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).

JGSLA 2010: Blondes, Poles, Pix, Razzle Dazzle

No matter your personal research interests, JGSLA 2010 holds something for somebody regardless of your ancestry, ethnicity, research skill or genealogical knowledge.

Here are just a few of the topics in store for you at JGSLA 2010, July 11-16, in Los Angeles.

Research techniques for family scandals

Unearthing scandals will be demonstrated by Robin Seidenberg, who will show how historical newspapers and old-fashioned detective work will find family history in Hollywood and the Jewish Roaring 20s crowd in Chicago. She’ll talk on “My Uncle, the Hollywood Producer: A Spicy Tale” and “The Kissing Blonde.”

Warsaw’s Jewish Genealogical Learning Center

It will be great to again see Yale Reisner and Anna Przybyszewska-Droz, from Warsaw’s Jewish Genealogical Learning Center.

Their topics include “How to Do Genealogy Research in Poland And How Not to: Potential and Pitfalls,” “Grandma’s Name Was Rosenberg: Am I Jewish?,” “Uniquely Jewish Surnames – What They Prove and What They Don’t,” “The Lost Tribes of Poland: Apostasy, Intermarriage and Jewish Genealogy in Poland” and “A Different Memory: Poles, Jews & What We Think We Know About Them.”

Thinking out of the box, photographically.

“Photo Detective” Maureen Taylor will analyze photographic questions posed on JewishGen’s Viewmate over the years and also provide private consultations while Ava (aka Sherlock) Cohn (with ancestors from Belarus, Romania, Ukraine and the Austrian Empire), will demonstrate how to find clues our immigrant ancestors left for us in their photo portraits.

Technology and journalism to razzle dazzle

TV news producer and reporter Leron Kornreich will show how to use multi-media and reporting skills to document family history in “Razzle Dazzle ‘em: Using Technology to Present Your Family History Research with Pizzazz” and “Breaking News: A Reporter’s Guide to Genealogical Research and Using Video to Capture Roots & Shtetl Travel.”

For all conference details, check out JGSLA 2010.

JewishGen: Yizkor Books report for March

The Yizkor Book team at JewishGen has been keeping busy during March. As the Jewish calendar edges towards Yom HaShoah, this project becomes even more relevant to researchers around the world.

In addition to new books, updates to existing books, the Necrology Database continues to be updated. Key: Unless indicated by (N)=New Project, all listed below are updates:

BELARUS:
Antopol, Belarus
(Shards of Memory: Messages from the Lost Shtetl of Antopol)
David Gorodok, Belarus
(Memorial book of Davidgrodek)

Jasionówka, Belarus (N)
(Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Poland, Volume VIII)

Lakhva, Belarus
(First ghetto to revolt, Lachwa)
Ruzhany, Belarus
(Rozana; a memorial book to the Jewish community)
Smarhon (Smorgon), Belarus
(Smorgonie, District Vilna; memorial book and testimony)

LITHUANIA:
Skuodas, Lithuania
(Memorial Book of Skuodas)
Skuodas, Lithuania (N)
(Testimony on the murder of the Jews of Shkud, Lithuania)

Svencionys, Lithuania
(Svintzian region: memorial book of 23 communities)

MOLDOVA:
Tighina, Moldova
(Bendery Community Yizkor Book)

POLAND:
Bedzin, Poland
(A Memorial to the Jewish Community of Bendin)
Brody, Poland
(An Eternal Light: Brody in Memoriam)
Kaluszyn, Poland
(The Memorial Book of Kaluszyn) – necrology

Kolo, Poland
(Book of Kolo; 500 Years of Yiddish Kolo)

Krasnik, Poland
(Book of Krasnik)
Kutno, Poland
(Kutno and Surroundings Book)
Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland
(A Tale of One City: Piotrkow Trybunalski)
Pultusk, Poland
(Pultusk Memorial Book)

Siemiatycze, Poland (N)
(The Community of Semyatitch)

Warka, Poland
(Vurka memorial book)
Wieliczka, Poland
(The Jewish community of Wieliczka; a memorial book)
Zelechow, Poland
(Memorial Book of the Community of Zelechow) – pictures added to Polish section
Zhovkva, Ukraine (N)
(Memorial book of Zolkiew) – necrology)


ROMANIA:
Marghita, Romania
(Memorial book of the community of Margareten and the surrounding region)
Oradea, Romania
(A city and yesterday; memorial book to the Jews of Grosswardein)

UKRAINE:
Bil’che-Zolote, Ukraine (N)
(A Time to Speak – The story of My Life) -necrology
Demidovka, Ukraine (N)
(The Town of Demidovka) – necrology

Kamyanets Podilskyy, Ukraine
(Kamenets-Podolsk and its surroundings)
Kolomyya, Ukraine
(Memorial book of Kolomey and its surroundings)
Kovel’, Ukraine
(Kowel; Testimony and Memorial Book of Our Destroyed Community)

Readers who wish to financially assist Translation Fund projects should click here.

