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27 February 2017

IAJGS 2017- Orlando, Florida, Registration is Now Open

The registration for the 2017 IAJGS Conference On Jewish Genealogy is now open. All of the information can be found at the conference website

16 February 2017

Jews of Haiti

While today the Jewish community of Haiti is not large, the island has a very complex history of the Jewish people. It is believed that the first Jew to arrive in Haiti was Luis de Torres, who was travelling as an interpreter for Christopher Columbus, however the first true community was established by Dutch Jews in the early 1630's.
When the French colonized Haiti in 1633 these Dutch Jews immigrated from Brazil to work on the sugar plantations. Only 50 years later the Jews were expelled from all French Colonies, including Haiti, when the French passed the Code Noir (Black Code), which forbade the practice of any religion other than Roman Catholic. Some Jews however were able to stay in Haiti under special residence permits. The Jews who stayed were broken into two groups, Portuguese Jews from Bordeaux and Bayone, and the Jews of Curacao.  These two groups of Jews settled apart from each other, with the Portuguese Jews settling in the Southern part of the country, and the Jews from Curacao the Northern part.
Haiti was much like the rest of the Caribbean countries where there was a lot of movement of the Jews between the islands. This was because of many different reasons, but included, fleeing restrictions on religion, the Islands falling under the control of unfriendly countries and the destruction caused by storms and weather.
A great example of the movement of Jews around the Caribbean is the Moise family. Abraham Moise Sr. was born in Alsace in 1736. As a young man he left home and after a voyage over the ocean arrived on the island of San Domingo. There he made his home and established himself as a businessman. Around 1779, he traveled to the French Colony of St. Eustatia, an important center for the shipping trade. It was there that he met Sarah, who would become his wife.
Abraham and Sarah had 9 children, 7 sons and 2 daughters. Of these children the first 3 were born on the island of San Domingo. It was the 4th child, Hyam who was born in Port Au Prince, Haiti on 18 Mar 1785.
In the early 1790's there was an uprising against landowners on San Domingo, which forced the Moise family to flee with little more than the clothes on their backs. The family then made passage off of the island and made their way to Charleston, South Carolina. In Charleston, the family prospered, not only in business but also in service to their new country. The family tree is full of family who served during the Civil War, and at least one early member who served in the Revolutionary War.
In later years, the country of Haiti, came to the rescue of many families during the Holocaust. In 1937, Haiti issued visas to Jewish families trying to escape the Nazis. Today, the Jewish community numbers under 100, however their influence on the Caribbean and United States Jewish communitys is incredible, proof that very few people can make a difference, a valuable lesson for all.

07 February 2017

British Newspaper Archives, Obituaries

One of the newest collections to be updated at FamilySearch will be a great source for those searching for ancestors from the British Isles. The collection, British Newspaper Archive, Obituaries covers the 1800 - 1900 time frame. The obituaries included come from a variety of newspapers from all parts of Britain. This amazing database, which at this time includes over 237,000 images was provided to FamilySearch by the British Library in partnership with FindMyPast.
The Gluckstein family, were prominent English Jews and I used them to show how this collection works. I entered the name Gluckstein into the database and 13 results were returned.

From the list above, I selected the first entry, the obituary of Montague Gluckstein. This obituary follows his death in 1922 and was published in the The Evening Telegraph and Post. Below is the extended entry from FamilySearch.

Under the image (located on right side) this record states that in order to see the original document, the user either needs to sign in or visit a local Family History Center. It is well worth it to do so, as the full image will be seen. This obituary is shown below.

This is a very valuable resource and a special thanks goes to the British Library and to FindMyPast.