Little Rock Woman Finds Her Jewish Roots

The following teaser is from a good article posted August 8, 2016 at the timesofisrael website.

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Discovering a Jewish past of which she was wholly unaware, Danette Devlin of Little Rock, Arkansas, has also found family.

Devlin was raised without any religious affiliation. As an adult she attended Catholic and Episcopalian churches seeking a spiritual home.

“There were lots of nice people, they were very welcoming, but it just wasn’t right. It wasn’t me,” she said.

In 2013, Devlin went online in an effort to find her father, Edward Couch, with whom she’d been out of touch for more than three decades. Devlin found an obituary for Couch’s brother, Robert, that mentioned her late paternal grandmother, Lillian Schiff.

Devlin obtained Schiff’s application for a Social Security number listing the names of Schiff’s father and mother, Herman and Cyril. Searching cemetery websites, Devlin last year acquired photographs of her great-grandparents’ graves near Chicago. The tombstones had Hebrew lettering, confirming the couple’s Jewishness and revealing Herman as a Kohen, a member of the priestly class.

Discovering her Jewish ancestry has powerfully affected Devlin, 56.

‘I am Jewish, and I finally felt whole’

“I jumped up and down with joy!” she said by telephone from her home. “I am Jewish, and I finally felt whole.”

Read the full article.

Online database of Holocaust victims hits 1 million records

The following teaser is from an article posted on usatoday.com

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The Nazis aimed to erase the Jewish people. Now, 70 years later, contributors around the globe are etching victims’ names back into memory through an online memorial that’s just hit 1 million records.

World Memory Project, a collaboration between the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and genealogy website Ancestry, is a free online database that lists information about millions of victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

Launched in May 2011, the project hit one million records this month, a major milestone made possible through over 3,500 volunteers from 18 different countries. The contributors spend hundreds of hours indexing archived documents from the Holocaust Museum into an online software provided by Ancestry.

Read the full article.
Thanks to ResearchBuzz for the heads-up.

Scottish Jews Finally Get Their Own Tartan

The following teaser is from an article posted on uk.news.yahoo.com
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Scottish Jews Finally Get Their Own Tartan – After 300 Years

Scotland’s Jewish community finally has its own tartan – a 100% kosher design approved by the Scottish Tartans Authority.

The design was approved by Rabbi Mendel Jacobs, the only Scottish born Rabbi living in Scotland.

Read the full article.

Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland’s Jewish Ancestry

The following teaser is from an interesting article by David Margolick about Merrick Garland’s Jewish ancestry. Please check out the full article at tabletmag.com.

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Within minutes of President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland’s to the Supreme Court, the Jewish guessing game started.

Was Garland Jewish? Was a fourth Jewish justice about to join the High Court? (In Louis Brandeis’s day, even a single Jew on the Supreme Court was, for some, one too many.) And, mostly, how could there be a Jew named Merrick Garland?

For me, though, Garland’s religious background wasn’t a question. Forty years ago, my law school classmate Alvin Katz (Garland’s best friend in third grade, Katz insists) had touted the guy to me, and I’ve been following him ever since. I’d seen that long before his name perennially appeared with every Supreme Court vacancy, Garland had vindicated Alvin’s praise and predictions of success. I thought I knew a certain amount about him, and always assumed, with the usual ethnic pride, that he was Jewish…

Read the full article.

Belarus Receives Copies of Deportation Orders of Austrian Jews Murdered in the Trostenets Concentration Camp

The following teaser is from the January 18, 2016 edition of belta.by:

View of the charred remains of Jewish victims burned in a barn by the Germans near the Maly Trostenets concentration camp.
View of the charred remains of Jewish victims burned in a barn by the Germans near the Maly Trostenets concentration camp.

MINSK, 18 January (BelTA) – Austrian historian Hubert Steiner gave Belarus the copies of the deportation orders from the Austrian State Archives containing the names of the Austrian Jews who were killed by the Nazis in the concentration camp Trostenets, BelTA learnt from the Embassy of Belarus in Austria.

Hubert Steiner’s visit to Minsk on 15-20 January has been organized by the Belarusian embassy in Austria. For many years the historian and referent of the Austrian State Archives has studied the deportation of Austrian Jews to the death camp Trostenets during the Second World War.

Read the full article.

From what I’ve read, 201,000 people were murdered at Trostenets – most shot in the back of the neck. And there are those who claim that there was no holocaust… Very disturbing.

Free Cemetery Records Databases at AmericanAncestors.org October 30 through November 7, 2015

The following was received from NEHGS:

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October 30, 2015 — Boston, Massachusetts — “Your ancestors have been dying for you to uncover them. NEHGS has opened the cemetery gates so you can start digging!”

