The abbreviation “v.” commonly found in Galician records

The following is a post which appeared in the Gesher Galicia SIG digest from August 29, 2011.
In this post, Suzan Wynne discusses the ‘v.’ which is commonly found in Galician records.
(The Gesher Galicia Discussion Group is sponsored by Gesher Galicia and hosted by JewishGen, the Home of Jewish Genealogy. See for more here:

Subject: abbreviation v is for vel non
From: “Suzan Wynne”
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2011 20:04:55 -0400
X-Message-Number: 1

The abbreviation “v,” commonly found in Galician records about Jewish events, stands for vel non, a Latin legal term, which means “or not” or “alternatively.” This Latin term was adapted from the Latin that was commonly used for recording Jewish and non-Jewish vital events in Galicia until 1877 when the government authorized the kehillot to be responsible for collecting and maintaining Jewish births, marriages (civil), and deaths.

The abbreviation was used when Continue reading

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A Schnapspfeifle

I bought on my recent trip to the Black Forest in a souvenir shop of Titisee a  Schnapspfeifle. (I try in general to explore tourist shops in places I visit where I can buy cups as a souvenir with the emblem of the town or city):

I was wondering what a Schnapspfeifle is and how we need to use it.

Schnapps is German for an alcoholic beverage. This is how Continue reading

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An introduction to the Belgian Statearchives and its immigration files

The Public Safety Organization:
In 1840 the Belgian state, which was founded in 1830, entrusted the Public Safety (in Dutch: Openbare Veiligheid, in French: Sûreté Publique, in German:Öffentlichen Sicherheit) which was an autonomous board under the Minister of Justice, to monitor the aliens on its territory.

Note: Both Dutch, French and German are spoken in specific parts of Belgium as can be seen on the following map:

In order to preserve public order, the Public Safety Organization had to remove undesired aliens from Belgium’s territory. In order to be able to implement this order, they had to rely on the support from the municipal authorities who had in their turn to report each registration of any alien in the register of the municipality as soon as possible to the Public Safety.

This Public Safety organization would then decide whether the person could remain in the country. If this was the case, the Public Safety organization would keep a close eye on the alien citizen during his or her stay in Belgium. All authorities, including the army and the judiciary, were supposed to forward any document about the foreigner to the Public Safety Organization.

How was the information collected:
Most information was obviously gathered from aliens who voluntarily went to the municipalities to register. In addition, information was directly obtained by the police who found foreigners on Belgian territory and of foreigners that had to resort to the use of public services such as hospitals, etc.

Some files were opened on aliens even though they never reached Belgian territory. The organization opened these files preventively for “subversive” and possible criminal foreigners in order to be prepared in case they would enter Belgian territory.

When the foreigner in question passed away or Continue reading

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Expressions on 9 Av: “A Gitten Chorben”, “Morir havemos”, etc.

It is today 9 Av (Tisha beAv) during which the Jews are still mourning after a few millennia about the destruction of the two Jewish temples.

I saw someone yesterday wishing others “A Gitten Chorben”.
I was at first quite shocked to hear that expression which literally means something like: “A good destruction”. (Greeting in its essence is not allowed (see Shulchan Aruch 554:20).)

So I decided to find out more about that expression and found indeed on some places on the Internet the same saying. But I still was (and am) looking for sources.

Someone then told me about another expression.
The Jewish Portuguese Kehilla in Amsterdam has the custom to say after the reading of Eichah and Kinot in the pitch-dark and big synagogue, the following small sentence: “Morir havemos”.
It is a combination of Spanish and Portuguese and its meaning is: “We will die”.

I still personally prefer the second expression which also seems logic to me; it after all is simply trying to add to the spirit of the day.

But I was still trying to find some sources and the origin of the Yiddish greeting “A Gitten Chorben”.

We know the known passage from the Talmud which proclaims:

(כל המתאבל על ירושלים זוכה ורואה בשמחתה (תענית ל ×¢”ב


“Those who mourn for Jerusalem will merit to seeing Her rejoicing” (Talmud Bavli, Tractate Taanis, 30-2)

Could it thus be that when someone says “A Gitten Chorben” to an acquaintance, s/he means to wish the other person that s/he will merit to fulfill the Mitzvah (Command) of our sages (כל המתאבל על ירושלים זוכה ורואה בשמחתה) to its best and subsequently merit seeing Jerusalem in Her rejoicing?

Please let me know and share your thoughts and eventual sources by commenting on this article, thanks.

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A Swedish Family

The Bernadottes of Sweden (source: wikimedia commons)

I came a while ago across an interesting article in the Belgian newspaper “De Standaard“.
They run each day during the holiday season a series   of short articles ( “Elders is het beter”, literally translated “elsewhere it is better”) in which they describe what other countries do better then Belgium.

On Friday (July 29, 2011) the newspaper discussed the Swedish system of how family members are called.

In English you would for example mention your mothers mother as “my maternal grandmother”, which in Swedish would be only six (!) letters short: “mormor”. My paternal grandmother would Continue reading

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Koud en levensgevaarlijk

Wodka + IJsblokjes = slecht voor de nieren!
Rum + IJsblokjes = slecht voor de lever!
Gin + IJsblokjes = slecht voor de hersenen!
Whisky + IJsblokjes = slecht voor het hart!
Cointreau + IJsblokjes = slecht voor het darmstelsel !

Wetenschappelijke conclusie:
IJsblokjes zijn levensgevaarlijk!!

