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.

Lithuania: Vilnius project info

Researching ancestors who lived in Lithuania? There are some ongoing projects right now at the Historical Archive in Vilnius.

Readers interested in any of these records may make a qualifying contribution to the LitvakSIG District Research Group and will receive records soon after they are translated. It will take about 18 months before they will be added to JewishGen’s All Lithuania Database.

Remember to cast a wider net. Your ancestors may have lived in more than one nearby village.

Contributions help to get more records translated, so if your interests lie in these locations, you might hit gold.

These are projects currently being translated:

Translator 1
Balbieriskis (Suwalki) marriages – 1858-1870
Balbieriskis (Suwalki) deaths – 1858-1870
Balbieriskis (Suwalki) births, marriage, deaths, 1808-1857.

Translator 2
Stakliskes (Trakai) 1850s
Varena (Trakai) 1850s

Zasliai (Trakai) 1850s
Ziezmariai (Trakai)1850s
Merkine (Trakai)1850s

Translator 3
Plunge (Telsiai) divorces 1839, 1844-46, 1854-1860
Plunge deaths 1842, 1844, 1854-1855.

Translator 4
Vilnius (Vilna) 1875 Family List Book 1 is done, ow working on Book 2. Book 3 no longer exists. Book 4 will be translated if enough funds are

Translator 5
Kaunas births 1907-1914 ( total 2,777 records)

Translator 6
Kaunas deaths 1898, 1899, 1901-1906

Translator 7

Kaunas deaths 1907, 1913

To contribute, click here. For more information on records available and projects underway, visit LitvakSIG.

Yizkor Book Project: January new entries, updates

The Yizkor Book Project on JewishGen added – during January – six new projects, 11 new entries and 12 updates.

See below for these entries organized by country.
[P=new project, N=new entry and U=update]

P – Antopol (Shards of Memory: Messages from the Lost Shtetl of Antopol)

P – Dabrowa Bialostocka (Dubrowa: Memorial to a Shtetl)
P – Leczyca (Memorial book of Leczyca)
N – Jedrzejow (Pinkas Poland)
N – Myslenice (Wadowice Yizkor Book)
U – Brzeziny
U – Chmielnik
U – Goniadz
U – Kaluszyn
U – Katowice
U – Kolo
U – Kutno
U – Piotrkow Trybunalski
U – Zambrow

P – Kovel’ (Kowel; testimony and memorial book of our destroyed community)
P – Rava-Ruska (Rawa Ruska memorial book)
N – Ust’ye-Zelenoye (Pinkas Poland)
N – Zhuravno (Pinkas Poland)
U – Berezhany
U – Rozyszcze

P – Mad (The Jewish Community of Mad, Hungary)

N – Aukstadvaris (Pinkas Lita)
N – Babtai (Pinkas Lita)
N – Bagaslaviskis (Pinkas Lita)
N – Balninkai (Pinkas Lita)
N – Batakiai (Pinkas Lita)
N – Kretinga(Pinkas Lita)
U – Svencionys

N – Police, Czech Republic (Moravia)

To find the translations, click here.

Bulgaria: Jewish surname dictionary online.

Bulgaria’s Jewish community is a fascinating one and a new database on SephardicGen.com will help researchers of this mostly Sephardi community.

If your families of interest lived in Bulgaria at one time, search the Dictionary of Jewish Bulgarian Surnames at Jeff Malka’s site, which offers extensive resources for Sephardi genealogists looking for information on family that lived in many countries.

With nearly 800 surnames – most found all over the Balkans – the details include the surname, its variants, its etymology (and original language), meaning and a reference to historical background in medieval Spain.

The notes on name origin are fascinating and offer a different perspective. Even if your family doesn’t come from Bulgaria, the notes will help when looking at any list of Jewish Sephardi surnames.

Search with only the first letter of a name, unless you know the exact spelling; that’s the simplest method. For example, enter “A,” check “begins with,” receive a list of all names beginning with A.

Unfortunately, only 10 at a time are shown and you’ll have to keep hitting “next 10” to see the rest. I found that mildly annoying and wished for a way to choose how many names to display for each search. But the benefits of this database far outweigh the slight annoyance with having to click on succeeding screens.

Mathilde Tagger of Jerusalem wrote the introduction to the database at the link above. It includes the history of Jewish surnames in the former Ottoman Empire, information on various alphabets and spelling curiosities, in addition to a large bibliography for more information.

She writes that these surnames have been detailed in only three publications, which Tagger analyzes. They include Asher Moissi’s booklet on Greek Jewish names, Baruch Pinto’s Sephardic Onomasticon (mostly on Turkish Jews), and Isaac Moskona’s 1967 article.

Moskona’s list of 509 surnames was based on three sources (1895-1967), but gave meanings for fewer than half. Current research covers 798 surnames, and additional ones were found in the passports of Bulgarian Jews when they immigrated to Israel (1948-49). The passports are on microfilm in the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (Jerusalem).

Where do Bulgarian Jewish surnames come from?

Take a look at this chronology of immigration into Bulgaria:

2nd century BCE: Romaniote Jews are recorded arriving after the destruction of the Second Temple. Their names are Hebrew or Greek.

1376: Hungarian Jews, without surnames, are expelled; some reach Bulgaria. They receive mostly Turkish nicknames.

1394: Some Jews are expelled from France and reach Bulgaria via the Danube River. Their names reflect places from where they came. (NOTE: Some may have been Jewish refugees from the 1391 riots across Spain who fled by going north into southern France.)

