Monday, February 12, 2018

A New Torah Scroll in Arad

Yes, there are some bits of Pikholz and personal genealogy here.

I left the southern Israel city of Arad twenty-six years ago, having lived there for eleven years. I maintained contact with Arad for quite a few years after that - my mother lived there for fifteen years after I left, I had other friends and family there and it was on one of my routes home from work.

Moshe (seated left)
with the scribe,
completing the writing
And I maintained contact with others who had left either before or after me. One of these is Moshe Kalush, an electrician, now retired. He left a year or two before me and lives in Beer Sheva. He would often phone his old Arad friends before the holidays.

Moshe phoned me a couple of months ago to tell me that he was donating a Torah scroll to the Ulpana, a girls' religious high school in Arad and he really wanted me to come to the ceremony and celebration which was scheduled for last Wednesday.

He was never a man of great means, Moshe, and he financed this major donation by collecting bottle refunds and by taking apart and selling old motors.

As it happened, the ceremony and celebration were scheduled three days before the thirty-first anniversary of my sister's death, about which I wrote at length here and in passing on other occasions. She had lived up the street from the Ulpana and for a time we had a fund in her memory to sponsor an Ulpana graduate for a year of nursing school.

So after the ninety-minute drive and before attending the ceremony, I stopped an my sister's grave and while I was there, paid my respects to four friends of mine who are buried in a group beginning one row from her grave. I had seen two of those new graves last year. The other two were more recent and in fact I had only heard about the passing of one of those later two. Had they lived a bit longer, they too would have likely participated in the day's activities. In fact, I saw the widows of two of them later in the day.

The day after I posted this blog,
I ran across this picture of Mindy's aunt and uncle with my mother.
On the way out of the cemetery, I ran into an old friend, Mindy Sherman whom I had known in my pre-Arad days when I lived in Yeroham. Mindy still lives there. She had an aunt and uncle, Chaya and Yitzhak Yaakov Bistritz who lived in Arad. I knew him back then; he died years ago. Chaya, Mindy's mother's sister, had been living in a nursing hme in Beer Sheva and had died that very day. Mindy was there for the funeral. Small world stuff.

From the cemetery, I went into Arad to the Hashahar synagogue where the final writing of the Tprah scroll was taking place. I had been a member of Hashahar for a number of years and even after leaving Arad I returned there maybe half a dozen times for Yom Kippur. That is also where my sister's body had lain overnight while we waited for the morning funeral thirty-one years earlier. The assembled crowd included several others who had left Arad many years ago - Moshe Kalush had done a good job in gathering up much of "the old gang." Some of those still live in Arad, as do some of their children - whom I know, of course.

The program was organized by Yishayahu Ungar and his wife Shifra. He called me up to write one of the letters in the final verse. The scribe asked my name and when I said "Pickholtz" he asked if I know the school by that name. That would have been the agricultural school in Petah Tiqva about which I wrote here a few years ago. It was often referred to as "The Pikholz School," but Eliezer Pikholz Haniel - the first known Pikholz to return home - has been dead for nearly forty-eight years so I was surprised that the scribe knew it. Eliezer was an agronomist who discovered oil in Kibbutz Hulda before the First World War, but I have told that story before.  

The scribe demonstrated one of my favorite family genealogy principles, that the name Pikholz is both uncommon and unusual, so anyone who has ever met one of us will undoubtedly remember when and where.

After the writing was completed (and the brief afternoon minha service) we went down towards the Ulpana and waited for the procession to begin. This took place right in front of my sister's house. (Remarkable how many connections there were between these two unconnected events.)

Many more people joined us, particularly young people. Those included my sister who still lives in Arad and probably the last of my mother's friends who still lives there.

We danced our way down the street and continued the dancing in the yard of the Ulpana itself as night fell.

We ended up in the Ulpana synagogue where there was more dancing, including with the other two scrolls in the ark.

The cover of the new scroll tells us
that it was donated in memory of
Moshe's parents and
the parents of his wife Etti.

Yeshayahu read from the new scroll and and there were a few very brief speeches (Nothing long-winded here. Moshe wouldn't have stood for it!), including Rabbi Mordecai Cohen of "the old gang," the mayor of Arad and Moshe himself. After a brief evening maariv service, we adjourned to the dining room for a festive meal.

It was getting late and I took my leave before the eating began.

Housekeeping notes
I shall be speaking for the Jewish SIG of the St. Louis Genealogical Society on the thirtieth of April and will be giving two presentations for the new Kansas City Jewish Genealogical Society on the second of May. Topics to be determined.

A couple of days ago, I found a reel of recording tape which, according to the label, is my bar mitzvah reading. I remember doing that for my father the Thursday before my bar mitzvah. It is undoubtedly embarrassingly bad, as I had no idea how to read properly back then but I have nonetheless given it to someone to have it digitized. So my grandchildren can laugh at me.

Lara Diamond has created something she calls Ashkenazic Jewish Shared DNA Survey, which shows how much DNA is shared by known Jewish relatives. This is new and I expect we shall see significant analysis in the not-too-distant future. This is different from Blaine Bettinger's Shared CM Project  which does not account for Jewish endogamy.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hillel Academy Reunion, With A New Genealogy Contact

My eighth grade class
Top: Fred, Bonnie, VeraG, Bayla, VeraB, Faygie, Beverly, Miryam, Mrs Belle
Middle: R' Rottenberg, R' Shapiro, Mr. Schoenbrun, R' Poupko, R' Teitelbaum
Bottom: Marc, Jack, your humble blogger, Rich
I attended Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh for grades seven through ten. Those years were significant and they made an important contribution to who I am today.

The week before last, the school sponsored an evening reunion for alumni in Israel. (Their definition of "alumni" is, shall we say, liberal - not limited to graduates of eighth or twelfth grades.) The reunion was in Modiin, about a forty-five minute drive, and I actually attended, together with my cousin Bobbi and her sister Tamar.

