Rabbi Uri Weinberg A”H (Uri Ben Menachem Halevi) [18 May 1923 – 17 Adar 5772 (11 March 2012)]

Please share with the rest of us your memories (add a new comment below this post or send me an e-mail)

Please pledge to learn a Mishna in the memory of the Mes Mitzva and Tzaddik Uri Ben Menachem Halevi.a

On Sunday 11 March 2012, I received a message that Rabbi Uri Weinberg a”h (Uri Ben Menachem Halevi), or as he was known Reb Uri, passed away in Yerushalayim after a massive heart attack in his home in the Batei Ungarin complec.

I met him for the first time when my brother introduced me to him in about 2000. I couldn’t imagine that the man standing in front of me with his trademarked grey jacket was no simple man; he was a Continue reading

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Old Jewish posters at the Antwerp Archives

the 'Felixarchief' - (c) photo by Gershon Lehrer

The archives of the city of Antwerp (Felixarchief) mentioned in their last monthly e-newsletter the following interesting subject (source):

Vooroorlogse Joodse affiches duiken op
Vier jaar geleden ontdekten we in het Modern Archief twee dikke pakken met affiches.

Het bleek een uiterst interessante verzameling van 144 affiches en pamfletten van Joodse verenigingen uit 1932-1934. De meeste zijn aankondigingen van culturele evenementen: concerten, toneelvoorstellingen maar ook lezingen, bals en feesten uit die periode komen aan bod. Over de herkomst weten we enkel dat een zekere heer Prinz ze al in 1934 aan het stadsarchief schonk.
Het Joods Museum van Deportatie en Verzet reageerde enthousiast op de ontdekking en stelde meteen voor om de Hebreeuwse en Jiddische opschriften voor het FelixArchief te vertalen. Het leverde een schat aan informatie op.

De reeks illustreert immers als geen ander het bruisende culturele en politieke leven van de Joodse gemeenschap tijdens het interbellum: het dynamische verenigingsleven, de culturele diversiteit, maar ook het onderbelichte verzet tegen Hitler-Duitsland, de Joodse Socialistische Partij en de immigratie naar Palestina. Een uiterst boeiende momentopname, voer voor verder onderzoek en uniek illustratiemateriaal.

De affiches zijn nu deskundig beschreven, gereinigd, gevlakt en gedigitaliseerd. U kunt deze affiches hier digitaal bekijken. (Klik hiervoor op het plus-teken.)

Nieuwsbericht gepubliceerd op 02-03-2012


Prewar Jewish posters emerge
Four years ago we discovered in the Modern Archive 2 large packages of posters.

It was a very interesting collection of 144 posters and pamphlets of Jewish organizations from 1932-1934. Most of these are announcements of cultural events: concerts, theater performances but also lectures, balls and parties held from that period . About the origin, we know only that in 1934 a certain Mr. Prinz donated the posters to the city archives.
The Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre (Kazerne Dossin) responded enthusiastically to the discovery and immediately suggested to translate the Hebrew and Yiddish inscriptions for the FelixArchief. This yielded a wealth of information.

The series illustrate like no other indeed the lively cultural and political life of the Jewish community during the interwar period: the dynamic associations, cultural diversity, but also underexposed resistance to Hitler’s Germany, the Socialist Party and the Jewish immigration to Palestine. A very interesting snapshot of further research and unique artwork.

The posters are now expertly described, cleaned, flattened and digitized. You can view digital posters here. (Click on the plus sign.)

News published on 03/02/2012

As mentioned in the e-mail, you can Continue reading

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How to order and interpret records from Polish repositories for the illiterate in Polish

Polish Alphabet-gray letters are historical characters (source: Wikimedia Commons, User: Faxe)

Usually when I send an e-mail to the Polish archives or other authorities in English, they will reply to it and include payment instructions and/or the results of their research. In other cases they will just reply that they do not understand the English language and require another e-mail written in the Polish language. These replies from the Polish archives or authorities will sometimes be in English and sometimes in Polish.

On 6 December 2011 I received an interesting reply from the Registry Office in Tarnow (Urzędu Stanu Cywilnego w Tarnowie) in which they stated that by law the Polish language is the Continue reading

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The “Organisation Todt” (OT)

(The following text is based on an article which I wrote for off-line use)

We can read in a file from the Directorate-General War Victims about my great-great-uncle Kalman Lehrer (sometimes also known as Kalman Kalech) during WWII. We read there that he was conscripted into labor service in the Julius Berger Company.

I tried to figure out what the Julius Berger Company was (click here for my earlier post about this subject.

