Seattle: Gen library treasures, April 12

Jewish genealogical societies often have excellent reference libraries built up over the years. Researchers in a locality where such a society exists should investigate the library’s holdings.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State will offer an overview of the hidden treasures in its library on Monday, April 12, at 7pm.

The venue is the auditorium at the Stroum Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island, Seattle. Wi-Fi is available, so bring your laptops.

The society’s library will be available in its entirety. The evening will be spent browsing books and researching. JGS “mavens” will be available to answer questions, and there will be some extra computers available for internet research.

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

Ladino Music: Romansas, folksongs CD

“Ladino Reflections” is a double CD set of Ladino romansas and folksongs, released by Hazzan Isaac Azose of Seattle.

Tracing the Tribe met Hazzan Ike in Seattle when visiting our Jassen family. He is a beloved friend of our family and of the Sephardic community.

For some 40 years, he has dedicated himself to the preservation of Mediterranean Sephardic traditions. Although he retired as the hazzan of the Sephardic Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, he wrote me that he’s busier than ever with many projects on his desk. Think of the energizer bunny!

“Ladino Reflections” has been 20 years in dreaming and six months in production.

Hear the samples and find ordering information here. If you enjoy authentic Ladino music, this CD will make you happy.

Songs on the first CD:

Pasharo Dʼermozura, A La Una Yo Nasi, Alta Alta Es La Luna, Arvolikos Dʼalmendra, Durme Durme, Una Matika de Ruda, La Roza Enflorese, Yo Me Akodro Dʼakeya, Noche, Avre Este Abajour Bijou, Yo Tʼadmiro, Kuatro Anyos Dʼamor, La Serena, Sos Muy Ermoza, Los Kaminos de Sirkedji, Puncha Puncha, Eskalerika de Oro, Noches Noches

On the second CD:

Avre Tu Puerta Serrada, Adio Kerida, Ijika Dile a Tu Mama, Esta Montanya Dʼenfrente, Arvoles, Yorran Por Luvyas, La Vida Do Por El Raki, Misirlu, Morenika, El Dyo Alto, Mama Yo No Tengo Visto, Povereta Muchachika, Tres Ermanikas, Eran Siempre Te Ami, Avrij Mi Galanika, Por La Tu Puerta Yo Pasi, Porke Yorraj, Blanka Ninya, Kuando El Rey Nimrod

For ordering information ($28, includes $3 s&h/US orders only), click here.

Readers interested in Sephardic liturgy as sung at Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, should click here, listen to the samples and order this double CD ($23, includes $3 s&h/US orders only).

For international orders for the new CD or the liturgy CD, click here to contact Hazzan Azose.

Look at the calendar – Pesach isn’t that far off. Want to learn the Sephardic melody and the Four Questions in Ladino? Click here.

Seattle: Genetic genealogy, Jan. 30

How can DNA genetic genealogy help you in your research?

Readers in the Seattle area can learn about the basics in a program presented by the Seattle Genealogical Society at the Green Lake Library from 1-3pm on Saturday, January 30. It is free.

“Genetic Genealogy — How to Use DNA to Solve Genealogical Puzzles and Uncover New Questions You Never Faced Before” with speaker Larry Jones, a Seattle attorney.

Paternal, maternal and autosomal genetic markers yield different results and are of differing values to your ancestral research. Learn how to overcome some kinds of dead-ends in your research and see what kinds of roadblocks are unlikely to be overcome with DNA results.

Jones is researching five Y-lines of paternal genetic ancestry and one X-line of maternal ancestry. He has been researching his family history for 45 years and has published four books of family history on Welsh and English ancestors.

The SGS advises participants to bring the name, location and date of their most ancient ancestor in each of their various male ancestral lines. A lucky person or two may go home with the solution to a genealogical puzzle, especially if you have a wireless laptop along.

Seattle: Deciphering Cyrillic and Hebrew, Feb. 8

Learn to decipher Eastern European Cyrillic and Hebrew archival documents at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State on Monday, February 8.

Doors open at 7pm at the Stroum Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island.

“Reading in Another Hand: Deciphering Cyrillic and Hebrew Archival Documents from Eastern Europe,” will be presented by Natan M. Meir.

This lecture-workshop will demonstrate elements of the Russian and Hebrew/Yiddish cursive scripts used in the Russian Empire in the 19th-early 20th centuries. Topics discussed will include the Cyrillic and Hebrew alphabets, their use in archival documents, key words and phrases in documents of interest to genealogists, and the structure of tsarist and Soviet archives.

A number of archival documents will be viewed as attendees work together to decipher words and phrases.

Participants are encouraged to contact the speaker in advance with specific documents or questions they’ve had problems with, and some will be integrated into the presentation. Email questions.

Born in Jerusalem, Natan Meir was raised in New Jersey and Quebec. He earned a PhD in Jewish History (Columbia University, 2003), and is the Lokey Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies at Portland State University. His scholarly interest is modern Jewish history, focusing on the social and cultural history of East European Jewry in the 19th and 20th centuries.

