Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 13, Number 9 | February 26, 2012
Every government puts value on preserving its history. That is why we have national archives. Genealogy preserves history; the history of a family. It cannot be done without access to records, just as historians cannot preserve a nation's history without access to records. It is a greater good than the right to privacy. It is a greater good than the risk of identity theft.
Mormon/Jewish Controversy: The Problem That Won’t Go Away
Now It Is Anne Frank and Jan Karski
Annelies Marie Frank, better known as Anne Frank, was posthumously baptized a tenth time (at least) on February 18. Jan Karski, the Polish Catholic who has been described as the man who tried to stop the Holocaust was posthumously baptized in 2010. These acts are more examples of the failed attempt by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to eliminate submission of deceased people whose posthumous baptism is against Church policy.
The Church has at least two barriers to making these submissions. First, when people add names to the list to start the process that ends in posthumous baptism and other Mormon rites, they cannot proceed with the submission without checking off a box (shown on the right). It states, “I have read and will comply with the above statements.” The statements include one that directs the submitter confirm that the person being submitted was not born within the past 95 years (Anne Frank was born 82 years ago); is not a famous person unrelated to the submitter; is not a Jewish Holocaust victim (permitted with rare exceptions). The second barrier is a screening system designed to identify famous people and Holocaust victims. Apparently the list of famous people did not include Annelies Marie Frank and Jan Karski, and Anne Frank was not recognized as a Holocaust victim because the place of death was listed by the submitter as Bergen rather than Bergen Belsen.
Clearly the system is not working and will never work to the satisfaction of the non-Mormon public. It is time for the Church to seriously reevaluate whether it is their First Amendment right to involve other people’s families in their religion.
Political satirist Stephen Colbert devoted a significant portion of his last Thursday’s show to the issue. It is worth watching at http://tinyurl.com/6rnldsc.
Greater detail about the Frank baptism can be found at http://tinyurl.com/72mqqqf. The Karski baptism is described at http://tinyurl.com/86s8x64.
Website Created for the 1940 Census
On April 2, 2012, at 9 a.m. (Eastern time) people will be able to go to http://1940census.archives.gov to search the images of the 1940 census. On April 2, 2012, at 9 a.m. (Eastern time) at least two groups, Ancestry.com and a consortium that includes FamilySearch, will start the race to determine who will be the first group to claim they have indexed the entire 1940 census.
At present the site includes a short video featuring National Archives archivist Connie Potter. More detailed information about the census can be viewed at http://www.archives.gov/research/census/1940/.
Persons will be able to locate families in the census prior to an index being made available if they know the Enumeration District in which the people lived. Toward this end, Stephen P. Morse has created a number of finding aids at his site, http://stevemorse.org. The most direct aid is “1900-1940 Census ED Finder: Obtaining EDs for the 1900 to 1940 Census in One Step (Large Cities).” Do your homework now After April 2, there is the risk that the Morse site will be inundated with users trying to obtain EDs. My family lived at one of two street addresses in 1940. I did my homework last May and know I must look at either ED 31-10 or 24-1468 in New York City.
Lo Tishkach Reports on Its Latest Cemetery Initiatives
Lo Tishkach, an organization that focuses on preservation and protection of Jewish cemeteries and mass graves throughout the European continent, has reported a number of initiatives in their latest newsletter.
• Following on from surveys of Jewish burial sites in a number of Ukrainian regions and across the Baltic States, the organization will expand its survey work into Poland during 2012. In-depth surveys of Jewish burial sites across the Silesian voivodship in southern Poland will begin in the spring.
• As part of a major expansion into cemetery surveys in Ukraine, they will launch surveys across three new Ukrainian regions (oblasts) in 2012, thus covering almost three-quarters of the country’s Jewish burial sites.
• A report has been published regarding the state of the Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust-era mass graves in the western Latvian region of Kurzeme. This marks the third of four regions surveyed by Lo Tishkach in collaboration with the Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia. Survey data from the fourth region of Latgale is currently being collated with a report on this region due out in the spring.
