My great grandmother was Esther Rutner Joshowitz; my middle name is Esther in her memory. She used various birthdates both in European documents as well as in American documents, ranging from 1881 to 1889. Birth months were all in the winter but spanned the period from December through March. I assumed that the actual date would be closer to 1881, since women tend to make themselves younger than their actual age. I was wrong.
Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) starts this evening. For the past two years, I listed the names of the 250+ families members I've found who were murdered in the Holocaust.
It's been rather disconcerting (to say the least) to find vital records identifying another branch of my family--and then trace those relatives forward in time to find that all or most had been murdered during the Holocaust. This is my one small way to make sure they are all remembered--all 259 of those currently on this list.
I'm currently going through a new batch of records which unfortunately I think will generate more names for next year's list. But for now, remember these 259, and the millions of others.
Front Row L-R: Yosef Wollich, Mendel Chechman, Devorah Chechman; Back Row L-R: Sara Fine Wollich, Moshe Wollich, Chaike Chechman. All were murdered in the Holocaust
Sometimes you wonder how your ancestors met. With my great grandparents, it looks like their families were friends from quite early on.
My great grandfather was Josef Joshowitz. Josef's parents, Chaim and Mindel, had a son Smil Hers in 1889; Smil Hers only lived until the age of two, so I never knew he existed until recently when I was transcribing record books for JewishGen.
My great-great grandfather was Hillel Diamond. My great-great grandmother was his wife Hinda, but there were rumors that Hinda was not Hillel's first wife. Those rumors were correct--and that first wife had an interesting backstory.
From the Marriage Record of Hillel and Sima Diamond - Hebrew Side
I've gotten many of my family lines back centuries, but the Diamonds have always been a brick wall. I knew my great-great grandfather (Hillel), and that was it. My grandfather had told me the names of some of Hillel's children and had also said that there was a rumor that he had been married before he wed my great-great grandmother Hinda.
Well, the rumors were true--and by verifying them, I've gotten back another generation in the Diamond family.
Wow, what a week! I started out by flying to Phoenix where I spoke to Arizona Jewish Historical Society's Phoenix Jewish Genealogy Group. It was a great group with some good questions about endogamy. As a bonus, I got to hang out with Emily Garber. And then off to Utah and RootsTech!
I flew into Salt Lake City, dropped off my bags, and went straight to the Family History Library. Mondays with Myrt was broadcasting, and lots of genealogy friends were in with her or hanging around outside, and it was great to catch up with everyone. We then went out to lunch (I found an apple that I could eat—SLC isn’t the most kosher-friendly city in the world), and then I went back to the library for the next few hours.
Mondays with Myrt (and a lot of my genealogy friends)
I've mentioned before that various family members have stated that we were related to Simon Mitchneck, a famous Hollywood voice coach. I've written about finding letters fromSimon's sister enclosed in Simon's passport applications that spoke about the family's desperate situation in the aftermath of World War I. Records of Simon and his three brothers (who emigrated to America) consistently named their father as Shia and their mother as Leah/Lea Goldberg/Goldenberg. I do know that they do have some sort of connection to the Halper family (which also may be my great-great grandmother's maiden name).
And back in December, I wrote about how Simon Mitcheck's great nephew contacted me after seeing his family discussed on the blog--and how the DNA that the great nephew shared with known descendants of Hillel and Hinda Diamond demonstrated that the family stories of a relationship were correct.
After seeing this post, Simon's nephew "M" (the father of the gentleman who contacted me) agreed to test. His results came in, and again, there are multiple large segments shared with varying descendants of Hillel and Hinda Diamond. Descendants of Hillel and Hinda Diamond share anywhere from 7.3cM to 119.6cM with him, so predicting the true relationship is difficult--particularly because we are dealing with Ashkenazic Jewish DNA, which is intrinsically endogamous. (In the chart below, D, L, Berly, Paul & Stephan are 100% Ashkenazi; Beth and David are 50% Ashkenazi; Liz, Patty and Debra are 25% Ashkenazi; M is 100% Ashkenazi.)
DNA Shared by Tested Descendants of Hillel & Hinda Diamond with M. (Orange boxes represent tested individuals)
If you're Jewish and will be at RootsTech in just over a week, please come to Megillah readings! RootsTech has been gracious enough to let us use a room in the Salt Palace Convention Center for Megillah! In addition, we will be getting together for a (kosher) Friday night dinner--RSVP requested.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed data about shared DNA in people with Ashkenazic ancestry! I have 4000 data points to analyze, and that should help the entire genetic genealogy community (I'm still collecting data--you can find out more about the project and how to contribute here).
So far I've been going through and finding anomalies in the data and contacting those submitters (if they left email addresses) to clarify some things.
I'm going to do some deeper statistical analysis once I get the data cleaned up, but meanwhile, here is a high-level look at the data so far. This data contains entries regardless of the percentage of Ashkenazi DNA (later posts will break down shared DNA based on how much Ashkenazi ancestry the testers have). This is using very rough data, but I wanted to get some initial information out there to hopefully help inform people while I work on cleaning the data and then analyzing results.
Read Full Article
Read for later
Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.