Some notices from IAJGS

The Polish Institute of National Remembrance announced the burnt remains of approximately 8,000 victims of the Nazis were unearthed in a mass grave outside the town of Działdowo, a town in Northern Poland, located on the historical Prussian-Mazovian border, today belonging to the southern part of the Warmia-Masuria voivodeship.

The bodies are thought to have been dug up and burned in a Nazi operation to hide traces of their murders. The Nazis murdered Jews, political opponents and members of the Polish elite at Soldau.

The concentration camp was built in 1939 for transit, internment and extermination and used throughout the Nazi occupation.

Up to 30,000 people are thought to have been killed there and researchers hope to carry out DNA analysis of the remains to find out more about the victims. Among the Poles who were murdered were members of the clergy and intelligentsia. Mr Jankowski said two pits had been found near Soldau, now known as Dzialdowo, and further excavation would take place to search for more. The estimate of 8,000 victims is based on a person’s body weight estimated at 2kg.

Archaeologists have found hundreds of traces of clothing, buttons and other items, but nothing of value, indicating the bodies were robbed before being set alight.

To read more see: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62161018  or

https://tinyurl.com/bdc3xj6z

original URL:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/ashes-of-8000-wwii-victims-found-in-two-poland-mass-graves/2022/07/14/0254b5fe-037b-11ed-8beb-2b4e481b1500_story.html

cid:image003.jpg@01D897D0.C9AF99F0

General view of the excavations on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Photo: Warsaw Ghetto Museum

Jewish Heritage Europe reported on excavations at the site of the Warsaw Ghetto where a child’s shoe, Kitchen utensils, Crockery, Books, Ceramic tiles, Corroded tools, were found during archaeological excavations this summer. The dig is being lead by an archaeologist and historian at the Warsaw Ghetto Museum. together with a team of scientists from Christopher Newport University in the U.S. and the Aleksander Gieysztor Academy in Pułtusk, Poland. The dig has been extended to the end of July.

The Ghetto Museum, currently under development, is due to open in a complex of buildings that was a pre-WW2 children’s hospital in April 2023 — the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The excavations are concentrated on the site where two pre-war apartment buildings stood; they were located between two streets, with entrances at Miła 18 and Muranowska 39 and at Miła 20 and Muranowska 41. During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which began on April 19, 1943, a bunker in the basement that had been used by smugglers housed the headquarters of the Jewish Combat Organization, led by Mordechaj Anielewicz. On May 8, 1943, as the Germans closed in, Anielewicz and scores of other Ghetto fighters committed mass suicide in the bunker. The bodies were never exhumed.

To read more see: https://jewish-heritage-europe.eu/2022/07/12/poland-warsaw-ghetto-archaeology/

Recent Announcements from other groups

The U.S. and the Holocaust will premiere on PBS September 18, 2022. Check with your local cable provider for the station. The U.S. and The Holocaust, a new three-part , six-hour documentary directed and produced by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein, explores America’s response to one of the greatest humanitarian crises in history. Americans consider themselves a “nation of immigrants,” but as the catastrophe of the Holocaust unfolded in Europe, the United States proved unwilling to open its doors to more than a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of desperate people seeking refuge. Through riveting firsthand testimony of witnesses and survivors who as children endured persecution, violence and flight as their families tried to escape Hitler, this series delves deeply into the tragic human consequences of public indifference, bureaucratic red tape and restrictive quota laws in America. The series will air September 18, 19 and 20, at 8:00-10:00 p.m. eastern/pacific 7:00-9:00 PM Central (check local listings) on PBS, https://www.pbs.org/kenburns/us-and-the-holocaust/

To read the release see: https://www.pbs.org/about/about-pbs/blogs/news/the-us-and-the-holocaust-to-premiere-september-18-2022-on-pbs/

Jewish Heritage Eurooe reports that the Oshpitzin Jewish Museum in Oświęcim, the town in southern Poland were the Nazis built the Auschwitz death camp, has launched a digital catalogue of its collection that makes information about its thousands of items available online.  See: https://ajcf.pl/archiwum/en/

“The museum — which goes by the Yiddish name for the town — is part of the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation (AJCF) education and religious complex, an affiliate of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in NY, which is anchored by the town’s one surviving synagogue and includes the house where Szymon Kluger, the town’s last Jewish resident, lived.

The digital catalogue project took 18 months to complete and entailed surveying and cataloguing 1,378 artifacts, 8,058 photographs, 18,165 documents, 744 multimedia pieces and 4,096 books. more than 100 selected items also include pictures.

The aim of the Oshpitzin museum is to promote knowledge and understanding of the rich and diverse Jewish life that flourished in Oświęcim for centuries, up until the eve of World War II. “

To access the online catalog go to: https://ajcf.pl/archiwum/en/

To view the online exhibi prepared by the Museum see: https://www.ajcf.pl/online-exhibition/

Call to Meeting 15 August 2022

https://ancestry.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIodeuvrjotEtV0P23P9LPGhTb1bfg5aE-u

Date: 15 Aug 2022Time: 7:00 pm MST
Speaker: Janette Silverman
Topic: Illegitimacy in the Jewish Communities of Galicia
The many punitive and restrictive laws in the Austrian Empire resulted in choices made by the Jewish community to circumvent these. Originally instituted to curtail the size of the Jewish community and create boundaries, the communities themselves changed and found ways to work around the laws. Many birth, marriage and death records in the Jewish community use terms like “illegitimate” and “ritual marriage”. Sometimes our ancestors had multiple surnames, or even hyphenated surnames this session will discuss these and the insight we can gain about the lives of our ancestors

Link to tonight’s meeting

Here’s a link to tomorrow’s Zoom meeting:

https://ancestry.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYof-CpqjguHdfuym1e36JPEOk9jUhdAK7T

The FHL is open later now (M, F, Sa, from 9am to 6pm; Tu, W, Th, from 9am to 8pm). Perhaps we can consider in-person meetings as well, but we’d have to switch to Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, and finish by 8pm.

