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31 December 2014

18 December 2014

California, Oakland, Alameda County, Obituary Card Files, 1985-2011

The ongoing effort by FamilySearch to add as many death records as possible, today benefits those whose family is in the area of Oakland, California. The newest collection, California, Oakland, Alameda County, Obituary Card Files, 1985-2011, is smaller, only about 69,000 images but the information is incredible.
Doing a basic search of the surname Cohen, 315 results were returned. The image below is the first few entries on that list.

The first person in the results is Sylvia Cohen Zarkin, who died in 2008. The information given shows us the various people mentioned in her obituary, including a spouse, a child and numerous other people. However, if you then click on her name, an expanded record shows the relationship of every person mentioned (shown below).

One more click on the name and you can view the original obituary. The original collection, which has been gathered from various newspapers is housed at the Oakland, California Family History Center. As more obituaries become available, they will be added to the collection. As with all the record collections, it may be viewed from the warmth and comfort of your own home for no charge.

08 December 2014

District of Columbia Deaths, 1874-1959

It seems as though the death records being added to the FamilySearch website just keep coming. Today over 529,000 images, all name search able have been added for the District of Columbia, for the years 1874-1959.
The records are very easy to use. I did a search for Moses Rosenbaum, who I knew died young sometime shortly before 1920. I found the record of Moses Rosenbaum who died on 29 November 1919 at the age of less than one year. From the index (shown below) we find some great information.

We now know that he was the son of Solomen Rosenbaum and Mabel Camilla Healey who lived at 52 Green S. E.  We also know that he was buried on 1 December 1919 at Adas Israel Cemetery. We also have the option of looking at the original document by clicking on the View the Document in the upper right hand corner of the image above. That will take us to the original death certificate (as shown below).

This database can be found by clicking on the following link.  District of Columbia Deaths, 1874-1959.  As with all FamilySearch databases it is free for all.

01 December 2014

The Jews of Zakynthos

Zakynthos, or Zante as it is sometimes known, is located at the southernmost tip of the Ionian Islands, off the western side of Greece. The Jewish history of the area most likely dates at least into the late 15th century. We do know for sure that when visited in 1522, the Island had over 30 Jewish families and its own synagogue.
In the 1560's, visitors to the island found 20 heads of families, most of either Sicilian or Portuguese origin on the island. They were for the most part wealthy merchants who were heavily involved in the maritime trade that was happening between Venice and Constantinople. These Jews appeared to live under some form of restriction, as
they were forced to live in a ghetto and as early as 1518, had to wear a Jewish identification badge.
The first known Rabbi of the community was Joseph Forman who was from Seres, in Macedonia. By 1686 the population of the Jewish community was a little more than 1,000 people.
By 1700, there were 2 synagogues in the city of Zante, the first was the Zante Synagogue and the second, built in 1699 was the Candia Synagogue. Over time, the area was under the control of other groups which led to various restrictions put upon them, such as being forbidden to participate in the politics of the island or not being allowed to join guilds or trade associations. By the early 1890's the Jewish population had dropped to about 150.
Zakynthos would also become a place known for the historic act to protect the Jews.  At the outbreak of World War II, there were about 275 Jews in the community. The Nazi's occupied Greece and requested a list of all the Jews in the community for deportation to the camps. The mayor, Lukas Karrer and Bishop Chrysostomos refused to provide the names. Instead,  they hid the Jews in the rural areas outside the town. Because of their heroic actions, every Jew of Zakynthos survived the war. Statues of these two brave men stand on the site of the that first synagogue, and in 1978, Yad Vashem, honored them with the title of "Righteous among the Nations".