JGS-Montreal presents Michael Tobias #announcements #dna #germany #records

Victoria Barkoff


JGS-Montreal presents Michael Tobias

October 4 at 7:30 PM EDT 

Ich bin ein Berliner

JRI-Poland and DNA Matches

Unite 5 Half-siblings from 4 Different Mothers

live stream:

optional donation:

The paper trail and the DNA trail working together to connect a family


Posted by Victoria Barkoff for JGS-Montreal


Demoing Brick Walls – Lessons Learned from Researching Twelve Mystery Families #dna #education #general #rabbinic

Jeffrey Mark Paull

If you are a Jewish genealogist, chances are you have encountered the dreaded brick wall – the seemingly impenetrable barrier beyond which lie untold generations of unknown ancestors who represent a proud Jewish heritage that has become shrouded in mystery.


There are many causes for these genealogical barriers – the pogroms of the late 1800s and early 1900s in Czarist Russia, WW-I, the Russian Revolution, WW-II, and the Holocaust – to name just a few.  These traumatic events were followed by mass immigration to America and other countries, through which families were split, communication pathways between different generations of family members were disrupted, and more information was lost.


The incalculable loss of life resulting from these traumatic events, combined with the destruction of Jewish synagogues and cultural and religious institutions, has left a huge information void in its wake, and much Jewish genealogical information has been lost or destroyed.  This has resulted in many American Jews losing contact with their ancestral origins.


If the 19th and 20th centuries represented a period of loss of Jewish cultural and genealogical repositories of information and knowledge, the 21st century, with its technological advancements in genetic genealogy, and the promise of global online access to genealogical information databases, offers opportunities for rediscovering our ancestral origins, and for recovering at least a part of our lost Jewish heritage.


As Jewish genealogical researchers, we wondered what it would be like if we tried to demolish some of these brick walls. Could it be done, and if so, how?  We decided to embark on such a research study by focusing on a dozen families who all shared one thing in common – they all claimed descent from Rebbe Yehuda Leib of Shpola, a famed 18th-century tzaddik and early Chassidic leader in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine) better known as the Shpoler Zeida. 


Although eleven of the twelve families had an oral history of descent from the Shpoler Zeida, none of them had a family tree or yichus document showing precisely how they descend from him.  The remaining family was unaware that they are descendants. We coined the term “mystery families” for these twelve families since how they descend from the Shpoler Zeida was a mystery.


In studying these mystery families, we began with the concept of being inclusive and accepted their family histories of being descendants of the Shpoler Zelda as genuine.  We then started with what the family knew about their ancestry and did our best to reconstruct their line of descent by thoroughly researching the paper trail. Our research enabled us to fill in the gaps in the lineage, connect the key ancestor to the Zeida lineage, and confirm the line of descent from the Shpoler Zeida for two of the twelve mystery families.


For five other mystery families, we present plausible hypotheses for how these families connect to the Shpoler Zeida’s family tree, based upon the available evidence while indicating the limitations and uncertainties involving their hypothesized connections.  Although we believe that we solved the mystery of how they connect to the Shpoler Zeida, their lines of descent should be considered provisional or conditional until they can be validated and confirmed.


For another five mystery families, we could not fill every gap in the lineage or identify every ancestral link in the chain with complete certainty, and the resultant uncertainty in their lineage prevents us from connecting their descendants to the Shpoler Zeida family tree at the present time. We reconstructed their line of descent to the extent possible, in the hope that making this information more widely available will result in a key piece of evidence being discovered which will help bridge the remaining gaps in their lineage.


In looking back over the lessons learned over the course of our research, we found that if we assembled all of the available information regarding what was known about each lineage, and then targeted our research toward filling in the remaining data gaps, we were often successful in reconstructing the line of descent.  Often, one key document or piece of evidence, such as a Y-DNA genetic match, a census record, a birth record, a tombstone inscription, or a naturalization petition, served to unlock the door and enabled us to reconstruct the line of descent.  Sometimes, the smallest detail, such as an obscure article in a Hebrew newspaper, or an entry in a family member’s biography, was enough to cause the wall to crumble.


