prepared by the Israel Genealogy Society, the searchable French archives in Aix en Provence,
Alain Farhi’s large “Fleurs de l’Orient” searchable database, and Dan Kazez’ collection of Istanbul
Rabbinate records, among many others.
Many of the searchable databases on SephardicGen were newly created and appear here for the
first time. As a sample there are databases of surnames and associated data extracted from Abra-
ham Galante’s 9 volume Histoire des Juifs de Turquie (History of the Jews of Turkey), Joseph Ne-
hama’s 7 volume study of the Jews of Salonika, databases of rabbis from Turkey, Morocco, Bul-
garia, Algeria, Salonika, etc., WWII Sephardic deportees, 19
century Algerian Jewish voter lists,
century Russe (Bulgaria) wedding register, and soon the complete birth and marriage re-
cords of the Sephardic community of Vienna, Austria, among many more.
Because it would be tedious to search individually through all these individual databases,
SephardicGen also has a searchable Consolidated Index of Sephardic Surnames (CISS), a sort of
“Index of Indexes”. Presently containing close to 50,000 names it will probably be much larger by
the time you read this. A search for a name in this composite index provides a list – often several
pages long – of which specific databases contain detailed information on the surname searched.
The results page even provides links that permit the visitor to go directly to the database in ques-
tion for the more detailed data search.
Many Sephardim grew up in francophone homes and many are still today more comfortable speak-
ing French than English. To accommodate these researchers, the SephardicGen website also pro-
vides French versions of the database section’s main page and its various search engines. The
French versions can be accessed either through a link on the English database page or directly at
< http://www.sephardicgen.com/databases/databasesFR.html >.
Finally, a quick comment about the unique Sephardic gazetteer. This is a database of the many
locations where Sephardic communities exist or have existed in the past. Searchable by any of the
locations’ alternate names (or by country), the search results provide the alternative names, the
country and province, and the geographic latitude and longitude of the town or village in question.
There is even a link by each location to the Steve Morse engine that can provide a geographic
map of the location. The Sephardic gazetteer is of special value to the Sephardic genealogist be-
cause it includes many places that no longer exist today on any modern map. Because of this and
its inclusion of alternate and rare historic names a search in this database can solve many a pesky
This article only describes a portion of the SephardicGen website. There are many other sections
of the website to explore. Those researching their Ashkenazi roots might consider reading how
Jewish populations have changed over the centuries. As late as the 12
century, 90% of all Jews
were Sephardim. In the 1100s, there were Jewish communities of 12,000 Jews in several Spanish
cities (Córdoba, Granada, etc.), while the largest Jewish communities in Europe were those of
Frankfurt am Main and Vienna with 700 and 1,200 respectively. Where did today’s Ashkenazi Jews
come from? If the Ashkenazi genealogist could go back far enough many would be surprised to
find Sephardic connections. The notarial records of Spain are voluminous and because many
Sephardic surnames are ancient, this greatly extends how far back one can go in Sephardic re-
search. I found records of Jewish MALKA families living continuously for 250 years in the same
neighboring towns of Aragón from the 13
century to just one year before the 1492 expulsion.
ED. NOTE: See Jeffrey S. Malka’s article in the Winter 2007 issue of AVOTAYNU.
SephardicGen.com...(Continued from page 1)
IAJGS Cemetery Project and JOWBR As Tools
for the Genealogy Researcher
Submitted by Marlene Katz Bishow < firstname.lastname@example.org >
How many of you know that the IAJGS Cemetery Project was largely constructed through the ef-
forts of our member and JGSGW Past President Arline Sachs (also former secretary of the Inter-
national Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies (IAJGS)) and her husband Sidney Sachs?
The present coordinator for North America is our President, Marlene Bishow.
The objective of the Cemetery Project is to identify Jewish burial sites and interments throughout
the world. One approach to using the IAJGS database is to identify potential sites of family buri-
als. If you know the name of the city or town where your family member lived and you would like
to find out about the cemetery or cemeteries in the area; consult the IAJGS Cemetery Project at
< http://www.jewishgen.org/cemetery/instructions/ >. After selecting the area of the world and then
the country or state, survey the information by city or town to see what cemeteries are or have
been sites of Jewish burials. The listing may provide some information about the associated Jew-
ish community and congregation. Most listings also contain contact information for the caretaker
or other responsible parties. The location of the cemetery and how to reach it are included in most
instances. You may want to visit the cemetery to pay respects, to photograph the site or, to
search cemetery records, if they are available. Only the largest cemeteries have on-site offices,
so you may need to contact the associated congregation or society.