What I initially did not read well and missed in the document is the abbreviation ‘OT’ which is written on one of the documents in that file:

From Kalman Lehrer’s file at the Belgian Office of War Victims (file:DOS-DDO d210703)

What we see is that Kalman Lehrer

a été mis au travail force dans le Nord de La France (O.T.). Il figure sur les listes de salaires (établies par quinzaines) de la firme  « Julius Berger  » du 26.7.42 au 31.10.42″

(translation: [Kalman Lehrer] was conscripted into labor service in Northern France (OT). He is listed in the wages lists (established by fortnights) of the firm “Julius Berger” from 26.7.42 to 31.10.42.)

First I’ll try to explain more about the OT, which stood for Organisation Todt, and then I’ll continue about Kalman Lehrer during the war.

The OTa’s establishment:
The “Organisation Todt” (OT) was established in May 1938, when Hitler instructed the Generalinspekteur für das Strassenwesen, Dr. Ing. Fritz Todt, who had proven himself with the autobahn construction, to continue the previously Wehrmacht led construction of the Westwall . Todt has developed the organization out of a combination of planning departments, private companies (the Julius Berger company was such a company) and until the war started in 1939, the Reichsarbeitsdienst . During the war the OT transformed into a military construction unit and its structure changed from year to year as it was adapted to the requirements of the respective orders.

The OT fell from March 1940 under the responsibility of the Reichsminister für Bewaffnung und Munition (RMfBM)- Minister for Armament and Munitions.

After the death of Fritz Todt in February 1942, the OT reorganized under Albert Speer (Mannheim, 19 march 1905 – London, 1 September 1981). From the beginning of 1941 it was headed by Continue reading

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Cupboards, photos, phone calls and coincidences

Yesterday (9 October 2011) I experienced something very interesting which just shows how surprised you can often get when puzzling with the family tree:

I was (and am still) looking for the family connections between Mr. Zvi/Hershel Beer, who was born in UStrzyki-Dolne (Galicia) and has lived in Dresden (Germany), and my great-grandfather, who was known to be cousins with Zvi Hershel Beer.

I thus contacted Mrs. Susan Edel who I have had contact with for already about more than a decade. She is, among a few different projects, also working for the Magen David Adom tracing service which helps people find Continue reading

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Kalman Kalich (17 December 1903 in Kalich, Poland – 25 February 1982 in New york City, NY, USA)

Please note that an updated text about Chazzan Kalman Kallich exist elsewhere on this website, this text is now outdated (see: Cantor Kalman Kalich (17 December 1903 in Poland – 25 February 1982 in New York City, NY, USA))

Cantor Kalman Kalich served among others, as the cantor of the Ohab Zedek congregation in New York.

From the website of Congregation Ohab Zedek (link):

Congregation Ohab Zedek (formally known as the First Hungarian Congregation Ohab Zedek), or OZ, as it is fondly known, is more than just a synagogue. Under the leadership of Rabbi Allen Schwartz, the Shul is known for its open doors and big heart.
OZ has a proud history. The Shul was founded in 1873 on Avenue B and Houston Street on the Lower East Side as the First Hungarian Congregation Ohab Zedek. After a sojourn on West 116th Street in Harlem, the Congregation moved to its present location at 118 West 95th Street in 1926. Today, as part of a revitalized Upper West Side that has drawn an ever-expanding population of families and young adults, OZ is a vibrant and dynamic Jewish center for prayer, learning and social activities.

After contacting the congregation, I got the following e-mail on Mon, Aug 22, 2011 from Mr. Chaim Steinberger (ChaiStein-*at*-aol.com) who serves as the archivist of the synagogue:

[…]This is the information that I wrote in the book on the History of the shul (Ohab Zedek), and that’s all the information I have:

“Cantor Kalich was born in Kalich, Poland on December 17, 1903. He previously served as Cantor of the Arena Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary, and sang in Yossele Rosenblatt’s choir in Pressburg, Hungary. He was honored for his many years of service at Ohab Zedek at a dinner held at the Hotel Olcott, New York City, given in his honor on Saturday evening, March 11, 1961, recognizing his 25 years of dedicated service to the congregation. He died in New York City on February 24, 1982.”

By the way, he was chazan at Ohab Zedek from 1935 to 1981. I believe his wife’s name was Rose.[…]

This is the book which Continue reading

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Jewish Records of Fürth (and its area)

The Fürht Jewish Museum (by: wikimedia commons - Magnus Gertkemper)

Recently someone asked via the gersig newsgroup (on Wed, 27 Jul 2011 03:43:05 -0400) about the availability of Jewish birth records from 1862 in Fürth (Bavaria). Another member’s reply was that there are dozens of postage stamp sized books for Fuerth vital registers at the Central Archives of the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem (CAHJP).