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Transferring money to Polish banks with SWIFT/BIC/IBAN

Please note that I am not a banker, nor am I an economist. Therefore I would be glad if you could correct me in case you find a mistake. I humbly thank you in advance.

Narodowy Bank Polski, ul Ofiar Oświęcimskich 41, Wrocław, Poland

From time to time I need to transfer money to one of the Polish archives for my orders.
Each bank has an international identifier and so has each bank account. The standards which my bank (and I assume most other banks in Belgium do, is BIC (Bank Identifier Code and also known as SWIFT) and IBAN (International Bank Account Number) (there are no huge charges here in Belgium unlike in the US where wiring internationally seems to be quite  expensive).

So before I can transfer money to any Polish bank account, I’ll need to convert the given account of the beneficiary to the IBAN and BIC formats.
There is a search engine which claims to be able to find Bank Codes and BIC’s, the problem is that it is not working (yet) for Polish banks. See for yourself at

So let’s try this another way:
In the Polish banking sector, the IBAN number is composed of 28 alphanumeric characters and is constructed by inserting the country code PL before the NRB number (Polish abbreviation for Bank Account Number), as a result of which the following format is generated:
To be more specific:
PL– country code for the country in which the account is serviced
00 – control digits
11111111 – 8-digit bank branch number)
2222222222222222 – 16-digit account number

Let’s take for example the Continue reading

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Photos about prewar Jewish Life in Eastern-Europe

I received recently via e-mail a slideshow with amazing photos about pre-war Jewish life in Eastern Europe.

Enjoy it here:
[gview file=”” save=1]I am not sure who created the slideshow, but the properties of the file mention a Landau Mickey and the file was created in 2006. If you believe that this is copyrighted and you are/know the owner, please contact me.

Note (August 31, 2014): I have thankfully been made aware by Mrs. Diane Morton from Australia about the source of the photo’s:

“Image Before My Eyes”
A photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland, 1864-1939
By Lucjan Dobroszycki & Barbara Kirshenblatt – Gimblett
Printed in USA in 1987 Random House
ISBN 0-8052-0634-5
Published in co-operation with YIVO Institute for Jewish Research…
Schocken Books New York.

You can alternatively check the photos when you click on the following picture:

Some other websites with photos:
Museum of Family History
Yad Vashem Photo Archive

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Bruce Adler singing Hootsatsa

I came across a video clip on YouTube with a piece from Bruce Adler singing Hootsatsa.

It is a nostalgic piece with a mix of Yiddish humor, songs, etc.
The New york Times published the following obituary about him on his passing at the age of 63:

Bruce Adler, Actor With Yiddish Roots, Is Dead at 63
Published: July 28, 2008
Bruce Adler, an actor and song-and-dance man with roots in the Yiddish theater who hoofed successfully onto Broadway and was nominated for two Tony Awards, died early Friday in Davie, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale. He was 63 and lived in Davie as well as in Manhattan.

Bruce Adler
The cause was liver cancer, said Jeanne Nicolosi, Mr. Adlera’s theatrical agent. He had only recently canceled a commitment to play Tevye in a summer stock production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in St. Louis, she said.

Mr. Adler, a versatile performer with a comic flair, came from a show business family. He was the son of Julius Adler and Henrietta Jacobson, who were stars of the old “Yiddish Rialto” along Second Avenue in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. One of his Tony nominations was for “Those Were the Days,” a 1990 revue of songs and sketches recalling the Yiddish theater scene that flourished in New York City from the 1880s to the 1930s.

He was nominated again in 1992 for “Crazy for You,” a hit musical that was fashioned from a trove of George and Ira Gershwin songs knitted together with an original book by Ken Ludwig. Mr. Adler played an impresario, à la Flo Ziegfeld; his duet with Harry Groener of “What Causes That,” requiring deft comic timing and coordination, was an audience favorite.

Mr. Adler was born on Second Avenue on Nov. 27, 1944, and grew up as the son of local celebrities. Not only were his parents stars, so were his mothera’s brothers, Hyman and Irving Jacobson. His grandfather, Joseph Jacobson, had studied in Russia to be a rabbi but came to the United States in the 1880s, where both he and his wife, Bessie, became performers. Young Bruce joined his parents onstage as early as age 4, and they often performed together from then on.

Mr. Adler served in the United States Army from 1966 to 1968. His first marriage, to Isabelle Farrell, ended in divorce. Among his survivors are his wife, Amy London, whom he married in 2003; a son, Jake; and two stepchildren.

Mr. Adler, who contributed the singing voice of the narrator of the animated film “Aladdin,” made his Broadway debut in the 1979 revival of “Oklahoma!” and appeared in several other Broadway and Off Broadway shows. He was especially active in regional theater; in recent years, he performed most often in South Florida.(source: link)

For more about him:
On WikiPedia:

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One of the greatest projects for genealogists on the Internet and which are managed by different organizations, are websites with complete digitized books.

One of these projects which can be interesting for Jewish family researchers, is

Their mission as stated on their site: was founded in order to preserve old American Hebrew books that are out of print and/or circulation. Many American Rabbis wrote seforim (Hebrew books) in the early part of the 20th century. They have long since passed away and in many instances so has their holy work.
Currently our mission has expanded to include all Torah Seforim ever printed. At you will be able to view and print the entire Sefer online.
[…] is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Our goal is to bring to life the many Seforim that were written and unfortunately forgotten, and to make all Torah Publications free and ubiquitous.

I uploaded here on my website as an example a few Continue reading

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