Another approach is to check the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) at
< http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/cemetery/ > for specific individuals or for family names. If
you get a positive hit, you may find a small amount of information about where the person is bur-
ied, dates, and other information of interest and value to researchers. Using the information found
on this site, you may cross-reference it by means of the IAJGS Cemetery Project for location,
contact person, and directions.
Researchers should also look for a specific cemetery website. This information is often indicated
in the IAJGS listing, but new websites are showing up more frequently. There are also public and
private (paid) websites with cemetery information and photographs of grave markers. By doing a
Google search on the name of the cemetery, followed by a comma and the location; you may be
able to find additional information.
If a researcher finds no information on a particular cemetery or plot of interest, the researcher
may want to do a grave by grave survey of that plot. Using the instructions on the JOWBR web-
site and the spreadsheet, which is also downloadable from that site, the aggregated data may be
submitted to JOWBR. JOWBR also accepts digital photos of the graves. Local assistance with
preparation of the data for submission is available from Marlene Bishow< email@example.com >.
Before travelling to another city, check the IAJGS Master Calendar < http://
www.iajgs.org/calends/jgscalendar.html > for Jewish Genealogy Society’s sche-
duled programs. In February, I heard Henry Wellisch from Toronto, Canada, give
a lecture about “The Austro-Hungarian Empire: Conventional and Non-
Conventional Resources” at the JGS of Broward County, and attended Steve
Morse’s presentation "One-Step Webpages: A Potpourri of Genealogical Search Tools" at the
JGS of Greater Miami, both in Florida. [ED.]
Reunion of Trochenbrod Descendants
By Rose Blitzstein Elbaum < firstname.lastname@example.org >
The small town of Trochenbrod, about 30 km northeast of Lutsk in Volhynia gubernia, northwest-
ern Ukraine, has become familiar to many people thanks to Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2002 novel,
Everything is Illuminated. Families from surrounding villages settled the marshy area in the early
1800s as a farming colony. It was officially recognized by the Soviet regime in 1835 and given the
name Sofiyevka (now known as Zofyuvka), after the Russian princess Sofia who gave land for the
settlement. However, since the town’s inhabitants were all Jews who took advantage of the Czar’s
edict of 1827, which exempted Jewish farmers from obligatory enlistment in the army for a period
of fifty years, they persisted in referring to the town by the Yiddish name Trochenbrod and re-
served the Russian name for official use only.
By 1889, 235 families (about 1200 people) lived in Trochenbrod. The town steadily grew until it
had a population of 3,000 Jews by 1938. Trochenbrod was unique in that the population was all
Jewish save the postmaster, Rizhard Labinsky, who according to Russian and Polish custom,
was required to be a non-Jew. The inhabitants consisted mainly of farmers and tanners, but there
was also a glass factory as well as service-related enterprises such as cafes, inns, grocers and
other retail establishments.
All the residents were observant Jews who attended seven different synagogues in their small
town – three big ones: Homilner, Mikever and Barshafsky, and four Hasidic batei midrash (study
houses) named after the Hasidic leaders from Trisk, Olyka, Berezna and Stepan. The style of
davening (praying) was Nusach Sfard, one of the three main styles of prayer, and to this day Beth
Sholom Congregation in Potomac, which was started by immigrants from Trochenbrod and the
surrounding villages, still davens Nusach Sfard.
The area of Trochenbrod was small, only about 17,000 acres. It consisted of one main road,
which was always muddy in wet weather, with houses one after another on both sides of the road.
Each property extended quite a distance behind the house. The town could not be expanded be-
cause it was surrounded by forests and many of the young people were compelled to emigrate to
North and South America, especially to Argentina.
During World War I Trochenbrod suffered a great deal because the front was only about four
miles from the town and its inhabitants were forced to work for the Austrian and German armies
for a period of nine months. The army would distribute small portions of bread, salt and the hind-
quarters of beef from cattle slaughtered by Jewish shochtim (ritual slaughterers) to the residents
who worked for the army.
