Gesher Galicia Spring Program NYC: Sunday, May 17: Jewish Oil Magnates, The Story of Jews, Gentiles & Emporers, and SIG Updates #austria-czech

Pamela Weisberger

Announcing the Gesher Galicia Spring Regional Meeting in New York City
- you are invited!

The program on May 17 will include research updates and talks on two
books: "Galician Portraits: the Story of Jews, Gentiles, and Emperors"
& "The Jewish Oil Magnates of Galicia: A History 1853-1945."

Sunday, May 17
11:00AM -- 1:00PM
Center for Jewish History (Auditorium)
15 West 16th St.
New York, NY 10011

Learn about the Galician Archival Records Project, the Cadastral Map
Room and the latest news on discoveries made in the Lviv Historical
Archives by president, Pamela Weisberger, followed by two authors
discussing their new books: Andrew Zalewski on "Galician Portraits:
The Story of Jews, Gentiles and Emperors," and Valerie Schatzker on
"The Jewish Oil Magnates of Galicia." We'll leave plenty of time f=or
your questions and you are invited to stay for the JGSNY program in
the afternoon. (see below for details or go to:

Lunch 1:00PM - 2:00PM: We will offer an informal, post-program brown
bag lunch & chat in the Chapel at the Center for Jewish History from
1:00PM - 2:00PM. No food is sold at the Center, so you must bring
your own.

The Gesher Galicia program and lunch are free an open to the public.
Directions to the CJH are here:

More on on our authors and their works:

"Galician Portraits" by Andrew Zalewski is much more than a record of
one family. The story is anchored in Austrian Galicia (1772-1918),
which once spanned parts of today's Poland and Ukraine, but it also
covers centuries of Jewish history in the region, before and after
Galicia existed. Large cities, small towns, and tiny farming villages
are the tale's backdrop. In them, people >from a variety of ethnic
groups live alongside a large community of Israelites. In these pages,
Galicia's Jewish community emerges as far more diverse than one could
ever imagine. The laws and trends of the day were hotly debated within
it. A perpetual tension between old and new sometimes brought dramatic
consequences, even breakaway factions. Passionate arguments about
language, customs, and loyalties easily erupted. But even in difficult
times, there were brave voices that spoke loudly against prejudice.
Tracing Jewish heritage anywhere in Europe is complicated; and
certainly, the long shadow of WWII broke any continuity between past
and present in the place that was once called Galicia, but the author
has discovered many voices that had long been forgotten, as well as
surprising details about his own family. His talk will be illustrated
by the archival pictures of Galicia, genealogical findings, and old
maps of Galicia,

Speaker: Andrew Zalewski is a cardiologist who, despite a busy
professional life, published two books on Galicia, a rewarding
experience in which he learned about distant times and discovered
amazing details about his family and the people of Galicia. He is a
frequent speaker at genealogy conferences where he shares his
experiences and is a member of the board of directors of Gesher

"Jewish Oil Magnates of Galicia" by Valerie Schatzker traces the story
of the beginnings of the oil industry in Galicia. The most intensive
area of production in Austria was centered around Drohobycz/Boryslaw,
although there were petroleum centers around Sloboda Rungurska along
the eastern border of the province and also in western Galicia, in the
area of Krosno and Gorlice. Jews were among the first to exploit oil,
digging for it by hand, in the earliest phase, and refining it. In the
Drohobycz area, they also exploited another hydrocarbon, earth wax or
ozokerite. Many made heir fortunes >from wax until the last fifteen
years of the nineteenth century, when a new drilling system,
introduced by a Canadian, facilitated deep drilling and triggered the
most productive phase of the oil boom. The peak of oil production in
Galicia was in 1909, when 15 million barrels were produced and Galicia
was briefly the third largest petroleum producer in the world, after
the United States and Russia. The First World War interrupted the
industry, but after 1919, it became apparent during the Second Polish
Republic that the resource was in decline. Under German occupation,
the last barrels of oil were squeezed out by forced laborers, a great
many of them Jews. The translation of a Yiddish novel dealing with
this facet of Jewish life in the region adds an entirely new dimension
to the subject matter. Valerie also learned of a novel "Yidishe
naft-magnatn," about the Jewish oil magnates that had been published
in 1954 by Julien Hirszhaut, a writer who had been born in Drohobycz,
survived the war, and emigrated to New York. She had it translated
and the text will be included in her book.

Speaker: Valerie Schatzker completed graduate studies at the
University of Toronto, and had a career in classical music as a
soprano, a writer, and as a producer of concerts. She also worked in
the field of history, as a writer, and as an oral historian. Over the
last decade, she became interested in researching her husband='s
genealogy. He was born in Galicia and survived the war with his
mother. In her research, she discovered that some of his ancestors
were involved in an oil industry. which set her off on this ambitious
research project which lead her to archives in Poland, Austria and

More program info:
or at:

If you cannot attend this program, Gesher Galicia will be videotaping
it for viewing on our website this summer.

Pamela Weisberger
President, Gesher Galicia

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