JGSS Notes and Updates

Skip to first unread message

Susanne Levitsky

Feb 28, 2021, 10:36:14 PMFeb 28
to jgss---jewish-genealogic...@googlegroups.com


Upcoming Meetings:

Sunday, March 21, Ellen Kowitt, "Why Would a Jewish Genealogist Return to Ukraine for the Third Time?"

Sunday, April 18, Jim Rader, "DNA Research Beyond Genealogy: Health Information"

Sunday, May 16, Ron Arons, "Sex, Lies and Genealogical Tape"

All meetings will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Zoom.



Meeting Notes -- February 21, 2021


President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order and made a few announcements:

-- the International IAJGS Conference for 2021 is set in Philadelphia in August, and they are anticipating an in-person conference at this time.

-- RootsTech will be held virtually February 25-27, with no charge. After the conference, all videos will be available online for a year.

-- Teven Laxer, head of this year's Sacramento Jewish Film Festival, said this is the festival's 22nd year. There will be 24 days of films, from March 3 to March 24, including 24 feature films and 12 shorts.

February Program -- Andrew Zalewski

"Jewish Galicia: Vibrant Past Rediscovered"


Vice President Sherri Venezia introduced our speaker, who is the VP of Gesher Galicia. org. Thanks to Maryellen Burns for coordinating the Zoom meeting, which drew 74 participants.

Andrew said Austrian Galicia (1772-1918) was the center of gravity for Jewish Ashkenazi civilization. In October 1772, the first government of Galicia was installed in the capital city of Lemberg. It had about 60,000 inhabitations, about 20,000 Jewish. "There were always about 1/3 of the population Jewish," Andrew said.

From the 13th and 14th centuries on, there was Jewish immigration to the area.

Its role as the engine of the economy with exemplified by contracts with the Jews and the town (for fishing, alcohol taverns and more), with many lease agreements.

The Habsburg administrators had to gather information and took the first census at the end of 1772.  There were some 2.3 million inhabitants, about 10 percent of them 225,000, were Jews.

There was almost universal literacy among the Jews in Yiddish, Hebrew alphabet. Jews imported wines from abroad, with Hungary the biggest customer, also the Catholic church and Polish nobility.

The Jewish community of Galicia was larger than anywhere else in the Habsburg monarchy.

Emperor Joseph II said in 1773 that "toleration of these people is not harmful to the country," and there were many synagogues in existence.

The emperor made a tour of the area, including the city of Stanislawow. Joseph stayed in an inn run by a Jewish proprietor.

Brody (next to the border with Russia) was another town visited by the emperor, and probably the first time he had ever visited a synagogue.  The town later received special tariff permissions.

Some important dates:

1782 -- Jews admitted to schools and universities

1787 -- Jews ordered to adopt German surnames (until then, patronymic names)

1788 -- Jews ordered into military service for the first time

1789 -- Enshrined in Jewish toleration edict of 1789

All religious denominations were ordered to prepare vital records from that moment on, becoming civil documents. For Jews, this was a new ruling, and they were now in the registers of vital records.

Where are these records?

"I would recommend for towns of interest, you go to the Gesher Galicia website," Andrew said, and search under "Records Inventory." He said you can see what survived, where the archives are located, and what is online but not yet indexed.

In 1782, Joseph II opened schools to Jews, from 1782 to 1806. There were coercive measures to bring Jews to civil society, including requiring them to obtain certificates from German schools.

In 1806, the German Jewish schools were dissolved but couples still needed to demonstrate proficiency in the German language. (This led to a flood of marriages that were not registered officially.) There were 264 marriages with permission granted out of 250,000 Jews -- the vast majority married in ritual marriages. Very often the children carried their mother's name because the marriage was not officially registered.

In Galicia, Andrew said there were three centers of Jewish enlightenment: Lemberg, Brody and Tarnopol. He suggested looking at newspapers for added sources of information -- "many Jews were featured, in court procedures, transactions, etc."

In 1848, there was a revolution in the Austrian empire. The Jews of Lemberg were targeted to join a national movement, in return there was a promise to advocate for their rights.

That same year the taxes on kosher meat and candles were rescinded; in 1857 the premarital tests were abolished. In 1861, the first Jewish deputy was elected to the Galician diet.

Cadastral maps -- for taxation -- Andrew showed close-ups of some of these maps which indicated Jewish cemeteries and synagogues and Jewish private houses. "This is a beautiful resource for genealogical discoveries," he said.

He urged people to look at the Gesher Galicia website -- "we have more than 200 maps."

Latter part of the 19th century-- by the 1870s, the Poles had a large degree of autonomy, mostly teaching in Polish. There was a multicultural fabric of Galicia. Newspapers were in German, Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish, the same with political organizations

"But the major problem was poverty," Andrew said, spurring an interest in immigration. Pogroms in Imperial Russia encouraged many Jews to become refugees in Brody and other parts of Galicia. Railroads were an important part of the immigrant journey.

There were many ads targeting prospective immigrants -- steamships from Bremen and other ports talked about 7-11 day voyages to the U.S. and Canada.  It was expensive -- $1100 to $2000 for a ticket.

As World War I approached, there was the collapse o the Austrian-Hungarian empire and Austrian Galicia.  But before WW I, the Jews had a profound impact, including women. There were approximately eight million people in Galicia before the war -- about 11 percent were Jews. Jewish progress was visible everywhere -- about 30 percent of university students were Jews; 50 percent of those studying medicine were Jewish women.

After 1945, the area became part of the western part of Poland and the eastern part of Ukraine.


Questions --

How can I get vital records? For a starting point, go to GesherGalicia.org website, look for "Records Inventories" and type in your town of interest. You can also write to the info line.

Language spoken in Galicia? German, Yiddish, Polish.

Krakow was part of Galicia -- an old royal capital, had a university, one of most illustrious Jewish communities.


March 6 "Reclaim the Records" Zoom

Brooke Schrier Ganz, a past JGSS speaker, will present "Reclaim the Records: How Genealogists Can Use Freedom of Information Laws" at the next meeting of the Solano County Genealogical Society.

Ganz' organization seeks to obtain copies of previously inaccessible records which are then digitized and put online for free.

The virtual meeting will take place at 11 a.m. next Saturday, March 6. If you're interested in participating, email the Solano society to register at sc...@scgsca.org no later than 4 p.m. Friday, March 4. For details, the society's website is www.scgsca.org.


From Gary Mokotoff's Feb. 28 "Nu? What's Nu?"

MyHeritage Announces Animation of Faces in Still Photographs
MyHeritage has added yet another feature to its photo enhancement abilities. Now you can animate the faces of loved ones in still photos. The company says this feature “produces a realistic depiction of how a person from an old photo could have moved and looked if they were captured on video.” They have given a name to the feature: DeepNostalgiaTM.

Animate your photo at 
https://www.myheritage.com/deep-nostalgia. The page includes an example of the animation feature. I found it eerie to look at.

Additional information is at 
https://blog.myheritage.com/2021/02/deep-nostalgia-goes-viral/. It includes many examples of the feature.


Our next JGSS meeting is Sunday, March 21, 2021.

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages