List of Jews living in Pre-War Charleroi

Vincent Vagman has recently published an important   list of Jews who have lived in Charleroi before the outbreak of WWII .

Charleroi, which is in the Southern part of Belgium, is a very industrial city, which I’d not consider a particularly attractive city. Charleroi used to have a very active Jewish community, mainly thanks to the coal-mining industry.

Vincent Vagman specializes in genealogical researches, as well as in the history of Charleroi and its Jews. The  list which he has published for free on his website, contains names of 1641 Jews, of whom 507 were deported between 1942 and 1944.

Mr. Vagman explains in the introduction of the book his methodology and the sources he has used in order to compile the list. The list can and should be considered as an invaluable source if you had any relatives living in Charleroi.

Visit the following website to gain access to the list (an English version of the website is in its planning stages):

2015-07-20 09_11_09-Liste

Posted in Genealogy | 2 Comments

My Magazine Subscriptions

IMG_20150628_010724As a Jew living in Antwerp, Belgium, and with an interest in Genealogy, I have some specific interests which are reflected somehow in  my choice of magazine subscriptions.

In this article I’d like to discuss the magazines I’m subscribed to (or was at some point). Most are related to genealogy, both Jewish and non Jewish,  and/or  culture and/or Antwerp  and/or  Belgium, etc. I know that the list is (still) small, but it is a start:

Title Description Main Topics My Comments Website
Avotaynu The world’s largest circulation magazine devoted to Jewish genealogy each year publishes more than 300 pages of useful, interesting information that can help you in your research. Now in its thirteeth year, an index to the first 24 volumes is available to all the major articles.Published quarterly, our contributing editors from 15 countries throughout the world regularly gather important information that appears in our issues. Our publishers, Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack, are on a first name basis with officials at institutions containing genealogical data throughout the world. Some institutions are YIVO Institute, American Jewish Archives, American Jewish Historical Society, U.S. National Archives, U.S. Library of Congress, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Leo Baeck Institute, U.S. Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem and Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People. International Jewish Genealogy This is a likable quarterly with articles by and for the subscribers of which most are (amateur and some professional) genealogists. The articles do not just discuss genealogy, but also indirect topics (which are usually related to genealogy in some ways).Apart from Avotaynu, you may which to subscribe to Jewish genealogy related magazines which discuss topics limited to a specific region


Shemot –  The Journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain Shemot is the journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. It is published three times a year and is sent free to members. We publish original articles, submitted by members or commissioned, on a variety of topics likely to be of interest to our readers. We particularly welcome personal experiences that include sources and research methodology, explanations of technological developments and innovations, articles highlighting archival material and the work carried out by volunteers to preserve our heritage, biographical or historical accounts, and practical research tips.
We also publish book reviews and letters
British Jewish Genealogy, (some) International Jewish Genealogy Looks nice. It’s specifically meant for the genealogists with an interest in Jewish British family history. Some articles pertain to the general (mainly Jewish) public.
Computergenealogie Das Magazin COMPUTERGENEALOGIE ist ein Projekt des Vereins für Computergenealogie. Die Hefte erscheinen vierteljährlich (Bezug: s.u.). Genealogy, Germany Genealogy, IT for Genealogy This is a quarterly by the ‘Verein für Computergenealogie e.V.’. It is written in German by a dedicated team of fellow subscribers and members of this magazine.This magazine has a uniqueness in the way that it does discuss genealogy related articles which have anything to do with Computers and Genealogy, mainly German genealogy. Usually they discuss in each magazine computer software, etc. They also discuss results of conducted surveys as to which software program is the best for working on family histories etc.Their website have many tools, databases, etc which you should really make sure to check out. Its advantages etc is simply too much to discuss in this short article.Every two years they also issue another magazine, “Familienforschung” Ahnenforschung leicht gemacht – Computergenealogie für jedermann” incl. DVD, which in fact is a collection of subjects which were discussed in the quarterly edition of Computergenealogie.I highly recommend this magazine!Subscribe via:

See also:


  Vlaamse Stam Vlaamse Stam is voor familiekundigen, genealogen en heraldici een onmisbare bron van informatie. Het bevat onder meer:

