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29 July 2015

Jerusalem 2015 Another Great Conference

The 2015 Conference of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) is now complete and what an incredible experience it was. A great team, under the direction of Michael Goldstein, helped the conference become as the advertisement promised, "A Conference Like No Other".  In addition to the many wonderful speakers and activities, the fact that it was held in Jerusalem, truly made this event one that I will never forget. Thank you to all those who helped make this memory possible.
As a first time visitor to Israel, I was not sure what exactly to expect. Waiting for this visit since I was a very young man, I was both excited to experience it all, and yet also worried that it would never meet my expectations. I soon found that I worried about nothing, it was everything I had hoped for and more. The places I visited, and those who I traveled with gave me experiences I'll always treasure, and I can't wait to someday return. To those who gave lectures that taught me something new, and to those who attended my lectures and shared their personal stories with me, thanks for touching my life. I hope to see you all next year in Seattle.



 

22 June 2015

IAJGS 2015 On Demand

The 2015 International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies Conference in Jerusalem is less than 2 weeks away. For those who can not attend in person, who can still participate by signing up for IAJGS On Demand. This can be done through the conference website, iajgs2015.org.

29 May 2015

The Jews of Columbia

Like many countries, the first Jews to arrive in Columbia came from Spain. These Jews, who arrived in the 1500's practiced Christianity but were really "Secret Jews" having been forced to convert during the Inquisition. In the year 1636, many of these secret Jews were caught and massacred. This massacre led the rest of the community to eventually fade away, and Columbia was left without a Jewish presence.
Beginning in the late 1700's Jews who openly practiced started arriving from the Caribbean countries of Jamaica and Curacao, two countries with long established Jewish communities.
Later the government made it legal to be a practicing Jew and even granted the Jewish community a plot of land for a cemetery.
Even with the arrivals from the Caribbean countries the Jewish community was not very large. That did not change until the beginning of the 20th century. After the end of World War I, Jews came in large numbers from all over Europe. First were the Sephardic Jews who came from places such as Greece, North Africa, Syria and Turkey. Right behind them were the Ashkenazic Jews from all over Eastern Europe. By the time of World War II, the Jewish population was a little under 7000 people. Most of the Jews were centered in Bogota but there were also smaller groups in Cali, Barranquilla, and Medellin. The Askenazic and Sephardic communities are about equal in size.
As with the earliest Jews in Columbia, today most are involved as merchants and businessmen. The number of Jews in Columbia has declined because of violence toward the community. Today the population is closer to 4000.

20 April 2015

South Africa, Orange Free State, Estate Files, 1951-2006

This collection, the Estate Files of the Orange Free State, South Africa, 1951-2006 has over 3.8 million images of the estate files held by the Master of The Supreme Court in Bloemfontein, South Africa. This collection which is available free of charge at FamilySearch, is extra nice for researchers , because in most cases the records contain information on multiple generations. The majority of the records are those normally associated with death, such as death notices, inventories and wills. The record are for those who lived in the Orange Free State region.


Whenever a do a general search in a new database, I always use the name Cohen. I do this for 2 reasons, first, it is a name that is almost always a Jewish name and second by seeing the number of hits, I am able to compare it to other searches to see the level of coverage of the database. In this case there were 449 results that cam e back for the surname Cohen. Almost every result included multiple generations. From the results, I clicked on the link for David Cohen, who died on 4 January 1974 in Harrismith (below). 


From this we now have the names of his parents, Nathan and Gita,  and his spouse Bessie Kadey. In addition we are given the names of three children, Cyril Herchel, Edwin Bernard and Phyllis. While this is great information, if we continue further by clicking on the "View the document" tab, we also are able to get the place of birth as well as his place of residence at the time of his death.


This source can be a great way to link together multiple generations of your families. As with all FamilySearch records it is also free to use.