There were probably sixty people or so there, including some spouses of alumni. I counted six who are older than I and a few others who are old enough that I knew them back then. I think I am the only person from my eighth grade class here in Israel, though I know of one who left after sixth grade. Quite a few alumni from my age cohort were no-shows. I wore my bright yellow "DNA My Kind of Acid" shirt, which attracted a bit of attention.

We arrived just as the microphone circulated for introductions. Dov Bloom mc'd, new immigrant Rachelee Brog Sacks (Hillel's first female graduate) spoke, as did Barnea Selavan.

I also met Gary Coleman, who was seated at the next table. I have known his name for years but I don't think we ever met. I knew that he was in kindergarten with my sister Amy, but he didn't remember that. He mentioned that he is a cousin of Yaacov Temes, who is related to my cousins Rhoda, Roz and Marty, grandchildren of my grandfather's sister Aunt Becky and her husband Harry Katz. It turns out that Gary's mother is an Elinoff and I know her mother Chaje/Clara Katz to be Uncle Harry's sister.

So why does this matter? I mean it's the family of my grandfather's sister's husband. Not part of my gene pool. And I don't have any particular interest is other similarly tangential families. What's special here?

Well, there are two things. First of all, Uncle Harry, Gary's grandmother Chaje and Yaacov's grandmother Feige Malka are three of the ten children of Mordecai Katz and Beile (maybe Beile Nesia) Zwiebel. Beile's sister Jutte (maybe Jutte Leah) Zwiebel was married to Pinchas Kwoczka the brother of my great-grandmother. Their great-grandsons Pinchas and Aaron are my third cousins. They are third cousins of Rhoda, Roz and Marty the same way I am. But Rhoda, Roz and Marty are also third cousins of Pinchas and Aaron via Beila and Jutte Zwiebel's parents Shimon Leib Zwiebel and Ester Chava Lewinter.
Gary and Yaacov are the only living people in this chart who have not done DNA tests.

I have referred to this double relationship in my Lazarus presentation.

All these families - Kwoczka, Zwiebel, Lewinter, Katz and Pikholz - were from the Tarnopol area of east Galicia and undoubtedly have additional relationships further back, that we don't know about.

But it gets better. As I wrote nearly seven months ago, Rhoda, Roz and Pinchas share a segment of chromosome 21 with the descendants of my great-great-grandparents Shemaya Bauer and Feige Stern who - like several generations of their ancestors - lived in Hungary. So somewhere back in genealogy time, some Bauer or Stern ancestor of mine is also an ancestor of an unidentified Zwiebel or Lewinter. Back in time but recent enough that a segment of at least 13 cM has been preserved from each side.

I have found a number of strangers who share that segment of chromosome 21, but thus far none of them has had any useful information to contribute.

I found it interesting that Gary did not know of his Fleischman cousins and the others descended from Sarah Chana Kwoczka but he does know the family of Aaron, whose grandmother is Sarah Chana's sister.

Neither Gary nor Yaacov has done DNA testing (yet!) and we have no known cousins who are unambiguously Lewinters or Zwiebels on one hand or Bauers or Sterns on the other, so we have no clue where we might find the common ancestor. Yet!

Housekeeping notes
I plan to be in Chicago for my grandson Mordechai's bar mitzvah the first weekend in May. If any program directors are interested in having me speak in the days immediately before or after that weekend, please drop me a note.

I made a kiddush in shul this past week to mark my mother's seventh yahrzeit and while I was at it, my granddaughter's engagement.

The Way of the Land of the Pelishtim

The opening verse of this past week's Torah reading has an interesting genealogy angle.

 ;ויהי בשלח פרעה את-העם ולא-נחם א' דרך ארץ פלשתים כי קרוב הוא
.כי אמר א' פן-ינחם העם בראותם מלחמה ושבו מצרימה
And it happened, when Pharaoh had let the people go
that Gd led them not through the way of the land of the Pelishtim (=Philistines), which was near;
For Gd said "Lest the people reconsider when they see war and [decide to] return to Egypt"
The word "karov" is generally translated as "near" and this is the simple interpretation of this verse.

But "karov" also means "relative" (in the genealogy sense, not the Einstein sense).

If we go back to the end of the Noah story, we see this (Chapter 10, verses 13-14).
ומצרים ילד את-לודים ואת-ענמים ואת-להבים ואת-נפתוחים.
ואת-פתרסים  ואת-כסלחים אשר יצאו משם פלשתים ואת-כפתורים.
And Mizrayim [=Egypt] begot Ludim and Anamim and Lehavim and Naftuhim.
And Patrusim and Kasluhim - out of whom came Pelishtim - and Kaftorim.
The ancient Egyptians and the Philistines are relatives. Perhaps the people were concerned that the Philistines would attack them to avenge the humiliation of their relatives the Egyptians.

Note - this is not the place to discuss the fact that Pelishtim or Philistines means "invaders."

BREAKING NEWS - We have a new Y-67 match at a genetic distance of one. Someone who is outside the known Pikholz-Spira group. I have written and look forward to hearing from him. We have no one else that close who is not a Spira or a Pikholz..

Housekeeping notes
I plan to be in Chicago for my grandson Mordechai's bar mitzvah the first weekend in May. If any program directors are interested in having me speak in the days immediately before or after that weekend, please drop me a note.

I made a kiddush in shul this past week to mark my mother's seventh yahrzeit and while I was at it, my granddaughter's engagement.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Tara, Her Paternal Grandmother, My Cousin Kay and Others

This is the second of at least three posts regarding my families' matches with a young woman named Tara in Toronto. I discussed her matches earlier and now we have results from both her mother and her paternal grandmother. I will discuss her mother's matches in a few days, but there is something else I wish to address first. (My mother used to say that "a few days" means less than a week. No promises.)

Chromosome 8
Using the GEDmatch basic one-to-many tool, on chromosome 8, Tara matches my brother and my sisters Amy and Jean on identical segments of about 12.6 cM, the range being 96,812,006 - 107,594,161.  My sister Sarajoy is on the same segment with 9.8 cM that ends in the same place as the other three, but starts a bit later.