We are planning to publish all twelve of these genealogical research studies, the first two of which have already been posted to “Solving the Mystery of the Greenberg Family’s Descent from the Shpoler Zeida,” and “Solving the Mystery of the Polonsky Family’s Descent from the Shpoler Zeida.”  We hope that the research methods provided in these research studies provide a useful model for other Jewish genealogists to follow.  Here are the links:

Dr. Jeffrey Mark Paull, Dr. Jeffrey Briskman, and Susan K. Steeble


Re: PLOTKIN: Bischoff (Biechof), Moliger: Ukraine or Belarus? #russia

Sherri Bobish


I looked at his nat paper, and my guess' are:
Either Bykhaw or Byalynichy in the region of Mogilev.
Mahilyow [Bel], Mogilev [Rus], Molev [Yid], Mohylew [Ger, Pol], Mohyliv [Ukr], Mogiliovas [Lith], Mohylów, Mogilew, Mahileu, Mohilev, Mahiliou, Mogilyov, Mohliv, Mogilev-na-Dniepr
Region: Mogilev
Byalynichy [Bel], Belynichi [Rus], Belinitch [Yid], Białynicze [Pol], Białyničy [Bel], Bjalynicy, Bialynichy, Byelinichi
Region: Mogilev
Bykhaw [Bel], Bykhov [Rus], Bichov [Yid], Bikhov Yashan [Heb], Bychów [Pol], Alt-Bikhev, Staryy Bykhov, Stary Bychów, Bychov, Bychaw, Bychaŭ
Region: Mogilev

Also, Kijon looks like Kiyow on the nat paper.  That is just a poor spelling of what Kiev sounded like to the clerk. 

Take into consideration that the clerk had to write down the current year and Jake's age and do the math on paper to figure out his year of birth.

My guess is that neither spelling nor math was this clerk's strong point.

Good luck in your search,

Sherri Bobish

Searching: RATOWSKY / CHAIMSON (Ariogala / Ragola, Lith.)
WALTZMAN / WALZMAN (Ustrzyki Dolne / Istryker, Pol.)
LEVY (Tyrawa Woloska, Pol.)
LEFFENFELD / LEFENFELD / FINK, KALTER (Daliowa/ Posada Jasliska, Pol.)
BOJDA / BERGER (Tarnobrzeg, Pol.)
SOKALSKY / SOLON / SOLAN / FINGER(MAN) (Grodek, Bialystok, Pol.)
BOBISH / APPEL (Odessa?)

Re: What's this number on a passenger list? #records

Sherri Bobish


It is a reference to naturalization that was written in on the manifest years later.

Good luck in your search,

Sherri Bobish

Searching: RATOWSKY / CHAIMSON (Ariogala / Ragola, Lith.)
WALTZMAN / WALZMAN (Ustrzyki Dolne / Istryker, Pol.)
LEVY (Tyrawa Woloska, Pol.)
LEFFENFELD / LEFENFELD / FINK, KALTER (Daliowa/ Posada Jasliska, Pol.)
BOJDA / BERGER (Tarnobrzeg, Pol.)
SOKALSKY / SOLON / SOLAN / FINGER(MAN) (Grodek, Bialystok, Pol.)
BOBISH / APPEL (Odessa?)

Re: Judenrats --- friend or foe? #holocaust


Hi Susan,

You are so right about not judging others when one hasn't been in their situation, and not knowing the "complete picture" of such events.  That's part of our undertaking with genealogy, I feel, being able to accept/deal with whatever one might uncover.  Records, or not, I don't think it's appropriate to judge past events by today's standards (which seem pretty fuzzy anyway).  Hindsight is quite clear compared to living something in the moment.  I am often wondering and asking myself how I might have dealt with living through many past events.

Thanks for your input.
Leah Heilpern Snider
Silverdale, Washington/ USA

Re: Using Wife's Surname For Immigration #general #names

Sherri Bobish


The same situation is seen in my husband's family from Gorodek near Bialystok.

He used his wife's surname for several years after arrival, and then changed the surname.  His brother used their father's surname.  They both arrived in The U.S. in the mid-1880's.

In my family from Ustrzyki Dolne there is one person who used his mother's maiden surname, and that branch retains that name to this day.  His siblings all used their father's surname. 

So, why one sibling using the mother's maiden name, and the other siblings using the father's?  They all arrived in The U.S. within a few years of each other circa 1910's.

Does anyone have an explanation why this occurred with some immigrants?


Sherri Bobish

Searching: RATOWSKY / CHAIMSON (Ariogala / Ragola, Lith.)
WALTZMAN / WALZMAN (Ustrzyki Dolne / Istryker, Pol.)
LEVY (Tyrawa Woloska, Pol.)
LEFFENFELD / LEFENFELD / FINK, KALTER (Daliowa/ Posada Jasliska, Pol.)
BOJDA / BERGER (Tarnobrzeg, Pol.)
SOKALSKY / SOLON / SOLAN / FINGER(MAN) (Grodek, Bialystok, Pol.)
BOBISH / APPEL (Odessa?)

