Meeting Type: / Meeting Year:

Spring, 2009 Regional Meeting — New York City

Monday, August 3, 2009

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

Luncheon Speaker: Author Michael Karpin discusses his new book:
Tightrope: Six Centuries of a Galician Jewish Dynasty

Israeli author Michael Karpin, discusses Tightrope, a 750-year epic tale of the extraordinary Backenroth family. This stirring saga follows them over six centuries of upheaval, covering their migration from western to eastern Europe, the creation of the Hasidic movement, the birth of Zionism, migration to South America, the oil boom in Galicia and the loss of family during the Holocaust. The narrative draws from diaries, letters, and oral testimony documenting the changing economic and political conditions that allowed the family to prosper and then plunge into poverty as they settled and worked in Bolechow, Sanok, Drohobych, Schodnica, and Boryslaw.

Michael Karpin has been a television and radio news reporter and anchor in Israel for more than thirty years. He is the author of The Bomb in the Basement: How Israel Went Nuclear and What That Means for the World. Karpin is coauthor of Murder in the Name of God: The Plot to Kill Yitzhak Rabin. He has also produced documentaries, including A Bomb in the Basement, which has been shown on Canadian, European, Moroccan, and Israeli television. His documentary The Road to Rabin Square was screened by TV networks in fifteen countries and won prizes at leading international film festivals.

2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
Gesher Galicia SIG Meeting

Introducing our new board of directors, update on Gesher Galicia’s research activities, including our Cadastral Map & Landowner Records Project, JRI-Poland news from Mark Halpern, highlights of Galician research in Vienna, and a special presentation by Roma Baran on her journey of discovering, as an adult, her previously unknown Jewish roots in Galicia.

3:30 PM – 4:45 PM
The Writing of a Galician Jewish Saga: Research & Methodology
Michael Karpin

Israeli reporter Michael Karpin spent twenty years researching Tightrope: Six Centuries of a Jewish Dynasty – a unique and candid history of the Jews in Galicia, which interweaves stories of the Kahane and Graubert and Backenroth clans. Starting in the 14th century, he documents their creativity, resourcefulness, deception and courage. Karpin explains his research techniques into the family’s rabbinical dynasty and their pioneering the development of the Galician oil belt in the 1800s as he chased down historical and metrical records and family members throughout the world, eventually landing in Lvov, Bolechow, Drohobycz, Schodica and Sanok. That he was able to delve into archives, historical records, documents, newspaper articles, diaries, and oral histories was an incredible feat, which he will detail in this talk.

5:00 PM – 6:15 PM
Gesher Galicia Market Square: Birds-of-a-Feather & Ask-the-Experts
Pamela Weisberger and Suzan Wynne

Calling all Galitzianers! Come join your landsmen and women in a replication of a shtetl town square to sample Gesher Galicia’s wares. In our fair-like atmosphere you can browse from cart to cart (metaphorically speaking) to learn more about your town or village and get assistance with your research questions. GG’s town leaders and regional experts will facilitate the exchange of names and places, so you can network and make connections with others. We’ll also have pushcarts (okay — “stations”) at which you can explore cadastral maps, gazetteers, landowner records, business directories, school records, and tabula registers and learn about house numbers projects, new GG indexing projects, DNA research, Viennese resources and how to decipher the information in your vital records. A variety of experts will be on hand to answer your research questions and offer suggestions on overcoming brick walls and dead ends. Michael Karpin will also be there signing copies of “Tightrope: Six Centuries of a Jewish Dynasty.” Even if you just suspect you might have a Galitzianer lurking in your tree, join us….and find out!

Additional Galician-themed conference lectures occurring throughout the conference week are:

  • Breakfast With the Experts – Galician Research – Suzan Wynne
    Our Galicia research expert – Suzan Wynne, author of The Galitzianers: The Jews of Galicia: 1772-1918 and founder of Gesher Galicia – will be available to answer questions relating to starting or extending your Galician research, where records can be found, what they many contain, how to acquire copies, and strategies for maximizing the benefits of your research. Whether you are a beginner or more experienced researcher, this is the perfect time to ask questions and get useful advice from an authority in the field.
  • Eastern European Archive Database: Updates & Enhancements (name searches & image searches) – Miriam Weiner
    This slide-show presentation will feature a tour of the Routes to Roots Foundation website at focusing on the ARCHIVE DATABASE (Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus & Lithuania) that includes a town-by-town search capability resulting in lists of documents (by document type) along with the archive name and location that houses the relevant documents, the years available and the archive file numbers. This lecture will be the first look at “what’s new” including the ability to search some localities by family name and the addition of images to many of the towns in the database. Other significant announcements are planned.
  • Galicia: An Historical Introduction and Genealogical Primer – Matthew Bielawa
    This lecture will provide an introduction to genealogical research in Galicia. Covered in this presentation will be a critical overview of the region’s history, geography, and multi-ethnic and religious diversity. Emphasis will be made on searching for vital records of Galicia, finding your ancestral towns and villages using gazetteers and maps, as well as determining the location of pertinent records in archives in both Poland and Ukraine.
  • Galicia Doctor’s Project – Shalom Bronstein
    Between 1940 & 1942 Nazis required Jews connected with the health care industry to complete questionnaires consisting of 32 questions – family name, first name, middle name, date of birth, place of residence and address, birth place, marital status, family name of spouse, children and ages, religion, names and religion of their and their spouse’s maternal and paternal grandparents, etc. A “gold-mine” for genealogists is the requirement to list names of their four grandparents as well as the four grandparents of their spouse. We have a source of well over 2,000 family names, mostly from Galicia.
  • Gazetteers, Maps and Geographic Dictionaries for Jewish Genealogical Research in Poland – Matthew Bielawa
    Gazetteers, maps and geographic dictionaries remain the key resources for the genealogist. Awareness and understanding of these resources is necessary for all levels of research. Not only are they critical to discovering the location of our ancestral village, which is the first and most important task for the immigrant researcher, they serve as a compass to the advanced genealogist in expanding his/her own research. An examination of the most important Polish gazetteers and map series are presented through examples.
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Genealogical Mapping – Stephen Egbert & Karen Roekard
    The “Keys” to locating houses in historical records are cadastral maps. A 21st Century dynamic is added when these maps and related data are entered into a geographic information system (GIS). Since June 2008, Roekard and Egbert have combined her data from Rawa Ruska with his GIS capabilities to make queries that begin to reveal patterns and temporal changes in, for example, kinship networks, family ownership, occupancy and inheritance starting in the 18th, and going through the 20th, centuries. This research highlights the value of combining GIS with cadastral maps, census records, and related data for genealogical mapping and analyses.
  • Integrating Esoteric Galician Material: The Tabula Register Collection – Karen Roekard
    Starting in the late 18th century, the Austro-Hungarian Empire required that contractual agreements be transcribed into the “Tabula Krajowa” – or Tabula Registers for them to be legal. Alex Dunai introduced this resource to the genealogy world and Karen Roekard, with the help of Dr. Natalie Dunai, has been swimming in them since 2006. This presentation will give participants: (a) an understanding of the Tabulas; (b) experience playing with the information contained in them; and (c) an opportunity to see how they relate to other types of documents including Cadastral Maps and (d) how they add to your research.
  • The Kahal and Vital Records in Galicia – Suzan F. Wynne, Founder, Gesher Galicia
    The presentation will focus on essential information about the Kahal, the Jewish system of self government mandated by Austrian law and how the Kahal’s regional structure served as an organizing device for collecting and maintaining records. Discussion and examples of vital records will illustrate how the process of civil records worked. The presentation will address how resistance to civil marriage on the part of the Hasidic majority affected surnames and our understanding of the records.
  • Vienna Jewish Records: Volume, Structure, and Limitations – Wolf-Erich Eckstein
    Austria was one of the countries where the accepted religious communities were the only institutions responsible for the registration of BMD until 1938 – so the membership in a religious community was more important than in other countries, which changed to civil registration much earlier. Eckstein, who is the manager of the records office of the Vienna Jewish Community (IKG), will show the structure of their BMD records database and variations by time and location by demonstrating some examples.
    Special points:

    • registration of civil marriages
    • acceptance of “only” religious marriages (“Convalidierung”)
    • registration of death outside of Vienna
    • leaving and (re-)joining the Jewish Community
    • limitations for proof of Jewishness (from an orthodox point of view)

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!