1470: Bavarian Jews are expelled by King Ludwig X, many settle in Bulgarian localities along the Danube and in Sofia, the capital. Few have surnames and receive mostly Turkish nicknames.

1492: Expelled Sephardim from Spain find safety in the Ottoman Empire and reach Bulgaria after 1494, settling in towns where Jews already lived. They soon became the majority and leaders of the community. Spanish Jewish surnames had Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese origins.

1493: Expelled Sicilian Jews reach the Ottoman Empire with Spanish and Italian names. (NOTE: Many Sicilian Jews are originally from Catalunya in Spain, who come to the Catalan-speaking island after the 1492 Expulsion. They thought they would be safe in Sicily, and they were – but only for one year and were expelled again in 1493. Most cross the Straits of Messina into Calabria.

1566-1574: Jewish immigrants from Calabria (southern Italy) arrived; many are descendants of Spanish Sephardim who went to Sicily following the 1492 Expulsion. They had Italian and Hebrew surnames.

Over the next 200 years: all Jews regardless of their origin (including the descendants of the Hungarian and German Jews) meld into the Sephardi community, with Ladino as their common language.

Late 19th-early 20th century: Ashkenazi Jews arrived from Ukraine, Romania and Russia, but the SephardicGen Bulgarian dictionary only includes Sephardi surnames.

Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire 1378-1878, so Turkish was a major influence on the Jewish community.

The introduction includes the quirky transliteration rules of Cyrillic, concerning the non-existent H (which became G in Russia and KH in Bulgaria), as well as letters with the sounds of SH, J, K

JewishGen: Yizkor book update

The Yizkor Book project at JewishGen.org has announced these new and updated projects during November.

For all links to these sites, click here.

New sites:

Bielsko Biala, Poland
Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Ratno, Ukraine (new translation project)
Tasnad, Romania

New entries:

Anyksciai, Lithuania (Pinkas Lita)
Hajdusamson, Hungary (Pinkas Hungary)
Hodmezovasarhely, Hungary (Pinkas Hungary)
Narayev, Ukraine (Berezhany Yizkor Book)

Updated projects:

Bedzin, Poland
Berezhany, Ukraine (revival of a dormant project)
Brzeziny, Poland
Czestochowa, Poland (The Jews of Czestochowa)
Dabrowa Gornicza, Poland
Dembitz, Poland (Polish pages)
Dusetos, Lithuania
Goniadz, Poland
Kaluszyn, Poland
Katowice, Poland
Kutno, Poland
Lithuania (Lite)
Lubartow, Poland (necrology addition)
Nowy Sacz, Poland (Sandzer Memorial Journal)
Ruzhany, Belarus
Ryki, Poland (Polish pages)
Svencionys, Lithuania
Tighina (Bendery), Moldova
Zelechow, Poland (Polish pages)

Tracing the Tribe readers can help fund Yizkor book translations. Click here for more information.

Florida: 19th annual mini-conference, Dec. 9

How will your children know who they are if they don’t know where they come from? How can you transmit and preserve that information?

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County’s 19th Genealogy Workshop and Mini-Conference will help you help you learn how to preserve and transmit family history on Wednesday, December 9, at the Levis JCC in Boca Raton.

Geared to the needs of beginners, intermediates and advanced researchers, five experts will offer classes in morning and afternoon sessions, running from 10am-4pm.

— Educator Phyllis Kramer: “AlephBet of Jewish Genealogy – the ins and outs of modern day research.”

— Writer/instructor Patricia Charpentier: “Writing Your Life – how to turn your research into a family history book.”

–Boca Raton Family History Center director Don Jennings: “How to Use the Family Search Records of Family Search International.”

— Professional genealogist Mona Freedman Morris: “Ways to Spice up your Genealogy – using newspapers and other sources to make your family history interesting.”

— Past president JGSPBCI Dennis Rice: “Genealogy Research on the Internet – how to use Social Networking Sites (Facebook, My Space, Twitter, LinkedIn).”

The Library Room, with Internet connection (bring your laptops), will be open all day for research. Expert genealogy researchers and translators are available (by appointment). Family records and memorabilia will be on display. Enjoy continuous coffee, tea and snack service and drawings for genealogy door prizes.

Registration begins at 9:30am, with the program from 10am-4pm. The fee, including a kosher box lunch, is $25 for members (via advance registration only), or $30 for all others. Bring photo ID for JCC security.

For more information on the program, the speakers and the registration form, click here.

Facebook: Translation tool for developers

Facebook’s new translation tool in 65 languages was the focus of Brad Stone’s New York Times’ “Bits” column the other day.

In his column, he writes that the previously English-only site introduced a tool in January 2008 that enabled users to translate the site into their native languages. Today, it is in 65 languages with most users outside North America.

As of Thursday, October 1, Facebook made the tool – Translations for Facebook Connect – available to some 15,000 sites and apps using the Connect service.

The translation tool works by asking users to submit possible translations of phrases, and then soliciting their votes on which is the most accurate. So now a country’s tourism Web site, for example, can use the tool to solicit help with a translation, and then present the site to users in their native language when they log in using their Facebook ID. It is free for developers, but Facebook hopes it will increase the use of the Connect Service.

Facebook’s human-powered approach juxtaposes quite sharply with Google’s service, which uses technology to automatically translate Web sites and text — with occasional unintentionally comical results. (The Facebook system, of course, has had to handle a relatively tiny number of phrases.)

According to Facebook’s head of platform Ethan Beard, technology doesn’t take into account cultural values or idioms that are hard to translate.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves.