Yearly Archives: 2012

Database of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland

An interesting project people with Jewish relatives that lived in Poland should be aware of is the Database of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland. Started as a database of the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, it has expanded to include cemeteries in the following cities and towns:

  • Brok
  • Błonie
  • Garwolin
  • Góra Kalwaria
  • Grodzisk Mazowiecki
  • Gąbin
  • Karczew
  • Korczyna
  • Mińsk Mazowiecki
  • Mszczonów
  • Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki
  • Okuniew
  • Otwock
  • Palmiry
  • Piaseczno
  • Prudnik
  • Pruszków
  • Przytyk
  • Płock
  • Radom
  • Siedlce
  • Sierpc
  • Sochaczew
  • Sopot
  • Strzegowo
  • Szydłowiec
  • Warszawa
  • Wieliczka
  • Wiskitki
  • Wysokie Mazowieckie
  • Wyszków
  • Węgrów
  • Łaskarzew
  • Łosice
  • Żelechów
  • Żyrardów

New cemeteries are added on a semi-regular basis. Most recently in September the databases for Sopot, Palmiry and Korczyna were added.

The database includes photographs of graves, although the photos are small and generally hard to read. In Warsaw alone, there are over 80,000 records.

If you have family that lived in any of the above cities and towns, I recommend doing a search and seeing what you find.

Of course, when looking for Jewish cemetery records for your research, always check out the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) as well. JOWBR has records from many countries, including 69 cemeteries in Poland. In Warsaw, JOWBR lists 5 cemeteries with only 591 burials, however, so clearly if you want to do research for all Polish cemeteries you’ll need to search both databases. JOWBR has 97,953 burials in Piotrkow that this site doesn’t have. Hopefully they will share data in the future.

For more information on JOWBR and how to use it, see my blog post from the JewishGen Blog: JewishGen Basics: JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR).

A look at new Israeli databases

As mentioned previously I have been involved in the past year in building a new genealogy website in Israel, genealogy.org.il, for the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA). The site has already been recognized as one of the top 40 international genealogy sites by Family Tree Magazine. One of the big issues I’ve had to deal with recently was upgrading the site to deal with high number of users. The original server the site was on was not able to handle the numbers of users we were getting, and we’ve now moved the site onto a much better server that can handle the site, and allows us to easily add capacity as needed (something impossible on our last server).

While I’ve been working on the nuts and bolts of the site, certainly the reason the site has been so successful is not my work, but more the work of the many IGRA volunteers, led by Rose Feldman, who have been adding dozens of new databases to the site. Their productivity is frankly mind-blowing. Since we launched in January of this year, Rose and her volunteer army have added nearly 50 new databases to the site, and more are coming on-line all the time. Think about that – they are adding more than a database each week. This is only the beginning.

Databases are categorized into three time periods:

  • Ottoman Administration (pre-1917)
  • British Administration (1917-1948)
  • Israeli Administration (1948-)

For those researching Jewish relatives, these databases can help pinpoint where a relative may have been living at specific points in time, and can lead you in new directions in your research. Some records include the person’s exact address.

Databases include things like voter lists, lists of registered lawyers, accountants, doctors and nurses, candidates for various elections, phone books, burial lists, etc. There are over 60,000 records in the database now, and each record contains multiple pieces of information.

The current databases include:

Ottoman Administration (-1917)

  • List of Students & Staff of Gymnasia Haivrit, Yaffo 1908-9
  • Kollel List 1912 Safed (population register of families receiving funds “haluka“)
  • Safed Burials 1433-2000 from the new cemetery and part of the old cemetery

British Administration (1917-1948)

  • Births in African and Asian Protectorates for the Years 1916-1940
  • Drishat Shalom (Regards) 1919
  • UK Passport requests made in Safed 1921- 1951
  • Donors from UK for Safed Old Age Home run by Simcha Shulman 1924-1929
  • First National Conference of Edot Hamizrah in Eretz Israel – Protocol 1925
  • Nurse Certification 1923-1948
  • Earthquake Donations 1927
  • Voters’ List for Haifa 1928
  • Queries about Land Registries 1928-1929
  • Queries about compensation for loss of property during the disturbances of 1929
  • Voters’ List for Municipal Council Petah Tikva 1930
  • Members of Agricultural Organizations in Petah Tikvah 1931-1936
  • Voters’ List for Municipal Council Petah Tikva 1932
  • Voters’ List for Municipal Council Safed 1932
  • Galician Kollel Safed 1932
  • Voters’ List from Petah Tikva for the 18th Zionist Congress 1933
  • List of Sephardic Males in Safed 1934
  • Award of Silver Jubilee Medals 1935
  • Rehavia Address Book June 1935
  • Deaths in African and Asian Protectorates for the Years 1936-1940
  • Members of the National Youth Aliyah Committee of Hadassah 1937
  • Members of the Histadrut Hamorim (Teachers’ Council) 1939
  • List of Teachers of the Dept. of Education of Havaad HaLeumi 1940-41
  • Candidates for the 1941 Hahistadrut Haklalit
  • Candidates for the 1941 Va’adat Hapoalot (The Women’s Workers’ Council)
  • Hebrew Soldiers of the Yishuv who fell and perished in World War II 1940-1945
  • Refugees in Mauritius 1944-45
  • Swiss Aliyah Requests 1945
  • List of Donors for Repairs of Mikva in Safed 1947
  • Yahrzeit List from the Safed Old Age Home
  • List of people who have files in Beit HaMeiri in Safed

Israeli Administration (1948-)

