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Gesher Galicia Programs at the 2007 IAJGS Conference in Salt Lake City

Monday, July 16, 2007

12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Gesher Galicia Luncheon
Beneath the Surface with reporter and writer Erin Einhorn

In 2001, when Erin Einhorn found the Polish family that hid her mother as an infant from the Nazis, she thought she would create a made-for-TV-reunion, but this family’s initial embrace soon gave way to half a century’s hurt feelings and resentments. Erin found herself apologizing for choices made years before she was born, untangling a real estate deal made on a handshake by people no longer alive and struggling to prove the death of a great-grandfather born in 1868. Having recently completed her memoir on this topic, Erin will explain what she learned and how easy it was to debunk family memories and folklores with documents tucked away in Polish archives.

Erin Einhorn, a reporter for the New York Daily News, will be sharing a fascinating family saga, spanning generations, which will be of interest to all genealogical researchers, not just those with roots in Galicia, so please consider inviting other conference attendees.

$30 fee to attend, Kosher lunch available, booked through the conference website by 5 July 2007 at:

2:00 – 3:15 p.m.
Jewish Registration Districts, Cadastral Communities, ADs, JDs and More: Understanding the Political Jurisdictions of Galicia with Brian Lenius

Understanding jurisdictions can be very useful in analyzing record keeping from the Austrian period in Galicia. How does an estate relate to a community? Are communities and villages the same thing? What does the pre-WWI term “Jewish Registration District mean?” These questions will be addressed. The main political jurisdictions and their relationship to one another will be presented by examining historical gazetteers to find the “official” Austrian (German) and Polish language terms as well as some Ukrainian language terms. The best English term equivalents are derived by examining the translations of non-English terminology. Examination of historical gazetteers will also include highlighting useful statistical shtetl information including language, religion, gender, houses, farm animals, landlord’s name and more.

3:30 – 4:45 p.m.
Gesher Galicia SIG Meeting


  1. Updates on Gesher Galicia’s research initiatives, including our new cadastral map/homeowners lists acquisition project, Galician town and region research group work, research grant program and more.
  2. Brian Lenius, author of The Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia, will provide a short primer on conducting on-site research in the Lviv Historical Archives.
  3. Mark Halpern will discuss the new Lviv archive microfilms of vital records for Galician towns recently added to the Mormon FHL catalogue.
  4. JewishGen Yizkor book translation project update.
  5. Documentary film – Will Kahane: Rimalev, the Seventh House.  Of the few thousand Jews prewar, only about 80 surviving Jews made their way back to Rimalev (Grzymalow) from all the surrounding areas in 1944. Will Kahane, born “Velvel Yisroel,” was the first and last Jewish child to be born in Rimalev after WWII on September 7, 1945 after the liberation by the Russians.
    In 1996 he joined a group of Holocaust survivors on a trip to Skalat to dedicate a memorial on a mass grave site. Staying in Ternopil (Tarnopol), he journeyed to his shtetl with a local Jewish guide, to find the house where he, his father and grandfather were born. Built by his family generations ago, his goal was to see if the place still existed and to view it once more after leaving in December 1945 for a displaced persons camp in Germany at the age of three months. He also searched for the tiny village of Ostra Magilla, where his mother, her brother and several of the Skalat survivors were hidden during the war. Although small – only 10 houses – this village rescued many Jews.
    Will continued on to Lvov and met a black-robed monk in a hotel restaurant who was a member of the Studite order of the Ukrainian Uniate Church, and knew the story of Kahane’s great-uncle, Rabbi David Kahane, author of Lvov Ghetto Diary, who was rescued by the controversial Archbishop of Lvov, Andrei Sheptytski, head of their order, who also saved many other Jews during WWII. He led Will to the monastery where the rabbi was hidden for a time during the war. The massive walls and surprising human skeletons found inside of them hinted of an unfathomable world of mystery.
    Will Kahane is studying for his Masters in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Stockton College in New Jersey. He recently made two films: Auschwitz Memories and Lest We Forget.

