Tag Archive for ghetto

Judische Familienforschung: World’s first Jewish genealogy society?

by Henry Wellisch In the early 1920s Dr. Arthur Czellitzer, a Berlin ophthalmologist, founded the Gesellschaft fur Judische Familien Forschung, the “Society for Jewish Family Research.” It is now recognized as the world’s first society dedicated to Jewish genealogy in the modern era. The society had regular meetings in Berlin and published a newsletter entitled, Mitteilunngen…

An 1839 travelogue through the Jewish world

In the year 1839, had you been a traveller along the road from Rzeszov to Cracow, you would have been obliged to show a passport in Podgorze, the suburb of Cracow on the Austrian side of the Vistula (“Weichsel”) River. After submitting to a cursory inspection from Austrian officials, your vehicle would have crossed the…

Holocaust survivor sees photo of family for first time

From the Canadian Jewish News, October 2013 Some 70 years after he last saw his father, mother, brothers and sisters alive, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and Bergen Belsen concentration camp was recently given a photograph of his family for the first time. “When I received this photo, I said, ‘This is better than…

Rabbi Schild’s memoir of an ‘uncertain passage’

From Books in Canada, 2002 One evening some months ago, a crowd of about 600 people gathered in Toronto’s Adath Israel Synagogue for the launch of Rabbi Erwin Schild’s latest book, The Very Narrow Bridge: A Memoir of an Uncertain Passage. The hall in the synagogue was packed (standing room only) as the rabbi delivered…

Photos capture ‘the Way We Were’

A photograph, the old saying goes, is worth a thousand words. Sometimes, however, a photograph’s worth cannot be measured in words. By capturing an ephemeral moment in exquisite detail, a photograph can be far more articulate than language. Irreplaceable images of our culture from days past can be infinitely instructive as to how we lived.…

Postcards from the past

A picture, according to proverb, is worth a thousand words, but sometimes the power of a photograph to illuminate a setting seems to go well beyond the descriptive abilities of language. Genealogists are often keen, therefore, to find good generic photographs, illustrations and other visual materials to enhance their family tree research. As defined by…

Kishinev, 100 years later

One hundred years ago this week (April 2003), reports reached the West from St. Petersburg of severe anti-Jewish riots that had occurred in Kishinev, capital of the Russian province of Bessarabia. The first news was sparse. Twenty-five Jews had been killed and 275 wounded in the attacks, newspapers reported, but eventually the death toll would…

Lives Remembered: Photographs of a Small Town in Poland

The collected photographs of Zalman Kaplan, who ran a studio in the town of Szczuczyn, Poland between 1898 and 1939, might never have been considered remarkable or been made the focus of a traveling museum exhibit, had it not been for the almost complete destruction of Szczuczyn’s Jewish community of 3,000 souls during the Nazi…

Two guidebooks from Ruth Ellen Gruber

After several years stationed in Europe as a freelance political journalist, American writer Ruth Ellen Gruber was startled to discover that a magnificent old synagogue had been restored in the Hungarian town of Szeged. “I never had any inkling that such a synagogue could exist outside of a major city,” she recalled. Shortly afterwards, she…

Mary Antin’s The Promised Land

Mary Antin, born in the Lithuanian (now Belarussian) town of Polotsk in 1881, recorded her memoirs of the Old Country and of coming to America in The Promised Land, a book first published in 1911. The Promised Land is a valuable first-person account of the myriad concerns and experiences surrounding the journey from the squalid…