• A new initiative bringing together the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Lo Tishkach and the VAAD of Ukraine will link work between the three groups and share vital information on Jewish heritage in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Data and thousands of photographs from surveys undertaken by Lo Tishkach in Ukraine over the past three years will be uploaded to a new Russian-language database.
• Lo Tishkach is to continue its surveys into Jewish cemeteries in Transcarpathia in eastern Ukraine. Following on from previous survey projects which covered more than 100 sites in seven districts (raions) of the region located in the far southeast of Ukraine, the 2012 and 2013 surveys will include a total of 79 sites across three different raions.
Additional information about each project can be found at http://www.lo-tishkach.org/en/. The site includes an online database of more than 10,000 Jewish cemeteries located throughout Europe. It also includes information about mass burial sites in Eastern Europe. Many entries included pictures of the cemetery as it exists today.
The Lo Tishkach European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative was established in 2006 as a joint project of the Conference of European Rabbis and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. “Lo Tishkach” is Hebrew for “do not forget.”
Site Has Numerous Photographs of Jewish Life
JewishImages.com claims it has tens of thousands of images illustrating the history of the Jewish people since the birth of photography, portraying a vanished life in Europe and the Pale of Settlement, North Africa, America and communities worldwide. The collection includes illustrations of life in Eretz Yisrael from the Ottoman occupation, through the Mandate period, to the early days of the State of Israel. Recent additions include images from the 1950s onwards.
The pictures I viewed were mostly group photos. Sadly the names of the people in the photos have been lost. Typical captions read “Uniformed Beitar group, Warsaw, Poland, September 18th, 1938” or “Members of Ateret Bachurim a form of debating society at Pressburg Yeshiva in Pozsony now Bratislava, Slovakia, 1902.”
Most of the pictures are very high quality. One-time use of a picture can be purchased for $15.00.
Ukraine SIG Website Has a New Look
The JewishGen’s Ukraine Special Interest Group website has a new look courtesy of the SIG’s webmaster Ariel Parkansky. It is located at http://www.jewishgen.org/Ukraine/. The new look is oriented toward town and district pages—more than 800 of them. Each town page serves as a portal to all the information known about the town, both on JewishGen and other websites.
The province/district/town pages have some excellent use of graphics. If you know roughly where a town is located, you can drill down to the town page from the SIG’s home page by merely clicking on the province (Russian Empire guberniya) where the town is located. This brings you to the province page which displays a map and the district names within the province. If there is material available at the provincial level, it is shown in the “Articles” and “Related Links” section. Clicking on a district name or its reference on the provincial map brings you to the district page. If there is material available at the district level, it is shown in the “Articles” and “Related Links” section. On the page, there is a map, courtesy of Google, where each town is identified symbolically with a house. There is a list of the towns in the district with codes after each name to indicate whether the town has a Town Leader, Kehilalink, Projects and/or Documents. Finally, clicking on a town name brings you to the page which provides all known information about the town. It includes a satellite photo of the town, a list of all names since it was part of the Russian Empire, its geographic coordinates and a description of the Town Leader, Kehilalink, Projects and/or Documents where appropriate.
The whole design is clearly well thought out and the content will grow as Ukraine SIG members add information to the site. Congratulations to all who made it happen.
My Perspective on the Social Security Death Index Battle
Someone has found a leak in the dike at Lake Social Security, so Congress’ solution is not to fix the leak but to drain the lake. When told this would affect fisherman who fished in the lake, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said, “I am sure they can find a different lake to fish in.”
Call Him "Doctor Feigmanis" Now
Aleksandrs Feigmanis, a professional genealogist and AVOTAYNU Contributing Editor for Latvia, defended his doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Theology of Latvian University on February 17. The theme of his thesis was "Rabbinical Literature in Latvia before 1940: Directions and Personalities". Congratulations Aleks!
FamilySearch Additions for the Week
There really were no additions to FamilySearch this week that I concluded may be of interest to Jewish genealogists. The complete list can be found at http://tinyurl.com/7me4vb9.
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