The triangulation is a bit odd as everyone matches on the appropriate segments except Dan and Sarajoy. It is not clear to me how that happens, but that is not what I am getting at.

I then ran the Matching Segments Tool for Tara and found a surprise. My first cousin Kay (our mothers are sisters) is on the same segment almost exactly matching Dan, Jean and Amy. But she hadn't been on the regular one-to-many. And the fancy Tier1 one-to-many has the same result as the old reliable.

The Matching Segments result for Tara is here on the right.

Kay triangulates with my brother and all three sisters on that segment of chromosome 8.

Kay should show up as a match to Tara on the one-to-manys and she doesn't. Something odd is happening at GEDmatch. Perhaps it is because this is the only segment on the twenty-two chromosomes where Tara and Kay match, though I don't know why that should matter..

So now Tara has the results for her paternal grandmother, whom we shall call Ida. Ida matches my brother, my three sisters and Kay on the basic one-to-many slightly more than does Tara. (Perhaps the fact that Ida has two segments with Kay comes into play here.) But Ida does not match Kay on the Tier1 one-to-many. On the other hand, Kay shows up in Ida's Matching Segment results but Sarajoy does not.

There is a lot of inconsistency here and it all seems to lie at the door of GEDmatch. If nothing else, it appears that we must check both one-to-many tools as well as the Matching Segments every time we look at someone new.

But we do know that we have at least one common ancestor with Tara on my mother's side of the family. Unfortunately since none of my second cousins match Tara on this segemnt of chromosome 8, we cannot break it down any further.

Chromosome 23
Another GEDmatch mystery involving Tara and Ida is on chromosome 23, the X.

Tara has  a segment of about 10.5 cM with my sisters Sarajoy and Jean, together with my second cousin Ruth on my mother's father's Gordon/Kugel side.

Ida has Sarajoy and Jean on that same segment using the regular one-to-many - and Kay as well - but not Ruth. The four of them all triangulate so they should all match both Tara and Ida. On the Tier1 one-to-many, neither Kay no Ruth appears. On the Matching Segments tool, Ida matches Jean and Kay, but not Sarajoy.

My feelings about GEDmatch are often just like my feelings about my children. I love them, but I don't always understand them.

There will be more about Tara's matches "in a few days."

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Moshe's Horse

Warning - This blog post contains no actual genealogy.

As I prepare to read Parashat Shemot (Exodus, Chapters 1-5) in shul this week, the following passage brings back a memory.
ויהי בימים ההם ויגדל משה ויצא אל-אֶחָיו וירא בסבלתם, וירא איש מצרי מכה איש-עברי מאֶחָיו
And it was in those days, that Moshe grew up and went out to his brethren and saw their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew man from among his brethren.
I was four years old and attended nursery school in the old Hebrew Institute building, currently the site of Maxon Towers. The teacher was Mrs. Gertrude Nachman who worked at the Institute for decades, mostly as an arts & crafts teacher. She told us the story of Moshe in Egypt. According to her version, young Moshe received a horse for his birthday and went out riding, which led to the above verse.

Your humble blogger,
this time in the saddle,
not under it.
"Why do you remember this?" you ask.

Well, we play-acted the story.

I was the horse.

Play-acting as an educational tool works. Especially for the child who gets to be the horse.

During the subsequent fifty-odd years, I have looked for traditional sources that mention Moshe's having a horse and have found nothing. I think Mrs. Nachman made it up.

The Hebrew Institute's Weekday Faculty (1954)
Mrs. Nachman is on the left in the front row.
Thanks to the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives and Eric Lidji for this photograph.

The caption that the Rauh Archives attached to the photograph shows the other women in the front row as "Ida Shrut, Henrietta Chotiner, Sarah Goldberg, Ditza Vilentchuk" and the staff in the back row as "Dov Heres (sp?), Rev. Simon Kantarof, Joseph Bayer, Leah Szblinski (sp?), Jeanna Kreiger, Pauline Milch, Miss Tanner, unknown, David Zelev (sp?) and Dr. Solomon Abrams."

Bonnie Morris says that is Cena Glatstein, not Miss Tanner and Hy Kimmel, not Joseph Bayer.

I think the "unknown" in the back row is Rabbi Shaul Rowner. Chuck Fax agrees.

Some of those, I recognized. Some I should have recognized. Some I have never heard of.

Mrs. Kreiger was my first Hebrew School teacher (when I began going four days a week), Mrs. Milch my second and Mrs. Goldberg my third.

Mr Kantarof spoke at my father's unveiling and I spoke at Mr Kantarof's funeral.

The portrait on the wall is Israel Aaron.

Housekeeping notes
On 8 January, I shall be giving two presentations for the genealogy course run by Yad Vashem and the Central Zionist Archives, "From Roots to Trees." Both in Hebrew.
5:30-6:15 – The Importance to Genealogy of Understanding Jewish Culture and Customs
6:16-7:00 – Using Genetics for Genealogy Research

Thursday, December 28, 2017

MyHeritage Announces Mandatory Citizenship Files Acquistion

Thursday evening I received an email announcement in Hebrew from MyHeritage, announcing that they have approximately 67,000 petitions for naturalization from the British Mandatory Government in Palestine, for the period 1937-1947.

I never renewed my MyHeritage subscription after a one trial year, but since I have extensive experience with the Mandatory Citizenship records, I figured I should at least see what they are offering.

The twelve Pikholz files are all on one index card
The Israel National Archives used to be five minutes from home, so I was a frequent visitor. There is an index of their files from about 1933, on microfilm. Each frame is an indexcard and they are arranged by surname, using some sort of Soundex. All the spellings of a name are listed on the same card or set of cards. The cards are supposed to have given name, year of birth, town of birth and file number but sometimes the birthplace or year is missing.