His first book – “Kiev: Jewish Metropolis, 1859-1914” – is forthcoming from Indiana University Press, and he is now working on a second project tentatively titled “Jewish Marginals in Eastern Europe.”

Fee: JGSWS members, free; others, $5.

For directions and additional information, see the JGSWS site.

Seattle: Mapping madness on the menu, Jan. 11

Mad mapper Ron Arons will be visiting Seattle to present his “Mapping Madness: Historical Maps and Genealogical Research” program to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State on Monday, January 11, 2010.

Doors open at 7pm and the program starts at 7.30pm in the Stroum JCC auditorium on Mercer Island. There’s WiFi, so bring your laptops. This program is practical for all researchers, regardless of skill or experience level.

Ron will discuss a variety of websites that offer historical maps for genealogical research. He’ll review the basics of the Internet-based mapping facilities from Google and Microsoft ( and, respectively), including more advanced functions of both systems.

He’ll then cover more online mapping facilities provided by, Microsoft’s MapCruncher, IBM’s Many Eyes, and more.

Ron began researching his roots some 12 years ago. He has been a speaker covering Jewish genealogy and Jewish criminality (“Jews of Sing Sing) at eight IAJGS conferences and speaks at many other genealogy societies, JCCs, synagogues, history conferences and book fairs. He holds an engineering BS (Princeton) and an MBA (University of Chicago).

For more information and directions, click the JGSWS site here. Fee: JGSWS members, free; others, $5.

Tracing the Tribe has seen Mapping Madness and highly recommends this session to fellow researchers in Seattle and environs.

Seattle: Eastern European Jewry, Nov. 9

Eastern European Jewry up to the great migration, with Professor Natan M. Meir, will be discussed at the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State, on Monday, November 9.

Doors open at 7pm and the program begins at 7.30pm at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. The JCC offers Wi-Fi, so bring your laptops. The JGSW library will also be available for attendees.

Although many American Jews think that their Eastern European ancestors were “traditional” shtetl Jews until they left for the US, the historical reality was more complicated.

This program will survey the history of Eastern European Jews from the twilight of old Poland at the end of the 18th century through the vicissitudes of subjectship under the 19th century Russian Empire. Gain an understanding of the vitality of Jewish life in Eastern Europe and the multiple crises that Russian and Polish Jews faced at the turn of the 20th century – the age of the “Great Migration.”

Topics will include tsarist policies towards Jews, Jewish leadership shifts, the roles of pogroms and anti-Semitism, internal cultural and religious dynamics, as well as economic and demographic transformations.

The program will mainly cover the Russian Empire (Pale of Settlement) but will also refer to Russian Poland (Congress Kingdom) and Austrian Galicia.

Born in Jerusalem and raised in New Jersey and Quebec, Natan M. Meir is the Lokey Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies at Portland State University (Oregon). He holds a Ph.D in Jewish History (Columbia University), taught at the University of Southampton (UK), and was a Hebrew University Yad Hanadiv postdoctoral fellow.

His interest is modern Jewish history, focusing on the social and cultural history of East European Jewry in the 19th-20th centuries. His first book, “Kiev: Jewish Metropolis, 1859-1914,” is forthcoming from Indiana University Press, and he’s now working on a second project tentatively titled “Jewish Marginals in Eastern Europe.”

Admission: JGSWS members, free; others, $5.

For more information, visit the JGSWS website.

Seattle: Jewish cemetery discoveries, Sept. 14

Old and new world cemetery discoveries will be presented by Sally Mizroch and Nancy Adelson at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State on Monday, September 14.

The event begins at 7pm, at the Stroum Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island.

It was Tracing the Tribe’s pleasure to meet up with both Sally and Nancy at the recent Philly 2009 conference. Sally’s excellent digital photography session provided me with information and tips I’m already using.

Cemeteries are a treasure trove of genealogical information. JGSWS members Sally Mizroch and Nancy Adelson will report on the latest in cemetery research and how information from headstones can help us answer a vast array of genealogical questions. They will present information from the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) and explain how researchers in Washington State can help add to this amazing database.

They will also cover the latest information on international cemetery projects provided at August’s 29th IAJGS Conference of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, including European restoration projects. They will demonstrate how to access information and support restoration projects.

A founding member of JGSWS, Nancy Adelson has served as first vice president and program chair. She has researched more than 4,000 family relatives for her husband’s Sephardic family and her own Eastern and Western European family, back to the 1700s. She teaches business and Real Estate at North Seattle Community College.

Sally Mizroch’s genealogical research has led her to discover cousins all over the world. She has visited archives in Lithuania and South Africa. Her research concentrates on the professions and movements of her relatives in the old country to recreate the Eastern-European culture lost to the Holocaust. She serves as President of JGSWS and Secretary of LitvakSIG. In her professional life, Sally studies large whale populations at NOAA Fisheries National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle.

For more information, visit the JGSWS website.