Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names

Art Hoffman <arthh@...>

According to family lore, when my father age 13 and/or uncle Morris age 15 first attended public school, their teacher could not pronounce their last name (Goichmann).  The G sounded like "huh" and the ch was guttural sounding.  The teacher said she would henceforth call them Hoffman.  When they came home that day and told my grandfather.  He said OK we are now Hoffman. 

Reclaim The Records publishes Yonkers, New York birth and death records from late 19th and early 20th centuries #announcements #usa


HELLO, YONKERS! Reclaim The Records has won our Freedom of Information fight for the birth and death records from Yonkers, New York! They're now online, and free!

After literally years of negotiating and haggling (although luckily stopping short of yet another lawsuit), we are pleased to announce this first-ever publication of tens of thousands of late nineteenth and early twentieth century births and deaths for Yonkers. We've photographed the alphabetical indices, and for most years we were able to photograph the full birth and death registers, too!

And none of these record books had ever been available to the public to use or browse before, not even on microfilm at a library. And the people listed in these records were generally not in the statewide birth and death indices that we previously acquired and published for New York.

These photos are all new, and they're gorgeous. Here's a sample:

Click here to read our latest newsletter with all the details, and with direct links to all the now-online record books, which span from roughly 1875 to 1916, with a few gaps.

Thanks go to our attorney Dave Rankin for handling all the legal paperwork that finally got the Yonkers City Clerk's Office to stop messing around and give the public our rightful access to these important historical records. And a special shout-out to our intrepid RTR board member Jonathan Webb Deiss for going on a road trip last October to laboriously photograph these books for us.

And if you're happy to see these kinds of free (and copyright-free) historical records go online, we hope you'll consider making a donation to support our work -- so that we can do more of it, and reclaim more records for more towns and cities and states. We're a 501c3 non-profit organization, so donations may be tax-deductible in the United States.

Enjoy the new records! And we have a lot more coming soon.
- Brooke Schreier Ganz
Mill Valley, California
President and Founder, Reclaim The Records

Chaim Menachem Pollak family, Belsky and Schonburg families of Brooklyn #usa

Neil Rosenstein

Trying to make contact with the family of Eliot (Eli) Pollak who died
in 2010 and was a member of Congregation Etz Chaim in Midwood, NY. His
children - Gloria married Simon (Sy) Belsy who died in 2020, Hedy
Schonburg and Michael Pollak.
They descend from the Furtcher-Horowitz rabbinical ancestry.

Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names

Feldman, Daniel

It is a fallacy that names were changed at Ellis Island. Immigration personnel used the names on the passenger manifest. They were forbidden to change any name as that might be contributing to fraudulent purposes. Immigrants changed their names after the fact . In New York State for instance, one could change their name merely by adopting the new one. It was legal as long as there was no attempt to commit fraud.

Daniel Feldman

"His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names


I'd like to ask people to reserve judgment until I have received the document I requested from NARA.  If it is what I expect it to be, it should resolve any serious questions about the "no-involuntary-name-change" meme.  People need to understand that the process was nowhere near as pristine as advocates for the meme assume, and once one realizes how messy it was, all kinds of possibilities arise.
Incidentally, in reply to David Rosen, in my conversations with the USCIS Historians' Office, they reported that what happened in the case of Mary Johnson/Frank Woodhull was a change in listing rather than a change in name.  The evidence I have establishes that she continued to live as Frank Woodhull.
Yale Zussman

Names of headings for un-indexed data in vital records #general #hungary

Erika Gottfried

I'm grateful that JewishGen-created indexes to microfilmed Hungarian birth (and other vital) records  contain so much data.  But I understand that with limited resources only part of the data in the original records could be indexed. My question is, what (kinds of) information is contained in the un-indexed portion of the records?  What are the categories of information, what are the names of headings for the columns with unindexed data? 
Erika Gottfried
Teaneck, New Jersey

Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names

Bob Roudman

Most if not all names were changed by the immigrant after arrival in the
US. Clerks were very careful not to change or modify names. Since the
manifest was used as proof of legal arrival immigration and Nat would
sometimes go back to the manifest to verify identities. Many times the
declaration would mention the name change made by the immigrant. It is
largely myth that the clerks changed the names at either Ellis Island or
Castle Garden.

Souza Mendes Foundation live stream of interesting discussions #events

Yvonne Stern

Souza Mendes Foundation is live streaming  two interesting events on the next week-ends:

On June 28 the event is on  the extraordinary life of concert pianist and
Holocaust survivor Alice Herz Sommer and wll begin with the Oscar winning documentary
about her life "The Lady in Number 6 — Music Saved My Life ".
More details at:

 On July 5th the event will discuss the story of celebrated Polish violinist 
Bronislaw Huberman (1882-1947) as shown in the documentary "Orchestra of Exiles"
that tells his  struggle  to save   the lives of  almost 1,000  European Jewish musicians 
and their families, while forming the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, Its inaugural concert 
took place in Tel Aviv on December 26, 1936, conducted by Arturo Toscanini. 
This orchestra became the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the best in the world.