  • Artikels omtrent familiegeschiedenis: het verhaal van een familie of van het onderzoek naar een voorouder.
  • Artikels in verband met familiekundige bronnen (bronontsluitingen, transcripties van archiefstukken,…): wat kunt u vinden in welke bronnen en waar bevinden deze bronnen zich?
  • Nieuwsberichten omtrent familiekunde, genealogie, heraldiek, de erfgoedsector, de archiefsector,…
  • Genealogische informatie: stambomen, kwartierstaten, voorouderreeksen,…
  • Publicaties van wapenschilden die erkend werden door het Heraldisch College

Het tijdschrift Vlaamse Stam bevat jaarlijks ongeveer 600 bladzijden en kent een oplage van 4500 exemplaren. Leden van Familiekunde Vlaanderen ontvangen Vlaamse Stam automatisch in de brievenbus.

Flemish Genealogy This is also one of my favorites. Their quarterly magazine has very good, and well-researched articles with many footnotes. Topics are very diverse, there is an online index on their website, see:
Antwerpsche Tydinghen Stadsgidsen gaan steeds op zoek naar andere bronnen, informatie en wetenswaardigheden om hun opdrachten bij de tijd te houden. Daarom werd er drieëndertig jaar geleden binnen de Koninklijke Gidsenvereniging van Antwerpen een tijdschrift opgestart. Driemaandelijks geeft de “Antwerpsche Tydinghen” uitgebreide informatie over allerhande onderwerpen welke met onze stad te maken hebben. Vele collegaa’s stadsgidsen werken hier aan mee en delen hun kennis, ook specialisten ter zake helpen ons hierbij door artikels of uitgebreide informatie door te spelen. Men vindt hierin ook achtergrondinfo bij komende tentoonstellingen. Een greep uit de laatste jaargangen : Recente archeologische activiteiten; een collage van Paul van Ostaijen ontdekt; Sint-Rochus in Sint-Jacob; Rubens en architectuur, De molens in Antwerpen, De Augustinuscyclus in AMUZ, de Bank, stadsbeeld en monument op de Leien enzovoort. Culture and History of Antwerp This publication has articles which discuss the City of Antwerp and its history. It’s mainly meant for active City guides of Antwerp. Also other interested people, who are not city guides, may be interested in subscribing to this magazine.The articles are written by fellow subscribers. If personally think that if you have an interest in the history of Antwerp, good books would be a better source. Sometimes the articles in this magazine are written in a specific way in order to add a funny undertone. I think that that technique works very well, and even is a requirement for any successful city guide, but that technique is, in my opinion, less suited for articles in a magazine. But the journal has another purpose as well, which is to allow the City Guides to keep in touch between themselves and update the whole group with news etc. Another advantage to subscribe to this magazine is that sometimes they offer you a discount to new books they, or others, have written. I bought already a book which was written by a few City Guides about Antwerp. When you’d make use of every discount they offer, you’ll gain often by getting almost the whole subscription fee for the magazine back.
Historiant HistoriANT is een jaarboek dat wordt uitgegeven door het Genootschap voor Antwerpse Geschiedenis. De bedoeling van HistoriANT is om wetenschappelijke, maar vlot leesbare artikels over de rijke geschiedenis van de stad Antwerpen en haar omgeving te bundelen. Via het Jaarboek wil het Genootschap de Antwerpse geschiedenis in al haar facetten kenbaar maken aan een zo ruim mogelijk publiek en zowel historici als niet-historici laten kennismaken met de rijke geschiedenis van de Scheldestad. Het Genootschap biedt historici, archeologen, kunst- en literatuurhistorici, musicologen, volkskundigen, enz. in Antwerpen en daarbuiten via HistoriANT een forum aan om hun wetenschappelijke bevindingen betreffende de Antwerpse geschiedenis te publiceren.[…] History of Antwerp This is not really a magazine, but rather an edited book with different  articles by its contributors. Most articles usually discuss the same subject, which in each yearbook is different. The articles all have footnotes and are well-sourced. If you are looking for a scientific, and easy to read collection of articles about topics related to Antwerp, you may be looking for the right thing.
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Cheat Sheet: Getting the Alien Files from the Archives of Antwerp (and the districts of Antwerp)

In the article I’d like to post a very quick and short cheat sheet on how to get the alien files from the Archives of Antwerp.

Check the end of this article in order to understand more about the districts which together make Antwerp.

Getting the alien files from the Archives of Antwerp:

For the district ‘Antwerpen’:

For the other districts:

Check for more information etc.

