Sunday, November 29, 2009

From Kishineff to Bialystok: A Table of Pogroms From 1903 to 1906

The Museum of Family History would like to announce the presence on its site of an important report and a table of pogroms committed between 1903 and 1906.

First, you will be able to read over the introduction and commentary to all of this as published by the American Jewish Committee in their American Jewish Year Book, Volume 8 (1906-1907).

Secondly, you will be able to peruse a table of more than two hundred and fifty towns and cities in Europe where pogroms occurred. Within this table is a listing of the damage caused in these locations (when available), as well as some general remarks made about each pogrom. You will also find for each pogrom event listed, the date of occurrence, the name of the town or city, the gubernia, the overall population of the location and the Jewish population, though numbers are not given for every town or city. There is also a supplemental table of pogroms in other locations in November 1905 not included in this larger table.

To make your town search easier, there is also a table that lists alphabetically all the locations with a reference made with each to the entry number in the large table. There is also a table that lists the gubernias in which pogroms occurred, and their overall and Jewish populations.

Most interestingly, though thoroughly depressing, is the Report of the Duma Commission of the Bialystok Massacre that occurred in June 1906. A goodly report is presented to you here as it reviews in detail many incidents that occurred during the pogrom, especially to the Jewish population. Those of you who might have had families that lived in Bialystok may wish to read the report thoroughly to see if any family names are mentioned. For those of you who have an interest in a particular town, this report and its included tables are for you.

Lastly, the debates that occurred in the Duma as the report was being presented is interesting to read too. You can also read of the resolutions proposed and passed within the U. S. Congress from 1905-1906.

It should be mentioned that all this is being presented to you at the Museum courtesy of the American Jewish Committee Archives.

All of the aforementioned information can be found at .

Please send all comments via the Comments section of this blog. I hope all this is helpful and informative to you.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

From the East Side to Jerusalem and Return: Wearers of the "Mogen David" Enlisted in a British Contingent to Fight the Turks

Reuben Bushmitz, a Jew from the Lower East Side, was recruited by and fought with the Brits against the Turks in 1918.

You can read Bushmitz's story at . This article falls within the purview of the Museum's "The Jew in the Military" section.

The article reads in part:

The British Canadian Recruiting Mission...became the objective for these young men who wanted to win back from the infidel the land sacred to Abraham and Isaac and David....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The World of the Yiddish Theatre, cir 1903-10

For those of you who are interested in the Yiddish Theatre, the Museum now presents to you five new articles first published between 1903-10. One can imagine one's Yiddish-speaking ancestors at least once attending one of these performances for entertainment and perhaps an escape from their daily grind.

Included within this set of five articles is an article about famed Yiddish actress Berta Kalich (from Lviv) and this article talks about her, her acting ability and the play she performed in, Jacob Gordin's "Kreutzer Sonata."

Another article about Yiddish actors and theatre houses in 1903, another one about a Yiddish actors studio that was opened up in 1906 in hopes of creating versatile Yiddish actors.

There is another interesting one about the "Yiddish Rialto" (which encompassed a number of theatrical cafes between Grand and Canal Streets in lower Manhattan) and about the politics of the Yiddish theatre, and the many characters who hired actors here and did business.

You might also be interested in the article about Russian playwright Leonid Andreyev who penned the play "Anathema" which was then translated into Yiddish.

All very interesting articles; hope you like them. The links to these five articles can be found under "Lives in the Yiddish Theatre" in the Museum's Newspaper Archives page at

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Israel Zangwill and the "Children of the Ghetto": A Real Portrayal of Jews

In 1909 in front of the Beth Israel Literary Society in Houston, Texas, a Miss Sara Segal spoke about writer Israel Zangwill's true portrayal of Jews in his popular book "Children of the Ghetto: A Study of a Peculiar People," which was written in 1892. Zangwill subsequently turned his book into a play that was performed in New York City seven years later.

Miss Segal remarks that for the most part Jews had not to that point been portrayed in literature in some fictionalized way, not as they truly are. In his book, Zangwill describes a myriad of interesting Jewish characters who more truly represent what the Jew is "in fact; not in fiction." She recites several passages from the book to illustrate what she believes presents the Jew in a more realistic light. According to Miss Segal, "The book consists of a mass of human interest as varied in its fun and sadness as life itself."