Meeting Reminder for 18 July 2022

Our next meeting will be a Round-Table discussion. We would like each of you to talk about a great research experience, travel adventure in pursuit of family or research, family reunion or DNA connections, something we can all enjoy!

Also, please remember to keep your membership active (or start it).

We still need chairs for membership and activities committees, and members in all committees. Please participate!

It’s been suggested that we rotate the program responsibility for each month to different members of the group (or interested parties). You can present the program yourself or work with us to locate a speaker on a topic of your choice of benefit to all (or most). Our next scheduled presentation is in March 2023, so there are lots of opportunities!

Jewish Marriages

The Forward publication has an article under culture about a new exhibit showing how Jewish marriage evolved- from 12th century -century Egypt to modern-day America. “To Build a New Home: Celebrating the Jewish Wedding” It is the first show in the Jewish Theological Seminary’s library new gallery with rare ketubbot from different centuries and continents:” from 17th and 18th century Italy; a 13th-century French religious compendium outlining marriage rituals and including a bawdy wedding poem; a fragment from a 12th-century prenuptial agreement affirming the right of the groom’s mother-in-law to live with the married couple; and from the modern era, a ketubbot making it possible for Jewish women to initiate a religious divorce.” The JTS weblink for the exhibit is: https://www.jtsa.edu/news/library-exhibit-jewish-marriage/

The exhibit is available from May 18-August 14, 2022.

Ketubots are a genealogical resource with names of parents of the bride and groom and much more. It deals with a variety of marital responsibilities-it describes the grooms rights and responsibilities towards the bride.

To read the Forward article see: https://tinyurl.com/murcy8zr

Original URL:

Note: The Forward is a subscription periodical. It permits several free access articles per month.

Information on visiting the exhibit and about the exhibit is available at: https://www.jtsa.edu/news/library-exhibit-jewish-marriage/

The JTS is located at: 3080 Broadway (at 122nd Street), New York City

Summer library hours: Monday and Wednesday, 8:30 am – 8:00 pm, and Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:30 am – 7:00 pm. 

Notices from IAJGS

The European Jewish Congress reports that that the Swedish government has decided to appoint a special investigator that will map out obstacles and opportunities for Jewish life in Sweden and make proposals for a national strategy to strengthen Jewish life.

The investigator will examine the conditions for Jewish life today and present proposals to ensure its survival and development. The focus will be on the transmission of Jewish culture and Yiddish to younger and future generations.

The work will be carried out in close dialogue and collaboration with the Jewish community in Sweden and will be reported by 15 December 2023.

The study is part of Sweden’s commitments following the Malmö International Forum for Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.

To read more see: https://eurojewcong.org/news/communities-news/sweden/swedish-government-appoints-special-investigator-to-strengthen-jewish-life-and-culture/

The Wall Street Journal posted an article in their May 21-22, 2022 issue entitled, The Math Behind a Lack of Genetic Privacy. In the online edition it is called, Its too Late to Protect Your Genetic Privacy. The Math is Explaining Why.

 See: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-obscure-math-exposing-our-genetic-secrets-11653039002.

While you personally may not have taken a DNA test, the article explains that they can track you down from a cousins’ DNA that was submitted to one of the genetic DNA testing companies.

The article explains, “people have about 6,800 cMs. A child inherits half their DNA—one set of chromosomes—from each biological parent. So child and parent will have around 3,400 cMs of DNA that match… For every “degree of relatedness,” the length of shared cMs halves. An uncle or grandparent, one degree removed from parents, shares half as much DNA on average. That is 25%, or about 1,700 cMs. One more degree removed: A first cousin or great-grandparent shares half again, or around 850 cMs. And so on.”

The article includes a graphic depicting how much DNA you share with distant relatives-going to the third great-grandparents. “Even with all these halvings, very distant relatives out to fifth cousins share so much identical DNA that a common ancestor is the only possible source.”

“It is easy to find distant relatives, because a typical individual has so many: according to various methods, around 200 third cousins, upward of 1,000 fourth cousins and anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 fifth cousins… An adopted child who doesn’t know his biological parent still shares 3,400 cMs with that person, and hundreds of centiMorgans with numerous cousins from that parent’s family. The child, or generations from now that child’s descendants, could upload their DNA to a database and by looking for matches with others who have uploaded theirs, discover some of those distant cousins. That would be enough to reconstruct his family tree and identify the parent, even though the parent never uploaded their DNA—the exact same process used to identify DNA in cold cases.”

According to data from the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, the scale of testing is enormous: around 21 million samples on AncestryDNA, 12 million at 23andMe, 5.6 million at MyHeritage and 1.7 million at FamilyTreeDNA.

Call to Meeting for 18 July 2022

Our next meeting will be a Round-Table discussion. We would like each of you to talk about a great research experience, travel adventure in pursuit of family or research, family reunion or DNA connections, something we can all enjoy!

Also, please remember to keep your membership active (or start it).

We still need chairs for membership and activities committees, and members in all committees. Please participate!

It’s been suggested that we rotate the program responsibility for each month to different members of the group (or interested parties). You can present the program yourself or work with us to locate a speaker on a topic of your choice of benefit to all (or most). Our next scheduled presentation is in March 2023, so there are lots of opportunities!