Just in time for the Halloween celebrations and to add some fun to ancestral research this holiday, AmericanAncestors.org and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) have made their complete collection of American cemetery databases accessible for FREE to guest users on their data-rich website.

The collection of more than 100 databases comprising more than one million records is accessible FREE from Friday, October 30, through midnight on Saturday, November 7. The collection includes cemetery transcriptions from New England and other states and was compiled from many different sources to create a unique group of cemetery offerings.

Registration at AmericanAncestors.org is required as a FREE Guest Member to gain access to these valuable resources. Guest User accounts allow web visitors to use a limited suite of databases on AmericanAncestors.org and to access web content such as making purchases from the NEHGS online store. Unlimited access to more than one billion online records on the website and to other benefits is through membership at NEHGS.
Family historians may start digging for their ancestors in these historic American cemeteries at: http://www.americanancestors.org/free-cemetery-databases.

The cemetery databases included in this special offering and FREE Access event are:

  • American Jewish Historical Society – New England Archives: Jewish Cemeteries in Massachusetts
  • Boston, MA: Old Cemeteries of Boston
  • Brooklyn, NY: Cemetery Inscriptions, 1686-1882
  • Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections
  • Charleston, SC: Inscriptions in Old Jewish Cemeteries, 1762-1903
  • Dedham, MA: Church and Cemetery Records 1638-1845
  • Gloucester, MA: Burials in Gloucester Cemeteries
  • New York: Long Island Cemetery Inscriptions, 1652-1910
  • North Andover, MA: Burials in Ridgewood Cemetery, 1848-1950
  • Northampton, MA: West Farms Cemetery
  • Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Database Index
  • Sharon, MA: Sharon Memorial Park Cemetery
  • Sterling, MA: Leg Cemetery Records
  • Westbrook, CT: Cemetery Inscriptions
  • Western Massachusetts: Jewish Cemeteries of Western Massachusetts

About American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society
The founding genealogical society in America, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) was established in 1845. Today it has a national collecting scope and serves more than 130,000 constituents through an award-winning website, AmericanAncestors.org.

NEHGS’s resources, expertise, and service are unmatched in the field, and their leading staff of on-site and online genealogists includes experts in early American, Irish, English, Scottish, Italian, Atlantic and French Canadian, African American, Native American, Chinese, and Jewish research. The NEHGS library and archive, located at 99–101 Newbury Street in downtown Boston, is home to more than 28 million items, including artifacts, documents, records, journals, letters, books, manuscripts, and other items dating back hundreds of years.

The Holocaust Center for Humanity Opens in Seattle

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A Holocaust museum has opened in the Pacific Northwest. According to the website, it’s called The Henry and Sandra Friedman Holocaust Center for Humanity, and is located at 2045 2nd Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121. For those familiar with downtown Seattle, that’s the corner of 2nd Avenue and Lenora. I first heard about the center a couple days ago while making a run to the bindery, which is located in Seattle. If you live in the area, I’m sure a visit would be worthwhile.

See their website at: http://www.holocaustcenterseattle.org/

The following teaser is from an article posted at the KIRO Television website:

SEATTLE — At the Holocaust Center for Humanity are images that are by now familiar to anyone who has studied the Holocaust and World War II: the now tattered shoes, the drab sameness of their uniforms, the haunting faces of those who never made it out alive.

For Peter Metzelaar, they are the images of his childhood.

“The fear—knowing I’m being hunted,” reminisced Metzelaar. “Is that this time they’re going to get me?”

At the museum is a photograph of him in kindergarten—in his native Amsterdam.

The Star of David is sewn into his clothes, an indication that the persecution of Jews had begun.

A horror he survived, he says, by hiding.

“Nobody in my family came back,” said Metzelaar. “Only my mother and I survived.”

Read the full article.

TheGenealogist Releases 99,500 Records of London Synagogue Seat-Holders 1920-1939

The following news release is from TheGenealogist:

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TheGenealogist has released online 99,500 records of London synagogue seat-holders spanning the years from 1920 to 1939.

  • Covering the records from 18 Synagogues around London with many connected guilds, societies and charities etc.
  • Additional information found in these records include names of gentlemen eligible for office, life member of the council, women who are seatholders in their own right and seatholders who are not eligible to vote.
  • Fully searchable by name, keyword, synagogue and address, the Jewish Synagogue Seatholders has been extracted from various years of: “Seatholders for Synagogues in London”

Those with Jewish ancestors from London will welcome this fascinating new release from TheGenealogist. Revealing details of positions held by forebears, researchers will be able to track ancestors who became wardens, council members, or served on committees of their synagogue, as well as seatholders in synagogues from around the capital city. These fully indexed records allow family historians to search by name, keyword, synagogue and address and with one click see an image taken from the pages of Seatholders for Synagogues in London.