She continued to explain that

[…]”The books are painful to research and can only be read with a magnifying glass, and even then sometimes they are illegible because their sewn binding gets into the actual record and because much of the writing is very sloppy.”[…]


[…]”It is my understanding that in Germany, they have blown up these miniatures and have more legible records available.
If I am not mistaken, they are located at Detmold, or perhaps that is the place where they enlarged the miniatures. I am sure someone else will chime in with the proper details.”[…]

Which Fürth:
I checked with some Detmold archives but they did not know about microfilmed Jewish Vital Records and secondly, Detmold is in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and not in the state of Bavaria.

The city of Grevenbroich has a district called Fürth (Postal Code 41515). Grevenbroich is in the government district (Regierungsbezirk) of Düsseldorf, which is also the capital city of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Detmold itself is another government district of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The Jewish vital records at the Nürnberg state archives:
The Nürnberg Staatarchiv told me that the Third Reich, more precisely the Reichssippenamt, attempted to seize and collect vital records (births, marriages and deaths) from all Jewish communities.

These Jewish vital records were Continue reading

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Some of my family members in Cuba during WWII

I mentioned in another article the fact that Belgian Jews exiled to Cuba during WWII. My relatives also stayed in Cuba. Many of the Jews who lived in Cuba during the War, were Belgian refugees. For more on this topic you may read Jews from Antwerp in Cuba.

Cuba and some of my relatives:
I found in the book “Jewish Community of  Cuba – The Golden Years 1906-1958” by Mr. Jay Levinson (ISBN 78-0977620708) a paragraph on page 133 with a reference to the copy of La Voz de Betar:

“Not all the Belgian Jews, however, confined all of their activity to their own closely-knit society. J. Dorf lectured to Betar on Jewish History; Ringler spoke to the meeting of Betar about geography of the Holy Land.”

I found in that copy of La Voz de Betar (Cuba) which appeared in September 1944 (this file is known at the Jabotinsky Institute archives as file 3/239 bet), some names of people belonging to the Dorf family (my great-grandmother Liebe Dorf was married to my great-grandfather Gerschon Lehrer):

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The State Archives in Belgium: Getting there

(See also the links at the end of this article)

How to get there:
The State Archives of Belgium are on the following address:

rue de Ruysbroeck 2
1000 Brussels
phone: +32 2 513 76 80

[cetsEmbedGmap src=http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Rue+de+Ruysbroeck+2,+1000+Bruxelles,+Belgi%C3%AB&hl=nl&ie=UTF8&ll=50.842262,4.356058&spn=0.006436,0.014999&z=16&vpsrc=0 width=400 height=425 marginwidth=0 marginheight=0 frameborder=0 scrolling=no]

It is easy to get there by taxi or public transportation. The national airport of Belgium, which is situated in Zaventem near Brussels, is about 14.4 km (8.95 miles) away and it takes about 16 minutes to drive by car (without traffic).

The museum district “Kunstberg – Mont des Arts”:
The archives are near the Kunstberg which in French is called Mont des Arts (hill of Arts).

That area in fact serves as the Museum District of Brussels which was conceived by King Léopold II. King Léopold II decided to turn the whole district into what today is known as the Mont des Arts. The King dreamed of making Brussels a modern and cultural capital city and Mont des Arts the treasure of his country and witness to the history of Belgium.

A plate memorializing Belgian kings Leopold II for conceiving the Mont des Arts, king Leopold III for implementing it and king Baudouin/Boudewijn I for establishing it. The Mont des Arts was dedicated to the memory of king Albert I

The Mont des Arts is situated in about the same area which was known as the “Jewish Continue reading

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The source of the song En Den Dino

“La Queue Leu Leu” , sheet music with illustration from a French children’s book Vieilles Chansons pour les Petits Enfants: Avec Accompagnements

This was first published on my blog on November 10th, 2009 (12:43:01). I am reposting it now with some minor changes:
I did first send an e-mail on March 1st, 2009 to the jewishgen newsgroup (soc.genealogy.jewish) in which I asked if someone knows more about the song “En Den Dino” (with spelling mistakes removed):

From: gershon.lehrer@gmail.com (lehrer)
Newsgroups: soc.genealogy.jewish
Subject: Children’s song: “En den dino”
Date: 1 Mar 2009 13:55:30 -0800

Dear all,

This is more a historical question then a genealogy related question:

My daughter of 3 came from her preschool with the following song:

“En den dino / sof al hakatino / Elik Belik Bom / Shabat Shalom / Un deux trois et vous n’y êtes pas!”

I remember myself singing this song as a kid. Kids sing this when they want to decide which kid will have its first turn when playing a game.

I also remember once seeing a documentary about rhymes from preschoolers. Quite often such rhymes appear to be very old with sources that go back till the middle ages.

As this song sounds Spanish or Portuguese (except for the French part which obviously was added later), I am wondering whether this songa’s source can be from the Inquisition’s times?

Best Regards,

Gershon Lehrer
Antwerp, Belgium

I’ve received many replies to my question and have compiled an overview of what I managed to learn about this song.

What it is:
Most of the Continue reading

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