Re: PLOTKIN: Bischoff (Biechof), Moliger: Ukraine or Belarus? #russia

Nancy Siegel

Norman - What you refer to as Bischoff might be Bykhov, Belarus, which has many different spellings. It is in the Mogilev Region.  My grandmother, Sarah ERLIN, was born in Bykhov — Staryy (Old) Bykhov is how she referred to it. Her brother Aaron married Chana Reiza PLOTKIN. They immigrated to America and settled in Buffalo, NY. Other PLOTKIN family members settled in Canada.

See JewishGen’s Communities Database and Gazetteer and search for Bykhov:

See also:

Nancy Siegel
San Francisco, CA

Re: Polish Archives Loan Document #translation #poland

Steven Granek


First, thanks to David for the advice and kind offer.

II am wondering if anyone can point me to someone who knows a bit about the building history of Kalisz between the wars that might help me make sense of this (or even knows who in Kalisz I might write to to ask).  
I now have the reasonably well translated document referenced below (loan document for a construction project in Kalisz) . It has no additional information about my great Aunt and Uncle Temer and Chaim Adler (only that they borrowed just over 100,000 zlotys for the construction of a residential building at this address with gory details about each phase and the allocated amounts per phase).  Strangely, it has nothing about the terms (length or interest rate) or the address of the borrowers.
And there are some things about the dates that don’t make sense to me.  Specifically my conundrum is this:  They apparently acquired the “property” (quotes deliberate) in 1931 per the document.  The drawings/plans for construction were approved by what seems to be the planning council in 1938. It seems the loan was recorded n May of 1939 (timing!) - at least my relatives seem to have been optimists!
BUT -1) the description of the construction project seems to indicate that this is new construction 2) This is an attached - in row - building. 3) I have discovered in a book written by Mira Kimmelman that she talks about visiting (after the war with her son) this exact address (even down to the change of street names since then) and remembering that she’d have Passover there with her maternal grandparents in their modern apartment.  Which means that a relatively new apartment building was already there before the war. And since she describes it as modern, and it is my understanding that much of old Kalisz was destroyed in WW1 - it's hard to believe that my great aunt and uncle would be tearing down a 10-15 year old building with modern apartments in it and rebuild something very similar from scratch.  And needless to say - if they got the loan in May 1939 to build something from dirt - it did not get built by Sept 1, 1939 when the German Army crossed the border.
Possibilities 1) there is something that I am misunderstanding about the document 2) The addresses are confused (though her son says she had an incredible memory and went right to the place at that address).
I might add that Google maps street view has a clear picture at that address (the modern street name) of a building that looks materially the same as the one in the elevation drawings in the loan document.
Any insights appreciated.  I’ve been asked so I’ll make the point that my inquiries are not about any theoretical claim.   I could care less about that. I am trying to understand the life of my relatives - nothing more.
Steve Granek
Columbia, MD USA

Re: 1897 All Empire Russian Census #russia

Gary Pokrassa

Alex Krakovsky has scanned and posted over 2,800 files for the 1897 census comprising well over 400,000 pages of data from present day Ukraine - the link isАрхів:ДАКО/384

Gary Pokrassa
Data Acquisition Director
Ukraine Research Division

JGSColorado presents "Donating your Family Papers? How, When, Where and Why"  and "New Strategies in German Jewish Research" with Karen S. Franklin #events #germany #education #records

Ellen Beller

JGSCO presents

Donating your Family Papers? How, When, Where and Why 


New Strategies in German Jewish Research

Speaker:  Karen S. Franklin


Sunday December 19 2021 10 AM  to 12 PM Mountain Standard Time

On Zoom

9:30 AM to 10:00 AM Schmear, Schmooze, and Share

Program starts promptly at 10 AM


Donating your Family Papers? How, When, Where and Why 

How do you select an appropriate home for your family papers? The session provides an introduction to the Center for Jewish History and Leo Baeck Institute, a description of LBI collections, and gives suggestions for the process of donation. The Center recently reopened its doors to researchers in person and began accepting donations. Like many other institutions, it is inundated with new collections. Learn how to prepare your papers, work with archivists, and take advantage of the new research material.



New Strategies in German Jewish Research 

In this talk, Karen not only takes a closer look into the LBI collections--including methodologies for exploring women's stories--but also identifies other resources available to family historians, including the GermanJewish DNA group, Facebook groups, the International German Genealogy Partnership (IGGP), databases on JewishGen, the Obermayer Awards, and new web sites.



