Sunday, September 4, 2011

List of New York City Synagogues Now Updated!

The Museum's list of mostly defunct synagogues that once stood in Manhattan proper has been widely updated. It now includes information on synagogues from fifteen city directories, ranging from 1869 to 1933. Hopefully more will be added in the future.

The synagogue list is being presented to you in the form of an address directory, i.e. the listing is sorted first by building address, and when available, the names of the synagogue president, the rabbi, cantor and sexton. You can find this updated list by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Synagogues of New York City Update

Within the next few weeks the Museum of Family History's Education and Research Center will be updating its Manhattan webpage for its "Synagogues of New York City" exhibition. I now have copies of the synagogue listings from thirteen more Manhattan City directories. This will be a great addition to the current page which only represents a portion of all the synagogues that once existed on the island of Manhattan.

The synagogues to be added are listed in the directories starting in 1869 and go to 1933-4.

What's helpful on these lists -- besides the synagogue name and its address at the time the directory was printed-- is that often times the rabbi, president, reader and sexton of the synagogue are listed.

I have amended the way I present this particular list, so that it is an "address directory", so to speak, so it will be most helpful if you knew at least the street on which the synagogue once stood. Of course, you can always do a search on the page for any keyword you choose.

I will notify those of you who follow my blog once the webpage is updated, though as I've said, it might take a few weeks or so. To see the current lists of New York City synagogues, click here.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

"To Honor and Preserve: The Memories of Leo and Sylvia Dashefsky"

This exhibition is presented to you by the Museum through the cooperation of Batya Dashefsky, their daughter. She has created a lovely twenty-three minute slide show about her parents, her family et al. I recommend you visit this exhibition and watch her presentation (with music and narration) and think about how you might use your own unique creativity to honor your own family. This presentation spans many decades, from life in Erope to immigration, to immigrant Jewish life in America in the 1920s, Brownsville, Palestine, Syracuse, New York and Philadelphia.Mention is made of such organizations as Pioneer Women, Shomer Hatzair, the Labor Zionist Movement et al. Letters of correspondence are read, e.g. from pre-war Bialystok. Mention is also made of Grodno, Rezina in Bessarabia and Narewka, Poland.Also, Batya's father Leo dedicated his retirement to translating original Yiddish-language poetry and thus within the Museum' Yiddish Vinkl, if you have a mind to, you can read the English translations of such Yiddish poets and writers as Sholem Aleichem, Mordechai Gebirtig, Itzhak Katzenelson, H. Leivick, J. L. Peretz, Avraham Reisen and Yehoash.The exhibition begins here. This exhibition is ever-evolving; as the Museum receives more interesting, creative works of those who have honored their ancestors, they too will be added to this growing exhibition.

Elaine Rosenberg Miller has also written a small piece about her father's aunt which is included within the "To Honor and Preserve" exhibition. You can find it here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Updated list of New York City Synagogues

The Museum's list of synagogues once found within the borough of Manhattan, New York, has now been updated with an additional one hundred and seventy new entries. With this healthy number of additions, the list now includes the names of more than eight-hundred Manhattan synagogues.

This new synagogue information comes from Trow's New York City 1905-6 city directory, and this, in addition to the prior list (taken from another source, date unknown, but later than 1905-6), makes for a nice compilation of synagogue names and addresses.

The city directory from 1905-6 lists, from time to time, the names of the synagogue president, rabbi, sexton and the occasional cantor.

Most of the synagogues added to this list once stood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

When it can be discerned, the town association of a synagogue is listed too, as well as its street address.

To visit the page of Manhattan synagogue names, please click here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Where Once There Were Jews: Lapy, Poland

The story of Łapy native Sol Rubenstein begins: "The one-story brick house in which I was born on March 2, 1916 stood on the main street in Łapy, Poland, twenty-five kilometers south of the city of Bialystok. Łapy, a small town called in Yiddish "shtetl," was a major railroad crossing for the Warsaw-Vilna line. It had approximately one hundred Jewish families and three-thousand gentile families in 1939. The main industry was government railroad repair shops that employed about 4,000 gentile people. The Jewish population was discriminated against and denied the opportunity to work at the railroad shops. Two of the major streets were Main Street and Railroad Street. The few side streets were no more than alleys inhabited mostly by Jewish residents. Most of the gentiles lived at the outskirts of town in small villages. Each family had a house with two or three acres of land to plant grains, potatoes, vegetables and to raise a few livestock and poultry. Most of the Jewish people were merchants and tradesmen. Each family had the front part of their home as a place of business and the back room as their living quarters. My entire family consisted of uncles, aunts, great-uncles, great-aunts, and their children branched out into ten separate and independent families. Each family had their own home and retail business on Main Street. Their businesses dealt with the farmers and railroad employees...."