The file number enabled me to order the specific file. They say that about a third of the actual files were lost, perhaps trashed by the British before they left. The pre-1933 files were lost even before the index was made. Remember, these are British files, so everything is in English, though some of the forms are in Hebrew as well.

A few years ago, the National Archives moved across town to a place much less accessible and with no convenient parking and about the same time the indispensible research assistant Helena (whom I ran into at the mall just this week) retired.

But they made an attempt to put whatever they had online. Sometimes this proves successful. So this MyHeritage announcement should be an excellent development, at least for anyone who has their paid membership.

I followed the link in their promo letter and searched "Pikholz" in both their Hebrew and English versions and wrote the name in both languages. All the searches gave me the same twenty-one results, though they were presented slightly differently from one version to the other. Six of the twenty-one are Buchholz, so there are actually fifteen.
The Hebrew version has the same information, though they write Fischel as Faisal.

The blue lines are links, all of which lead to their subscription page. I was not able to enlarge the image on the left.

Their list of fifteen includes the last four on the index card above, plus Mordechaj from Bialystok on the third line of the index card, but the birth year is 1912 instead of 1914. I have that file and it says 1914, so MyHeritage's 1912 must be a mistranscription.

The seven entries on the index card which MyHeritage does not have include several whose naturalizations were definitely in the 1937-1947 period which My Heritage says it covers.

Of the ten which My Heritage has and the index card does not, five are women:
Cyla Pikholz Dlugacz. I know her children. She is in her husband's file as they married in Skalat before their immigration. MyHeritage calls her "Chila."
Chaya Sara Bitan. She is the first wife of Dr. Fischel Pickholz and is mentioned in his file. MyHeritage spells her maiden name "Betten." 
Blanka Rindenan (1922). This should be Rindenau. She is the first wife of Gustav from the index card and is named in his file.
Betty Hilsenrath (1910). She is the first wife of Mathias (on the index card) and is named in his file 
Dora Neuman (1912). She appears in the file of her husband Josef Neuman and they have a daughter Esther Thema. I have to find out who they are. She was from Tarnopol. One of their character witnesses is a Queller, which is a Zalosce name. We have a Pikholz-Qualer marriage, so she may be from that family.
 And the five men that MyHeritage has and the index card doesn't.
Dr. Pickholz (1875). I would think that is Eliezer Haniel who discovered oil in Kibbutz Hulda, but he was born in 1880. Close enough? Maybe. So why isn't he on the index card?
Fischel Pickholz. No birth year. This is Ephraim, the older brother of Wolf from the index card. We went to Galicia together seventeen years ago. I have no idea why he is not on the index card.
M. Pickholz appears in the citizenship file of Benjamin Swierdlin as a character witness.
Finally, there are two files in the name of Moshe Pikholz, though MyHeritage uses the spellings Pikholz, Pikholtz, Pinkholz and Pikhole. One is listed as born 1871 and the other 1926. I do not know who they are.
This appears to be a useful database, though no one should see it as complete. The National Archives has more. Of course, it requires a subscription.

Housekeeping notes
On 8 January, I shall be giving two presentations for the genealogy course run by Yad Vashem and the Central Zionist Archives, "From Roots to Trees." Both in Hebrew.
5:30-6:15 – The Importance to Genealogy of Understanding Jewish Culture and Customs
6:16-7:00 – Using Genetics for Genealogy Research

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Cousin Herb's Y-DNA

My father's first cousin Herb Braun was the third person to test for my family DNA project. That was five and a half years ago. We had met once, when I was fourteen but had been emailing for a few years about family history.
We met a second time, in 2013

Herb's mother is my grandfather's older sister, so he carries the mitochondrial DNA of my Kwoczka great-grandmother and Pollak second great-grandmother. At first he did the Family Finder (autosomal) test alone and then did the basic MtDNA. Later I upgraded him to the full MtDNA. That test led do a second family test, which I wrote about last year.

Herb's Braun (then Brunn) family lived in Zalosce (east Galicia, about twenty miles NNW of Tarnopol) where the Kwoczkas also lived and I figured that since the families might have other connections in the near background, I should probably test his Y-DNA as well. I ordered a Y-67 after he died last year at ninety-seven and we were fortunate that his initial swab was good enough for this fourth test.

Herb's results at 67 markers show 133 matches, one at a genetic distance of one and three at a genetic distance of two, with nothing that stood out to me. (At 37 markers, he is a genetic distance of four with our cousin Bruce who tested for the Kwoczka male line.)

One of Herb's GD-2 matches is Gary Simon, whose sister is married to a first cousin of mine. But more important, Gary's wife Judy is one of the administrators of the Y-DNA project that both Gary and Herb belong to.

Gary has a terminal SNP called Y-18621 and Judy asked me if Herb could test for that SNP with Y-SEQ. Herb, of course, can no longer test for anything and his two sons predeceased him. But I am in touch with one of his two grandsons and he agreed to my request to do the Y-SEQ test.

I guess we'll see what happens.

Join projects. It can help you and as it helps others.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Uncle Max' Middle Name - Possible Success from FTDNA Match Alerts

Uncle Max
My grandfather Mendel (Morris) Pickholtz was the youngest of seven children. I knew two of his brothers, Uncle Joe and Uncle Dave, well. The three brothers were in business together and most of their children and grandchildren were the same age cohort as my grandfather's. I didn't know the three sisters, though I remember meeting Aunt Bessie once, shortly before she died. Aunt Becky died before I was born and Aunt Mary lived in Florida. The sisters' children were older, so they were not as close to us as the brothers' children.

Then there was Uncle Max, Mordecai Shemuel. He was the eldest and the only one of the brothers whose English betrayed his European upbringing. He and Aunt Sadie had no children and they lived in Canonsburg (Washington County), where he was a jeweler, rather than in Pittsburgh where everyone else was. Eventually they moved to Florida but maintained the house in Canonsburg and spent some of the summer there. We would make a pilgramage every summer and play in the yard while my parents sat with them in the kitchen talking about who knows what. We never saw any of the house beyond the kitchen and the bathroom and I never realized that there was much more to the house than that. Eventually a share of Uncle Max' will enabled my parents and sisters to move to Israel.

