AVOTAYNU article: Ukraine RD project to Preserve Archival Records Scanned by Alex Krakovsky #ukraine

Gary Pokrassa

Sallyann Sack of AVOTAYNU has kindly given me permission to post my article published in AVOTAYNU Summer 2020 edition on the JewishGen Ukraine research Division website - here is the link:

Gary Pokrassa
Data Acquisition Director
Ukraine Research Division

Re: Morris and Matilda Lyons #germany #unitedkingdom

Reuven Mohr

I would agree that LYONS is probably (not necessarily, but if there are no records found with such this name, then yes) an anglicised name. Usually there is some resemblance between old and new name: LOEB, LOEWENSTEIN, LOEWENTHAL, LOEWENBERG, LEVI, LEVY, LEVINSON, LEVINGER are a few suggestions.

Yechiel can be replaced by Michel/Michael

Reuven Mohr

Re: prenuptial agreement #poland

Valentin Lupu

Mostly, a marriage arrangement between the parents of the bride and the groom was concluded by a dowry agreement. The dowry was given by the bride's parents to the new couple, either money, goods or both.
Valentin Lupu

This week's Yizkor book excerpt(s) on the JewishGen Facebook page (Rosh Hashanah) #lithuania #yizkorbooks #poland #belarus

Bruce Drake

Rosh Hashanah arrives Monday evening, marking the Jewish New Year and the beginning of the Days of Awe that end with Yom Kippur. Or, as captured by the traditional saying quoted in one of these Yizkor book excerpts, “On Rosh Hashanah it will be written, and on Yom Kippur it will be sealed.”
I’ve gathered remembrances of the holiday from the books of Piotrkow Trybunalski (Poland), Ritavas (Lithuania), Dokshytsy (Belarus), Nesvizh (Belarus), and Kurenets (Belarus). Some tell similar stories: the magic moment when the shofar is blown, the food prepared for the holiday, the joy of the day as well as the solemnity and even trepidation as the Day of Atonement drew nearer. Other excerpts strike more serious notes. A sermon that stirred emotion and tears as the Magid raised his “splitting voice” and intoned, “The day of judgement is coming fast.” The final excerpt is a grimmer one, recalling the arrival of the Germans as Rosh Hashanah began.

Bruce Drake
Silver Spring, MD

Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel

Did Rabbi Yitzhak Elchanan Spektor (1817-1896) have an 18th century ancestor named Rabbi Yitzhak Elchanan living in Vilnius #lithuania #rabbinic

Hallie Metzger

My grandfather David Yalofsky Freedland (1885-1988) claimed that when his 2nd or 3rd Great Grandfather got married, an illustrious Rabbi named Yitzchak Elchanan came from Vilnius to attend the wedding. The closest match I can find is Rabbi Yitzhak Elchanan Spektor whose father Israel Issar was also a rabbi. Can anyone help me follow the family any further back?

The bridegroom may possibly have been a Sephardic Jew studying in Vilnius who took the surname of his father-in-law, a wealthy merchant named Goldstein.

Hallie Metzger, hallie.metzger@...

Yizkor Book Report for August 2021 #yizkorbooks #JewishGenUpdates


Yizkor Book Project 

Summary for August 2021


by Lance Ackerfeld

Director of Special Projects - Yizkor Books




I’m not sure that I believe myself the incredible progress we have made in our project over the past month but the new and updated listings below in black and white definitely confirm this. 


Apart from the updates, I am extremely excited and honored to inform you that Jack Berger (Jacob Solomon Berger) has graciously donated his complete book on Zelva, Belarus - the “Zelva Memorial Book” to the Yizkor Book Project. I’m sure many others will join me in thanking Jack for his generosity in making this extensive translation available. I am also pleased to note that he has offered to donate other books of his to our project which is really wonderful news. Please continue to check the coming monthly reports to learn more about these.

The next piece of good news from the past month was the completion of an additional Yizkor book. The translation project of this book on Braslaw, Belarus - “Darkness and desolation” was originally initiated by Eilat Gordin Levitan and in relatively recent times, it was taken on by Jeff Deitch. Jeff  financially supported translations and took great care into providing translations that are as accurate and informative as possible. For all this, I salute Jeff for his diligence and thank him for bringing this project to its successful completion.

There are now quite a few other projects that are very close to completion and, hopefully, I will be able to share happy news about them in coming reports. There are other projects that are “yearning” for financial support to get them moving and if you have a community book that is close to your heart and is listed amongst our
Yizkor Book Translation Funds, please help us by donating towards the professional translation of these books. Thank you in advance!


Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year that, we all hope, will ultimately be far happier and healthier than the last few.

And now for details of what was carried out in August:


New entries

·  Derevna, Belarus (Memorial volume of Steibtz-Swerznie and the neighboring villages Rubezhevitz, Derevna, Nalibok)

·  Rubiazhevichy, Belarus (Memorial volume of Steibtz-Swerznie and the neighboring villages Rubezhevitz, Derevna, Nalibok)



New book

The following is a new book placed online:


Zelva, Belarus (Zelva Memorial Book)


Yizkor Book updates

This month, 34 existing projects were updated and they were:

·  Augustów, Poland (Memorial Book of the Community of Augustow and Region)

·  Babi Yaar, Ukraine (Memory Book: Babi Yar)

·  Będzin, Poland (A Memorial to the Jewish Community of Bendin)

·  Braslaw, Belarus (Darkness and desolation)

·  Brzesko, Poland (Memorial book of Briegel-Brzesko and vicinity)

·  Edineţ, Moldova (Yad l'Yedinitz; memorial book for the Jewish community of Yedintzi, Bessarabia)

·  Hrubieszów, Poland (Memorial Book of Hrubieshov)

·  Jaroslaw, Poland (Jaroslaw Book: a Memorial to Our Town)

·  Kamyanyets, Belarus (Memorial Book of Kamenets Litovsk, Zastavye, and Colonies)

·  Kolomyya, Ukraine (Memorial Book of Kolomey)

·  Kurów, Poland (Yiskor book in memoriam of our hometown Kurow)

·  Lakhva, Belarus (First ghetto to revolt, Lachwa)

·  Lviv, Ukraine (A memorial library of countries and communities, Poland Series: Lwow Volume)

·  Mizoch, Ukraine (Memorial Book of Mizocz) 

·  Mlyniv, Ukraine (Mlynov-Muravica Memorial Book)

·  Mahilyow, Belarus (25th Anniversary Book of the Moghileff Brotherhood) 

·  Nyasvizh, Belarus (The Nesvizh Yizkor Book) 

·  Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Poland (Ostrowiec; a monument on the ruins of an annihilated Jewish community)

·  Radekhov, Ukraine (Memorial Book of Radikhov)

·  Radom, Poland (The book of Radom)

·  Radomsko, Poland (Memorial book of the community of Radomsk and vicinity)

·  Sălaj, Romania (Memorial book of Salaj-Szilagy Jewry)

·  Sarny, Ukraine (Memorial Book of the Community of Sarny)

·  Siedlce, Poland (On the ruins of my home; the destruction of Siedlce)

·  Siedlce, Poland (Memorial Book of the Community of Siedlce)

·  Sokołów Podlaski, Poland (Memorial Book Sokolow-Podlask)

·  Stowbtsy, Belarus (Memorial volume of Steibtz-Swerznie and the neighboring villages Rubezhevitz, Derevna, Nalibok)

·  Shums'k, Ukraine (Szumsk, memorial book of the martyrs of Szumsk)

·  Tarnogród, Poland (Book of Tarnogrod; in memory of the destroyed Jewish community)

·  Tarnow, Poland (Tarnow; The Life and Destruction of a Jewish City)

·  Ustilug, Ukraine (The growth and destruction of the community of Uscilug)

·  Valozhyn, Belarus (Wolozin; the book of the city and of the Etz Hayyim Yeshiva)

·  Wołomin, Poland (Volomin; a memorial to the Jewish community of Volomin)

·  Zolochiv, Ukraine   (The City of Zloczow)


Important links

Before ending this report, here are some important links to note:

Shana Tova U’Metuka (A Good and Sweet New Year) 

Lance Ackerfeld

Director of Special Projects - Yizkor Books



Re: Who was Chaye Rechel Lev Lishe? #general #galicia #poland


This family tree probably resulted from earlier versions of family search trees or documentation that was submitted.  Or I have noticed that there seems to be family search volunteers that go through record databases and add to the global family tree (I've seen this from census records).  

In this case this is documented by an actual marriage that you can request a copy of the original through the Family search request service.  You might find that whoever transcribed it struggled with the names.   Note that this is a second marriage for both.  I would look for a census record (1900 maybe) where you find Mr. Guerfein  and see what his wife's name is listed as.  

Katherine Block
Canton, GA

translation needed from Polish #poland

Frank Szmulowicz

I want to assure myself of the correctness of my reading of this marriage transcript, in particular, the birth places of the bride and groom, their professions, the maiden names, etc. For completeness, please provide all the vital statistics regarding the record. 

P. S. Why would the name be spelled one way in the text (Szmulowicz) and have the groom sign the name as Szmulewicz?

Frank Szmulowicz

Re: Who was Chaye Rechel Lev Lishe? #general #galicia #poland


I also found this marriage record for Myer Gurfein's daughter which possibly lists her mother as Yetta Rabner.   So that seems like a like 1st spouse for Meyer. 

You are going to have to be very liberal with your spelling variations of the name Gurfein.  As there are many possibilities.

Katherine Block
Canton, GA

The relationship between Pashtuns and Jews #general

David Harrison

I know that this in not relating to family history research, but I think that it is within the Jewish human family definition.   It was within the AJEX (Jewish Ex-Serice Persons Organisation) Newsletter which I received today..
By SSgt (Res) Dan Fox, Deputy National Chairman 

Pashtun people speak of how their forebears referred to themselves as “Bani Yisrael” - the People of Israel. It is a self-reference that fits with the proposition that the Pashtun are one of the Lost Tribes, exiled (according to the Second Book of Kings) by the Assyrians to the banks of the ancient River Gozan in what is now Afghanistan. Whatever the tangle of biblical myth and anthropological fact here, it is worth noting the following Pashtun traditions: lighting candles on Friday night, separating meat and milk, and covering graves with stones.

All this has made the historical resonance of recent scenes from Afghanistan even clearer. Families with barely a suitcase each, forced into hiding or crowding onto transport out of their country as it it taken over by violence and persecution.

AJEX has thrown itself fully behind the Jewish community’s response to the evacuation crisis. We have connected our membership and others to schemes across the country taking donations of food, clothes, toiletries, toys, books and money. The response in the UK has been magnificent and the problem now is one of logistics: storage space for everything donated and transport to get it to hotels and other locations. If you or anyone you know is able to help with this, please let us know on AJEX4Afghans@... 

I am also proud to say that AJEX has been able to exploit its contacts in the military and NGO communities to help get people out as Kabul fell to the Taliban. We have worked with other organisations to help at least five families to safety so far and we continue to support others still seeking safe passage.

The long term work for Afghan refugees begins now. As well as material support, they will need advice on jobs, finances, legal matters, training and education. Again, if you are able to help with such things, please let us know at AJEX4Afghans@...
From David Harrison, once a Corporal in the British Army

The Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh Presents: Ask The Experts #events #announcements #education #general #jgs-iajgs

Steve Jaron


In honor of Family History Month (October) and International Jewish Genealogy Month (the Hebrew month of Cheshvan), the Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh is hosting “Ask The Experts.” A panel of Jewish genealogists from a variety of backgrounds, interests, and areas of expertise will be available to help break through those brick walls.

This program is made possible by support from the William M. Lowenstein Genealogical Research Endowment Fund at the Jewish Community Foundation.

Date: October 31, 2021
Time: 1pm Eastern (US)
Place: Online (Zoom)

Cost for is $10 USD.
All programs are free for members of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh.

For just $18/yr you can become a member of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh. Membership include free admission to all programs, subscription to our newsletter, access to our members only portal and access to our private Facebook Group.

For information on membership and future programs please visit our website.

Click Here To Register

Our Experts:

Tammy Hepps is a local historian who focuses on topics within American Jewish history, especially small towns and synagogues. Her projects combine research techniques from genealogy and history and draw heavily upon her technology expertise to break new ground in data gathering and interpretation. She is best known for her community reconstitution project focusing on the Jewish community of Homestead, PA, available online at Tammy earned her AB in computer science from Harvard.

Areas of expertise: American Jewish roots, Western PA/Pgh Jewish community research, underused American records, technology for genealogy, family history writing

Caitlin Hollander is a New York-based genealogist, specializing in Ashkenazi Jewish genealogy in both the United States and Europe, Holocaust records and documentation, as well as forensic genealogy for high- value estates and assisting clients in citizenship reclamation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a minor in history from Florida International University, as well as academic certificates in Jewish studies and Holocaust and genocide studies, the latter of which she intends to pursue a master’s degree in beginning Spring 2022. With her business partner, Michael Waas, she co-founded Hollander-Waas Jewish Heritage services, a full-service genealogy and family history firm. Hollander-Waas specializes in Jewish genealogy and provides a customized full-service heritage preservation and genealogy service. Her citizenship reclamation work has been featured in Family Tree Magazine, The Times of Israel, and the South Florida Sun Sentinel, among other publications.

Jarrett Ross began researching his own family history in 2009 while finishing his undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Since then he has built his own personal tree with over 7000 people, successfully connected with thousands of relatives all over the world and has helped build hundreds of trees for people of varying ancestral backgrounds. Jarrett has found multiple specialties including Genetic Genealogy, Sephardic Jewish research with an emphasis on the Portuguese Jewish Community of Amsterdam, the Jewish Agricultural Societies of Southern New Jersey, Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry in Ukraine, and American Jewish history. Jarrett writes a blog called “Sephardic Genealogy” and he also has a vlog called “GeneaVlogger” where he talks about his research, gives genealogy tips, interviews other genealogists and shows different aspects of working in genealogy. Jarrett currently works as the lead forensic genealogist at DNA Labs International where he helps solve cold cases. He also volunteers as a Search Angel where he helps people find their biological family, and he volunteers as a curator on, home of the World Family Tree. Jarrett currently serves as the vice president of the Triangle JGS in North Carolina and as an IAJGS Board Member.

Michael Waas is a heritage professional, specializing in site research and evaluation, and archival research. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology with a specialization in Historical Archaeology from New College of Florida, and the subject of his Senior Thesis was “The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis of the Seminole People of Florida.” He then received his Master’s Degree from the Department of Jewish History at the University of Haifa and the subject of his MA thesis was “Istorya i oy: A comparative study on the Development of Jewish Heritage of the former Ottoman Empire.” He received the Gaon Prize for Outstanding M.A. Thesis research for the academic year 2017-2018 of the Moshe David Gaon Center for Judeo- Spanish (Ladino) Culture as well as the Prize for Research into the Heritage of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewry, awarded by the Ben Zvi Institute and the Israeli Ministry of Education, for the year 2017-2018. He has presented papers at multiple international conferences on Sephardic Studies, including most recently, the Terras de Sefarad conference in Bragança. Portugal, and the annual Society for Sephardic Studies conference in Lisbon, Portugal, both in June 2019. He also volunteers his time as the anthropologist and historian of the Avotaynu Genetic Census of the Jewish People Project.

Steve Jaron

Re: Address Books for Stanislawow - Home Owners' comprehensive list #galicia

Avi Bitron

One important note to mention regarding this special address book of 1935-1936 is, that it is a much more comprehensive document than just an address book.
It Includes not only Stanislawow (Chapter 6) but also Lviv and Tarnopol. Moreover, for those who know the names of their ancestors/relatives and their addresses, they can easily verify whether these persons actually OWNED the houses they lived in or just rented them, since for each of the 3 cities there is a special chapter of home owners' names indexed according to street names and numbers.
If you wish to find home owners in Stanislawow - it is in the document in pages 434/687 - 456/687 or pages 159 - 203 in Chapter 6 (Dzial 6) of the original printed book. The headline of this section says in Polish:
 Wykaz domów na obszarze miasta Stanisławowa. Wykaz domów obejmuje: ulice, dzielnice miasta, numer domu oraz NAZWISKO I IMIĘ WŁAŚCICIELA danej nieruchomości, 
which translates into: 
List of houses in the area of the city of Stanisławów. The list of houses includes: streets, city districts, house number, and SURNAME AND NAME OF THE OWNER of the property. 
If you have no idea where the person you are looking for lived, have a look first at the section of the citizens' list. Once you find his exact address (street name and number), go to the home ownership list section, and find the street name (it is in alphabetical order) and house number. If her/his name is there, it means that she/he owned the property. Let me assure you that some of the houses in the center of those towns, which were mostly owned by Jews, worth quite a bit of money today.
That is a very unique document, since it is practically impossible to find anywhere else in one place a comprehensive home ownership list a few years before WW2. There are many Jewish names amongst the homeowners (roughly 50 percent if not more), and it should be a good lead and partial proof for those who plan in the future to apply for reparations for confiscated private real estate during WW2 and the communist regime.
By the way, in the same document, there are similar chapters of home owners in the cities of Lviv and Tarnopol. The Lviv relevant pages are 280/687 - 328/687. As for Tarnopol - it starts on page 505/687 or 92 in the Tarnopol original chapter (chapter 7).
Also, the same document includes for each of the 3 cities mentioned a comprehensive list of lawyers (and their addresses), doctors, engineers etc. as well as a full list of phone owners according to their telephone numbers.

Avi Biton

Ancestry Free Access to Occupation Records Through 6 September 2021 #announcements #records #usa

Jan Meisels Allen




Ancestry is making its 250 million U.S. occupation records free access through September 6, 2021 11:59PM ET. During this free access period you will only be able to access the free occupation record collection. If you try to access the other record collections or try after the promotion period you will be invited to subscribe.  For the free access collection NO credit card information is requested. You are required to register with name, email address and password.


To see which records are free for this collection see:


To access the free occupation records go to:

This includes the 1920 and 1930 U.S. census


I have no affiliation with Ancestry and am posting  this solely for the readers’ information


Jan Meisels Allen

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee


Are Online Sales of Pre-Holocaust Communal Records Their Doom or Salvation #israel #records

Jan Meisels Allen











Jewish Communal Documents Removed from Book Bindings Beginning of the 16th Century (Bidsirit)


It was previously reported on this forum last month that a trove of pre-Holocasut Jewish records were confiscated by federal prosecutors  about to be auctioned by Kestnbaum & Company in Brooklyn, New York.  The ledgers were called pinkasim from commuities in Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, and Slovakia. Beginning in the 16th century, rabbis in that part of Europe started to keep these hand-written records of births, marriages, and deaths, with some of the books “illuminated” by artists. This was not the only incident as reported The Times of Israel.


The article talks about while these auctions are lawful, a “loophole” so that people pass on these types of items to official institutions and not hoard them. He is concerned that such books remain in private collections, and a need for international regulations which acknowledge European Jewish community books and douments as cultural heritage items. This is not a universal understanding that laws can rescue pinkasim from private collections.


During and after the Holocaust, thousands of pinkasim collections were stolen, lost, or abandoned. Unlike real estate and artwork stolen by Nazi Germany, however, pilfered pinkasim never got much legal or media attention.