Continue to read Sol's story as well as see many photographs of Łapy taken there both before and during the war when the Germans occupied the town. You can find the exhibition "Where Once There Were Jews: Lapy, Poland" by clicking here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kristallnacht and the Destruction of the Polish Jews, 1939-43

A powerful film of nearly thirty-four minutes about the time of Kristallnacht and later, between 1928-43 in Poland, when destruction rained down upon the Jewish people.

In this film you will see a combination of archival film and roving scans of still photographs that give one a jarring view of this period.

Included within this film one can see pictures of many Polish synagogues, both interior and exterior; those synagogues that were still relatively intact before their destruction, and those who were destroyed or were in the process of being razed to the ground.

Tomek lists the following towns and their synagogues that are represented in his film. I can't vouch for the fact that each are represented, but it is most likely:
Lodź, Lodz-Litzmanstadt, Białystok, Zambrów, Wieruszów, Markuszów, Koło, Bychów, Biłgoraj, Lubaczów, Lubieszów, Tarnów, Luboml, Biała Podlaska, Jordanów, Częstochowa, Przemyśl, Żółkiew, Grajewo, Grodno, Mława, Równo, Łęczyca, Łaszczów,Tomaszów Lubelski,Knysyn, Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Jonawa, Połock and Czyżew. The link to this film can be found at the very top of the Tomek Wisniewski list.

Be sure to stick around until the very end of the film past the scrolling Polish-language text as the English version of the text will follow.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

To Honor and Preserve: The Story of Irene Weinberg

This is a multi-faceted ongoing exhibition about the many ways we as individuals, i.e. those of us who are interested in preserving the memory of our families, go about it. The first entry in this exhibition to be presented comes from Rabbi Norbert Weinberg. His mother Irene Weinberg was born in Lemberg (Lwow/L'viv) in Galicia.

“Megillat Esther: The Story of Esther” is the account of Irene Weinberg’s survival as an Aryan Pole during the Shoah, compiled by her son, Rabbi Norbert Weinberg and is based on original documents and taped and video testimony.

Esther, the Hebrew name of Irene, plays on the theme of “ Esther”, referring to the Hebrew word for “Hidden”, as both the original Esther of the first Megillah and this modern Esther saved themselves and others by living as a non-Jew under the nose of the oppressors and murderers.

It is part of the family history of Rabbi Dr. Wilhelm Weinberg and Irene Weinberg that explores the themes underlying the story of the Jewish people and the courage of the spirit that has enabled this people to survive over the millennia. The author’s father, Rabbi Dr. Wilhelm Weinberg, survived imprisonment in Berlin, capture in Czechoslovakia, and Soviet refuge, to return to lead the Surviving Remnant as the first Chief Rabbi of Hesse (Frankfurt), Germany, after the Shoah.

You can find Irene Weinberg's story here. Many of his family photos were originally posted on the website of the Galicia Jewish Museum of Krakow. He also has a blog which he uses to update those interested on his ongoing research into the the history of the Jewish people in Europe in the twentieth century. His blog can be found here.

Look for more entries within this exhibition, "To Honor and Preserve", in the coming months. More such dedications to family members are always welcome.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The March of Time (1937): Poland and War

I am currently watching one of the "March of Time" thirty-minute films (Volume 3, Number 11), this one from 11 Jun 1937, and one part of it is entitled "Poland and War."

In one scene (the segment is less than six mintues long) the film's narrator is talking about the increasing attacks on the Jews of Europe, and they show a number of certificates that I believe are hanging on an office wall in some European town or city, and there are names of Jews printed on these certificates.

I can't say from what city/town these certificates hung--perhaps Danzig, or Warsaw, Galicia, Lithuania, or a town in the Bialystok region, I can't tell from the newsreel footage--but I would be remiss if I didn't pass these names on to you. I can't really read what else is printed on these
certificates, but can tell you the names as they are the largest printing on said certificates.

So then here are the names:

Estera Adlermanowna
Mendla Apfel
Abraham Schwannanfeld
Abraham Selig Rappaport
Wolf Mamber (the second 'm' and 'b' are a bit suspect)
Sarah z Tuchmanow Krebsowa
Leib Schwarz
Gedale Loffler

I'll keep my eyes open for more names, etc. One never knows where one may find a name of interest.

If you'd like to see a complete list of segments of all the "March of Time" films, click here.
To view links to complete "March of Time" segments, including the one mentioned here, click here. To do this, you'll be asked by the website to create a user name and password.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Jewish Folk Style in the Wooden Wall Paintings of Eastern Europe

A new online exhibition entitled "The Jewish Folk Style in the Wooden Wall Paintings of Eastern Europe" is now available for viewing at the Museum of Family History. This exhibition should be of interest to those of you who are interested in art history, or simply the old wooden synagogues that once existed aplenty in Europe, particularly in the Ukraine.