Uncle Max outlived all his brothers and two of his sisters. After his wife died, he spent some time with family in Pittsburgh but I was out of the house by then, so I didn't really know him. He almost certainly knew the answers to many of the genealogy questions that I have struggled with for years. But no one asked him and he wasn't one to talk.

Someone who was talking was my grandmother. One afternoon when I was in maybe eighth or ninth grade (it was after my grandfather died but before she remarried), I was at Nana's house on Northumberland Street (she lived on my way home from school in those years, so I occasionally stopped in) and for no good reason, she told me that her mother-in-law had borne ten children, not just the seven who came to Pittsburgh. I didn't ask questions much as a child and though I wondered about the other three, but I never asked.

Doing genealogy
I had begun to show an interest in the family history so before moving to Israel, Aunt Betty took me to the two family cemeteries in Pittsburgh and I learned the names of the fathers of my father's four grandparents - Isak Yeroham Fischel Pickholtz, Mordecai Meir Kwoczka, Yitzhak Yehudah Rosenzweig and Shemaya Bauer, assuming the spellings of the surnames as I knew them. At the time I knew of no one in the family who bore the names of the first two, but noted the similarity of Uncle Max' Mordecai Shemuel to his grandfather Mordecai Meir.

In time, largely through JRI-Poland, I learned more of the family names, including my grandfather's two brothers who died before their second birthdays. And one nameless brother who died at birth. That accounted for the ten that Nana had told me about forty years earlier.
So all four of the grandparents are named for in the subsequent generation, though two of those children died young. Uncle Joe was named for his great-grandfather and my grandfather for his uncle Mendel Kwoczka. I have no idea where Aunt Mary and Uncle Dave's names came from, perhaps the parents of Isak Fischel or some non-ancestral relatives.

But Uncle Max is a bit of a puzzle. I figured that since the name Mordecai Meir was important, they wanted to use it again after the older brother died, but made a change to protect against the "evil eye." That was not unheard of. So why pick Shemuel as a second name?

In fact, they didn't. His birth record has it reversed. He was born Samuel Mordche so this must have been more than a name substituted to fool the "evil eye."

It is not a name I see anywhere else in the close-ish family. There is a death in 1835 for three year old Samuel Kwoczke, parents not listed, but that seems like a stretch. I filed that question - together with Miriam and David - as unknown, perhaps unknowable.

FTDNA Match Alerts
I have written about my new strategy regarding the FTDNA autosomal match alerts - here and here. A few weeks ago, I had some interesting matches with a man named Alan Kronisch who has kindly alloewed me to quote from our correspondence.

Two weeks ago I wrote:
> What I am looking for is segments of >10 cM with multiple matches.
> On chromosome 6, you have a segment of ~23 cM four of my parents'
> children, my father's sister and two second cousins (brother and
> sister) on my father's father's side.Plus ~17 cM with a half second cousin of
> my father. This is a Pikholz segment, as all of those I list are descendants of
> my g-g-gm Rivka Feige Pikholz, the daughter of (Izak) Josef Pikholz, b.
> ~1784 in Skalat, east Galicia. (We know nothing of his wife.)
> Do you have cousins who might test in order to pinpoint this from your side?
> On chromosome 8, you have > 11 cM with my aunt and uncle, one second
> cousin and one third cousin. The family here is Kwoczka, my g-gm. (Her
> mother is the Pollak from Jezierna). The Kwoczkas lived in Zalosce, not far
> from Jezierna.
> This is a weak segment probably from before 1800. I say that both because it
> is only 11 cM and because I have only four people on this segment. (I have
> about twenty family members who are Kwoczka descendants.)
The Kwoczka/Pollak segment is here:
Weak but real. About as best as can be expected from that distance.

And here is the Pikholz segment which also includes a double fourth cousin who is descended from Rivka Feige's brother. It is a better segment than the one above, but because the Pikholz family is so intertwined with itself, it is hard to say anything meaningful.

Alan's reply included this:
My father’s father was Moshe (Moe/Morris) Mordecai Kronisch, born 1896, Zborow, Galicia. He was the only child of Shmuel Kronisch and Esther Rosie Pollak. His grave confirms “ben Shmuel”  but I have found no record of Shmuel in the archives other than on Moe's birth record. I am investigating the possibility that Shmuel was also known as Shulim Kronisch. There are records for 2 Shulim Kronischs along with possible clues. One of them died in 1897 which is consistent with family lore. The other’s mother was a Goldstein which is an ancestral surname of another autosomal match (2nd-3rd cousin) of mine.
Esther (b. 1877 Zborow, d. 1960 Los Angeles) was the daughter of Mordecai Schmeil Pollak (b Zborow) and Gittel Gruber (b~1850 Plaza Weilka).
(Emphasis mine - IP)
Mordecai Schmeil Pollak from Zborow, nine miles from Jezierna (aka Ozerna). His daughter Esther is a contemporary of Uncle Max, whose grandmother is a Pollak. This looks excellent. Both Alan's second-great-grandfather and Uncle Max may have been named for a common ancestor. And Uncle Max' name may have no direct connection to his grandfather Mordecai Meir Kwoczka.

JRI-Poland does not have specific Jezierna records. There is a woman names Sara Beile Pollak (parents Juda Ber and Chane) from Jezierna who had children in Zalosce. Her husband was Moses Wolf Ambos. And a Hena in Lwow who looks like Sara Beile's sister.

This is my first movement of any sort on the Pollak family.

JRI-Poland has 598 Pollak (exact spelling) records in Tarnopol Province, over forty of them in Zalosce. Plus 39 within 10 miles of Jezierna on the All-Galicia Database. Mine from Jezierna and Alan's from Zborow could me connected to any (or all) of them. I am going to let Alan run with this for now.