Yvonne Stern
Rio de Janeiro - Brasil

Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names

Sally Bruckheimer <sallybruc@...>

"However, family lore is that they had to
buy papers to travel from Lithuania to the United States, and could not
get their own so bought them from someone named Goldberg"

The thing is, there was no reason that they had to call themselves anything in particular in the US. Until driver's licenses and Social Security, they could be Rachmil Szmelkowicz one day, Hymie Goldberg the next, and Tom Jones the day after.

Sally Bruckheimer
Princeton, NJ

Family GOLDBERG or BENJAMIN in New York #usa

Daniel Gleek

Seeking siblings Arthur, Ruth & Ada BENJAMIN in New York.
All 3 were born between 1905-1915 approx.
However, the siblings may have gone under their mother's maiden name.
Thus they’d have been Arthur, Ruth & Ada GOLDBERG (aka DOFF).
Their parents were called:
Annie/Eva DORF/DOFF/GOLDBERG (she was short and stout!) and
Abraham BENJAMIN (a slim man with a moustache)
There was a link to a lawyer in the Empire State Building
and the White House in Washington DC.
I am attaching photos of unknown family members.
I can email these privately, if they cannot be included in the posting.
Please only respond if you think these people are on your tree.
Thank you.
Daniel Gleek in London
Unknown - Family Benjamin or Goldberg (Eva was a Doff)  Unknown - NY Family on Doff side perhaps 1  Unknown - NY Family on Doff side perhaps 2  Unknown - NY Family on Doff side perhaps 3


Daniel GLEEK in London
Searching for: GLEEK/GLICK (Beisagola, Lithuania), ISOWITSKY/KUPCHIK (Dotchener, Poltava & Vorontzowka),
GLIKMAN/GLUCKMAN, WEITZENSANG & LIDRAL/LEDDA (Warsaw,Poland), MARCUS (Varniai, Lithuania) etc.

Birth records for same person give different birthplaces #hungary #general

Erika Gottfried

These birth two records for the same person, registered in the same town, each give a different birthplace. How did this happen and why? I can see that they’re from two different microfilmed volumes; what's the significance of that?
Name Date of Birth
Town Registered / Record#
Town Born Comments Source (Film/Item)
GOTTFRID, Abraham 21-Feb-1857 
Miskolc / 1857-021 
Fsolcz / [Felso Zsolca]    LDS 0642769, Vol. 2 
GOTTFRIED, Abrah 21-Feb-1857 
Miskolc / 1857-021 
Miskolc  Parents from F. Zsolca [Felso Zsolca]  LDS 0642772, Vol. 13 

Erika Gottfried
Teaneck, New Jersey

Registration towns in Hungary #hungary

Erika Gottfried

The two records below are clearly the same marriage for the same two people, but registered in two different towns. Is this because the bride and groom were residents in different towns and hence from two different registration towns? 
And was registration in their different regional registration towns required by law or regulation?

POLLAK, Czilli
Jozef / - (-)
David / - (-)
Felso Zsolcza
groom tavernkeeper in Alsozsolcza, born in Szentandras; bride from/born in Miskolc, father tavernkeeper LDS 642,766-Item 2
Jozsef / - (-)
David / - (-)
groom innkeeper in Also-Zsolcza, from/born in in Szentandras, father butcher; bride from/born in Miskolc, father tavernkeeper LDS 642,777, Item 2
Erika Gottfried
Teaneck, New Jersey

Re: Seeking information on a village named Horodok, Vilna #lithuania


Is this the same as "David-Horodok"?  My mother in law's family came from there, but I don't know much about it. They have a large, active organization in the Detroit, Michigan area.
Look on Facebook:

Re: Seeking information on a village named Horodok, Vilna #lithuania

Shimona Kushner

Made a terrible mistake.  This grandfather that was in Gorodok came from a village in the region called Kopach/Kopache, not Trellisy.  Got confused between my grandfathers.  Sorry.  All the other information is accurate.

Re: more information needed Re: Hessen Jews prior 1700 #germany

ירוחם צבי קינסטליך


Radom, youth newspaper, spanish inquisition #poland #general

Raffi Jesin

My grandmother, Rosa Weisberg nee Brucha Horowicz grew up in Radom. She always spoke about how on friday nights her father would read to her from a youth newspaper or magazine about the spanish inquisition. She thought the paper was in yiddish and called the tribune. 
There was a youth paper called the Tribune, but it was in polish and I could not find anything in it on the spanish inquisition, so perhaps she got the name wrong. It would really mean a lot if I were able to track down the actual paper her father used to read to her, but I have been hitting dead ends. so if anyone has any information that would be great. thank you  
Raffi Jesin

Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names


Immigration inspectors did not ask an immigrant what his name was.  It was already right there on the ship's passenger list and on the immigrants tag.
One name was changed at Ellis Island. A woman was discovered,  dressed as a man and traveling with a man's name.

