my husband’s eldest aunt Nane-jan – made more than 35 years ago in Teheran – to find the lost branches (descendants of relatives who became Moslem) and tell them that they had cousins who thought about them all the time.

7. Humbled: To think about the difficulties Nane-jan underwent as the first Jewish girl to go to school in Teheran in 1902. The community stopped buying from her father, a butcher, and she endured taunts and attacks on her way to school. All her sisters also went to school, with some of them becoming French teachers. It wasn’t easy being a father with such advanced enlightened thinking in those days.

8. Frequently flabbergasted when thinking of our newly-connected TALALAY-KATSNELSON relatives (from Bobruisk, Belarus) in Melbourne, Australia. Their eldest daughter Nelly is a journalist and her daughter is Miliana. I’m Schelly, a journalist and our daughter is Liana. Do you also hear Twilight Zone music?

9. Surprised at how much cousin Leon in Melbourne and I resemble each other. His mother was a Talalay whose father (Gamshei) had moved (reasons still unknown) from Mogilev to Bobruisk.

10. Still shocked: My late cousin Victor Talalay (Toronto) and I both located information about the family branch in Israel at the same time, decades ago, when we separately visited Israel and found the data in the English phone book. We each dutifully copied the info and held onto the scraps of paper with name, address and phone number for decades. I finally wrote and located the granddaughter as her grandfather, who placed the entry every year, had died only a year or so prior. He had placed the info in the English phone book every year hoping that US relatives would find it and contact him. He had arrived from Berlin (after leaving Mogilev in 1902 and going to London and Germany) to Israel in 1933. Moral: Never procrastinate when it comes to following up on all clues to family history.

Since I am coming into this award late – procrastination still runs in our family – and I believe almost all bloggers have already been tagged, I am awarding this coveted prize to everyone who has not already been noted.

Washington DC: Coming to America, April 18

What was it like for our ancestors to arrive at Ellis Island?

Learn about the experience with Barry Nove at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington, on Sunday, April 18.

The program takes place at Beth El Hebrew Congregation, 3830 Seminary Road, Alexandria, Virginia. The event begins at 1pm with the main talk at 2pm.

Barry Nove will share the story and the techniques he used to learn what it was like for his ancestors and many of our own to arrive in America through Ellis Island. He began his family history quest when he organized the first family re-enactment tour of Ellis Island, filmed by PBS as background material for a 1997 genealogy documentary series, “Ancestors.”

Nove received unique access to the Ellis Island Museum, worked with its archivists and gained understanding and appreciation of what his grandparents and great-grandparents experienced.

On his journey he gathered photos of the ships his family arrived on from Bremen, Danzig, Hamburg and Rotterdam; naturalization documents, passenger manifests and historical research.

Fee: JGSGW members, free; others, $5. For more information and directions, visit the JGSGW site.

Doing the happy dance!

We all like to read about genealogy “happy dance” moments!

From my dear friend Rosanne Leeson (Los Altos, California), comes this delightful email. She wants everyone to be as happy as she is now after watching the Matthew Broderick episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” and following a clue on the show to the solution to a Civil War family mystery.

Her family arrived very early in the USA (pre-Civil War) and she is an experienced and seasoned researcher of her Jewish family.

Wow! I am sitting here with tears in my eyes!

I have just had my first benefit from watching the “Who Do You Think You Are?” show!

Saw the last one with Matthew Broderick, when he finds his great-great’s grave in the Marietta GA National Cemetery. I never even knew that such a cemetery existed, or that they had moved Union dead there from Atlanta.

I had been hoping for ages to find out what ever happened to my great-grandmother’s youngest brother, who she had brought over to the US from Bavaria in the early 1860’s. I had gotten his record from NARA, knew when and where he had died (in a hospital in Atlanta of miliary fever).

Had asked someone in Atlanta to try to find out what had happened to his body. The only answer I got was that they had probably thrown his remains into a common or pauper’s grave. NICE!

He had only been in the US a short time, spoke very little English, but signed up to fight for the Union cause in NY, where my great-grandparents were living. He was 20 years old when he died. I always felt so sad that there was no closure for any of the family descendants.

Then I learned about the Marietta National Cemetery. Got online and found not only history of it, but a list of those buried there. BINGO! Great-Grand-uncle found!

I just called the cemetery and the gentleman was wonderful. They are sending out someone to see if he had a stone and, if so, to photograph it for me, and send in a week. He said that he thought there might be a stone or his name would not have been on the list. If not, I will order one. No fee for a picture! Their duty and pleasure to add closure after nearly 150 years!

WOW!

Rosanne, a semi-retired librarian, is a consummate genealogist, specializing in Romania (RomSIG) and Alsace (has translated many records and visited over the years). She’s also vice president of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society.

What this points up is that even very experienced researchers can learn something every day!

We never know when a ray of sunshine will illuminate that lost record that has eluded us for decades. We never know when a resource may provide a missing link.

I’m sure all Tracing the Tribe readers join me in congratulating Rosanne on her achievement, and congratulating WDYTYA on providing the clue.

Our well-known colleague Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak noted this post in her most recent Huffington Post article. Thanks, Megan.

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).