5:00 – 6:15 p.m.
Land Cadastral Records and Property Maps in the Austrian Empire – Focus on Galicia with Brian Lenius

Land records contain information for individual households about their holdings, taxes and production of their land. These records were created across the Austrian Empire on at least three occasions including 1785-88, 1819-1820 and 1817-1860’s. The last survey (1817-1860’s) resulted in the creation of extremely detailed property (Cadastral) maps for the entire Empire that show individual yards, houses, barns, roads, field plots, synagogues and more. While technically not genealogical records, once a researcher knows the name of the household head and/or house number for a family, it is possible to create a wealth of “family history” from these maps. One can literally retrace the routes an ancestor would have driven by horse from home to the fields, or walked from home to school or the synagogue.

Brian Lenius lives in Canada, and is employed at The Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg. He has conducted East European research, specializing in the former Austrian province of Galicia, for over twenty years. He is the author and publisher of the Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia: Expanded Data Edition, and numerous research articles published in Polish, East European and other genealogical periodicals. He was the founding 1st vice president of the Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies (FEEFHS) and co-founder of the East European Genealogical Society, holding the position of president for four years and editor of the East European Genealogist for eight years. His research trips to Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Austria have resulted in greatly expanding resources available to North American researchers.

The Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia
ISBN 0-9698783-1-1 (3rd edition, Expanded Data Edition)
For sale at the conference

The “Expanded Data Edition” of the Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia for the pre-WWI Austrian Crownland of Galizien (Galicia) includes over 14,000 place names. This 345 page book also includes 22 maps and is based on 1896-1914 information.
Not attending the conference? You can have it shipped directly to you in the USA for $45, or internationally at $63.

Check or money order should be made payable to Brian J. Lenius, and mailed to him at: Box 58, Grp. 328, RR#3, Selkirk, MB, CANADA R1A 2A8.

Other Galician Programs

Tuesday, July 17th 2:00 – 3:15 p.m.
Strategies for Galician Research and More: Records from the JRI-Poland Database with Mark Halpern

This presentation provides a strategic framework to help researchers in ordering or acquiring Galician records to further their research as well as a historical perspective for what researchers will and will not find. Many samples of birth, marriage, and death records are presented explaining the information contained in the records, identifying the records having the most genealogical value, and discovering surprises found in many of these records.


Conference Film Festival

Some of the film highlights for Galician researchers are:

East and West (Ost und West)
Tues., July 17th 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.
This delightful comedy opens as Morris Brown, a New Yorker better acquainted with his checkbook than his prayer book, returns to Galicia with his very American daughter, Mollie (Molly Picon) for a family wedding. The bride, daughter of his traditionally observant brother, and Mollie, whose exuberant antics fill the film, could not be more different. But Mollie unexpectedly meets her match, an engaging young yeshiva scholar who forsakes tradition and joins the secular world to win her heart. East and West features classic scenes of Molly Picon lifting weights and boxing, teaching young villagers to shimmy and stealing away from services to gorge herself before sundown on Yom Kippur. Underlying these hijinks is veteran filmmaker Goldin’s affectionate appreciation of differences, for good-natured comedy shapes his portrayal of worldly Jews encountering traditional shtetl life. Filmed in Austria in 1923 B&W Silent with English and Yiddish intertitles, 85 minutes.

Klezmer Musicians Travel “Home” to Krakow
Sun., July 15th 9:30 – 10:00 a.m. &
Thurs., July 19th – 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

The strong spiritual beat felt so vibrantly in Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter of Krakow, mysteriously compels some of the best international Klezmer musicians to return each year in search of the roots that gave life to their passion of celebrating and performing klezmer music. In exploring that magical energy of Kazimierz and its resonance throughout the city and population in the context of the annual Krakow Festival of Jewish Culture, this documentary focuses on why this place continues to draw world-renowned Jewish musicians and artists. Musical and visual images from live music concerts blend with backstage scenes, rehearsals in New York City and Kazimierz, and spontaneous “jamming” sessions with local Krakowian street performers. A classic Yiddish legend book ending the film together with depictions of workshops on klezmer and Chassidic singing and dancing, Jewish cooking, paper cutting, and Yiddish language add expression to the story of the centuries-old magnetic attraction of Jews to Krakow. Narrated by Theodore Bikel. 30 min.

The Last Klezmer: Leopold Kozlowski, His Life and Music
Wed., July 18th 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Klezmer music is a fusion of gypsy music, Jewish liturgical music, and the typical musical forms of Eastern Europe, including the polka. It is most familiarly performed at Jewish weddings, and had nearly died out by the mid-1990s, when a modest revival of interest began to hold some promise that it might survive. Meet the last klezmer to have grown up in the tradition and who is still performing and teaching his art to mostly gentiles in Poland today — the lively and charming Leopold Kozlowski, a klezmer musician and composer who survived the Nazi concentration camps and managed to get on with his life and his vocation. Leopold takes a trip back to his hometown of Prezmyslany, Ukraine for the first time since 1945 and shows us what life was like for a klezmer before WWII. Along the way we meet a friend of Leopold’s and learn how they both survived the war. Directed by Yale Strom, 81 min.

I Remember Jewish Drohobycz
Sun., July 15th 3:20 – 3:40 p.m.

In this video portrait of the vanished world of Eastern European Jewry, JGSLA founding member and rabbinical scholar, David Einsiedler, born in Drohobycz in 1919, recounts the heart and soul of shtetl life between the two World Wars. Through personal reminiscences, both humorous and heart-wrenching, he leads us through the streets and into the homes and schools of this Galician town. David describes moving to Lvov, then to the university in Pisa, Italy, and on to America in the late 1930s as the threat of war looms over his beloved home and the lives of his loved ones. Directed by Pamela Weisberger 18 min.

Belzec: The Documentary
Mon., July 16th 8:15 – 9:45 a.m.

The horrifically efficient Nazi death camp, Belzec, was in operation for less than one year, but witnessed the murder of at least 600,000 Jews, most of them from Galicia. Once the Soviet counterattacks began, the S.S. eliminated all traces of the camp, and the name Belzec faded from the collective conscience. Conceived of by executive producer Claude Lanzman as the last chapter to his epic Shoah, helmer Guillaume Moscovitz has created a chilling account that’s as much about remembrance as it is about the past. 100 min.

Swimming in Auschwitz: Survival Stories of Six Women
Tues., July 17th – 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. and
Thurs., July 19th – 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Out of the hundreds of thousands of women who were tortured and killed at Auschwitz, the six women featured in this moving film managed to survive. Each woman tells their life’s story — from before they were taken away, leading up the liberation by Allied forces at the end of the war. Auschwitz, probably the most notorious of the Nazi concentration camps, claimed the lives of all their close family and friends, but with strength and luck they escaped with their lives. The women tell inspiring stories: forming families for support, singing, sharing food, literally carrying one another along to avoid selection, and even sneaking a quick swim in the German soldiers’ pool. These extraordinary women talk about how they were able to find humor wherever they could in order to survive, and how they are still able to laugh today. Directed by Jon Kean. 63 min.

Past Lives: The Stanley Diamond Story
Thurs., July 19th 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. &
Fri., July 20th, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Stanley Diamond has dedicated himself to a monumental undertaking. In 1977, he learned that his nephew carried the trait for Beta Thalassemia, an anaemia condition virtually unknown in the Ashkenazi Jewish population of the world. Stanley’s family then discovered that many of them were also unknowing carriers, and that the children of two carriers have a one in four chance of inheriting Thalassemia Major, a generally fatal disease. It was years later that he would research the trait in his extended family and in other families of Jewish Ashkenazi descent from Eastern Europe to warn them that future generations should aware that their mild chronic anemia could be Beta-Thalassemia. Stanley’s need to reconstruct his family led to the indexing the 30,000 Jewish vital records for the family’s ancestral home in Ostrow Mazowiecka, Poland. He then connected with other Jews around the world who were looking into their genealogy, and founded the largest index in the world of specifically Jewish vital records – called Jewish Records Indexing – Poland. With the help of dedicated volunteers, this database of more than two million records has not only helped researchers discover their roots, but also has reunited families separated for decades because of the Holocaust as well as provided valuable information to people trying to reconstruct their families for medical or genetic research. 60 min.

Stanley Diamond will introduce the film at the Thursday screening and take Q & A afterwards.

Gesher Galicia is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people research their Jewish family roots in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire province of Galicia, which is today southeastern Poland and southwestern Ukraine. Our organization's primary focus is researching Jewish roots in Galicia, but the diverse community records in our databases contain names that span all the ethnic and religious groups who once lived in this region.

Search our free All Galicia Database, Map Room, and Archival Inventory today, and learn about our terrific member benefits for genealogists, researchers, and families, starting at just $36/year. You can join online!