You might like to enhance your experience by imagining, if you wish, that you are in Houston, Texas during the latter part of winter in 1909, attending this Literary Society talk. You may also like to read aloud to yourself her talk as if you were the presenter, which might perhaps help you to more fully appreciate her words.

You can find the transcript of her talk as found in Houston's Jewish Herald at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Through the Eye of the Needle: Fabric of Survival--An Exhibition of the Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz

Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, along with her sister Mania, were the only members of their family, and among the few Jews in their Polish village, to survive the Holocaust. At the age of fifteen, Esther refused the Nazi order for the Jews to report to a nearby railroad station for relocation. She and her sister separated from their family and never saw them again.

In 1977, at the age of fifty, Esther began creating works of fabric art to depict her stories of survival. Trained as a dressmaker but untrained in art, she created a collection of thirty-six needlework and fabric collage pictures in strong, vivid colors and striking details with a sense of folk-like realism. Meticulously stitched words beneath the pictures provide a narrative. While the pictures are visually pleasing, almost cheerful, a closer examination reveals the stark incongruity between the pastoral surroundings and the human violence, terror and betrayal that are their subjects.

Bernice Steinhardt and Helene McQuade, Esther's two daughters, have honored their mother's life and memory by creating a website called Art & Remembrance, which is designed to help combat racism and social injustice. The Museum of Family History proudly presents all three dozen of Esther's works, replete with Esther's own words as well as sound narrations provided by her daughters.

In addition to this gallery of Esther's works, you will also find within the Museum's Education and Research Center an educational aspect of her exhibition. The introduction to the educational aspect of the exhibition is presented to you by the Museum, with links provided to their Art & Remembrance website that are necessary to fully partake in this exercise, including a thirteen-minute interview with Esther who talks about her life in her hometown in Poland.

This exhibition, along with that of artists Mayer Kirshenblatt and Martin Kieselstein, join the exhibition of renown artist Max Weber under the umbrella of "Reflections of Memory: Jewish Expression Through Art," which in every case will display the products of creativity and thought based on the author's experience, whether it be for instance from the experience of living in a small town in pre-war Europe or by surviving the Holocaust.

You can see the introduction to the "Reflections of Memory" exhibition by visiting . Just visit the Table of Contents for the links to each of the four exhibitions.

Exhibition of Esther's work:
Educational activity:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The State of French Jewry at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Most of us already know about the persecution of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Jewish background who was in advanced training with the Army's General Staff. He was falsely accused of treason. You can read more about this "Dreyfus Affair" in a previously presented webpage at the Museum of Family History at .

To go along with this, the Museum now presents to you an article presented in a December 1899 issue of the New-York Daily Tribune about the state of French Jewry, French anti-Semitism, the French press, etc. You might also be interested in what was written about M. Zadoc Khan, the then Grand Rabbi of France as well as the Jewish temple on the Rue de la Victoire in Paris. Photographs of both the rabbi and the synagogue interior are included in this article.

This article can be found at

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Dish Lender of the East Side, 1905

A reporter from New York's Daily Tribune visited the East Side of New York City in order to do a story about a "novel industry" that once existed there.

It seems that one could visit tiny shops, often located in the cellars of Ghetto tenement houses, and rent dishes there. The reporter, who was not Jewish, visited at least two such shops. The author of this article also portrays different characters he met along his journey.

None of us lived on the East Side in 1905, so perhaps you might enjoy reading this article and visualizing the reporter's journey as he paints for us a colorful picture of one aspect of life on the East Side of Manhattan.

You can find this article at .

The Russian Jew in the United States

This past summer the Museum introduced the first of three sections of a book published in 1905 entitled "The Russian Jew in the United States" (also entitled "The Immigrant Jew in America" in a later 1907 edition.) Now the second section, about the Russian Jews of New York, has been readied for you.

