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.

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).

USHMM: Soviet Jewish officers and Germany, March 18

“Jewish Revenge? Soviet Jewish Officers’ Encounters with Germany, 1945” is the 2010 Ina Levine lecture at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum on Thursday, March 18, in Washington DC.

It starts at 7pm in the Helena Rubinstein Auditorium, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place SW.

Professor Oleg Budnitskii will present his work on Soviet Jewish identity through the lens of the Soviet Jewish military experience of World War II.

In Moscow, Budnitskii is: Senior research fellow, Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences; academic director, International Center for Russian and Eastern European Jewish Studies: and professor of history, Department of Jewish Studies, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Moscow State University.

The author of numerous works, he most recently published (2008) Den’gi russkoi emigratsii: Kolchakovskoe zoloto, 1918-1957 (Money of the Russian Emigration: Kolchak’s Gold, 1918-1957) and (2005) Rossiiskie evrei mezhdy krasnymi i belymi, 1917-1920 (Russian Jews between the Reds and the Whites, 1917-1920) of which an English translation is being published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

For more information or to register, click here. To learn about past presentations and hear recordings, click here.

Nice Ice: Jews on skates

Did you know that, from 1867, Jewish ice skating clubs existed in Lvov, Cracow and Warsaw?

Members of the Tribe who wanted to be part of Polish society were interested in sports, according to Yeshiva University professor American Jewish history Jeffrey Gurock, who is quoted in the story below.

The New York Jewish Week article, by Alina Adams, covers Jewish (or those with Jewish background) skaters and ice dancers, and the reasons for increased participation.

Skaters include Sasha Cohen, US; Emily Hughes, US; Irina Slutskaya, Russia (Jewish father); Benjamin Agosto (Jewish mother, Puerto Rican father); and Maxim Staviski, Bulgaria

Ice Dancers include Melissa Gregory and Jamie Silverstein, US; Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhanovski, Israel; and Alexandra and Roman Zaretski, Israel.

Agosto and the Zaretskis will compete in the upcoming Vancouver Winter Games.

Why the increased Jewish presence?

Kenny Moir, director of figure skating at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, says he has witnessed an increase in Jewish students at all levels since the Israel Skating Federation was created two decades ago. “Very quickly, Jewish skaters who lived and trained in countries that had a high density of competitive skaters, such as Canada, the United States, Russia, etc., could move to Israel or at least compete for Israel,” Moir says.

Another reason: the breakup of the former Soviet Union, which sent trained skaters and coaches throughout the diaspora.

Another important event was the 1995 completion of Israel’s first Olympic-sized ice rink – Canada Centre in Metulla. Those interested in the sport now had a place to train. The Israel Skating Federation was formed following a wave of Russian immigration in the late 1970s.

Russian skaters often hid their ancestry to represent the FSU.

The article provides interesting views of the USSR Skating Federation by former athletes and others. Basically, if a Jewish athlete could bring home a medal, they let him or her on the national team, but might not allow their Jewish coaches to travel internationally.

Odessa-born Mikhail Shmerkin, who made aliyah and became the first Israeli to enter the Winter Olympics, as a figure skater, asserts that while he was training with coach Galina Zmievskaya alongside eventual 1992 Olympic Champion Victor Petrenko, he was informed by the Soviet Skating Federation that if he intended to represent his country internationally, he would need to stop being Jewish.

As a result, Shmerkin’s mother divorced his father and married a non-Jewish friend so that, on paper, her son could be considered Russian. He went on to represent the USSR at the 1990 Junior World Championship.

Read the complete story at the link above.

California: Imperial Russia Jewish geographies, Feb. 10

The Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz will present a colloquium – “The Right to Remain: Jewish geographies in Imperial Russia” – on Wednesday, February 10.

The event begins at noon, in room 210 of Humanities 1.

Professor Nathaniel Deutsch (Literature, History and Jewish Studies) is the speaker.

Unlike others who became a part of the Russian Empire as a result of the partitions of Poland, Jews were not viewed as native to the newly colonized territories.

Many accepted their doubly alien status; however, there also emerged Jewish views that rejected the assumption that they were necessarily alien.

Professor Deutsch will discuss the significance of these views against the backdrop of internal Jewish politics and Russian policies.

The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, click here. See future events in the top bar – click the small red arrow at right or left to move back or forward.

Tablet: Pale of Settlement photos podcast

There’s another podcast at Tablet Magazine – this one focuses on the ethnographic expeditions through Russia’s Pale of Settlement from 1912-1914.

Read the text and hear the interview here.

Author S. An-sky recorded music, folk tales, photographs and every day life. Much of it had never been recorded before. A new collection of material – some 350 photos – has been recently rediscovered, resulting in a book with 200 of them.

He also recorded Jewish popular and liturgical music on wax cylinders. A few years ago, the University of Kiev digitally transcribed the music on those cylinders to CDs. I heard them at the Fehrer Music Archives at Beit Hatefutsot when Dr. Yuval Shaked was the archives director.

