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13 September 2016

Home of Peace Cemetery, Los Angeles, California

    
 Over the last few days I had the opportunity to visit California to meet with some members of the wonderful Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles. It was a great chance to renew old friendships as well as make new ones. It is at gatherings such as this, that I am reminded of why I enjoy Family History.

Our meeting was held at the Burton Sperber Jewish Community Library of Los 
Angeles, located at the American Jewish University. The library was very comfortable and inviting, which caused many of those gathered to come together in groups to talk about family. This is almost always my favorite part, learning that even though our families may come from different places at different times, their life experiences when handed down to us, make us more alike than than we would have expected. Before and after the meeting I was able to enjoy one of my other favorite family history events, visiting some local Jewish cemeteries. On this occasion the majority of my time was spent at the Home of Peace Cemetery in Los Angeles.
 The Home of Peace Cemetery was founded in 1901 when a local Jewish man, Kaspare Cohn,  donated 30 acres of land for the cemetery. Other cemeteries are nearby but I found myself drawn to this place. The reason I like to visit cemeteries is most likely the same as everyone else, to feel the incredible amount of history contained in the lives of those buried within.  The Home of Peace, while not as big as some cemeteries, has more than its share of history.
It is true that we may never know all that these people experienced in their lives, because all we sometimes have is a name, date of birth and date of death. With that little to start with, it may only be the family that can fill in the blanks. However, there are some stones that give us a little look into the lives of those buried here. It is a few of those types of stones that show a little bit of the history here.

The first stone, that of Max Davidsohn, in just a few short lines, lets you know something about the life this man led. It states,

"Beloved and Devoted Husband, Father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather, Saved Thousands of Jews From Death Camps. We Shall All Miss Him."

It may be impossible to truly know how many people today have him to thank for their lives, but words only can not possibly be enough to honor him, we should never forget him.
The second stone, also shows someone who affected many lives but in a totally different way. During a time when many needed a way to take their minds off their troubles, whatever it may be, including the concern for their families in Europe during the war, they looked to comedy and movies. 
One of the groups that filled this need were three Jewish brothers from Brooklyn, the Three Stooges. Born to parents Solomon Horwitz and his wife Jenny Goldsmith, both of Lithuanian ancestry, the Three Stooges became one of the most famous acts of the time. Eventually, Jerome (Curly) and his brother Samuel (Shemp) would change their last name to Howard and make their homes in California. Upon their deaths, both would have the Home of Peace become their final resting place. 
Their lives were much different, yet they all touched many lives. One helped people flee, and the others helped people cope. In life, they may never have known one another, yet in death they all contribute to the history and the story that remains at the Home of Peace Cemetery.
May they all be remembered.

06 September 2016

Denmark Census, 1911

One of the newest databases at FamilySearch, the 1911 Census of Denmark, shows how we all benefit when websites and archives work together. This census, which was the 13th census conducted since 1787, is now available because of the work of many. The original images of the census were provided by the National Archives of Denmark, the name index was provided by MyHeritage and they are now available for free at FamilySearch. The records are in wonderful condition and very easy to use.

The collection consists of 447,000 images which have been indexed by name, gender, marital status, relationship to head of household and birth date. In addition information such as religion and place of birth can be found on the original images from the census.
The image below, is a great example of this census. It shows Jacob Cohen, who was born on 10 Oct 1865 and his wife Olga, who was born on 10 Oct 1883. The final member of the household is son Elieser who 3 years old, having been born on 7 July 1908 in the city of Copenhagen. All 3 members of the family are listed as being Mosaiske in the column showing religion.


This collection is not only wonderful for those whose ancestry leads to Denmark, but it also gives all of us a great deal of hope that the future of genealogy will include many more examples of people working together for the good of all. A big thanks to all who came together for this collection.

01 September 2016

European Days of Jewish Culture, 4 September 2016


This Sunday, September 4, is the European Day of Jewish Culture (EDJC). Over 2 dozen countries will be celebrating. In 2016 the theme of European Days of Jewish Culture will be Jewish Languages.
A great amount of information pertaining to Jewish languages as well as some wonderful information Jewish Culture and Heritage is available at the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ) website.


What a great opportunity this provides for Jews all over the world to learn a little more about our heritage. A great thanks to the European Association for the preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage for making this possible.

