INTRODUCING ELI RABINOWITZ AND MIKE ROSS, TWO MEMBERS WITH
WIDE-RANGING INVOLVEMENT IN DIGITAL GENEALOGY AND
WORLD JEWISH HISTORY
ELI RABINOWITZ, GENEALOGIST
Our member Eli Rabinowitz has both feet planted firmly on the stage of world Jewish Genealogy. A presenter at the recent IAJGS Conference, Eli conducts frequent guided tours to his ancestral homelands in the Poland - Baltic region. In the course of his travels he has discovered and made friends with countless hitherto unknown relatives and his comprehensive blog has hundreds of followers.
In Eli's own words:
I was born in Cape Town, and have lived in Perth since 1986. I am proactive in a wide range of Jewish community activities, including filming events, genealogical research, and bringing the Memories of Muizenberg Exhibition to Australia, now on its way to Toronto and North America. I give talks and presentations on my worldwide Jewish heritage travel and photography. I like to educate about the importance of our cultural yiddishkeit and in particular, the connections to our roots. I write KehilaLinks for JewishGen, the world’s largest Jewish genealogical organisation, based in New York. KehilaLinks are Jewish websites of places where Jews have lived or live. My KehilaLinks include 58 sites in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Germany, China, South Africa and Australia. I blog and post regularly on Jewish Life and Travel and JewishGen's Facebook site. My heritage story is on Virtual Shtetl, Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Some highlight videos are on my YouTube Channel. My website: elirab.digital invites you into my world of digital storytelling.
Eli's blog may be found at http://elirab.me.
MIKE ROSS: ARE YOU RESEARCHING ANCESTORS WITH AN
UNCOMMON FAMILY NAME?
Have you ever considered creating your own family tree website?
All genealogists researching an uncommon family name should make use of modern communication medium and display their research on a public website. This is the conclusion reached by our member MIKE ROSS and world authority genealogist SALLYANN AMDUR SACK-PIKUS, both of whom have spent decades independently researching the Amdur surname.
Their rationale for creating a website to bring their research to others with the same purpose is explained in great detail in this article: http://www.avotaynuonline.com/2009/07/the-value-of-creating-a-family-name-website-by-mike-ross-with-sallyann-amdur-sack-pikus/ .
Ross and Sack-Pikus continue by stating that conventional wisdom advises researchers to not discard unconnected names and “mini” trees, in the hope and belief that relationships eventually will become clear. Eventually the data collected grows to a size that gives it meaning, yet there is no way of sharing that data with the wider community.
In other words, you never know when a connection might emerge between two currently unconnected family trees with the same surname.
The Amdur family tree may be found at www.amnet.net.au/~fourkidz.
Mike Ross is a high school teacher living in Perth, Western Australia, and has been involved in amateur genealogical research since the late 1980s. He is actively involved in the Western Australian Historical and Genealogical Society where he has given talks on creating websites for family trees and the use of DNA in genealogical research. His most recent talk was on "The Two Empires: Russian and Ottoman - Where did your Ancestors Really Come From?" Mike also involves himself in teaching others how best to utilize the Internet when searching for family. Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus is editor of AVOTAYNU.
WHAT THE EYE WILL SEE
This is the title of a memoir and family history by William Komesaroff, a book that is rich in detail and contains a priceless collection of family photographs covering several generations and numerous countries.
The memoir is interspersed with family contributions as well as much comment and additional information from William’s son Michael, who spoke to the Jewish Historical & Genealogical Society on Sunday 20 July. Michael’s talk was far more than a telling of his family’s history and their many migrant experiences and far more than a history lesson that encompassed aspects of Russian and Jewish history that were new to many of the audience.
Michael delivered a chronological series of anecdotes, complete with their historical background and full descriptions of the members of his family who populate the book, in such a manner that they came alive.
Why is the book entitled What the Eye will See? It comes from William’s saying – What the eye will see, the mind cannot comprehend. It was this sense of disbelief that struck him when he visited Michael and his family, then living in Tokyo, and three generations went to the Tokyo Shule to say Kaddish for William’s father who had died in Russia 75 years earlier. Seventy-five years of Kaddish, now recited with his son and grandson in Tokyo of all places, was certainly something hard to comprehend!
Despite a misunderstanding with the date of the talk and the fact that other events were taking place that day in Perth, a capacity audience paid rapt attention to Michael’s story which included the tale of how his uncle, a successful businessman in Ballarat, succeeded in bringing his wife and child from Russia. At a time when all Russians were considered Bolsheviks, it took the efforts of several politicians and public figures, letters of protest in the newspapers from members of the public and a great deal of persuasion to the government that the innocent woman and child were not communists, before permission was given for them to live in Australia. The application succeeded and when the time came, the uncle’s mother and siblings were also able to migrate to Australia with them.
As for life in Australia in the 1920s, Michael explained that his father, who had arrived as a fourteen year-old, when he first went to school, was mistakenly put in the kindergarten because he had no English. Despite this inauspicious start, he succeeded in life with the help of three factors: his own perseverance and hard work, the kindness and respect shown him by so many Australians, and the love and support of his family.
This book, liberally supplemented with footnotes, demonstrates the level of research that contributed to the well rounded and comprehensive family history it contains, and many sources are cited. Michael had it published with the assistance of the Makor Library in Melbourne, which helps writers to produce books of Jewish interest. The book is available from JHGS for $30, of which $15 will be a donation to the Society, and a copy of it may be found in the JHGS Library.
The JHGS is collecting copies of family histories, family trees and other items of interest for its archive. If you have anything to contribute, would you please contact Michelle on 08 9375 3874 or mobile 0418 910 258 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.