At the start of the Russian Revolution, the young people of Trochenbrod organized many Hebrew
and Zionist institutions. After the Poles captured Trochenbrod in 1920, the residents raised money
and taught Hebrew in a Hebrew school headed by Rabbi Eliyahu David Yisroel Schuster, who
also gave private Hebrew lessons.
Thanks to Arthur Blitstein, a Chicago relative of mine who had the foresight in the 1950s to inter-
view elderly members of the BLITZSTEIN family, we have a family tree which dates back to David
BLITSTEIN, born about 1790, and his siblings. David’s son Hershel, my gggrandfather, was
forced to flee Trochenbrod because of a dispute with the authorities and emigrated to America
about 1890 when he was eighty years old. He worked as a laborer on the World’s Fair from 1893
until he died in 1896. He is buried in Chicago. However, his wife and eleven children all remained
(Continued on page 6)
in Trochenbrod. My grandfather, Shoel Blitzstein, had a farm where he raised his own vegetables,
had a milk cow, and traded in horses. His nine children were all expected to help on the farm as
soon as they were old enough. He had a reputation in the surrounding towns as an honest man,
and many non-Jews would only buy from him.
The children in Trochenbrod all attended heder (Hebrew school), and when they were old
enough, the boys were sent out of town to yeshiva. My father, Nathan BLITZSTEIN, who was no
exception, told me many stories of his days at yeshiva in Rovno, Ukraine.
In August and September 1942 the Nazis and their collaborators murdered the entire population
of the town, save about 35 including my grandfather Shoel, my father Nathan and one brother
Avraham, who all managed to flee into the nearby Radziwiller forest. Another brother, Hershel,
had left Trochenbrod in 1938 and made his way illegally to Palestine. Those who escaped joined
the partisans and fought against the Nazi machine. Trochenbrod caught fire and was burned
down completely. The town was never rebuilt.
After the War, most Trochenbrod survivors emigrated to Israel, where they formed a landsman-
shaft, an organization to keep the memories of Trochenbrod alive, which they named Beit-Tal. In
1988, they published a yizkor book titled Ha'Ilan V'Shoreshav (The Tree and Its Roots) in Hebrew
and Yiddish. After the former Soviet Union broke apart, the Israeli survivors arranged to erect
matzevas (memorial stones) in the town of Trochenbrod as well as in the forest of Yaromel, a few
tant, where Tro-
were led to their
mass grave. In
August 1992 I
father and ten
Israelis to Tro-
chenbrod for the
dedication of the
that time, I was
the only second-
ber who ex-
in seeing the
town where my
father had spent
his youth. How-
ever, I am
pleased to say
that I am now part of a group that is reaching out to form a network of second, third and fourth
generation “Trochenbroders.” During the first quarter of the twentieth century many people from
Trochenbrod immigrated to the United States. In the 1920s, organizations of Trochenbrod immi-
grants sprang up in Washington, DC, Baltimore, New York, Toledo, Cleveland, Chicago and other
cities. By the late 1970s all of these had dissolved because of the death of most of the original im-
(Continued from page 5)
(Continued on page 7)
Now many of these descendants and their children from across the United States are coming to-
gether in April to rediscover each other; to remember their ancestors and their Trochenbrod
through public storytelling, video and photographs; and to talk about ways to keep alive the mem-
ory of Trochenbrod.
If you are descendant of Trochenbrod residents, please join us on Sunday, April 13
, 4 pm, at
Sixth & I Historic Synagogue for this first ever Trochenbrod gathering in the U.S. If you know of
someone who has roots in Trochenbrod, please forward this information to them. You can reach
me at < email@example.com >. Or go to the new Beit-Tal website at < www.bet-tal.com >.
(Continued from page 6)
Sidney & Arline Sachs
For ten years Sidney and Arline Sachs have produced a public access tele-
vision series, Tracing Your Family Roots < http://tracingroots.nova.org >.
The series’ shows have increased the knowledge of available resources,
demonstrated creative techniques, and increased the number of individuals
who participate in Jewish genealogy. Sidney has produced the series, while Arline and Dr. Sally-
ann Sack have performed as co-hosts of the show. The shows are broadcast in the District of
Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, and are now available on the website.