It should be noted that the editor of this book makes a distinction between the three major Jewish populations that have lived in the United States over the past two and a half centuries (i.e. from 1655): The Spanish-Portuguese, the German and the Russian population. Thus, some of you who have limited or no interest in the lives of Russian Jews, but who are interested in the Jews of such regions as Lithuania, Volhynia, Bessarabia, Galicia, Poland or Romania, might be misled by the term "Russian Jew" and disregard this book because you think it doesn't apply to your interest or research. In the case of this book, "Russian Jews" include all Jews that lived within the Russian Empire in 1905.

The Museum then has now put online the second of three sections of this book--the first part was about the Russian Jews of Philadelphia; the third part is of the Jews of Chicago--hopefully this part will be placed online within the next few months. The second part now online is that of the Jews of New York and covers such topics as general aspects of the population, philanthropy, economic and industrial condition, religious activities, educational influences, amusements and social life, politics, health and sanitation and law and litigation.

This section on the Jews of New York is a nice tie-in with the number of articles the Museum has recently presented to you about the immigrant Jews who came to New York during the years of high immigration, i.e. from the late 1880s to 1910. The link to the main exhibition is Just click on the word "enter" to view the table of contents.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Israel Zangwill on Theodor Herzl

On July 3, 1904, Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism, passed away at the young age of forty-four. He was buried at the Döblinger Friedhof (the Döbling Cemetery) on July 7. On August 16, 1949 his body was disinterred and reburied in Jerusalem on Mount Herzl.

On the day of his burial author and orator Israel Zangwill (author of the informative and influential novel "Children of the Ghetto") gave a eulogy to Herzl at the Great Assembly Hall in London. In this latest article introduced at the Museum of Family Hisory, the transcript of the eulogy Zangwill gave can now be read. It was reprinted in a front-page article in a Jewish Herald edition (a Houston, Texas newspaper) in 1908.

It was Theodor Herzl who wrote in April 1896, in Der Judenstaat (The State of the Jews):

The Jewish question persists wherever Jews live in appreciable numbers. Wherever it does not exist, it is brought in together with Jewish immigrants. We are naturally drawn into those places where we are not persecuted, and our appearance there gives rise to persecution. This is the case, and will inevitably be so, everywhere, even in highly civilised countries—see, for instance, France—so long as the Jewish question is not solved on the political level. The unfortunate Jews are now carrying the seeds of anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America.

The article can be found at .

Origins of the Yiddish Language, 1904

For those of you who are interested in learning a bit about the origin of the Yiddish language, at least as explained in a 1904 edition of Minnesota's St. Paul Globe, please visit

The article states in part:

"As the municipal campaign progresses and political "literature" becomes more abundant, all West Side residents, all visitors at the court house will encounter handbills printed in strange characters. Most Americans will fail to recognize the language of the bills. Some disappointed readers will call the printing Greek; others will say it's merely Syrian or Arabic; for St. Paul has its representatives from Athens, Beirut and Damascus.

The better informed will make a closer guess and call the curious language Hebrew. And, finally, one man in ten will know the truth. He will say 'It's Yiddish.'

Ask him, however, what is Yiddish? He'll probably tell you it is modern Hebrew, or that it is simply Russian or Polish printed in Hebrew characters. He knows, at any rate, that Yiddish is the language of several thousand St. Paulites; that it is spoken constantly among themselves by numerous Russian, Polish and Roumanian Jews in this city; that it flourishes especially among the many Jews of West St. Paul.

Yiddish, indeed, is the language of all the multitude of Russian, Polish and Roumanian Jews that have immigrated to America in recent years. Not a few of these immigrants know other languages, including the language of the countries where they've lived. But Yiddish is the popular medium, the language of the home, the shop, the synagogue, Yiddish newspapers are published in several American cities. In Greater New York Yiddish is the language of influential journals and of more pretentious literature. A writer of Yiddish novels who lives on Gotham's East side, was lately described as the most prolific of modern romancers.

Yet this favorite tongue or Russian Hebrews, of Polish Hebrews, of Roumanian Hebrews, is not Hebrew; neither is it Russian nor Polish nor Roumanian. Chiefly it is German, old German, medieval German, popular German, German not merely "broken," but shattered, torn, pulverized--a veritable linguistic mincemeat."