This exhibition is replete with many black and white and color photographs, including a number of the exteriors of some wooden synagogues and more of the interior wall paintings of others. This exhibition comes to you courtesy of an associate professor of art history in Kharkov, Ukraine. Professor Kotlyar gives interesting insights into the paintings themselves, as only an art historian can.

Most of the photos of wall paintings presented are of synagogues associated with the Ukraine. They represent such towns as (in alphabetical order): Drogobych, Gorodok, Gvozdetz, Khodrov, Kopys, Mikhalpol, Moghilev on the Dnieper, Norinsk, Novomirgorod, Smotrich, Talne, Targoritza, Unterlimpurg and Yaryshev.

The exhibition may be found by clicking here. More exhibitions are always welcome from those on the outside who are willing to contribute them for display at the Museum. Please contact the Museum if you're willing to put together an exhibition for online display.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" Museum Transliteration Project Complete

The Museum has now completed the transliteration from Yiddish to English of all names listed within the six volumes of Zalmen Zylbercweig's "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre."

On this database is included the following information (all when available):

Surname, given name, alterate names, date of birth, date of death, and town and country of birth (usually the name of the town at the time they were born--most were born in the second half of the nineteenth century or first decade of the twentieth).

Also listed is the page on which each name appears in these six volumes, not only the original book page number, but also the page number on the pdf version that's online--this is a very helpful finding aid when trying to locate a specific page. In addition, there are also thirty Yiddish theatre organizations included within this master list.

YIVO orthographic (name spelling) standards have been used most often in compiling this database, though this was a daunting task.

There are more than 2,700 individual names listed within this master list. The most often represented town/city of individual births is not unexpectedly Warszawa; the number is 213, more than double the number of the second most frequent, Lodz; then farther down the list but close behind comes Odessa, Lemberg, Vilna and Iasi.

These six volumes of the Lexicon were published in either New York City, Warsaw or Mexico City between 1931 and 1969. The entire six volumes are in Yiddish, so while transliterating the names was a very time-consuming task, it was doable even for a non-Yiddish speaker.

There is much good information biographically for most of those individuals listed. It is hoped that fluent Yiddish speakers will come forth and volunteer to translate some of these passages into English. If you'd like to volunteer to translate--perhaps you have a town of interest and would like to add a translated biography to your own town webpage--please contact the Museum.

It should be noted that not all Yiddish actors and actresses that ever lived are included within these six volumes, but there is more than enough names and information about individuals and organizations and theatre groups to maintain one's interest, assuming one's interest lies in the Yiddish theatre.

Within these six volumes, there are also many photos of scenes of plays, of actors in their roles and many illustrations.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" Museum Transliteration Project

The Museum is currently in the midst of a small project to transliterate (in this case exchange the Yiddish/Hebrew letters listed for the English) Zalmen Zylbercweig's six-volume "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre."

This is a bit of an undertaking as these volumes are rather large, but the project is at least halfway done. The names listed in volumes 3, 4 and 5 have been transliterated to date, and Volume 1 will be completed shortly.

Even though the transliterated names and associated page numbers for Volume 5 can be found on JewishGen by clicking here, the Museum's name listings are more complete. The Museum has corrected many errors and omissions that were found in the Volume 5 listing.

Also the Museum's own listings for each of the volumes, not only have surnames, given names and "alternate names" been included, but when listed, the individual's date of birth and death are given, as well as the town/city and country of their birth. The Museum has tried to use the YIVO orthographic standards in the spellings of the names, though there are no doubt errors here too.

You can now find Zylbercweig's six volumes online (for free) by clicking here. Simply search for these volumes by using the words "Leksikon fun Yidishn teater".

Also, not only are the actual page numbers listed for each entry as in the original Yiddish-language volume, but the pdf page number has been added too, so all you have to do is enter that page number where the individual's name (and most often photos) appears.

It might be interesting for those of you who have familial ties with European countries and towns to see what person associated with the Yiddish theatre in some way came from that town or city. It should be to no one's surprise that the towns/cities that are most associated with these many names are Warsaw, Lodz, Vilna and Lemberg(L'viv).

The Museum hopes to complete this project within the next two or three weeks. If you need any lookups, please let the Museum know by e-mail. Of course you might want to wait till the Museum is finished with all six volumes. I understand that Volume 7 has never been published, and that parts of it sit in various repositories, so it is unlikely that the Museum be able to transliterate the names in that volume unless the institution/person that has it makes it available.

The Museum is hoping to put this information, once completed, on a free, online searchable database.