JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Family Bibles #general

Ira Leviton

Dear Cousins,

Carole Feinberg asked about recovering a book because it might have
genealogical information in it, but was buried because it was worn out.

With variations, the general process is for people to drop off their at
their shul the unusable or 'posul' (no longer fit for use) holy books,
tefillin, taleisim, tzitzis, even torahs, or other objects with God's name
in them, or to keep them at home until they can find somebody who will
take care of it, or to give them to a sofer, rabbi, or somebody else who
disposes these items. These objects, termed 'sheimos' (pronounced
something like 'shaymess') are often held for a period of time, sometimes
for years, in a 'genizah' (storeroom) and then buried in a section of a

It's impractical to bring these items to a cemetery and open a burial
area every week for this purpose. Shuls often accumulate books in a
closet over a period of years, and perhaps bury them only when they
purchase their own new sets of siddurim and have to bury hundreds of their
own old books. Even if there is anything readable left, which is
doubtful, finding a particular book in the decomposing pile would be
harder than finding some of our relatives in indexed records.

Since these items are intended for disposal, they aren't catalogued or
buried in marked areas, and there's no way to tell where they're buried
within a plot.

But if that pile of books hasn't yet been buried, or boxes of old shul
notices and bulletins sitting for a few decades in a basement closet
haven't yet been tossed out, then there's a possibility of finding good

Ira Leviton
New York, N.Y.

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