  • List of registered doctors 1948-1957
  • List of Candidates for the First Knesset (C0nstituent Assembly) 1949
  • Candidates for the 1949 Hahistadrut Haklalit (General Council Elections)
  • Candidates for the 1949 Moatzet Hapoalot (The Women’s Workers’ Council)
  • Candidates for the 1949 Histadrut Hahaklaim (Farmers’ Council)
  • Candidates for the 1949 Histadrut Hapekidim (Clerks’ Council)
  • Candidates for the second Knesset elections 1951
  • Practical Nurses 1951-52
  • List of Candidates for the Third Knesset 1955
  • Authorized People to act as Accountants 5716 (1955-56)
  • List of Persons Authorized to Act as Lawyers in Civil Courts in 1956
  • Authorized People to act as Accountants 5717 (1956-57)
  • Candidates for the 1959 Histadrut Hapekidim (Clerks’ Council)
  • Candidates for the 1959 Histadrut Hahaklaim (Farmers’ Council)

Some databases that are coming online soon, include:

  • Rehavia Address Book June 1937
  • Candidates for the 1959 HaHistadrut Haklalit (General Council Elections)
  • Candidates for the 1959 Va’adat Hapoalot (The Women’s Workers’ Council)

The best news is that the launch of a new advanced search engine for these records is coming online very soon (as in days). Few genealogy societies, if any, will have the kind of advanced search capabilities we will have on the site. It’s an exciting time for researching genealogy in Israel.

To stay up-to-date on the launch of the new search engine and on the ongoing launch of new databases, follow IGRA on their Facebook Page (facebook.com/israelgenealogy) or via Twitter (twitter.com/israelgenealogy). Of course, if you want to comment on the web site and where it can be improved, you can always comment here and I’ll see what I can do.

Friends from Antwerp – and is that a famous Yiddish poet?

My grandfather was born in Vienna, Austria during World War I. His family had fled their homes in Galicia, then a region of Austria, and fled to the capital city to avoid the invading Russian army. His brothers, one born before him in 1911, and one after him in 1921, were both born in the Galician town of Rzeszow, known in Yiddish as Reisha.

In 1927 the family moved to Antwerp, Belgium, seeking a better life and perhaps more stable situation. As I’ve written about before, Antwerp and Belgium in general received many many Jewish immigrants during the interwar years, among them my family (my grandfather’s future wife also made her way around the same time to Antwerp from Rzeszow).

In 1927 my grandfather was of course 12 years old, and he lived in Antwerp until 1940, when he was 25. Those were, no doubt, formative years for him. I know many stories about his time there, and have found documents hinting at others in the Police des Étrangers files I’ve found. I know just a couple of years after he arrived, after his father died, he ran a watch shop near the docks of the Antwerp port, helping support his family even though he was only 14 at the time. I know he used his US citizenship to travel to Nazi Germany in the 1930s and helped younger cousins get out of the country, as the Germans still respected a US passport (they probably hoped the US would side with them in the upcoming war). One thing I don’t really know about, however, is what kind of social life he had. Some years ago he told me he bumped into an elementary school classmate of his from Belgium in New York, and he had recognized my grandfather even all those years later. He later sent my grandfather a class photo showing both of them. When researching family we sometimes forget that our relatives spent much of their time, especially when they were teenagers and young adults, with their friends instead of their family. It’s part of what defined them and made them who they were.

In this light, some recent photographs I discovered at my grandfather’s apartment are particularly interesting. I have no idea who anyone in the photos are other than my grandfather. If you had relatives born during WWI and who lived in Antwerp in the 1930s, perhaps they’re among the people in these photos.

My grandfather is sitting on the bottom right

 

My grandfather in the middle with the white shirt

 

My grandfather isn’t in this photo, but it was together with the others

 

My grandfather is on the right. The man on the left was his friend.

 

Is this Baden in Germany? or is that booth to buy a ticket? My grandfather in on the left.

 

My grandfather sitting in the front

Know anyone in these photos?

Concerning the last photo, it raises an interesting question. Do you you think the man on the top right looks like Itzik Manger, the famous Yiddish poet? Here’s a side by side, showing a close-up of the above person, and a photo of Itzik Manger from the YIVO Encyclopedia:

Right, Itzik Manger. Left, Maybe Manger?

I’m not an expert on Yiddish poets, and would never have thought of it, except in researching a distant cousin Golda I discovered she had once been married to (and divorced from) this famous poet from Romania. I never knew if this cousin even knew my grandfather, but if this Itzik Manger, perhaps this is evidence. Therefore is it possible that the woman he’s got his arm on is Golda, my grandfather’s cousin? or one of the other women in the photo? Here’s a picture of Golda:

Golda, my grandfather’s second cousin once-removed

So what do you think? Is that Itzik Manger? Is that my grandfather’s cousin with him on the beach, possibly in Knokke, a favorite vacation spot? The picture of Golda is obviously of an older woman than in the photo on the beach, but that makes sense sine the photo of Golda was taken in 1939, when she was 35 (she was born in 1904). In the beach photo my grandfather looks like a teenager, so it could have been 1930 or shortly thereafter.

Itzik Manger survived the war and eventually moved to Israel. My grandfather’s cousin, however, likely died during the war, although I’ve found no direct evidence of that. All I know is she shows up in the first register of Jews in Belgium in 1940 after the Germans invaded, but not in the later registration done in 1942. She doesn’t show up in deportation lists, which recorded all those deported from Belgium to Auschwitz, so she either escaped Belgium or was killed. If she escaped, perhaps she changed her name and the trail was lost, or perhaps she escaped from Belgium only to be killed later in the war – certainly a possibility.