Aug 4, 2014

Jews of Barbados

Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto

The Jews of Barbados:
1627 to the Present
Presented by Eric Bowman

Temple Sinai, 210 Wilson Avenue
Wednesday, September 10th
at 8 p.m.
Doors open at 7:30 pm

Eric Bowman and his wife, Penny Bowman, have been residents of the West Indian island of Barbados for 40 years.  They are dual Canadian and Barbados citizens.

Eric developed a keen interest in the history of the Jews of Barbados and subsequently became a leading authority on the Jewish presence in this beautiful Caribbean country.

About 300 Jewish people of Recife, Brazil, persecuted by the Portuguese, settled in Barbados in the 1660s. Skilled in the sugar industry, they quickly introduced the sugarcane crop and passed on their skills in cultivation and production to the Barbados land owners. With their help, Barbados went on to become one of the world's major sugar producers and one of the richest European territories in the West Indies.

Many prominent Barbadian (a.k.a. Bajans) have traced their lineage to the Sephardim who settled there almost 400 years ago.  This is a fascinating genealogical journey that should not be missed.

Call For Presenters

The Ontario Genealogical Society
Conference 2015
“Tracks through Time”
Barrie, Ontario, Canada
29-31 May 2015

Deadline: 12 September 2014
(Multiple proposals encouraged)

The Ontario Genealogical Society will host the Society's annual conference on 29-31 May 2015 at Georgian College Campus, Barrie, ON, Canada. The conference theme -- “Tracks through Time” – originates from the 130th Anniversary of the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway across Canada. Many family historians have their roots in the immigrant laborers who built this railway across our vast country. Other ancestors were tempted by the transportation routes and migration opportunities allowed by its completion. Still others worked for the railway company itself over the years to follow. As researchers, we track our family history through time in many ways, always attempting to ensure we are tracking the right people from the right line. The variations on “Tracks through Time” are endless.

Aug 1, 2014

Photo Exhibit of Klezmer Musicians

Vessels of Song: Faces of New Yiddish Music
July 31 - September 3 

Portraits and candid images from Toronto-based photographer, David Kaufman, who has been documenting the Klezmer (Yiddish Music) world. 

Presented as part of the 2014 Ashkenaz Festival.

Read more about this exhibit here and see the Facebook Event page here.

Gallery Info: (416) 924-6211 x 250

Jul 30, 2014

Free Book: Children of Dolhinov

From: Barry Rubin

For decades, I wanted to research my own ancestry.  Starting with a single clue, I was able to reconstruct the entire history of my grandparents’ town.

My goal with this book is to appeal to everyone to get to know their own “pre-history.”  Today there are amazing resources available  that make what was previously impossible into something anyone with enough patience can do.

I want to share with you some of the things that brought about this project and the ways it changed me. When I was about ten years old our class was given one of those exercises of making a presentation about our genealogical roots. It made a deep impression on me.

At the time, I only began with two words: Poland and 1908 (the year of my grandparents’ arrival in America. That was it. My parents gave me no names of people or places and I had literally no relatives. But, my parents said, we hadn’t lost anyone in the Holocaust from our family. From what I’ve heard, that isn’t an atypical pattern among American Jews.

A second experience that led to this effort happened in the Paris flea market in 1963, a trip that was my bar mitzvah present. At one of the stalls, a woman who saw me gasped and started crying. She explained that I looked just like the son she had lost twenty years earlier. She held up an old photograph. She was right.

But I want to stress that this isn’t just a book about the Holocaust—which takes up a small part of the book. It is an attempt to explain how a small town interrelated with far grander events and trends in world history.


Barry, who died last year, has a lot of books offered for free here:

Jul 27, 2014

Patrick Seale's Genealogy

From: Martin Kramer

Patrick Seale, journalist and author, best known for his reportage on Syria and his mediation between Hafez Asad and the West, has passed away at the age of 83.

Whenever Seale came up in Israeli discussions, there usually would be a fair bit of winking and nodding about his ancestry. His father, a Russian Jew born (I think) in Jerusalem under the name of Ephraim Sigel, converted to Christianity, changed his name to Morris Seale, studied theology in Belfast (where Patrick was born), and became an ordained minister of the Irish Presbyterian Church.

Sigel-Seale then went out as a missionary to Damascus, where Patrick spent his childhood. Nothing more excites speculation among Israelis than the discovery that a foreign friend or foe is a blood member of the tribe. (Albright, Kerry… it happens all the time.)

Did Hafez Asad and his cronies know that their Patrick wasn’t purely Irish? Did it matter? How could it not? Etcetera—for what it’s worth. (Not much, I think.)

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and speculate that Seale’s mother was also originally Jewish. Her name was Reine Attal, she belonged to a family of Italians settled in Tunisia. Attal was a ubiquitous surname for Sephardic Jews settled in North Africa (usually via Livorno). More:

Read the whole thing: