***Note: This document is updated throughout the year. For the latest news, please visit our blog (www.JewishGen.blogspot.com). Friday, November 4, 2011 JewishGen used in Family Connection To discover his family history and find relatives, Stuart used a variety of programs including Family Tree Maker, Ancestry.com, Jewish Genealogy (ED - JewishGen.org) and myheritage.com. Click here to read the entire article. In the News: Bringing lost letters back to life “I had some interest in genealogical research,” Debbie recalls, “but I never imagined what was possible. I started with JewishGen, and then went on ancestry.com. I filled in a little green leaf with the bit of information I had, I clicked, and within a minute my grandfather’s death certificate popped up. I was blown away. What else can I find on my grandparents, I wondered. Click here to read the entire article. Wednesday, August 10, 2011 In the News: JewishGen Yizkor Books From the Jewish Tribune, by Brigit Katz “On sunny Shabes afternoons…the young people played on the lakes near Probeken and sang sweet, haunting, Russian romantic, Zionist, and worker songs…[I]n winter, when the frost crackled, we skated there on steel ice skates or rode in sleighs.” This description of Jewish life in Poland during the 1920s can be found in the Yizkor Book of Brzezin, one of hundreds of memorials written by Holocaust survivors about the shtetls in which they once lived. Thanks to the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project, these memorials are being translated from their original languages, thus becoming accessible to those who wish to discover their Jewish heritage. Yizkor Books were originally published in large numbers by landsmanshaft, or societies of Holocaust survivors from the same town. The books pay tribute to communities that were decimated by the Holocaust, providing descriptions and histories of various shtetls, biographies of prominent community members and lists of people who perished in pogroms and in the Holocaust. JewishGen is a volunteer-driven organization that accumulates records of Jewish life from across the world, and then makes those records accessible through online databases and other online research tools. Its Yizkor Book Project was founded in 1994 by Lance Ackerfield, one of the many volunteers that
actively contribute to JewishGen’s growing collection of resources. The mission of the Yizkor Book Project is to make the information contained in the Yizkor books accessible to those who cannot read Yiddish and Hebrew, the original languages in which the books were composed. Both volunteers and paid translators are recruited to translate the large corpus of Yizkor Books. These translations are then published online and, occasionally, in print. “We would like to translate as many books as we possibly can,” Avraham Groll, the director of Business Operations for JewishGen, told the Jewish Tribune. “If we feel that there’s enough interest, we will actually publish the books.” The Yizkor Book Project is also in the process of adding to online indexes of names that appear in the books. According to Groll, these indexes allow researchers to find the specific Yizkor Book in which their family name is mentioned. “That will have value in trying to focus your search,” he said. “Perhaps [researchers] have relatives in a town [who] they didn’t know about.” Yizkor Books not only allow those with Jewish heritage to discover where their families came from. Through detailed descriptions of shtetl life, they also paint a picture of the Jewish communities that were destroyed by the Holocaust. “[The Yizkor books] really give you an idea of what life was like,” Groll said. “The books have value [for those] who want to research their family and want to know [about] their heritage.” Click here to read the entire article and here to visit the Yizkor Book Project. Thursday, July 21, 2011 JewishGen named one of Family Tree Magazine’s 101 Best Websites From Family Tree Magazine Now as good-looking as it is useful, this site affiliated with the Museum of Jewish Heritage recently added the 1.5- million-entryYizkor Book Master Name Index. Its Family Tree of the Jewish People now boasts data on nearly 5 million people. And don’t overlook the Family Finder database of 450,000 surnames and towns,ShtetLinks for 200-plus communities, and the Online Worldwide Burial Registry. Thursday, June 16, 2011 In the News: JewishGen Helps Reunite Family After 90 Years According to the Jewish Chronicle, it was a search on JewishGen in 2004 that led to the family reunion. Click here to read the entire article. In the news: JewishGen BOG Co-Chair Karen Franklin BY TANYANIKA SAMUELS from the New York Daily News
Karen Franklin When a large, silver Seder plate was donated to the Derfner Judaica Museum in Riverdale in 2001, genealogist Karen Franklin, the museum's director at the time, knew she had to learn its history. "If it was looted, we had to give it back," she said. The story of the Seder plate would unfold in twists and turns over the next 10 years and it would join the long roster of Nazi-era items that have become Franklin's life work. Franklin has traveled the world tracking down art pieces and possessions stolen from Jewish homes in Germany during World War II. She returned Wenesday to the Derfner Judaica Museum on the campus of The Hebrew Home to share some of those stories. "Returning something that belonged to a family who lost it during the Nazi era is one the the most fulfilling things that I do," Franklin told a rapt audience of nearly 40 community members and Hebrew Home residents. In 2006, she was called on to find the heir to 12 paintings on display at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. The museum had put on a special exhibit called "Looted, but from Whom?" It was the Dutch government's attempt to return the stolen items. Franklin managed to track down an engagement announcement online for a relative of the family who originally owned the paintings. Through her work, the family received about $300,000 in compensation. When a woman from Philadelphia donated the Seder plate to the Derfner Judaica Museum in 2001, Franklin had no idea it would spark a decade-long hunt that took her to Germany and Israel. It turned out that the plate was taken from a Jewish home by a German soldier, but under surprising circumstances. The soldier was married to a Jewish woman, who was the only survivor of her family. He rescued the plate and it was handed down through the family, winding up with the woman from Philadelphia, a distant relative to the soldier. "People ask 'Was it worth all that effort for a plate that couldn't cost more than $200?'" she said. "And I say 'It doesn't matter if it's worth $200 or $2 million. If you're returning something to a family member, it is priceless.'"
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