17 March 2015

The Knowles Collection has moved

In the summer of 2007, a new group of records appeared on the FamilySearch Community Trees Website. This database, The Knowles Collection, contained the records of a small section of  the Jewish people of the British Isles. That original set included less than 10,000 people.
Over the last eight or so years, I have been so lucky to have witnessed the incredible growth of the Knowles Collection. What was once a single database, has now grown to be six individual databases that now contain the genealogical records of almost 1.2 million Jewish people. Those databases and the number of people contained  in them;

                          The Jews of the British Isles  208,349   
                          The Jews of North America  489,400
                          The Jews of Europe  380,637
                          The Jews of South America and the Caribbean  21,351
                          The Jews of Africa, The Orient and the Middle East   37,618   
                          The Jews of the South Pacific    21,518     

While I have received many notes from those who have been able to find family names and in some cases link together with distant cousins, I have also heard from some who have had a hard time finding the collection. Well, hopefully that will no longer be an issue. This past week the Knowles Collection has moved to new location which should make finding it and searching the collection much easier. It is now located under the Genealogies tab on the front page of FamilySearch.org. The following steps should help in your search.

1. From the main page of FamilySearch.org, Click on the search tab which will give you a drop down box containing five areas. Select Genealogies. (BELOW)


                         
2. This will take you to the main search page. Once on this page you can search by entering the name you are looking for and at the bottom of the page selecting Community Trees (Below). 



3. The results that are returned include Hugh Charles Knowles, the son of Charles Julius Kino and his wife Louise Essinger (Below) . The family changed their name to Knowles before the birth of Hugh Charles.


4. By clicking on the name in blue, the complete record is given of Hugh Charles Knowles (Below). The area on the left of the page provides the basic information as well as a list of sources and notes for the record.  The center of the page is the individuals pedigree, which can be extended for more generations, or made to show the children. The top Yellow band gives the name of the collection the record came from, in this case it is the Knowles Collection, Jews of the British Isles.




I do believe that by moving the collection, far more people will be able to find their families. I am most grateful to all who have donated their own records to the collection.This databases will be updated as often as needed. I hope this continues to be a valuable resource for all those looking for their Jewish families.

09 March 2015

New Brunswick Provincial Marriages 1789-1950

In March of last year, I wrote about the New Brunswick Death records that were made available on the FamilySearch website. Now this past week the New Brunswick Provincial Marriages, 1789-1950 have also been added to FamilySearch. The collection, which as of today includes over 255,000 images, provides some great information for people researching their Jewish families. Starting with a basic search page (shown below), I have entered the surname Cohen.


The name Cohen returned 586 entries, of which the first part of page 1 are shown below. 


I chose the second entry, the marriage of Israel Cohen to Freda Jacobson in 1903. Upon clicking on the name Israel Cohen, I was given the basic information for  this marriage (Below).


We now have most of the vital information on the bride and groom, including their ages and the names of their parents. Also, the number of the microfilm that was the source for this information is shown, #2,320,202. By following the View the document link the researcher can then view the original record (Below).



05 March 2015

Australia, New South Wales, Cemetery, Military, and Church Record Transcripts, 1816-1982

This database, which is really a mixture of a few different types of records is now available at FamilySearch. As of today their are over 160,000 images of cemetery transcripts, various military records and Church records. The original collection is the work of Clarice (Taylor) Cubbins who passed away last year. For those researchers with Jewish ancestry the cemetery transcripts will be the most useful.


The collection is very easy to use.  As I always try to use the same surname when doing a beginning search, I entered the name Cohen in the search box and had 235 results returned. The first page of those results is below. 


I selected Rosa Cohen from the list. The results page (below) gave me most of the vital information, such as age at death and location of the burial.


To see if anything else could be gathered from the original source I followed by clicking the "View the Document" tab. I was then able to view the original, which came from FHL Film # 1363955. That original (below) also provided me with the names of Abraham and Sophia Cohen, the parents of little Rosa.