With their Tracing Your Family Roots show, Sidney and Arline have helped spread the word
about Jewish genealogy through their dedicated and tireless efforts and creative programming.
Sidney and Arline Sachs are members of the JGSGW.
Congratulations on your IAJGS honor. It is well deserved!
needs your stories!
I would like to hear what YOU are interested in……
Do you have a problem finding your ancestor in
some database? Write your questions and we'll
try to answer them.
Did you find your ancestor in some database?
Tell us what steps you followed so that others can
Did you find/meet an x-times removed cousin?
Share your joy with us.
Please participate in the continuing success of our
newsletter by sending your comments, questions,
findings or stories to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Volga Germans in Argentina
Many descendants of the Volga Germans migrated from Russia to Argentina from 1875 onwards.
The website < http://www.alemanesvolga.com.ar/ > has a short history of the Germans from
Volga, their culture, a vast bibliography and history of the colonization in Argentina. Most of the
colonies < http://www.alemanesvolga.com.ar/historia/colonias/index.html >, have a list the names
of the founding members. In Spanish.
Dachau Concentration Camp Records
Steve Morse < http://www.stevemorse.org > has added a One-Step search application for the
160,000 inmates at the Dachau Concentration Camp. Unlike many of his other tools that search
data on other websites, this entire database is on his own website. He received the data from Pe-
ter Landé of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. To search, click
on “Dachau Records” in the “Holocaust and Eastern Europe” section. To read about this data-
base, click on the “Introduction” button.
Frankfurt Memorbuch: New Digitized Manuscript
The National Library of Israel has announced public access of a digitized version of the Frankfurt
Memorbuch, one of the most important sources of genealogical data on German Jewry. This
manuscript documents the deaths of important members of the Jewish community of Frankfurt am
Main over a period of almost 300 years (1628-1907). The Introduction, in English, can be found at
< http://jnul.huji.ac.il/dl/mss/heb1092/index_eng.html >. The site includes page and date indexes,
in Hebrew. To view these images it is necessary to download the free DjVu viewer program. <
Tokyo Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish Community of Japan has an on-line list of those interred in the Yokohama Foreigner's
Cemetery - Jewish Section < http://www.jccjapan.or.jp/Cemetery/index.htm >. Please direct your
questions to the Jewish Community of Japan (link found at the bottom of the page).
Irish Census - 1911 Dublin
The Irish National Archives has put the 1911 census returns for Dublin City and County on-line.
Digitized images of the original census returns in pdf format may be searched, viewed and
downloaded. The database is free. Go to < http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/ >
Historical Currency Conversions
The website states: “This form allows you to convert the historical buying power of American and
British currencies into current dollars. ... the quantity can be entered as a number like "1000" or
"10 million" or any mathematical expression.” < http://futureboy.homeip.net/fsp/dollar.fsp >
IIJG Research Grants
Submitted by Anne Feder Lee, IAJGS President
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center (IIJG) at the Jewish Na-
tional and University Library, Jerusalem, is accepting proposals for ground-breaking research in
six preferred areas of Jewish Genealogy, for the academic year 2008– 2009. Successful appli-
cants will be awarded grants of up to $10,000. Deadline for the submission of proposals is 31 May
2008. "Instructions to Applicants" (to be followed carefully) are to be found on the Institute's web-
site < http://www.iijg.org > (under "Projects", then "Upcoming Projects", then "Call for Projects").
28th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
Co-Sponsored by the IAJGS, the JGS of Illinois and the Illiana JGS
Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois, 17-22 August 2008
< www.chicago2008.org >
Registration is now available at the Conference website. Early registration ends April 30.
For up-to-date information, questions and answers, join the Conference Discussion Group.
Special Interest Groups (SIGs) will have their annual meetings and luncheons.
Don’t miss “Breakfast with The Experts” and the “Jewish Film Festival.”
Computer training workshops: Registration is $25.00 and limited to 25 individuals per work-
shop (note: many workshops offered at last year's conference sold out).
NEW: Shabbat Dinner on Friday, August 15 and Welcome Dinner on Saturday, August 16.
Conference program is now online (subject to change).
Tips for preparing for the Conference:
Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland < www.jewishgen.org/InfoFiles/Chicago >.
Maps of cemeteries: < http://tinyurl.com/3ycbqa > (bottom of page).
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested