Jewish cemeteries in Poland

When I was younger, I remember hearing the phrase ‘Poland is one big Jewish cemetery’. This was a way of relating the fact that 90% of Polish Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Usually it was stated by someone who was explaining why they would never visit Poland. Of course, when I was younger it was quite difficult to visit Poland, being that it was behind the Iron Curtain. I first visited Poland, less than two years after the fall of the Soviet Union, as part of the March of the Living in 1993. We visited a couple of cemeteries during that trip, including the Okopowa St. synagogue in Warsaw. The Okopowa St. cemetery has more than 80,000 gravestones still in existence, and has had money contributed to it from the local government to help preserve it. One wonders if the interest in preserving this particular cemetery is due to an interest in preserving the past, or perhaps an interest in encouraging more Jewish tourism. The lack of funds for other cemeteries in the country would tend to support the tourism theory.

Okopowa St. Cemetery
The Okopowa St. cemetery in Warsaw in 1993
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Given names from British Mandate Palestine

I recently posted about the name changes published by the British Mandate of Palestine government during the years of British rule (1919-1948). One of the most interesting aspects of those name changes is that the English should reflect the official names people used when they moved to pre-state Israel (presumably verified by the government authorities), and that they were published simultaneously in English and Hebrew.

I’ve taken a selection of the many lists, and matched the unique name pairs (Hebrew and English) and put together a table with over a thousand name pairs. You can view the table below. The table starts sorted alphabetically in English, but you can sort it by Hebrew if you prefer. You can also search, and see which names match your search. If you don’t know Hebrew, you can search for one name in English, then copy the Hebrew name and paste it into the search field to see all the other English names that match the Hebrew. In general Hebrew names are more likely to have multiple English names associated with them. This is partly because there are few variant spellings in Hebrew (although there are Yiddish variants that pop up), but it is also due to how I assembled the list.

Here’s an example of searching for the Hebrew name יעקב (Jacob):

Continue reading Given names from British Mandate Palestine

A look at British Mandate Palestine name changes

I’ve been doing some research into name changes, and wanted to share some of the process of name changes that occurred in British Mandate Palestine (pre-state Israel, from 1919 to 1948).

If you’re interested in searching these name changes, note that these are all searchable online at the Israel Genealogy Research Association web site. Search results include the image of the English version of the name change publication, which I’ll explain below.

Name changes during the mandate were published regularly in the official government paper, called, in English, the Palestine Gazette. The paper was also published in Hebrew (as העתון הרשמי) and Arabic. While looking through files in the Israel State Archives, I came across a folder that contained many of the name change lists from 1941-1946. In the folder, you can see the original lists that were submitted for publication. This usually included the original request letter, a list of the name changes in English, and another list in Hebrew and Arabic as appropriate. Sometimes corrections were also made. Let’s go through an example.

Here is the letter submitting a list of name changes on May 11, 1942:

Continue reading A look at British Mandate Palestine name changes

Updates to Polish archive links

A change mentioned previously has finally happened, and the Polish State Archives (PSA) site szukajwarchiwach.pl has started redirecting links to it to the new site szukajwarchiwach.gov.pl. I wrote about the differences between these two sites previously in Figuring out the Polish State Archive changes. Now that the change has happened I’ve taken some time to go through over 5000 links in the Compendium that go to the PSA web sites, and correct them. If you’re not interested in the technical details, just go look at the archival links for Polish towns in the Compendium. If you want to understand more about how and why these were added, see my original introduction to these links in Introducing archival records info in the Compendium. For more information about the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy in general, see About the Compendium.

Continue reading Updates to Polish archive links

Watching my Rootstech Session

I’d like to thank the hundreds of people who viewed my session (Using the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy) during the three-day Rootstech Connect Conference. The session will be available until next year’s conference, so if you missed it you can still watch it. As the conference itself is over now, I am directly linking to the video here. If you do like the video, you can still go to the Rootstech session page and like it by clicking the thumbs up button. You can watch the video on this page, or click on the title to load it in YouTube, where it should show up larger.

Thank you to Rootstech for accepting my presentation, and for including it in the General Jewish Genealogy Overview series.