Perhaps Alan has some cousins whose tests could help clarify some of this.

Uncle Max, who I knew at the time to be Mordecai Shemuel, was my grandfather's eldest brother and had no children. Nana's eldest (half) brother, Uncle Fred was Shemuel. He too lived a long life but had no children. I gave my third son the middle names Shemuel Mordecai to cover them both, not knowing that this was the correct order of Uncle Max' birth name. Less than a year later, one of my sisters named her third son Shemuel Mordecai, for the same reason.

It may be a better reason than we know.

Housekeeping notes
This week's project is going over the Match Alerts for October and November.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Julius Lichterman / Joseph Davis

This blog is dedicated to my mother's first cousin Ethel Rosenbloom Klavan, the daughter of Uncle Hymen. Her fourth yahrzeit is this Thursday, 12 Kislev. It is one of my self-imposed kaddish days.
The disappearance of Julius Lichterman
My maternal grandmother Sarah Rosenbloom Gordon arrived in the United States before the First World War. She had been born and raised in Borisov - Russia then, now Belarus - as had her siblings and probably at least one of her parents. She died when I was eleven and we never had any meaningful conversation. And she never talked to her children about the past.

Left: Lichtermans. Right: Gordons.
Center: U. Hymen.
Her three younger full-siblings preceeded her across the ocean. Her unmarried sister Rachel Leah (Rosa) died the tenth of December 1910 (2 Kislev), according to her death certificate at age twenty-five . We think she was a bit younger. She was not married and had no children.

Another sister Shayna Liba (Sadie) was married to Julius Lichterman (Uncle Hymen referred to him as Zisal and the Lichtermans confirm that this is their Julius, the son of Joseph and Nechama.) She died the first of May 1916 (28 Nisan) and the death certificate says she was twenty-three. She was certainly in her late twenties. There were no children.

As I say, we know she was married to Julius Lichterman but the death certificate - which says "married" - has no space for spouse's name. Nor is there a space for "informant," though surely that would have been Julius.

After Sadie died, Julius disappeared. No one knew what happened to him. His own Lichterman family said he was so distraught at the death of his wife that he broke off contact with everyone, never to be heard from again.

My grandmother's brother, Chaim Benzion (Hymen), was the youngest and I knew him fairly well. Most of my discussions with him about family history were together with his daughter, Cousin Ethel Klavan.

It is my opinion that there was some sort of cousin relationship between the Rosenbloooms and the Lichtermans and I discussed the two families together here and here.Therefore I am interested in Julius as a family member, not just as an in-law. The Lichtermans said they were from Borisov, but were probably from a nearby town and when my grandmother arrived in the US, she said she was going to her cousin, who was married to Julius' sister.

The Rosenbloom sisters were active in revolutionary circles back in Russia and my own theory was that after their side won, Julius went back to what he expected to be the new socialist paradise. But I have no evidence of this.

In the course of my research, I have never located a marriage record for Julius and Sadie. The indispensible New York City Italian Genealogical Group site (searched by Steve Morse's site) has a marriage of Julius I. Lichterman and Bertha Kosminsky in 1909. But he is someone else, as we see in the actual marriage record.

Julius Lichterman as Joseph Davis
I looked up Julius Lichterman on the immigration and naturalization pages at and found fifteen entries.  Several refer to a man born 1877, naturalized in Pennsylvania, crossed the border at Niagara Falls in 1914 and was married to Bertha. That would be the man in the previous paragraph, although the ages are not quite the same.

Several others refer to a man born 1898 in Vilna who arrived in the US in 1919 and was naturalized in 1928. Not our guy.

Others appear on undated naturalization index cards in New York and Pennsylvania with no informaation. Not good for much.

One is for a man born in 1883 in what Ancestry's transcribers call "Barieve." He crossed the border from Mexico to California in 1945. The age sounds right and the birthplace looks like a bad transcription of Borisov.
I cleaned this up a bit. There is nothing interesting on the second page except his signature.

He is indeed from Borisov. He is also known as Joseph Davies. (His signature looks more like Davis.) He was entering the US "to resume residence" at an address in Los Angeles. It seems to say that he was in California from 1909, though I cannot make out the actual location. "To resume residence" sounds like he had been away for some time, not on a vacation or business trip.

Is this "our Julius?" Well, for starters in seems unlikely that our Julius was in California from 1909 while his wife lived in New York until her death in 1916. But he is from Borisov and the age is right. On the other hand, perhaps he was in California when she died and that could explain why "mother's name" on his wife's death record was written in a different hand, probably later.

This Julius Lichterman died in Los Amgeles of 27 April 1949. He is listed in the California death index twice, once as we know him and once as Joseph Davis. (Not Davies.) The Social Security number is the same in both entries.

The death certificate tells us nothing at all, though it confirms both names.
We ordered the SS-5 from Social Security - thanks to Galit Aviv for helping with both these documents. All they could give us was the Numident version, not the original inn his own hand..

Also not useful.

I am not sure how to proceed. He seems like a loner. I expect that neither the cemetery nor a probate search would help.

It all looks so mysterious. Perhaps he was working for an intelligence agency or something.

I have more important fish to fry.
With Cousin Ethel Klavan and her son Ross, Jerusalem
May her memory be for a blessing

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Genetic Genealogy of Our Heirs

To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary year of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain, the August issue of their magazine Shemot included essays by a number of genealogy researchers on what to expect in genealogy twenty-five years hence.

I was asked by their editor, Jessica Feinstein, to contribute to this issue.

My contribution follows. The paragraph breaks are not how I planned them but everything else is pretty much as I wrote it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

My First "False Father" Event

The False Father
What do you call a situation where the father isn't who he was expected to be? On the few occasions when I needed to refer to such cases, I would call it a "false father" situation. Then I got into genetic genealogy and learned that the experienced folks call it a Non-Paternity Event, so I went with that. Until I began writing this post, when I looked it up on the ISOGG wiki. They define it thus:
Non-paternity event is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe any event which has caused a break in the link between an hereditary surname and the Y-chromosome resulting in a son using a different surname from that of his biological father.[1] The definition excludes minor changes in the spelling of the surname, and is implicitly limited to events after the relevant branch of the surname became hereditary. 

