Sep 12, 2014

Film: 50 Children

PLACE: Hamilton Jewish Federation Shalom Village Nursing Home
ADDRESS: 70 Macklin Street North, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 3S1 Directions.
DATE: November 2, 2014.

The Story of 50 Jewish Children Rescued From Nazis, 1939, is a one-hour long HMO Documentary in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Gilbert and Eleanor Krauss were from Philadelphia and the story relates the bureaucracy to overcome in order to bring 50 Jewish children from Vienna in June 1939, along with finding foster homes, unused visas, White House lack of support, and the bureaucracy in Nazi Austria and Berlin to achieve their goal.

According to the documentary, it was the largest group that was able to immigrate to the US. More information about the film.

Fiona Gold Kroll

Temple Sinai, 210 Wilson Avenue, Toronto
Wednesday, October 22nd at 8 p.m.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

Fiona Gold Kroll talks about writing A Stone for Benjamin, a book about her research into the life of her great-uncle, Benjamin Albaum who disappeared from Paris during WWII and perished in Auschwitz.
Telephone: 647-247-6414

Sep 10, 2014

The Myth of The Khazars

From: Tablet

The Khazars were a Turkic people who lived in the Caucasus region between the 7th and 10th centuries.  A long-held theory posits that members of the kingdom converted to Judaism at the behest of their ruler, a notion that anchored Yehuda Ha-Levi’s Kuzari.

But in a new article in the journal Jewish Social Studies, Hebrew University researcher Shaul Stampfer argues there is no evidence from Medieval Jewish, Islamic or Christian texts that such a conversion took place.

“The silence of so many sources about the Khazars’ Judaism is very suspicious,” Stampfer tells Haaretz . “The Byzantines, the geonim [Jewish religious leaders of the sixth to eleventh centuries], the sages of Egypt—none of them have a word about the Jewish Khazars.”

Stampfer’s findings serve as a retort to the controversial work of Tel Aviv University historian Shlomo Sand whose 2009 book , The Invention of the Jewish People, argued for the link between Ashkenazi Jews and the Khazars of the Steppe and saw in that truism an upending of the Jews’ historical claims on the land of Israel.

Also from Tablet:

LiveScience reports on a new study which found that “the central and eastern European Jewish population, known as Ashkenazi Jews started from a founding population of about 350 people between 600 and 800 years ago.”

According to Columbia University researcher Itsik Pe’er, who was involved with the study, the research showed that the group of 350 was made up of Jews of Middle Eastern and Europeans—thereby disproving the much-debated theory that Jews descended from Khazars.

Genealogy and L'Oreal

From: Fritinancy

The founder of L’Oréal, Eugène Schueller (1881-1957), provided financial support for a violent French fascist group, La Cagoule (“the hood”).  After the war, one member of the group, Jacques Correze, became chairman of L’Oréal’s U.S. marketing arm. 

Another member of the group, André Bettencourt, married Schueller’s daughter, Liliane. Their daughter married a Jew, and a son from that marriage, Jean-Victor Meyers, now sits on L’Oréal’s board. 

(L’Oréal did not make public amends after the war. In Bitter Scent: The Case of L’Oréal, Nazis, and the Arab Boycott (1996), the Israeli historian Michael Bar-Zohar tells the story of how company director Jean Frydman, a Jew and a hero of the French Resistance, was forced off L’Oréal’s board in 1989 to satisfy demands by the Arab League.)

Sep 9, 2014

Ashkenazi Population Founded by 350 People

From: Ha'aretz

The journal Nature Communications just published a report by Shai Carmon of Columbia University and his team. It says:

Ashkenazim descend from the fusion of European and Middle-Eastern Jews during the medieval era between 600 to 800 years ago.

Ashkenazim are derived from 350 people 25 to 32 generations ago.

A number of genetic characteristics are associated with Ashkenazi groups as opposed to other Jewish populations and European peoples.  They are genetically distinguishable. 

Ashkenazim are associated with 19 genetic disorders according to the Center for Jewish Genetics.

Sephardi Jews have illnesses of their own including Wolman’s disease and an allergy to fava beans.

Here's another good article from It features Karl Skorecki, a professor in Israel who grew up in Toronto. He went to Newtonbrook Collegiate and spoke at our society in the 1990s during a visit back to his hometown.

Sep 8, 2014

Forensics, Genealogy and DNA

It looks like Jack The Ripper was a mentally ill Polish-Jewish immigrant named Aaron Mordke Kosminski. Here's his file on Wikipedia:

"An 1894 memorandum written by Sir Melville Macnaghten, the Assistant Chief Constable of the London Metropolitan Police, names one of the suspects as a Polish Jew called "Kosminski" (without a forename). ... Macnaghten stated that there were strong reasons for suspecting Kosminski because he "had a great hatred of women ... with strong homicidal tendencies".

From a newspaper article.

"In 2007, a businessman called Russell Edwards bought a shawl that was said to belong to Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper’s victims. He took it to Jari Louhelainen, a specialist in genetics and forensics.
"Louhelainen was able to extract enough DNA from bloodstains to match the DNA taken from Karen Miller, a direct descendant of Eddowes. He was also able to find some seminal fluid from which he was also able to obtain DNA.  That DNA is a 100% match for a female descendant of Aaron Kosminski."

Of course, there are doubters.

"Alec Jeffreys who invented the DNA fingerprint said the claim that needs to be subjected to peer review.   Donald Rumbelow, a crime writer, said that no shawl is listed among Eddowes's effects by the police and mitochondrial DNA expert, Peter Gill, said the shawl "is of dubious origin and has been handled by several people who could have shared that mitochondrial DNA profile."

"Two of Eddowes's descendants are known to have been in the same room as the shawl for 3 days in 2007 and, in the words of one critic, "The shawl has been openly handled by loads of people and been touched, breathed on, spat upon."

A Family of Artists

I came upon a site maps out the family relationships between 5 French actresses.  One is Marlene Jobert. Here is her entry on Wikipedia.

This is what it says of her family background: Jobert was born in Algiers, French Algeria, to a Jewish pied-noir family, the daughter of Andrée Azoulay and Charles Jobert... Jobert and spouse Swedish dentist Walter Green have twin daughters: Eva Green is also an actress... [she starred in Casino Royal opposite Daniel Craig as James Bond].

Click on the picture to expand.