The postwar fate of pinkasim was largely determined by regulations in each occupation zone. In areas occupied by the United States, for example, regulations helped ensure pinkasim were returned to surviving Jewish communities or sent to centers of Jewish learning in Israel, the United States, and elsewhere.


In Soviet-occupied areas, however, few Jewish communal books were restituted in this manner.Centuries-old ledgers that were never meant to be the property of an individual — but belonged to communities at large — fell into private collections.


To address the issue, officials should increase awareness of existing declarations and protocols. For example, he said, 47 countries endorsed the Terezin Declaration on Holocaust-era Assets and Related Issues. In that 2009 agreement, governments agreed to “emphasize the importance of providing restitution for communal and individual immovable property,” according to the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO).


Inspired by a U.S. campaign called “Reclaim the Records,” Israeli genealogist Mattan Segev-Frank wrote to the ministry on behalf of “The Israeli Genealogy Hub,” a Facebook group he founded with 3,400 members. The letter urged the government to disclose genealogical records and censuses, as well as to create publicly accessible indexes.


To read more see:


Jan Meisels Allen

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee


Itzkovitz/Leon #lithuania #southafrica

Esta Kawaoka

I am researching brothers Itzkovitz/Leon.  They immigrated to South Africa from Schwekshne, Russia (now Lithuania) around the turn of the 19th century.
Esta Kawaoka

ViewMate Transalation #poland #translation

Miriam Lappen


I've posted a vital record in Polish for which I need a translation. It is on ViewMate at the following address.
Please respond using the online ViewMate form.

Thank you.
Miriam Lappen

Help accessing records - Geneanet #records

Debby Gincig Painter

Does any one have access to premium Geneanet who can help with access records? I have found a couple references about my Grandfather. Please reply privately.
Thank you.
Debby Painter
(Klinger, Lustig, Stockhamer, Gincig - Galicia/Poland)

Book on Alte Rebbe descendants #rabbinic


I am trying to either buy or borrow a book by Rabbi Halperin about the Alte Rebbe's descendants. Is this book available?
Herman Salmenson
Researching:Zalmanson Schneerson Berz

Send an e-Greeting to Friends and Family in honor of Rosh Hashana 🍎🍯 #JewishGenUpdates

Avraham Groll

Dear Friends,

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we invite you to honor friends and family by sending them a JewishGen e-Greeting and letting them know
 that you are thinking of them! Not only will you strengthen your connections, but each greeting will support JewishGen's important work of preserving family history and heritage for future generations.

To send a greeting, follow these easy steps:

  1. Visit
  2. Enter any donation amount above $10. (Gifts of $100 or more qualify for membership with Value Added Services).
  3. Select "In Honor of."
  4. Enter the name of the honoree, to whom you would like to send a greeting.
  5. In the "Reason of Occasion" box, leave your Rosh Hashana greeting.
  6. Enter the name of the honoree's email. JewishGen will then immediately notify the honoree that a gift has been made in their honor, and direct them to view it on our website.

We hope you will enjoy this opportunity to connect with friends and family, while simultaneously supporting JewishGen's important mission.

Shana Tovah, Happy New Year, and THANK YOU for being part of the JewishGen family.

The JewishGen Team

Re: REMINDER: JGSIG September Meeting - Tues Sept 14, 2021, 10-11:30 AM EDT. Zoom - RSVP #events #jgs-iajgs #guidelines #announcements #education

Arthur Sissman


65 people have already signed up for this presentation.  Don't miss your chance!

If the email address is truncated, just put your cursor on the genresearch13@... and you should bring up an email form to reply.
Don't forget to answer the questions, that really helps the presenter focus!


Arthur Sissman

Jewish Genealogy SIG of Collier/Lee Co FL



Join our FB page at Jewish Genealogy SIG:

Genealogy Wise page:


Researching: ZISMAN/ZYSMAN/ZUSMAN (Belarus); TELESHEVSKY (Belarus); CHANUTIN, (W. Russia), BRODY, (Hungary); FRIEDMAN, (Hungary); GRAUBARD, (Romania/Ukraine)




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