Karen S. Franklin is Director of Family Research at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York and a consultant to the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.  She has served as President of the International Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS), and Co-Chair of the Board of Governors of  She is a past Chair of the Council of American Jewish Museums and the Memorial Museums Committee of the International Council of Museums. She currently serves on the boards of the Southern Jewish Historical Society and National Association of Retired Reform Rabbis. A Co-founder of the Obermayer German Jewish History Award, Karen is the recipient of the IAJGS 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award.  


Free for members of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado/ a link will be mailed to you

$5 cost for guests/ go to and click on program events 

Ellen Beller
JGSCO President 


Re: 1897 All Empire Russian Census #russia


You did not specify which part of the former Russian Empire is of interest;  I'd recommend checking the appropriate JewishGen collections as a starting point. has some limited information on specific districts (insofar as I could find from a broad catalog search on "Russia" and "Census - 1897".

For example, for certain districts (uyezdy) in Belarus, please see

For the city of Kyiv, scans are available online of the original documents in part of the Krakovskiy collection;  please seeАрхів:ДАКО/384/2 -- note that the index is in Ukrainian, while the original source material is in Russian.

This is an incomplete list, I'm certain that other researchers have additional sources.

Joel Novis
Longmeadow, MA
(NOVITSKIY:  Kyiv, Vasil'kiv;  OLSZTAJN:  Łódź/Łowicz/Stryków/Zgierz;  GEYMAN/HYMAN:  Ashmyany; POTASNIK/LEVY:  unknown)

Re: Using Wife's Surname For Immigration #general #names


I had a similar situation. My great grandfather Abraham Greenberg immigrated with his fiancé Minnie Markowitz and her family. According to his papers that is the name he used. They immigrated in may of 1907 and were married in December of that same year. Maybe it was easier and less questions were asked from authorities. Bear in mind it was not safe there before and after the war.

Sarah Greenberg(USA)

Re: 1897 All Empire Russian Census #russia

Arlene Beare

Jewishgen Latvia Database has a large number of entries for the 1897 Census. Some of the Towns have an incomplete census. Go to   and see what Towns have been indexed.
Read the Introduction carefully and you will know what the Database contains. The largest collection is Dvinsk now Daugavpils with over 18000 entries.Riga is incomplete with 1912 entries.
Arlene Beare
Co-director Jewishgen Estonia and Latvia Research Division

Re: Jews and Hot Air Balooning #general


Hi Jonathan,

Albert Samama-Chikly introduced air balloons and aerial photography in Tunisia in 1908. He was also the first fiction cinematographer in Tunisia and a friend of the Lumière brothers, one of the first war photographers in the French army during WWI, experimented with X-ray imaging, underwater photography and all sorts of new and exciting technologies of the day.


Thierry Samama

Re: PLOTKIN: Bischoff (Biechof), Moliger: Ukraine or Belarus? #russia


Hi Norman, 
Gostomliu is Hostomel

Giannis Daropoulos 


Re: Jewish War Veteran Research #general #events

Ellen Shindelman Kowitt

Save the Date!
Wednesday, Nov. 10th 2 -3pm EST
JewishGen Talks "Researching Jews in America" Webinar Series presents a panel:
Researching Jews in the U.S. Military with experts from The Shapell Foundation, Project Benjamin, and the National Museum of American Jewish Military History

More information at
Ellen Shindelman Kowitt
Director, USA Research Division

PLOTKIN: Bischoff (Biechof), Moliger: Ukraine or Belarus? #russia

Norman Plotkin

Hi All:
I am new to JewishGen and haven't been able to find these answers on my own. My grandparents came to the US in the early 1900s: Jankiel "Jake" Plotkin and his spouse Rachel Lavisky (Levitsky). I am trying to find out if any of the following places still exist and if so are they in current day Ukraine OR current day Belarus. I first thought it was Belarus because I think there is a Moliger in Belarus but I also think there may be or was a Moliger in the Ukraine.
-Jankiel said his residence when he declared for US citizenship was in Kijon, Russia
-1904: they got married in Gostomliu. I cannot locate this place.
-1904 and 1906: they had two kids born in Kiev (they had two more kids that were born in New Orleans)
-Jankiel was aided by a Jewish group because of either the pogroms and/or to avoid the draft. He took the Merion from Liverpool to Philadelphia and arrived in 1911. His wife and kids arrived in the US later.  They ended up in New Orleans.
I grew up in New Orleans but moved to CA many years ago. I currently live in Lafayette, CA. My phone is 925/324-0839 if anyone wants to contact me.  I would appreciate it if anyone can answer any of my questions and/or give me any leads so that i can research this further. Thank you
Norman C. Plotkin

JewishGen Talks Panel Oct. 6th - Researching the Jews of New England #announcements

Ellen Shindelman Kowitt

Co-sponsored by the New England Jewish History Collaborative ( and the JewishGen USA Research Division, pleaser join us for “Researching Jewish Families in America,” a special series of JewishGen Talks highlighting archives, museums, and historical society collections of interest to family historians in the United States.


