Tag Archives: israel

Israel Through Photographs

A recent article in the recently-launched Times of Israel website covers, briefly, the story of Nadav Mann, who has been spending many years criss-crossing Israel to scan private collections of photographs from the early years of the State of Israel (and the years leading up to its foundation). This collection is incredibly important and offers a unique view of the growth of communities within pre-state Israel.

The article is written by Matti Friedman and is titled A lost world in black and white. The article includes a selection of the more than 100,000 photographs that Nadav Mann has collected over the years, but also helpfully links to a series of online albums [these now seem to be gone, sorry] that Nadav Mann has published via Google (which include thousands of photos, but certainly not all of them).

While the descriptions of the photos in the Google albums are all in Hebrew, just browsing through them without being able to read the captions is still incredibly powerful. Of course, if you find a photograph with someone you know, you should leave a comment on the photo – as not everyone in each photo is known, and you might be able to help improve the collection by pointing out who someone is in a photo.

An easier look in English at many of the photos can be found in Nadav Mann’s regular articles highlighting photos from his collection on Ynet’s English site (Ynet is the online publication of Israel’s largest newspaper, Yediot Achranot).

A few photos from the collection:
[UPDATE: Sorry, but it seems Nadav Mann has removed the photo albums he had posted online, and the photos in this article were from that album so are also now gone. Check out the article A lost world in black and white and Nadav Mann’s other articles in Ynet.]

Maccabi Girls Trip in 1930 in Poland
1936 Class Photo from Herzaliya Gymnasium
Building an irrigation system connect to the Yarmouk River in 1940
Kibbutz Dalia Dance Festival, during holiday of Shavuot in 1944

Researching people born in Israel, but who moved

I was reading Todd Knowles’ The Knowles Collection blog, where he discusses the recently introduced Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965 collection on the FamilySearch.org web site. He uses as an example the record of Esther Abraham Precher, who immigrated to Brazil in 1957:

1957 Brazil Immigration Card for Esther Abraham Precher

My grandmother’s brother spent some time in Brazil during WWII, and although he probably didn’t immigrate officially, I figured I would take a look. I didn’t find a record (although looking at the collection it looks like only half of the images are indexed so far), but looking at the record Todd Knowles had used as an example, I saw something very interesting. Her record shows she was born in Jerusalem. Why was a woman born in Jerusalem moving to Brazil in 1957?

Of course, I can’t be certain as to why she moved, but I can make an educated guess. If you look closer at the immigration card, you can see that she was born in 1898 in Jerusalem, but that her passport had recently been issued in Cairo. It would seem that while she was born in Jerusalem during the Ottoman period, she at some point (perhaps when she got married) moved to Egypt. Her immigration occurred just a few months after the 1956 Sinai War, where Egypt fought a war against Israel (along with Great Britain and France). While being Jewish in most Arab countries was difficult after Israel was founded, it was probably particularly dangerous to be in Egypt after they had just fought another war with Israel. Over half the Jewish population of Egypt were forced out of the country in this period, and were forced to leave all their asset behind. Even if she had wanted to go back to Israel where she was born, it probably was not possible given the political situation, so she probably went wherever she could get a visa for, which in this case was Brazil. Interestingly enough coming after my last article on Food as Genealogy – Iraqi Kubbe, this was much the same motivation for the many Iraqi Jews and Jews from all Arab countries that were forced to flee their homes for Israel, the United States or elsewhere. This was not a good time to be Jewish in any Arab country (and unfortunately the situation has not improved since – Egypt and Iraq both had flourishing Jewish communities dating back to the 2nd Temple period, and both have less than 100 Jews each today).