David Rosen
Boston, MA

On 6/25/2020 1:50 PM, Jules Levin wrote:
Re why was this story perpetuated if there is no basis?

I would counter:  Do Italian-Americans, Greek-Americans,
German-Americans, Polish-Americans, etc, etc., have the same stories of
name changing?   Maybe the question is, why did specifically Jewish
families tell this bubbe  mayse?   My own theory is that many immigrants
were met at the dock by relatives who already were here and established
enough to invite siblings or cousins from the old country.  And the
first thing they heard was that "in America the family name is ......" 
All my cousins assured me that "Faivasovich" must have been changed at
Ellis Island to Morris.  When thru Jewishgen I found out that
Faivasovich was on the manifest, our founding greatgrandfather was
operating a business in Chicago 2 yrs after arrival with the name
Faivasovich, our grandmother was married in 1897 with that maiden name,
and ONLY in the census of 1900 hundred did Morris appear and Faivasovich
disappear!  Still they had believed the bobbe mayse. My own theory is
that the change on arrival by immigration officials (half of whom were
naturalized citizens themselves and among them spoke 40 languages) was
the least embarrassing and simplest to tell the children when they
started to ask about their names.

Jules Levin

On 6/25/2020 9:36 AM, peter.cohen@... wrote:

Smoke pours from the ears of veteran genealogists when they hear “his
name was changed by the immigration authorities”. Numerous analyses of
the experience of immigrants through Ellis Island and Castle Garden
offer convincing evidence that US immigration authorities used ship’s
manifests and the landing card pinned to the immigrant’s clothing to
determine their name and did not change anyone’s name.

So, why is the “my grandfather told me his name was changed at Ellis
Island” so widespread?  Either an entire generation of immigrants
conspired to lie to their children about how their name changed, or
SOMETHING actually happened.

Consider the case of my grandfather, who arrived via Castle Garden in
1891. All I know for sure is that his name was KEMAK on the 1891
manifest and COHEN on his 1895 marriage certificate. The story my
uncle told me was “when they asked his name, he gave his full Hebrew
name, including HaKohain and they wrote down Cohen.” My uncle would
have heard this directly from his father, who was the actual
immigrant. So where does the story come from?

A possibility:

The day he arrived, my grandfather was 19 years old, alone in a
strange country, whose language and customs he did not know.  It seems
likely to me that, when he left the immigration hall, tired and
bewildered, he would have been relieved to find a helpful Yiddish
speaker from an immigrant aid society (perhaps HIAS?) outside the
building. That person would have given him advice and direction. Part
of that advice might have been “no one here can pronounce your name,
your name should be _______.” It could have been as simple as the aid
society person writing down the immigrant’s name in Roman letters, so
that the immigrant would know how to write it. (Note that the stories
often say “they wrote down…”  Wrote down where? Apparently, immigrants
left the customs hall with no documentation from the US government.
So, if their name was written down and given to them, someone other
than a government agent did the writing.)  In my grandfather's case,
the name KEMAK was easy enough to pronounce, so that would not be a
reason to change it.  I lean in the direction of someone writing his
name in English, based on his Hebrew name and not his civil name. I do
not know who that someone was, but it almost certainly was not a
representative of the US government.

While we think of our grandparents as worldly and wise, at 19 years
old, they would have been neither, and could easily make the false
assumption that the HIAS person had some kind of government authority.

Przytyk Pogrom, Radom, Minkowski daughters #poland #general

Raffi Jesin

My grandmother Rosa Weisberg nee Brucha Horowicz grew up in Radom. She always spoke of an orphan girl (who was older than her) her parents took in for a while after the Przytyk pogrom in 1936 named Perele or Perla. Probably due to the proximity of the ongoing trial in Radom.
The only orphans I know of from the progrom were the Minkowski's. The younger ones were boys and the older 2 girls eventually moved to Israel, but I couldn't find their names anywhere to confirm if it was one of them. Does anyone know the names of the 2 older Minkowski daughters? or what happened to them? did they make it to Israel?
-Raffi Jesin

Cohanim and Levites #dna


The reason there was no immigration control in New Orleans in 1852 is that the first federal law restricting immigration was passed in 1882.  Before then, immigration was left to the states.
--Yale Zussman

New Infofile - Finding Your Ancestor's Town of Origin #general #latvia #announcements

Marion Werle

I'm  pleased to announce the posting of an infofile I wrote about how to find your ancestor's town of origin:

The file is listed under Infofiles>Latvia on JewishGen. Although the examples show people with Latvian origins, the method of determining the town is the same, regardless of where the ancestor originated. The infofile covers immigrants who settled in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Israel, South Africa, and Argentina.

I hope you will find it helpful.

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