Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 2 at the IAJGS Conference

Philip Trauring taught an excellent class this morning on using Belgian archives for Jewish research.  Any foreigner who was in Belgium for more than two weeks had to register with the police, and many of the records have been preserved.  This is useful in Jewish genealogy because many Jews passed through Belgium on their way out of Europe and may appear in the records.  Philip demonstrated how he was able to put together the information he found on people named Trauring (admittedly a very uncommon name) and work out five generations of a family tree.  One of the best things about the archives is that most people's files have photographs.  These photos are often the only surviving pictures of many people; more than 25,000 Jews in Belgium were deported to Auschwitz.  Philip has an informative page on his Web site about these records, with instructions and an index.

Another highlight of the day was the film Jubanos: The Jews of Cuba. This was a short documentary about the Jewish community in Cuba and how it has survived and is now trying to rebuild itself.  One event discussed in the film was Fidel Castro's 1998 visit to the community to learn about and celebrate Chanukah with them.  The younger generation is helping lead the rebirth of the community.  I am always interested in learning more about Cuban Jews because I had cousins who went to Cuba from Europe.  Some left Cuba and immigrated to the U.S., and I am researching whether some of them are still in Cuba.

I'm looking forward to my online newspaper class tomorrow.  This will be the first time I've taught it as a hands-on computer workshop.  Should be fun!

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