If you search for records in the Brazil collection, you would find there are actually 243 records that list a birthplace for the person as Israel. You could widen your search to all mentions of Israel in all databases on FamilySearch, and you’d find that there are 8728 records (as I write this article) which list Israel as a location in the record. Of course, if you were trying to find someone in a record that was created before the State of Israel came into being, it would not list Israel. You could therefore search for Palestine which was used as a place name by some (although people would also say Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Turkey or Turkish Empire), where you would find 13,892 records (as I write this). You could also search for specific cities, such as Jerusalem (5650 records), Tel Aviv (434 records) or Haifa (337 records). Some of the Jerusalem results will probably be records from other towns called Jerusalem (did you know there was a Jerusalem, Ohio?). Jaffa, for example, came back with over a million records, which doesn’t make much sense. If you search for Jaffa, Palestine, however, you get 9489 results which at first glance seem mostly Jewish.

Anyways, the Brazil Immigration Cards database is a very interesting collection for those with connection to Brazil, but for anyone who knows they had family in Israel at some point in the past but may have moved elsewhere, this is an interesting way to search for records that may help you in your research.

New Genealogy Society in Israel (and major new website)

Earlier this month a new genealogy society launched in Israel, called the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA). They are taking a new approach, with a large focus on their online presence, genealogy.org.il, which they are positioning to become a major hub of both Israeli and Jewish genealogy. In these days where so much genealogy research happens online, this new society is starting with the idea that their online presence is the center of the society’s work, and is working to make their site useful not only for those in Israel researching their families, but for people around the world who have connections to Israel, or even those who can take advantage of the many unique archives in Israel that have records of interest to Jewish genealogists worldwide.

The Israel Genealogy Research Association was founded by some of the leading genealogists in Israel (including three past presidents of the Israel Genealogical Society, current and past members of the IAJGS board, and contributors to the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy), and you can expect that there will be a lot of great content on the site as time goes on (in addition to the great stuff already there). There are resource guides for different countries, videos of lectures, and live webinars are coming soon.

Some of the founders of the new society include, in alphabetical order:

  • Rose Lerer Cohen, co-author of The Holocaust in Lithuania 1941–1945: A Book of Remembrance, past editor of Sharsheret Hadorot and professional genealogist.
  • Rose Feldman, who ran the IGS website for nine years. She has lectured at IAJGS conferences, annual seminars of the IGS and their branch meetings. She will be responsible for developing databases for the new society.
  • Daniel Horowitz, chief genealogist of MyHeritage.com and member of the IAJGS Board of Directors. See his Resource Guide on Jewish Research in Latin America (free registration required).
  • Martha Lev-Zion, past member of the IAJGS Board of Directors, founder and president of the Negev Genealogical Society and past president of the Latvia SIG of JewishGen.
  • Esther Ramon, founding president of the Israel Genealogical Society and first editor of Sharsheret Hadorot.
  • Garri Regev, past president of the Israel Genealogical Society.
  • Jean-Pierre Stroweis, past president of the Israel Genealogical Society and member of the academic committee of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy. See his Resource Guide for researching Jewish Ancestors in Poland (free registration required), as well as a video of him being interviewed (in French) about genealogy in Israel on the web site.
  • Mathilde Tagger, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS), member of Founding Committee of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy, author and lecturer on Sephardic genealogy.
  • H. Daniel Wagner, co-chair of the 2004 IAJGS conference held in Jerusalem, member of Academic Committee of International Institute for Jewish Genealogy. See his new article Passover Break – Fifth Episode (free registration required) on the web site.

This is only a partial list of the founding members of the new society. I have also been involved in the creation of the society’s web site, genealogy.org.il, which explains a bit while my posts to this blog have slowed down lately.

If you have any interest in Israeli genealogy, or even just Jewish genealogy, I suggest checking out the new site (genealogy.org.il) and registering to insure you receive updates on what is going on on the site.

If you use Facebook (facebook.com/israelgenealogy) and/or Twitter (twitter.com/israelgenealogy) I also recommend you follow the new society through those services as well. The new group tries its best to answer questions on the Facebook page, and sents out links to interesting resources through its Twitter account on a regular basis.

So do me a favor and go to genealogy.org.il, register for the site, take a look around, and let me know what you think in the comments below. Think the site needs to be improved? How? Think it’s great? awful? groundbreaking? boring? Let me know.

Want to contribute something to the site? Send me an e-mail, or send a note through the site’s Contact Us page.