Michigan: Jewish children’s signatures, April 11

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Michigan has been invited to the Polish Mission in Orchard Lake on Sunday, April 11, from 1-2.30pm.

Ceil Wendt Jensen and Marcin Chumiecki will lead the tour.

Jensen (below right), a Certified Genealogist who presents at many genealogical conferences, heads the Polonia Americana Research Institute, and Chumiecki (left) is the
Polish Mission Director

The event will highlight newly-discovered “yearbooks” with thousands of signatures of Jewish children.

Chumiecki and Jensen will present the holdings of the Association of Former Political Prisoners of German and Soviet Concentration Camps.

Opened in 1990, the collection holds uniforms, documents [including signatures of Jewish students from Mlawa, Olkusz and other Polish towns, camp art, and memoirs of Displaced Persons who settled in Michigan]. These former Polish citizens were incarcerated in Auschwitz, Dachau, Gross Rosen, Mauthausen, and the Soviet Gulag.

The artwork of Jan Komski is featured. Komski’s artwork features both Jewish and Catholic inmates – he depicted both the Star of David and the red triangle with a black P which depicted political prisoners.

The first part of the program is in the handicap-accessible Adam Cardinal Maida Library; the second part requires climbing several flights of stairs in the “Ark” Building.

The session will be held at the Adam Cardinal Maida Library
3535 Indian Trail,
Orchard Lake.

Fee: JGSM members, free; others, $5. Register online.

WDYTYA: Back to Belarus with Lisa

From Suzanne Russo Adams at Ancestry.com, comes a detailed report on March 19’s episode on Lisa Kudrow and her search for information in Belarus and Poland:

Kudrow’s episode was one of the most riveting of the series, says Suzanne. In it, Lisa visits the small shtetl of Ilya, Belarus, where her great-grandmother was murdered during the Holocaust.

Lisa’s father, Dr. Lee Kudrow, always wondered what happened to Yuri, a cousin who had escaped to Poland and who told about Lisa’s great-grandmother’s death. Yuri was never heard from again.

On a visit to Gdynia, Poland, to discover Yuri’s true fate, Lisa is shocked to learn that Yuri was still alive! Despite the tragic history, there is a beautiful reunion between two families separated by the Holocaust.

If you missed the episode, watch it here. (CAVEAT: Unfortunately, the link only works in the US, and not in Hong Kong or Australia, where I most recently attempted to watch it via online links.)

Suzanne provides tips (additional comments by Tracing the Tribe are included) for those curious about how the team of genealogists for this episode found out more about Lisa’s Jewish family.

Here are resources to help newcomers better understand Jewish family history research.

Go-to resources: U.S. passenger lists, Yad Vashem, Ancestry.com, JewishGen.org

How they helped: Lisa Kudrow’s US family heard about her great-grandmother’s death from a cousin named Yuri who visited Lisa’s dad and grandmother in the late 1940s. Lisa’s research goal is to discover where her great-grandmother was buried and learn more about Yuri. Her visit to Belarus and online resources help her achieve that goal.

Resource #1: List of Jews murdered in Ilya massacre
Lisa’s family knew her great-grandmother was killed, but through a list of victims in Ilya, she sees the proof. Written next to her name are the words “killed and burned.”

Resource #2: Yizkor book: “A Tale of Struggling, Toil, and Tears,” by David Rubin
While visiting Ilya, Lisa reviews a translated Yizkor (memorial) book about the massacre of 900 Jews in March 1942. The town’s Jewish population came to an end that day. Lisa walks the same path her great-grandmother was forced to walk 68 years ago. At the gravesite is a memorial to the murdered Jews.

Resource #3: Passenger list
Looking for some positive news on her trip, Lisa turns her search toward the one relative she knows survived – Yuri – who visited her father in the late 1940s. An Ancestry passenger list shows a man with the same surname but the given name Boleslaw. Are Yuri and Boleslaw the same person?

Resource #4: Registry card
In Gdynia , Poland, Lisa sees Boleslaw’s city registry card. Yuri changed his name to a Polish name for assimilation. His wife and son are registered.

Resource #5: Phone directory
The phone director lists Boleslaw, who is still alive.

Weren’t Eastern European records all destroyed?
The records from Eastern Europe that Lisa’s family found aren’t uncommon. Although millions of Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, records did survive.

Are you following US Jewish lines? Follow step -by-step through the US, including census records, passenger lists, citizenship records, vital records and more at various sites such as Ancestry and Footnote.com. Once you’ve found all the US records, then jump to European records.

