Saturday, March 16, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: A Favorite Family Photograph

I've missed the past couple of weeks, but I'm catching up with today's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver.

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you to:

(1) Show us one of your favorite photographs of your family — a group, yourself, your mom, your dad, your sibling(s), your grandparents, etc.  Tell us about it — the date, the event, the setting, the persons in the photograph.


(2) Share it on your own blog, in a comment on this blog, or on Facebook.


The photograph I've chosen is definitely one of my favorites, even though I still don't know who is in it.


This is a photo of a family celebrating a bris.  I'm pretty sure the mohel is the man in the middle wearing a white jacket.  The man to his right is probably the rabbi or possibly the male relative given the honor of holding the child for the ceremony.  I'm guessing the bris has already taken place.  The table is loaded with food, ready for the party.

I've always particularly liked the matching dresses on the two women in the lower left corner of the photo, plus the girl on the right side of the photo.  You can see that several people in the photo resemble each other, supporting the idea that it's a big family get-together.

Yet I have no idea who these people are!

I received the photo from the widowed husband of my cousin.  About a year after she had passed away, he wrote to me.  He had gone through the photos in the home and had set aside those that were not from his side of the family.  He was asking if I wanted them.  Of course I said yes.

Most of the photos were unlabeled.  I was able to figure out some because the people in them were named in other photos.  I also did a massive scanning project and shared the images with cousins from that side of the family, and they were able to identify a good number of the rest.  But no one knows who the people in this photograph are.

Because of the cousin it came from, I believe the people are on the Novitsky side of my family.  I'm hoping one day to learn the names of these cousins.

But I love the photo anyway.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Wordless Wednesday


Lillyan E. Meckler, March 6, 1919–October 17, 2006

Today is the 100th anniversary of my maternal grandmother's birth.  Esther Lillian Gordon was born at 1575 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, New York.  She knew the address becaue that was the home of her maternal grandparents, Morris (Mendel Herz) and Rose Dorothy (Ruchel Dwojre) Brainin.  The reason she said that she and her two older brothers were born at her grandparents' home was because for her parents' first child, a boy, her mother had gone to the hospital, and the child was stillborn.  Blaming it on the hospital, my great-grandmother then had all of her children after that in her mother's home.

Brainin family (as "Brennan"), 1575 Madison Avenue, 1920 census

Bubbie (Yiddish for grandmother) told me she spoke Yiddish as her first language and that she didn't learn English until she began school.  I have her Hebrew primer.  I don't think she had a bat mitzvah, and she didn't really remember or use Hebrew later in life.



She did continue to speak Yiddish.  The only time I heard her speak Yiddish, however, other than some random words, was when she turned 80.  She had flown out to California for her birthday and was staying at my uncle's home.  Her best friend (my godmother) had come up from Southern California to help celebrate.  I was listening to them talking, and then their voices got louder, and it sounded like an argument — and suddenly I couldn't understand anything they were saying.  I was mesmerized — they were arguing in Yiddish!  It's still the only time in my life I've heard the language used in a conversation, albeit a loud one.  I wish I had been able to record it.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Did You Get Started in Genealogy Research?

This week's challenge for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is a story I've told many times, but apparently never for SNGF.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!), is:

(1) Jacqi Stevens recently suggested, in her blog post "The Networks of Life", the question "How did you get started in researching your genealogy?"


(2) This week, let's tell our "getting started in genealogy research" stories.


(3) Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a comment on this blog post to lead us to your answers.



I started researching my genealogy before Roots appeared on TV, and I've still never read the book.  My journey began at the tender age of 13 with what used to be a common middle school assignment, to research your family tree back four generations.  For some reason that assignment really got me hooked.  I still have the purple mimeographed paper (even though that special scent is long gone).

I interviewed all of my local family members with all sorts of questions, and I still have my notes from those interviews.  I also wrote letters to others who did not live locally.  I have the letter I received from my paternal grandmother, where she responded to my questions about her mother's family.

Over the years I kept adding to the information I had gathered.  Whenever I traveled (I used to average at least one trip per month), I checked to see if I had any family in the area and then arranged to visit.  I asked more questions and offered to share what I had put together.  I've met several dozen relatives this way and become good friends with some of them.

I began to do a lot of volunteer work.  I've been staff at LDS Family History Centers since 2000.  I joined the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society and became the publicity director, then programming director, then ZichronNote editor, and eventually vice president.  I stepped down from the latter position when I moved to Oregon, but I still do all the rest.  I joined the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California, took over editing The Baobab Tree, and was elected to a board position.  I have worked in various volunteer capacities for the California Genealogical Society, California State Genealogical Alliance, Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy, and other sociteties.  I've done transcription and editing work for JewishGen.

Around 2004 I discovered people could make a living being professional genealogists and decided I wanted to do that.  The general recommendation at the time was that first you should volunteer to do research for friends and extended family and see if you still liked it.  I ended up doing the genealogy of everyone in my office; they joked I knew their families better than they did (and I still do).  In 2005 I placed an advertisement as a professional genealogist and got my first client right away; he was a client for five years.

In 2009 Marge Bell of the Oakland Family History Center sneakily conned me into giving a presentation on using online newspapers, and I've been giving talks on genealogy subjects ever since.  Along with lots of local and regional talks, I've been fortunate enough to have presented at some national conferences, such as RootsTech, the Ohio Genealogical Society annual conference, and several International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies' annual conferences on Jewish genealogy.

And all of this started with one mimeographed family tree.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Did Your Parents Meet?

For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver is recycling a question he has asked before, but he has reworded the challenge:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!), is:

(1) One of our family stories for our descendants should be how we met our spouses.  Another one should be, if we know it, how did our parents meet each other?


(2) This week, let's tell our "parents meeting" story if we know it.  If you don't know that story, tell us another one about one of your relatives meeting his/her spouse or significant other.
 
(3) Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a comment on this blog post to lead us to your answers.


As I mentioned, Randy has asked this question at least once before.  I answered it back in 2015.  I have not added any details to my knowledge of how my parents met (I really need to talk to my father about that), so I'll write about my great-grandparents instead this time.

I was told by my mother that her maternal grandparents, Joe Gordon and Sarah Libby Brainin, met when Joe was boarding in Sarah's parents' house in Manhattan.  It was common for immigrant families to take in boarders, particularly from the same ethnic group, both as a way to help make ends meet and to help new immigrants arriving in the United States.  Apparently my great-great-grandparents, Morris and Rose Dorothy (Jaffe) Brainin, had boarders at various times.

My great-grandfather arrived in New York City in 1909 as Jojne Gorodetsky.  In the 1910 census he had already changed his name and was enumerated as Joe Gordon, living with his uncle Sam Schneiderman (his mother's brother) and Sam's family in Manhattan.

My great-grandmother arrived in New York City also but earlier, in 1905, as Sore Leibe Brainin.  Her father, my great-great-grandfather Mendel Hertz Brainin (he went by Morris and Max in the United States), arrived in 1906.  I still haven't found my great-great-grandmother Ruchel Dwojre Brainin on a passenger list with the three young children she brought with her, but by 1910 the entire family was here and was enumerated in Manhattan also (except for Sarah's brother David).

Joe must have become a boarder in the Brainin household sometime between 1910 and 1913.  Joe and Sarah became engaged in 1913 and married on April 4, 1914 in Manhattan.  The marriage lasted until Joe's death on May 2, 1955.

I have Joe and Sarah's engagement photo, but I can't find the scanned version.  My grandmother told me that this photo of them was taken while they were engaged.


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wedding Wednesday













Benjamin Louis Kushner married Gladys Shindelman on February 11, 1951 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  Ben is my 3rd cousin once removed on my Meckler line.  I was fortunate enough to meet two of his children, Paul and Gayle, a couple of years ago in San Diego, which was an adventure.