Be sure to visit the Museum's Yiddish World at when you have the time. It is a "virtual potpourri of Yiddish culture."

The Museum will also feature more about all things Yiddish in the future, e.g. Yiddish theatre, language and literature.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Memorial Book from Telekhany

In 1932 a memorial book was created, mostly of views of the town of then Telechany, Poland, now Telekhany, Belarus. For those of you with an interest in this town, or for those of you who would like to see more than ten views of Telekhany as it appeared in 1932, please visit this small exhibition.

The introduction to this memorial book reads:
"This album reminds us of our old, forgotten home. It's good to take an occasional look at the past, but it's certainly hard for each of us to make the trip to Europe. Here we're sparing you this [journey] by bringing you pictures of Telekhany and your friends and close ones. That's why, dear friends, you must buy this remembrance book. The money you pay for the album will help your relatives and acquaintances.

Be united, landsleit, because a united body can accomplish a lot."

The memorial book for Telechany can be found at

Holocaust Memorials in Cuba

Most of us have never visited Cuba, whether it was because our government didn't allow us to or for some other reason. Some of us, including my own great uncles and other cousins, traveled to Cuba from various European countries, waiting in limbo during these arduous times when immigration was very restricted and entry to the United States was extremely difficult. Eventually, my two great uncles somehow found their way into the United States; others who had immigrated to Cuba stayed there and created a life for themselves and their family.

The Museum has just added six photographs from Jewish cemeteries in Havana (Ashkenazic and Sephardic) and Santa Clara, Cuba. For each cemetery there is a photograph of the front gate and also of a single Holocaust memorial. The memorial inscriptions are written in both Hebrew or Yiddish and Spanish. Included with these photographs is the English translation of each Spanish inscription.

These memorial photos fall under the aegis of the larger exhibition within the Museum entitled "World Holocaust Memorials." The Museum of Family History contains the largest number of photographs on the Internet of Holocaust memorials from around the world. These photographs on the Museum's site are from eighteen countries in Europe, as well as from North America, i.e. both the U.S. and Canada, and Israel. This larger exhibition can be found at Certainly if you have photos of memorials not shown within this exhibition and can email them to the Museum, please do so at .

The link to the page that includes the Holocaust memorials from Cuba can be found at

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lost Journalists of the Ghetto: Buried Geniuses on the Great East Side, 1903

In Czarist Russia, many of the great Jewish talents were repressed and not fully allowed to express themselves. Such was the case of the Yiddish writer and scholar, many of whom felt compelled to immigrate to such countries as the United States during the late nineteenth and very early twentieth century. Such talent during this time found work as journalists, writing for the Yiddish newspapers, especially those in New York.

The newest Museum article begins:

That the most neglected and unhappy portions of the slums of the city number among their inhabitants men and women who under different conditions and happier fortunes might have been counted among the great names of the world in art, poetry and music is a fact not unknown to the outside world. Almost proverbial are the stories of musicians, scholars and artists who are buried under the slum life of each great city. Yet there is in the East Side of New-York a realm of unexplored extent peopled by those who may well be numbered among the buried geniuses of the slums. The lost journalists of the Ghetto, those authors and scholars whose immigration to a strange land has dried their springs of genius, numbed their finer senses and reduced them to the unhappy necessity of earning a living through "jargon" papers, one of the most interesting phases of Ghetto life.

The article can be found at

Are Jew and Gentile Nearer? cir 1910

Curious about what was said about intermarriage in New York one hundred years ago?
In this article from the Sun, a New York City newspaper, the relationship between Jew and Gentile is discussed, as is intermarriage.

Opinions in this article come from a variety or sources, e.g. a retired Episcopal minister; Rabbi Isaac S. Moses of Ahawath Chesed Shaar Hashomayim; Bishop Greer of the New York Episcopal diocese, a Presbyterian minister; Rabbi Schulman of Temple Beth-El; Rabbi H. Pereira Mendes, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of the United States and Canada and minister of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation, et al.