The records include some synagogues that are no longer in existence; for example the Great Synagogue that once stood at Duke’s Place and which was destroyed in the Blitz.

Nigel Bayley, MD of TheGenealogist said: “These records will allow you to search for Jewish relatives amongst the London synagogue seatholders, it is now easier than ever to discover any official positions that your jewish ancestor held.”

An example follows below…

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Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, OBE (25 January 1882 – 28 January 1942) can be found in these records. De Rothschild was an English banker and a Conservative politician who was well known as the creator of Exbury Gardens near the New Forest in Hampshire. He was the eldest of the three sons of Leopold de Rothschild (1845–1917) and Marie née Perugia (1862–1937) and a part of the illustrious Rothschild banking family of England.

On 25 January 1910 he was elected to the House of Commons for the constituency of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire – his grandfather and namesake had been the first practicing Jew to be able to take up his seat in Parliament.

His father, Leopold, died in early 1917 and Lionel and brother Anthony became the managing partners of N M Rothschild & Sons bank. However, Lionel de Rothschild had developed an interest in horticulture at a very young age and is said to have planted his first garden at the age of five. In 1919, he purchased the Mitford estate at Exbury in Hampshire where he devoted a great deal of time and money to transform it into one of the finest gardens in all of England with more than one million plants building Exbury House around an existing structure in a neo-Georgian style. Although he continued to work at the family bank, he is quoted as describing himself as “a banker by hobby — a gardener by profession”. Lionel Nathan de Rothschild died in London, aged sixty, in 1942 and was buried in the Willesden Jewish Cemetery.

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Logging into TheGenealogist and selecting Jewish Synagogue Seatholders from the dropdown menu, we enter Lionel as a forename and De Rothschild as the surname. We can filter the results by date. This returns us several positions that De Rothschild held in three different synagogues in London, including the Warden of the Great Synagogue that once stood in Duke’s Place, north of Aldgate, until it was destroyed in the London Blitz. We can also see that he was the President of the United Synagogue in North Finchley. Selecting that record allows us to view the actual image of the page from the Seatholders for Synagogues in London 1920.

For Richer for Poorer – Historic Jewish Weddings in London’s East End

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The following excerpt is from a fascinating article by Anne Joseph, posted in the March 19, 2015 edition of The Jewish Daily Forward:

“No man in Whitechapel drives a busier or a more paying trade than does the shadchan,” observed the writer Louise Jordan Miln in 1900. In fact, a ledger belonging to a shadkhen, or matchmaker, is one of the objects on display for the first time in “For Richer For Poorer: Weddings Unveiled,” the latest exhibition at the Jewish Museum London. Written entirely in Yiddish, the 1940s ledger shows a list of his prospective clients. A stamp depicting two hands shaking next to the names of a couple indicates when a successful match had been made.

“For Richer For Poorer” celebrates the story of the Jewish wedding in Britain’s Jewish community from the late 19th century to the mid-20th, focusing in particular on the immigrant community who settled in London’s East End…

Read the full article.

Portugal Approves Giving Jewish Inquisition Victims’ Descendants Citizenship – #Genealogy

The following teaser is from an article posted in the January 29, 2015 edition of israelnationalnews.com:

The Portugese Cabinet on Thursday approved a new law giving dual citizenship to the descendants of the Jews expelled or forcibly converted to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition, in which thousands of Jews were brutally murdered.

It remains to be seen when the law will come into effect; Spain has a similar law waiting for final approval.

According to Associated Press, descendants who can demonstrate “a traditional connection” through “family names, family language, and direct or collateral ancestry” can request citizenship.

Read the full article.

Auschwitz Survivor Finds First Cousins in America

The following excerpt is from an article posted in the November 12, 2014 edition of shalomlife.com:

The picture from the cousin in America: Roza and Ignatz Gottesman - Photo Credit: Ynet News
The picture from the cousin in America: Roza and Ignatz Gottesman – Photo Credit: Ynet News

Auschwitz prisoner No. A7733 has yet to find his twin brother, but his journey has already generated a family.

About a year and a half ago, Ynet published the story of Menachem Bodner, a twin survivor of the Mengele experiments, who after 70 years, thanks to a persistent genealogy researcher, discovered his real name, his place of birth and the fact that he has distant relatives living in Israel.

