Monday, August 19, 2013

Sephardic Jews during World War I, Jewish Life in Lübeck, and Norwegians in Hull

It's taking me a little longer than usual to write my commentary on the recent Who Do You Think You Are? episode because I'm having trouble reading my own notes (!).  I think I'm going to have to watch the episode again to figure out what I wrote.  In the meantime, several more family-history-related projects that are looking for information or help have been posted, so I thought I'd share those in the hope that some of the people who read my blog can be of assistance.

In 2014 the American Sephardi Federation (ASF) will participate in an exhibition at the Center for Jewish History on "Jews and World War I" in conjunction with the centennial of the war.  ASF's holdings are limited in this area, so help is being sought to enrich the part of the exhibit relating to the story of Sephardim during and immediately following WWI.  Material is sought about Sephardim in Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq/Mesopotamia, Italy, Syria, and the United States.  Artifacts, images, and documents should be from the years 1914 through 1923.

ASF is particularly seeking the following:  Sephardi newspapers and periodicals (La America, La Vara, others); passports and documents relating to immigration; documents relating to citizenship, work, military enlistment and service; family photographs of this era; family heirlooms relating to the era, such as objects, artwork, etc.; garments, equipment, souvenirs, memorabilia relating to Jewish military service; items relating to Sephardi Zionism; items relating to politics in Sephardi communities and links to national politics; items reflecting Balkan, Greek, Turkish/Ottoman, or Arab anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism; items relating to the Salonika fire of 1917; and material relating to Moise Gadol and the Sephardi community in the United States; Synagogue Berith Shalom, established by Congregation Shearith Israel, which moved into headquarters at 86 Orchard Street in 1913, and the settlement house at 96 Orchard Street, New York City; Rhodes League of Brothers Aid Society, Inc. (incorporated 1912); the Chios Brotherhood; and the Salonika Jewish Brotherhood.

If you can lend material for this exhibit, contact ASF Director Lynne Winters at or ASF's Librarian and Archivist Randall Belinfante at  Your contribution to supplement and enhance the section relating to the history of Sephardim in these countries during and immediately after World War I will be much appreciated.

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Artist Ken Aptekar is seeking pre-World War II home movies of Jewish life in Lübeck, Germany for a museum exhibition.  He has posted a video at with information about his request.

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The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust is looking for submissions of family photographs and images of personal artifacts to its World That Was Interactive Table.  The touch-screen table currently has more than 8,000 photos that museum visitors can explore.  Photos should be from Europe, Palestine, or Africa and have been taken before 1946.  You can also include stories that go with the photos.  Click here for more information and a link to the submission form.

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During the mid- to late 19th century almost one million Norwegians traveled to Hull, England on their way to America.  A history project being conducted at Sheffield University is tracing the paths of the Norwegian migrants who went through Hull before continuing their journey to Liverpool and then across the Atlantic.  Researchers are looking for information that documents the migrants’ visit to Hull on their voyage to a better life.  Details about the project can be found in this newspaper story and at a virtual re-enactment of the voyage, set in 1880. The virtual site has submission and contact information for the project.

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Fort Laurens was the only U.S. Revolutionary War fort built in what is now Ohio.  The Friends of Fort Laurens Foundation is seeking any records which refer to Fort Laurens in any way.  The foundation's Web site has an incomplete list of men believed to be at Fort Laurens in some capacity.  Check the site to see if your ancestor's name is on the list.  And if you know of a soldier who was at the fort and is not on the list, there is a form to submit that person's name.

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The Adoption and Jewish Identity Project is dedicated to improving the lives of adoptees raised in Jewish families.  The project is directed by Dr. Jennifer Sartori, Associate Director of Jewish Studies at Northeastern University, and Dr. Jayne Guberman, an independent scholar and oral history consultant.  They are looking for young adult (ages 18–36) adoptees raised in American families that identified at least in part as Jewish to share their experiences and perspectives as part of a research study.  Participants may submit their stories in writing or via audio or video.  Sartori and Guberman will also conduct focus groups and in-depth interviews with selected inviduals.  The collected stories will be used (either anonymously or attributed, depending on your wishes) for a book about the complex identities of adoptees raised in American Jewish families.

If you are an adoptee interested in sharing your story, visit to tell a little bit about yourself, and the project coordinators will be in touch with you with more details.  All information provided in the questionnaires will be kept completely confidential.  Participants will be able to choose whether to be identified by name or to remain anonymous in any publications or projects that result from the project.  Adoptees do not have to identify currently as Jewish in order to participate.  If you have questions, please send a message to

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