They cite more than a score of synonyms and more than a dozen scenarios, including such innocuous instances like "Surname switch."

So I am going back to "false father" and changed the title of this post accordingly. It's much less cumbersome than "misattributed parentage event."

Anyway I am here to tell you about my first false father case. I have helped out on a few, but it's not anything I have run across in my own research or my own families. I am writing this with the permission of the people involved, after changing or omitting all identifying information. For the purpose of this post, it doesn't matter whether I have a connection to this family or how they came to approach me.

This is the basic family structure.

The Problem
Fred Goldfeld's daughter Bonnie took an autosomal DNA test some time ago. A few months ago, Harvey's daughter Elaine took an autosomal test with the encouragement of her husband Rick. My impression is that Rick is the one who is interested in genealogy - Elaine, not so much.

Elaine and Bonnie are, ostensibly, first cousins. Here is how GEDmatch sees them. (All the comparisons in this case are based on GEDmatch kits.)

They have no common segments of 7 cM or more and six segments in the 3-7 cM range.

According to the most recent iteration of Blaine Bettinger's Shared cM Project, first cousins share an average of 884 cM and 95% of first cousins share between 619 and 1159 cM. Clearly Bonnie and Elaine are nowhere near those numbers. In fact the segments they share are likely Identical By State (IBS) and do not represent any common ancestry whatsoever. (Bonnie's mother Peggy is not Jewish, so there is no intrusion of endogamy from her side.)

One of the two women is not the daughter of the Goldfeld brothers, Fred and Harvey. At least one of them, perhaps even both. Which?

Fred and Harvey are long dead, as is Harvey's wife Phyllis. All the children here are in their fifties and sixties. The entire family lives in a large US city which has probably never had as many as 30,000 Jews.

Another test, by George
The obvious way to proceed was to ask Bonnie's brother or Elaine's siblings to test. Elaine's older brother George took an autosomal DNA test - here too, I am not sure he is particularly interested in genealogy and my contact was his wife Cheryl.

George's top match is his sister Elaine, as expected, followed by his first cousin Bonnie. But let's look at the numbers.

The Shared cM Project tells us that the average pair of full siblings share 2629 cM and that 95% of full sibling pairs share 2342-2917 cM. Elaine and George share 1929.5 cM which is below full sibling territory but well within half-sibling territory which is on average 1760 cM.

Since this is sensitive and I am new at this analysis, I asked CeCe Moore and Lara Diamond to review my logic. Both agreed that we are looking at half-siblings.

We see on the right the one-to-one comparison between George and Elaine. There are no significant green areas making it clear that they do not share two parents. (The yellow areas are segments where we see one common parent.)

Elaine and George share 118.9 cM on the X chromosome which must indicate that they have the same mother, since George gets no X from his father. Elaine and George have different fathers.That explains why Elaine and Bonnie are not related.

Fred and Harvey
George's second match is his first cousin Bonnie; they share 636.1 cM. As I wrote above, first cousins share an average of 884 cM and 95% of first cousins share between 619 and 1159 cM, so George and Bonnie are at the lower end of that range. Half first cousins, on the other hand, share an average of 440 cM and 95% of first cousins share between 235 and  665 cM. George and Bonnie are at the high end of that range.

So are George and Bonnie full first cousins or half first cousins? If the former, it's because their fathers, Fred and Harvey are full brothers. If the latter, Fred and Harvey are half brothers -  another false father case. CeCe and Lara differed on this question.

I decided to attempt to solve this question by looking at George's other matches and seeing what they share. Beforehand, I had to have a look at the geography. I knew from the documents that I had seen, that Fred and Harvey's mother Rivka was born in eastern Russia as were both her parents. Their father, Irving, was born in the US and all I could see was that his parents were from "Russia." I went into the JewishGen Family Finder and looked up their surname Goldfeld. There is one Goldfeld researcher and he said they were from Vilna. Since the name is rare, I figured that Irving Goldfeld's father Abraham was also from the western part of Russia, what is now Lithuania and Belarus.

I manage over 110 GEDmatch kits for my own families and it has become something of a joke on the Jewish genealogy groups on Facebook that most European Jews match several dozen of my kits. George matches over forty of my family kits. But seven segments stand out.

He has three segments on three different chromosomes which match my Jaffe cousins, from Borisov in Belarus. These matches appear to come from Irving's Goldfeld side. Neither Bonnie nor Elaine share these matches.

My three Jaffe cousins, two first cousins to one another and the daughter of a third

George has two segments which match my Kwoczka cousins who lived in Zalosce, near Tarnopol. These appear to come from Rivka's family, who lived a bit further east. Neither Bonnie nor Elaine shares these matches.
The lower chromosome has a segment of about 9.5 cM, so I decided to include it.

George has a match with nine of my family members on chromosome 21, about which I have written before. This group consists of two apparently unrelated parts of my family, one from the Tarnopol area, the other from Hungary. This also appears to be from Rivka's family. Neither Elaine nor Bonnie shares this match.

Finally, George matches a segment which appears to come from the other side of two of my second cousins. That family lived in Schedrin, in today's Belarus so is probably a Goldfeld match. Elaine does not share it, but Bonnie does. 

The yellow match here is Bonnie, the two greens are my Schedrin cousins..

If Bonnie and George both match a segment that comes from the Goldfeld side, I can conclude that Fred and Harvey are full brothers. This is far from 100% convincing.

A better way to check this out is to get Bonnie's brother Michael and George and Elaine's younger brother Norman and younger sister Karen to take autosomal tests. They would likely have less ambiguous results than the George-Bonnie match.