Recently, thanks to a DNA test and a research of his roots in the United States, he also found cousins he never knew he had, and held a video chat with them from California last week.

In addition, for the first time in his adult life, he received a picture of his parents, who were erased from his scarred memory in Auschwitz and who he had not seen since the family was sent to the camps by the Gestapo.

The journey in search of his twin brother, Jeno, prisoner No. A7734, is still going on.

Read the full article.

The Implications of DNA Testing for Those Who May or May Not Know of Their Jewish Ancestry

Noah Slepkov

Combine the fact that tens of thousands of folks with Jewish ancestry worldwide are returning to Israel (with many Americans included) with with continuous advances being made in ancestral DNA research, and increased Jewish interest in DNA and Genetic DNA analysis makes perfect sense.

Following is an excerpt from the Introduction to an article written by Noah Slepkov, and posted at the jppi.org website. It’s a fascinating article, and worth the read.

Interest in genealogical mapping has dramatically increased in recent years. New online tools are available for individuals to research their family history and collaborate with distant relatives to build family trees. Concurrently, advances in genetic research and computing technology have enabled direct-to-consumer (DTC) genealogical mapping through DNA analysis at affordable prices.

The possible existence of Jewish ancestry is among the many discoveries sometimes made by individuals taking advantage of these advances in genealogical mapping. Companies that provide DTC DNA testing even boast that their product can “infer whether or not and to what degree you may have Jewish ancestry” or “discover your Jewish ancestry.”

DNA test results have led many consumers into exploring their newly discovered Jewish roots. Such developments offer exciting opportunities for connecting, engaging, and strengthening the bonds of the Jewish people.

Read the full article.

Read How DNA Testing Can Reveal Jewish Ancestry, Bolster Zionist Narrative at breakingisraelnews.com.

AncestryDNA Upgrades the Methods Used for Cousin Matches

The following teaser was posted on the Ancestry.com blog on August 1. Very interesting… I’ve always felt that DNA matches were often VERY overmatched… Now I know why. Overmatching is evident throughout all populations, but is most pronounced for those with Jewish and hispanic ancestry it seems.

AncestryDNA customers with significant Jewish ancestry have witnessed the challenges that we and other genetic genealogy testing companies have faced when predicting genetic relatives. Most Jewish customers find that we predict them to be related to nearly every other Jewish customer in the database! So while we all know that the cousin matches for Jewish and some Hispanic customers were over-estimates, detecting which cousin matches were real and which ones were bogus has always been a challenge for these populations.

The AncestryDNA science team has been unsatisfied with the cousin matches we have delivered to many of our customers and as part of our continued commitment to bring innovative genomics to you, we are pleased and proud to tell you that we have found the first solution to the “overmatching” experienced by Jewish, Hispanic and other customers.

Read the full blog post.

Eva Braun May Have Had Jewish Ancestry

The following teaser is from the April 7, 2014 edition of forward.com:

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Eva Braun, the wife of Adolf Hitler, may have had Jewish ancestry, according to a new British documentary.

“Dead Famous DNA,” which is scheduled to air Wednesday on Britain’s Channel 4, reported that hair samples from a brush believed to have been used by Braun were tested and show that a DNA sequence found in the sample is “strongly associated” with Ashkenazi Jews. The brush was found at Hitler’s mountain retreat in Bavaria.

Read the full article.

A Reporter in France Helps to Return Art Taken by the Nazis

The following excerpt is from a fantastic research story by reporter Doreen Carvajel, posted in the January 30, 2014 edition of the New York Times. Thanks to my friend, Daniel Horowitz, with MytHeritage, for turning me on to this… What a story!

PARIS — I worked nights from a leather chair in my living room, armed with an iPad, a telephone and a notebook. My mission was to see if I could reconnect Jewish families and others with fine art pillaged from their relatives during World War II.

I have no degree in art history or particularly detailed knowledge of the Holocaust. My experience with genealogy is that of an amateur, one who traced my own family to 15th-century Spain.

But as a reporter, I track people for a living. And I was intrigued by the difficulties that French authorities report having as they try to find the heirs to more than 2,000 unclaimed works of art looted or sold under murky circumstances during the war and now held in French museums.

Over the past 60 years, the French have returned just 80 of the so-called orphaned works of art. The rest, some of them masterpieces, sit or hang in 57 French museums, which are their guardians until the rightful owners can be found.

To be candid, I had help. His name is Gilad Japhet, and he’s chief executive of MyHeritage.com, a large social networking site for family trees. When I was stumped by errors in family history, name changes, misspellings, faulty years and false matches, he routinely bailed me out.

Read the full article.