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18 July 2018

Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1796-1941

Family search has just added the database of Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1796-1941. These are images of civil births, marriages and deaths, with some indexes. The years with indexes are;

Births 1800-1923.
Marriages 1796-1923.
Deaths 1796-1923.

The original registers are located in the National Archives of Luxembourg.

The record below shows the birth of Louise Cohen on 18 February 1848 in Luxembourg. She was the daughter of Aaron Isac Cohen, a 39 year old butcher and Rebecka Schweitzer, who was 33.

15 June 2018

30 March 2018

09 March 2018

Mexico, Civil Registration and the Jews.

This past week at the 2018 Rootstech Conference, which was held in Salt Lake City, a lot of publicity was given to FamilySearch for releasing millions of Birth, Marriage and Death records from Mexico. The records are identified by state, and the earliest records date to 1832, however the majority begin in the 1860's. These records are also very modern with many extending into the 21st century. The entire list of the records added is shown below, and includes one database from England, which was also updated at that time.

The history of the Jews in Mexico begins in the early 1800's when those who were forced out of Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition began to arrive. During the Colonial Period in Mexico (1580-1640), many Jews came to Mexico from the Iberian Union, at a time when the Portuguese Jews had somewhat freer movement to Spanish America. However, when Portugal won its Independence from Spain, that led to persecution of the Portuguese Jews. This lasted into the 1800's when the Liberal Reform led to religious tolerance, and Jews were free to immigrate to Mexico. This freedom led to Jews coming from all over, first Europe, then the Ottoman Empire and finally the area that is now Syria. Today, the Jewish population of Mexico is over 67,000, with the majority being in Mexico City and Guadalajara.
The newly posted Civil Registration records are especially help full to those families who had Jewish family who came from Europe. In many cases, some had  after they left Mexico for the United States, but what happened in Mexico has been harder to locate. An example of this is the records of Albert Levy Cohen Hassid, who was born on 20 March 1920 in Marseille, France. He was the son of Jacobo L. Cohen and his wife Rebecca Hassid. This information comes from the Ancestry database, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007.

Also, we are able to identify him in the Border Crossings: From Mexico to the U. S., 1895-1964 collection, whish is also from Ancestry. The information matches the information found on the previous document.

Now, we do know a lot about his birth and his death, as well as his arrival in the U.S., but very little else. I have not been able to find a marriage for him in the states and if he did marry here, he would have only had a few weeks before the census, so he and his wife would most likely have not been on the 1940 Census together. However, if we take advantage of the new Civil Registration databases we find that by 13 Feb 1946, he had to gone back to Mexico, because on that day he married Luisa Shemaria Bejar, the daughter of Isaac Shemaria and his wife Raquel Bejar in Guadalajara. Jalisco, Mexico (the original is below).

FamilySearch has been kind enough to also provide the transcription for those without a knowledge of Spanish and it is below.

Once again, the information provided can be tied directly to the other documents, which continues to provide us the information to complete his life story. He will never be forgotten. What an incredible time we are in, where so many records are becoming available through so much hard work by everyone.

18 December 2017

Captain Ben L. Salomon, Congressional Medal of Honor.

At one time or another most researchers are guilty of not digging deep enough when putting together the history of an ancestor. We have spent so much time digging into their past that once we identify them we quickly move on to the next generation. Yes, we want to find the entire family but what have we left behind, what have we overlooked? has a wonderful database on there website, U.S., WWII Jewish Servicemen Cards, 1942-1947.  In doing some research in that database, I found the record of Capt. Ben I. Salomon.  The card gave the basic information, informing us that Capt. Salomon, age 30 of Los Angeles, California, the son of Bess Salomon, was killed in action on 9 July 1944. He was killed during the Battle of Saipan on the Marianas Islands.
 The information provided on this card does show that Captain Salomon was a hero who gave his life serving his country, yet there is so much more to the story.
On 1 May 2002, almost 70 years after his death, Capt. Salomon was awarded the Congressional Medal Of Honor. In the citation with the award (shown in its entirety below) his actions in protecting and saving the lifes of the wounded who were in his aid station are documented. He truly is a hero, and his actions that day should be read by all as an example of paying the ultimate sacrifice for others.
May his name always be remembered and may we always try to document the complete story.

01 December 2017

The Jews of Istanbul

The history of the Jewish community of Istanbul has traces back to the Spanish Inquisition in 1492. As the Sephardic (Spanish) Jews were forced to flee their homes in Spain in order to avoid forced conversion or even death, they needed somewhere with more safe to take their families.  They found that safety in Istanbul, where the Ottoman Sultan Beyazid II granted them refuge in the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan saw the great benefit of 
having the great knowledge, of science and business, that the Jewish community would bring with them. This support caused the Jewish population of Istanbul during the Ottoman Empire to grow to over 500,000.
Turkey also became a home for Ashkenazic Jews who were fleeing Russia during the 1800 and 1900's. As with previous leaders, Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, also welcomed famous scientists who were under threat in Germany and Austria to the Nazi regime, to find safety in Istanbul.
That once great community of a half of a million is today just a small piece of what it was.  In the early 1940's a wealth tax was put on the people. Even though it was intended for the wealthy Turks, it had severe effects upon the Jewish population. Many people estimate that between 25-35K Jews were forced to flee the country when they became unable to pay their debts. Later the Istanbul pogrom of September 1955 against the Greek, Jewish and Armenian communities caused another 10,000 Jews to flee the country.
Today, the population is about 25,000, with most Turkish Jews living in Istanbul. Even though the numbers are smaller there are still more than 25 synagogues throughout the country. 
Ahrida Synagogue (
One of these, the Ahrida Synagogue, was built in 1453, before the Muslim conquest, and still is in use today.
For those interested in researching the Jewish family from Istanbul, one of the best ways to start is at the Sephardicgen website. Compiled by Dr. Jeffrey Malka, this site is a must for anyone researching Sephardic roots. Below is just a part of the sources he has for research in Istanbul.