I especially enjoyed the music recorded in our TALALAY ancestral town of Mogilev, Belarus, when branches of the family still lived there. There were recordings by hazzanim, and likely the same people our family heard in person, as well as popular songs, which they likely sung themselves. It was a very connecting experience!

The photos bring to life the lives of our ancestors.

An-sky – his pen name – wrote popular plays, such as “The Dybbuk.”

The photos are the most comprehensive visual record available of these small towns and the people who lived there.

The book (pictured above) is Photographing the Jewish Nation: Pictures from S. An-sky’s Ethnographic Expeditions, edited by Eugene Avrutin and Harriet Murav, professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, about the importance of this collection for anyone interested in shtetl life in the Russian Empire.

David G. Roskies, author of “Yiddishlands: A Memoir” wrote about this new book:

“Here, recovered and recorded at the last conceivable moment, is the living shtetl, those market towns large and small that were once home to the majority of Jews in the world: a bucolic landscape amidst the poverty and mud; school children posing with their nattily dressed teachers; mug shots of potential nannies; Jews of every age engaged in all manner of trade; a huge outdoor wedding; beautiful synagogue interiors, complete with chandeliers and signs of the zodiac; ritual objects and sacred graves; the Rabbi’s house and the local church. Here, also, is the story of the intrepid explorers, children of the shtetl themselves, who tried to salvage this Yiddish-speaking civilization for future generations. No less miraculous are their spiritual offspring, who authored this superb collection of essays and discovered these remarkable photographs.”

The list of editors, some names are familiar to readers, is here:

Eugene M. Avrutin, Assistant Professor of History and Tobor Scholar in Jewish Studies, University of Illinois. Valerii Dymshits, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Interdepartmental Center, “Petersburg Judaica,” at the European University, St. Petersburg, Russia. Alexander Ivanov, Senior Researcher at the European University, St. Petersburg. Alexander Lvov is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at the European University, St. Petersburg. Harriet Murav, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Illinois. Alla Sokolova, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at the European University, St. Petersburg.

The Tablet link provides a gallery of photos from the book.

Washington DC: Russian Judaica Collections, Feb. 3

St. Petersburg, Russia, is the home of unique Hebrew manuscripts, which are the focus of a Library of Congress lecture at noon, Wednesday, February 3.

The city’s libraries, archives, institutes and museums hold many unique artifacts of Jewish culture, such as more than 15,000 items in The National Library of Russia, which holds the Abraham Firkovich collection. The Leib Friedland collection of manuscripts and rare books is at the Library of the Academy of Sciences, while the Museum of Ethnography houses S. An-sky’s Pale of Settlement ethnographic expeditions material.

The Russian Museum of Ethnography’s Judaica curator Shimon Iakerson PhD, will present this program at noon in the African and Middle Eastern Division Reading Room, Room LJ220 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; tickets not required.

The leading scholar in the field of Hebrew incunabula (books printed before the year 1501), and the author of several books on the subject, Iakerson is also senior researcher at the St. Petersburg branch of the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In 2005, he received the first Honorable Medal presented at the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress in Jerusalem for his two-volume work, “Catalogue of Hebrew Incunabula from the Collection of the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America” (New York and Jerusalem, 2004-2005).

In 2009, he won the Antsiferov Award, an international prize in honor of the historian N.P. Antsiferov, for his overall contributions to the field of St. Petersburg studies for his most recent work, “Jewish Treasures of Petersburg: Scrolls, Codices, Documents” (Evreiskie sokrovisha Peterburga), St. Petersburg 2008.

Iakerson’s book presents a selection of examples of 16th-17th century medieval manuscripts, incunabula and unique works such as richly illuminated manuscripts, individual pages of “lost” works, classic works and more. Unfortunately, the text of the 240-page text – with more than 140 color illustrations – is only in Russian. The cost is $299, through The Hermitage Museum online store.

See a newspaper article – Jewish Treasures Survive The Czars – about some of these treasures from the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, from April 15, 1995. The Jewish Heritage Society here offers more information, as does the Petersburg Judaica Center. Here are details on a book, “Photographing the Jewish Nation: Pictures from S. An-sky’s Ethnographic Expeditions,” by Eugene M. Avrutin, ed, which includes 170 photos from the Pale of Settlement.

Sephardic researchers should know that St. Petersburg was home to Sephardim from the Netherlands (who were invited by the Czar), that the Russian court physician was the Sephardic Ribeira Sanchez, and that Russian collections hold Sephardic manuscripts.

The Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division is the center for the study of some 78 countries and regions from Southern Africa to the Maghreb and from the Middle East to Central Asia. The division’s Hebraic Section is one of the world’s foremost centers for the study of Hebrew and Yiddish materials.
Tracing the Tribe has often found materials of interest for our family history among the many resources in the Hebraic Section.