The article begins:

Are the two races being brought closer together in other ways than in business and social relations?-- A discussion of the idea of “The Melting Pot” in actual life—Some of the Rabbis emphatic in their opposition to marriages of persons of different faiths—Their objections both social and religious—Christians who agree with them—Amalgamation of the races that is going on in New York. “Are the Jew and gentile nearer together to-day or are they further apart? Is intermarriage between them more prevalent?”

These questions have become especially of present interest here in New York, which city, it has been said, the advanced Jew looks upon now as the Promised Land rather than Palestine. They have been laid before many of the leading Christian ministers and Jewish rabbis of New York. The Answers given to them are printed below.

The link to this article is

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Museum's Newspaper Archives

Old newspaper articles often give us insight into the thinking of the times. Today we have many ways to learn about what's going on in the world and many ways to learn the opinion of others, but in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the choices were limited. Today we can be informed not only through the newspaper, but also by television, radio and the Internet, for example. One hundred or more years ago, the average person mostly read newspapers to get their news. Thus, newspapers often had a great influence on the sentiment of its readers.

Within the many exhibitions of the Museum of Family History you will currently find sixty-five articles that have been extracted from a number of mostly defunct newspapers, e.g. the New-York Daily Tribune. These articles cover a range of topics, whether it be about the concern over excessive immigration, the lives of Jewish farmers, life on the Lower East Side of New York, Ellis Island and Castle Garden, and even New York's Yiddish Theatre. Those of you who are subscribed to this blog, or who visit it frequently on their own, know that many announcements have been made as to new articles that have been readied for your perusal.

You can now pick and choose any of the aforementioned articles and more on the Museum's new Newspaper Archives page. Each article is listed according to the Museum exhibition it is associated with. It is also listed by its title, by the newspaper it appeared in, and the year the article was published. Most of the articles currently available at the Museum were first published between the early 1880s and 1910, important years for both European and American Jewry. Additionally, each article is linked to the webpage on which it appears. So you easily peruse this list and simply click on the link of the article you wish to read. The list will be added to each time a new article is placed online by the Museum.

You can find the Newspaper Archives page at The only links on the Museum website to the Newspaper Archives page can be found in the right-hand column on the Museum's front page and on the Site Map page.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Multitude of Immigrants: Three New Articles

There are now eleven articles that can be found within the Museum's "A Multitude of Immigrants" exhibition. Two of the latest articles ran five days apart in 1903 in the New-York Daily Tribune about the large number of immigrants that should be expected to be landing on U. S. shores. This was right after the Kishinev pogrom, and it was suspected that a lot of these new immigrants would be paupers, undesirable, etc.

Thoughts were also expressed in these articles about the steamship lines who employed agents to recruit potential immigrants, etc.

Reading the third article--entitled "Immigrants Patched Up: Trachoma Getting In," I learned something new, that at least during the time of the article in 1905, there were "clinics" set up in such locales as Marseille, at stations along the Russian and Austrian borders, as well as at theRussian-Polish border, that promised the potential immigrant a cure for his orher trachoma. At that time, trachoma was considered incurable, and ship passengers were turned away at such ports as Ellis Island. Whatever "cures" might have been offered to those afflicted might have worked only for a night or for a few weeks, but perhaps this was long enough to pass inspection--or perhaps not. I also learned that for a time steamship companies were fined one hundred dollars for every diseased passenger who arrived in the U.S. for inspection. This was not much of a deterrent for the steamship companies. Read the entire article at

You can find links to each of the eleven articles at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

250 Years in America: Parts II and III

The second and third parts of the Museum's short series of articles published in 1905 is now available. These three articles commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Jewish presence in the United States, one article specifically discussing the contributions of the Jews of New York.