Elaine's father
After preparing my analysis and conclusions, I met with Elaine, her husband Rick, George and his wife Cheryl using GoToMeeting, which allowed me to show them the imges above and more. I asked them in advance, as I had during earlier emails with Rick, if they are prepared for whatever we might find. Rick assured me that all they wanted was the truth and that whatever it is, they could handle it.

So I explained to them that Elaine's father was not Harvey and showed them the proofs. Rick said that Elaine is still the same Elaine, no matter who her father was.

I suggested again that testing Norman and Karen might clarify the status of Fred and Harvey, but they were not sure if they wanted to tell the younger siblings anything at all.

And Rick asked me if I could tell them anything about the man who fathered Elaine.

I went back to GEDmatch and used their tool "People who match one or both of two kits" to find Elaine's matches which George does not share.  There were, of course, many - Most of them have Jewish-sounding surnames, so there is that. About fifteen of them matched on segments greater than 25 centiMorgans. The longest was just over 50 cM and there was another over 40 cM.

The one over 50 cM came with another of over 20 cM and they triangulated. I wrote to both. The smaller one answered, but she knows nothing that can help. The person with the 50+ cM has not yet responded. Perhaps she will later.

I suggested to Rick that he might want to contact the remainder of the fifteen.

Housekeeping notes
I had a nice turnout Sunday evening for the Israel Genealogical Society meeting in Kefar Sava. It was a lively, Hebrew-speaking crowd and with the questions we went well over the allotted time.

Next up, the genealogy series at Yad Vashem, in partnership with the Central Zionist Archives.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mazal Tov - Uncle Selig Gets Married

The find
From the JewishGen SIG announcements from Friday.
Gesher Galicia is pleased to announce the addition of new sets of
Jewish records on the All Galicia Database

Tarnopol (Ternopil)
- Jewish marriages, 1859-1876. State Archive of Ternopil Oblast
(DATO), Fond 33/1/716. (379 records)
 I went in and used the new "Records Added in the Past Month" function and this came up.
I am assuming that the wife's name is Rachel.

The only Selig Pikholz we have is the brother of my great-great-grandmother Rivka Feige Pikholz. I have written about him in this space numerous times, most recently here. I even have a presentation called "Why Did My Father Know that His Grandfather Had an Uncle Selig," which I gave at JGS Maryland last winter and at the IAJGS conference in Orlando.

This find - and it is not a full document, only an simple index record - answers and documents several open points and opens the door to a possible significant new development.

Identifying Uncle Selig
This is definitely Uncle Selig, not only because there is no one else, but because the age (43) in January 1874 fits his 1830 birth year (based on the age in his death record.)

Many years ago, I concluded that Uncle Selig's (and therefore Rivka Feige's) father is Izak Josef Pikholz (~1874-1862), who was known as Josef. This was based on the fact that Uncle Selig named his son Itzig Joseph right after Old Izak Josef died and the fact that Rifka Feige had a grandson called Joseph Yitzhak but who was actually born Isak Josel.
I also have DNA evidence, as I discuss in Chapter Seven of my book "ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People."

But I never had an actual document. Now I do, for the marriage index calls him "son of Josel Pikholz."

Of course that also verifies the identity of my own third-great-grandfather, even though that has been settled in my mind for probably eighteen years. I can now totally ignore the fact that Selig was born when his father was at the relatively advanced age of forty-six. We finally have a document.

Uncle Selig in Tarnopol
Uncle Selig and his wife Chana lived in Skalat, where most of the Pikholz families lived. Chana died 11 September 1873 at age forty-five of cancer (raka).

But later in life, Uncle Selig lived in Tarnopol. And his youngest son Meir, who was born about 1872 or maybe 1874, is listed as being from Tarnopol, not Skalat where Selig and Chana lived. After visiting Meir's grave in Vienna a few months ago, I suggested:
The thing is Uncle Selig's wife Chana died of cancer in September 1873 at age forty five, so she could have had a son in 1872 but not 1874. Of course Meier could be from a second wife, but we have no evidence that Uncle Selig remarried and certainly none that he remarried so quickly after Chana died.
Except that Meir was born in Tarnopol and Chana died in Skalat, where the family lived. Maybe Uncle Selig married a second time, this time to a woman from Tarnopol. And they lived in her hometown. Where Meir was born.
So do we reopen the question if Meir was born to Chana in 1872 or the twenty-four year old second wife in 1874? That marriage was 21 January, so birth the same calendar year was certainly possible.

But we do know that Uncle Selig married a woman from Tarnopol and that is likely why he lived there from the time of that marriage.

And speaking of the second wife...
This young woman is Rachel Nagler (b. ~1849) and he married her barely four months after his first wife died.That sounds like the standard practice when a widow or widower is left with young children. (For this reason I believe that Meir is the son of Chana. We know of no other "young children.")

The new spouse is often from within one of the families.

So who might Rachel Nagler be? Peretz Pikholz (~1820-1873) is the son of Berl Pikholz (~1789-1877). We do not know how he is related to my Pikholz families. Perhaps Berl is the brother of Old Izak Josef - or a cousin or a nephew. Peretz was married to Perl Nagler (~1823-1904). Selig's wife Rachel is surely related to Peretz' wife Perl, a niece or cousin, perhaps.

Perhaps this points to a Pikholz-Nagler connection that is more substantial than the Peretz-Perl marriage. Perhaps the actual record will tell us something. Thus far, the folks at Gesher Galicia are not encouraging regarding getting an actual record from the Tarnopol archives.

Housekeeping notes
I have three talks coming up, all here in Israel. All are in Hebrew.

19 November 2017, 7:00Israel Genealogical Society, Bet Sapir, Sderot Yerushalayim 2 (second floor), Kefar Sava.
Lessons in Jewish DNA – One Man’s Successes and What He Learned On the Journey

8 January 2018 as part of the Yad Vashem / Central Zionist Archives series “From Roots to Trees” at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. 
5:30-6:15 – The Importance to Genealogy of Understanding Jewish Culture and Customs
6:16-7:00 – Using Genetics for Genealogy Research