Learn about your family’s towns and villages, immigration data and clues to other relatives.

Check out sites such as JewishGen for a town’s Yizkor book or its Special Interest Groups (SIGs), Yad Vashem for other Holocaust-related documents, Ancestry’s holdings, Footnote.com’s Holocaust collection (and other records), the Ancestry.com Jewish Family History Collection, and, of course, Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog.

Never give up, and keep searching.

New York: Jewish Polish tavernkeepers, March 23

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research will host a seminar on “Jewish Tavernkeepers and Liquor Traders in 19th century Poland,” at the Center of Jewish History on Tuesday, March 23.

Meet the faculty at 6pm; the program begins at 6.30pm. Advance registration is required.

Speakers are:

— Sarah Lawrence College Professor of Judaic Studies Glenn Dynner, author of “Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society (Oxford University Press, 2006). Dynner spoke on that book at the New York 2006 IAJGS conference

— Bar Ilan University Professor Jewish History Moshe Rosman, who is the Horace Goldsmith Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at Yale University.

According to YIVO’s description of the event:

By the end of the 18th century, Jews comprised the vast majority of tavernkeepers in Poland-Lithuania, leasing taverns and distilleries from the nobility. According to most historians, Polish Jews were driven out of the liquor trade over the course of the next century.

Yet 19th-century archival sources, including an invaluable collection of personal petitions (kvitlakh) sent to R. Eliyahu Guttmacher, housed in the YIVO Archives, provide evidence of the continued existence of Polish Jewish liquor traders, both open and surreptitious.

The involvement of Jews in this sector of the Polish economy during this later period points to the fact that traces of the feudal economic system survived amidst a period of rapid industrialization and modernization.

While Jewish tavernkeeping was vigorously opposed by powerful groups in Polish society, one crucial group continued to provide them with cover: the very local Christians they were accused of victimizing. This talk analyzes the robust but technically illegal Polish Jewish liquor trade during the 19th century.

Dynner teaches Judaic Studies at Sarah Lawrence College and is author of Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society (Oxford University Press, 2006). He is the latest recipient of the YIVO Workmen’s Circle/Dr. Emanuel Patt Visiting Professorship, as well as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University. Currently, he is writing a monograph on the subject of Jews in the Polish liquor trade. He is also editor of a forthcoming book on Jewish and Christian mysticism in Eastern Europe. Dynner holds a BA and PhD (Brandeis University), and an MA (McGill University).

Rosman is professor in the Department of Jewish History, Bar Ilan University in Israel and currently serves as the Horace Goldsmith Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies, Yale University. He has conducted extensive research in Eastern European archives on the social and economic history of the Jews in early modern Poland and specializes in integrating Jewish, Polish, and other sources. His books include “The Lords’ Jews: Jews and Magnates in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth” (Harvard 1990, Polish National Library 2005); “Founder of Hasidism: A Quest for the Historical Ba’al Shem Tov” (University of California 1996, Shazar Center, Jerusalem 2000); and “How Jewish Is Jewish History?” (Littman Library, Oxford 2007). His latest research project is a history of Jewish women in Poland.

The Center for Jewish History is located at 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY.

Australia: Jewish genealogy conference, March 7-9

The weather in Melbourne couldn’t be better, sunny and breezy. Tracing the Tribe is blogging away and getting ready to speak at the second Australian National Conference on Jewish Genealogy, March 7-9.

The Australian Jewish News reported on the conference in a story on February 22.

The story focused on Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem who will also speak at the conference and describe his search for long-lost relatives in Australia.

Rotem, 50, was posted to Canberra in 2007; he spoke at the first conference in 2008, which the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society held in that city. The embassy hosted a reception for attendees at the conference.

Lionel Sharpe, secretary of the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society (Victoria) said in the story that the conference theme is “Our Jewish Roots,” and that it will look at ways that genealogists – from beginners to experts – can use today’s resources most effectively.

One important point that Lionel stressed is that there are so many new sites appearing and more archives are becoming accessible. Many experienced genealogists did a lot of work decades ago and couldn’t find anything then, but they are not aware of the new sources.

He says that the conference will recommend that researchers start looking again, but through different glasses.

Dr. Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus and myself are among the international speakers.

Other speakers include:

Writer-lecturer Arnold Zable (media as a resource for finding family); researcher Krystyna Duszniak (locating relatives in Poland); journalist-filmmaker Daniela Torsh (genealogy in the Czech Republic and Austria); Holocaust researcher Jenni Buch (Belarus); and Gary Luke (Australian Jewish colonial period.

Tracing the Tribe is very excited to be here and to take part in this event.