The first article of the three (announced one week ago) was written by Oscar S. Straus, who was U. S. Secretary of Commerce and Labor under President Teddy Roosevelt (the first U. S. Jewish Cabinet secretary) as well as a Minister to Turkey. Straus wrote about the early history of the Jewish immigration, and the presence of Jews in the U.S. in such cities as Newport, Rhode Island; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and several states and cities to the South, such as Georgia, Charleston, Maryland, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia. He also wrote about the early Jewish presence in the Ohio Valley, Chicago and California. This article, previously announced on this blog, can be found at

There was actually a second article published in this same edition of the San Francisco Sunday Call (on the opposite page) entitled "The Future of Judaism in America: What Leading Hebrew Thinkers Prophesy For the Race," partly written by the Rev. Mendola de Sola. This interesting article can be found at

The third article in this triad is from April 1905 and is entitled "Jews in New York 250 Years." This article talks about the early history of the Jewish people who lived in New York and the contributions they've made. The article can be found at

All three articles, of course, are educational. None of us were alive in 1905, so reading the opinions of Jews and non-Jews alike on what the Jewish contributions had been to that point to the well-being and prosperity of the U.S. and more specifically New York is important, or at least should be. We can't actually go back a hundred years in time to experience what Jewish life was like back then; we can no longer speak to anyone who used to live in the U. S. during that period, but at least we can read what others read during 1905 about our collective Jewish contributions, and then use our imagination and analytic thinking to 'paint a picture' in our own minds of a society that our parents, grandparents, or great grandparents once lived in and helped build.

A Multitude of Immigrants: American Newspapers and How They Addressed the Immigration Issue

Obviously back in the 1890s and first decade of the twentieth century, there was no television, and radio wasn't yet available to the general public. During that time people received their news, at least commercially, via the local newspaper. These newspapers then affected public opinion.

The English language newspaper was readily available to all during this time. The general public would get their news by reading newspapers. This newest Museum exhibition "A Multitude of Immigrants: American Newspapers and How They Addressed the Immigration Issue" gives you just a small glimpse into the portrayal of the immigration question, especially how it relates to Jewish immigration.

This exhibition is a series of eight articles from three New York City newspapers--The New-York Daily Tribune, The Sun and The World--all published between 1891 and 1910. As we know, between these years, immigration to the U.S. was extremely high, and politicians and the public alike were split on what the policy of the U.S. should be toward immigrants, especially the uneducated and unskilled ones, not wanting the immigrants to become "pauperized." What kinds of restrictions should be imposed, not just on Jewish immigration, but on other nationalities?

I would urge you to read each article; more such articles may be added to this exhibition in the future.

The exhibition can be found at Just click on the "enter" link at the bottom of the page, and in order to proceed from one article to the next, simply click on the "next" link at the bottom of each page.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Galveston Immigration Movement

The Galveston Movement was a program operated between 1907 and 1914 to divert Jews fleeing Russia and eastern Europe away form crowded East Coast cities. Ten thousand Jewish immigrants passed through Galveston, Texas during this era, approximately one-third the number who migrated to Palestine during the same period. New York financier and philanthropist Jacob Schiff was the driving force behind the effort, which Schiff supported with nearly $500,000 of his personal funds. B'nai Israel's Rabbi Henry Cohen was the humanitarian face of the movement, meeting ships at the Galveston docks and helping guide the immigrants through the cumbersome arrival and distribution process.

Read about the Galveston Movement below in two articles that appeared in Houston's "The Jewish Herald" in 1908 and 1909. Learn about the movement and read the words about the movement as told by Rabbi Henry Cohen.

Rabbi Cohen writes in part:

In the spring of 1907 the Jewish immigrants' information bureau was opened in Galveston to supply that machinery which would advise intelligently the already carefully selected alien how to work at his own trade or profession--or at general labor necessary for his livelihood--thereby serving two purposes: his own maintenance and the crying need of American industries. The present was all-important--the future would take care of itself. For just as soon as a man would save sufficient from the work of his hands to bring his family or his friends to his side, he would do so, and this committee knew by experience. A thousand immigrants the first of the year meant 5,000 a few years later. The un-uttered prophecy has been verified, for although our first group of immigrants arrived on July 1, 1907, and subsequent groups at three weeks' interval, family, relatives and friends have already joined the pioneers; the traveling expenses having been paid by the latter. The Galveston movement bids fair to remain a success as long as the powers that be think its continuance a necessity; and apart from such financial crisis with its consequent depression, as now obtains, there is no reason to believe but that its work will be uniformly appreciated.

The articles about the Galveston movement can be found at