From the archives of The Galitzianer

Published since 1993, The Galitzianer is the quarterly newsletter of Gesher Galicia. A selection of articles from recent issues have been put online, and more pieces will be added to this website in the near future. Articles may also be browsed by issue number or by article type. Members of Gesher Galicia can download full PDF's of past issues, and can opt to receive their subscription to the The Galitzianer in either digital or paper format.

From (May, 2010) ·

Postcards and Other Ephemera in Genealogical Research: Josef Gelles and the Rabbinate of Solotwina

by Edward Gelles

Postcards and contemporary newspapers have been significant among the manifold sources I have drawn on during my study of family history. In my first book I described how a postcard written in 1916 from the Eastern Front by Austrian army doctor Abraham Loew to his cousin Regina Griffel opened up a trail that led from Vienna via London to New York and Chicago, back to Strasbourg, and finally to Tarnobrzeg in Austrian Galicia. It was only in this roundabout way that I managed to locate the family of my maternal grandmother Chawa Wahl and, in due course, scores of cousins of the Griffel, Loew, Taube, Safier, and other related families (Edward Gelles, An Ancient Lineage: European Roots of a Jewish Family, Vallentine Mitchell: London, 2006).

The G - Volume 17 Issue 3 - postcard

This postcard was sent circa December 1934 to January 1935.

More recent discoveries of old postcards and other ephemera have revealed much about paternal first cousins of whose very existence I had been unaware. These sources are also shedding new light on the life of my grandfather, Nahum Uri Gelles, who was Chief Rabbi of Solotwina, near Stanislau (Stanislawow). He succeeded his father-in-law in that post in 1884 and held it until his death in 1934. It now emerges that he spent much time away from Solotwina visiting other Galician communities. More importantly, he stayed in Vienna for about ten years after the outbreak of World War I and played a prominent role in its Orthodox community.

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