29 August 2016

The Jews of Albania

Albania is a country that has a Jewish history that may date back as many as 2000 years. There are historians that believe the first Jews in the country arrived as slaves on ships from the Roman empire. The first synagogue was built in the 5th century in the Southern port city of  Sarande.
 The history of this time is not well known, and its almost 1500 years later before we know much about this community.  
By the early 1500's, communities of Sephardic Jews had began to be established. Most of the major cities of Albania had these established communities, including Berat, Elbasan, Vlore and Durres. These Jewish families were the descendants of those Jews who were expelled from Spain and Portugal. In 1520, the city of Vlore had Albania's only Synagogue and over 600 Jewish living in the city. That synagogue was destroyed during World War I. 
Over time the Jewish population of Albania slowly declined, until 1930, at which time the national census only recorded 204 Jews. In 1937, the Jewish community was officially recognized by the government. With the rise of the Nazi's many German and Austrian Jews took refuge in Albania. Even in 1938, the Albanian embassy was perhaps the last European country to issue Visa's to the Jewish people, which caused it to become a safe haven to the Jewish people. The Jews in Albania were protected by the Muslim's who lived there. This protected even continued after the Nazi's occupied the country. Because of becoming known as a safe haven for Jews, the Jewish population had risen to over 2,000 people by the end of World War II.
When Albania became a communist county, all religion was banned from the country, which meant the Jewish community was now isolated from Jews in other countries. This was true of all religions and not just the Jews. With the fall of communism in 1991 the Jews were dealing with tough times. This was not because of anything against them, but more to do with the general economic state of the entire country. This condition led to the majority of the Jewish population emigrating to Israel, leaving only a few dozen Jews within the borders of Albania.
Today, the Jewish population is probably no more than 50, however a new synagogue was opened in Tirana in 2010.

22 August 2016

California, Napa and Butte Counties, Obituaries, 1866-1992

FamilySearch has added some obituaries for 2 counties located in Northern California. The bits are part of the collection of California, Napa and Butte Counties, Obituaries, 1866-1992. The collection as of now has just a little under 50,000 images, however the information provided is very good.
I did a search for someone I knew who should be in this collection. Sadie Cohen was the wife of Nathan Manuel Appel. Not only did I find her listed in the obituary of her husband but the information provided in the basic search  gave me many family connections.


The original clipping of the obituary is also available but I have not added it here. If your family resides in this area this could be a very valuable collection. As with all FamilySearch collections it can be searched free of charge from home.

16 August 2016

Another great conference, looking forward to next year.


Once again the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy was a great success. With about 1000 people attending from all over the world, it was a wonderful opportunity to see old friends and to make new ones. The experience provided by researchers from all different
Seattle Pier
backgrounds provided  a wide variety of lectures and presentations. In addition, the local society, The Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State did a wonderful job of showcasing their beautiful state.
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
As we leave Seattle with thanks to all those who shared their talents and skills with us, we also look forward to next years conference.
From the 23-28 of July in 2017, we will gather together again in Orlando, Florida for the 37th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. Under the direction of the IAJGS and the local society, The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando, once again we will all be rewarded for our attendance. I look forward to seeing you all there.


06 July 2016

IAJGS 2016 - Seattle, One Month to Go


Just over one month till Jewish Genealogists from around the world gather in Seattle for a great week of sharing knowledge of our Jewish ancestors. Its not to late to join us, I look forward to seeing everyone there.

10 June 2016

War of 1812 Pension Records

On 5 Nov 1796, Jacob Cohen, the son of Solomon Cohen was born in Georgetown, South Carolina.  In 1816 in Charleston he married Rachel Lopez, a native of Charleston. Jacob and Rachel had 2 children before Rachel died at the age of 39 in June of 1833.
 Later, Jacob married Sarah Barrett, who was born in 1809 in Charleston. To this marriage were born at least 4 children. Jacob Cohen died  on 13 June 1871 at the age of 75.
Early in his life Jacob enlisted and participated in the War of 1812. In an attempt to find more information about Jacob and his service I was able to search the War of 1812 Pension Application Files that are beginning to be made available from fold3.


In searching the fold3 website I was indeed able to find the War of 1812 Widow's Pension for Jacob Cohen alias John Cohen, who served as a Private in the Georgia Militia under Capt. Bullock.

The file included numerous documents, three of which provided great information as to his life. The first, shown below, is just a quick view of his service, and residence after the war. We now know that he enlisted on 22 Jan 1815 and was discharged on 23 Feb 1815. This record also provides us with the date of marriage to Sarah Barrett, as it shows that date was  22 Oct 1834.

The other 2 documents that provide  the most information are the Widow's Brief and the Summary of Proof. The first is a statement by the widow where she shares the information of why she feels she should be entitled to a pension and the second is the reply where the pension is either accepted or denied. The documents below provide her reasoning and in this case the acceptance of that claim including the record of his receiving 160 acres of land.


These records are being made available through fold3 because of the generosity of many groups. A project, the War of 1812 Pension Digitization Project, is under way to get these documents digitized so that they may all be available for the public to view. More information about how to help may be found at the Preserve the Pensions website. What a great opportunity to help preserve some wonderful records.