This live panel will focus on New England Jewish resources and feature repositories with collections about the Jews of New England featuring:

Rachel C. King, Executive Director, The Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society

Lindsay S. Murphy, Senior Archivist, The Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society

Kate-Lynn Laroche, Executive Director, Rhode Island Historical Association

Harris Gleckman, Director, Documenting Maine Jewry Project

Elizabeth Rose, Executive Director, Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford

Ellen Kowitt, Director, JewishGen USA Research Division


Registration is open at

Wednesday, October 6th
2-3 pm EDT
This webinar will be recorded and made available on the JewishGen YouTube channel in the future.
Ellen Shindelman Kowitt
Director, USA Research Division

Re: What's this number on a passenger list? #records


For an explanaition ---  On click on Get Started >  Info Files
Navigate down to, and click on Manifest Markings > In The Occupation Column

David Rosen
Boston, MA

On 9/27/2021 3:38 PM, erikagottfried53@... wrote:
What does a this number: "3-239679-2-26-43-NO C/A" on a passenger list for May 21,1914 mean?
It does look as if it was entered retrospectively.
Perhaps a reference to naturalization?  And if it is, how do I follow up to investigate?

Thanks for any answers or suggestions.
Erika Gottfried
Teaneck, New Jersey

Invitation to JGSSN Zoom meeting: "Routes to Roots Foundation: New Surnames Databases, Maps, Town Images and More!” with Miriam Weiner #ukraine #events #romania #belarus #galicia

Ben Kempner

The Jewish Genealogy Society of Southern Nevada (JGSSN) invites you to a Zoom meeting at 11:00 a.m. (Pacific Daylight Time) on Sunday, October 10: "Routes to Roots Foundation: New Surnames Databases, Maps, Town Images and More!” with Miriam Weiner


To request a Zoom link, please complete this short form: which can also be found on our Meetings webpage.

Members of JGSSN can attend for free.  Non-members can pay $5.00 on the Donate webpage and complete the short form.

Session Description:

From 30+ years of working in the archives of Eastern Europe (Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Lithuania), Miriam has acquired hundreds of various document collections yielding millions of surnames. She formed a close working relationship with archivists on all levels many of which continue to this day. 

During the past two years, she has created a surname database containing over 2,000,000 names (with continuing updates regularly). At the website, a surname search can produce entries from Holocaust name lists, vital records, census lists, school records, property lists, various telephone and business directories, applications for Communist Party membership and much more, most of which do not appear elsewhere online. A surname search can produce document results with that surname and links to a street map and town images. All in a single search!  A town name search can yield archive data for that town, as well as town images and a link to a street map of the town.  Another valuable website resource is the Maps database.  Miriam has acquired many maps from various localities. A map search will bring up very detailed maps that, when you zoom in, may reveal even the smallest shtetl.

In 1989, Miriam Weiner accepted an invitation from the Polish National Tourist Office to visit the Polish Archives in preparation for arranging genealogy tours to Poland. That visit led to a 30+ year career working in the archives of Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and Lithuania. 

In 1991, The Jewish Week in New York, referred to Miriam as “The Genealogist who Lifted the Archival Iron Curtain”. 
In 1998, The Forward referred to her as “The Indiana Jones of Pre-war Polish Jewry.” 
In 2019, The Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia referred to Miriam in a lecture review as "Genealogy Rock Star Discusses Digging up Jewish Roots."

Miriam's work in the genealogy field has produced a slew of awards beginning more than 30 years ago; among them are: 

In 1988, a writing award from the Council of Genealogy Columnists for her syndicated genealogy column

  • In 1999, 2000, and 2003, three major awards from IAJGS (one for each of her two books and the Lifetime Achievement Award)
  • In 2000, Reference Book of the Year award from the Association of Jewish Libraries
  • In 2019, The National Genealogical Society presented Miriam with the prestigious "President's Citation" at its annual conference in St. Louis
  • In 2020; The Federation of Genealogical Societies awarded her the Rabbi Malcolm H Stern Humanitarian Award 

The new version of the RTRF website has produced many comments from noted members of the genealogical community, See


Ben Kempner

Vice President,

Jewish Genealogy Society of Southern Nevada

6541 - 6560 of 668675