The Districts of Antwerp:
You need to understand that the city of Antwerp is composed of 9 districts. Most of these districts were in the past independent municipalities. These districts, which are now part of the City of Antwerp, do have some limited independent administrative functions.

Here is a map of Antwerp with its 9 districts:


  1. Antwerpen (district)
  2. Berchem
  3. Berendrecht-Zandvliet-Lillo
  4. Borgerhout
  5. Deurne
  6. Ekeren
  7. Hoboken
  8. Merksem
  9. Wilrijk

Source: By LennartBolks at nl.wikipedia Later versions were uploaded by Westermarck at nl.wikipedia. [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Posted in Genealogy | 4 Comments

About a certificate for land in Pre-State Israel

When my father in-law and his sisters recently cleared their mother ´s home in Amsterdam after she has passed away, they came across a paper which seemed to look like a certificate with text in Dutch for land in, what was then, Palestine.

The front of the certificate has mostly  typed text whilst the back has handwritten notes and a drawing.

The front of the certificate:

And the back:

Now follows  the Continue reading

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No ordinary clerks

Recently I went through the alien file from my great-grandfather Gerschon Lehrer, whom I am named after, which I found in the Belgian state archives.

While analyzing the documents in the file, I came across some letters written between a (Belgian) senator and someone who was working for the Belgian sûreté (State Security). What struck me was that after having checked biographies of these officers (both from the sûreté and the senator), it seemed that they played and important role, if not back then in the 1930 ´s, then in the future.

Here under are these letters which I ´d like to discuss.

The first one is a letter from 27 April 1934 by the officer of the sûreté, Mr. De Foy, who ´s checking with senator Van Berckelaer whether in the opinion of the latter my great-grandfather should be entitled to get a permit of residence in Belgium. He ´s checking whether my great-grandfather ´s stay, who was then a merchant in the diamond business, would be beneficial to the Belgium:

In the next letter, from 11 may 1934, the senator expresses his opinion that Continue reading

Posted in Genealogy | 11 Comments

Israel and the bakery

A Jew walks into the bakery and orders a bagel. The man behind the counter
says: “A bagel? That’s 20 dollars.” “20 dollars?! Are you mad!?” “Well, its
1 dollar for the bagel, and 19 dollars for Israel.” “Fine. Money for Israel?
How can I say no?”

The next day the same guy comes in to the bakery, and orders a challah. The
man behind the counter says: “Challah? That’s 40 dollars.” “Are you
insane?!” “Sir, its 5 dollars for the challah and 35 dollars for Israel.”
The man shrugs his shoulders but he pays the money.*

The third day, he comes in and orders a cheesecake. “Cheesecake? 70
dollars.” “What?! This is absolutely crazy.” “Sir, 10 dollars for the
cheesecake, and 60 dollars for Israel.” At this point he had had enough.
“You are completely mad! This is absolutely absurd and unethical.”

“Sorry sir, I am just following the rules.” “I demand to speak to the owner
of the store!”

So the clerk goes to the door and calls out: “Hey Israel! Someone wants to
talk to you!”
(Source: Kehillat Shomre Hadas Antwerpen – From The Rabbi’s Desk, 5 December 2014)

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My grandmother’s embroidery

My mother owns an embroidered painting which her mother created as a young girl and which now hangs in my parents’ living room. The painting shows a landscape: a lake with a tower and a bridge in the background. When I asked my mother about it, she told me that she believed it was somewhere in Nuremberg which is the Bavarian city my grandmother was born in.

The embroidery of my grandmother

Thanks to information I got through the German ‘Ahnenforschung’ forum ( I was able to find out more about the river,the island, the two bridges, the buildings and the direct surroundings which are depicted in this painting. Let’s first take a closer look at the Continue reading

Posted in Genealogy | 2 Comments

Request for more information on “Yiddish Antwerp Between the World Wars”

Prof. Hannah Berliner Fischthal requested to post the following request which I am gladly doing. Please contact her for more information (or add your comments below).

I am researching Yiddish Antwerp Between the World Wars. I am particularly interested in het Vereeniging van Joodsche Ambachtslieden te Antwerpen (1919-1940), and in its yiddish school, Di ershte yidishe tsugob-shul baym hantverker farayn. If anybody has any information, I would be grateful.

Prof. Hannah Berliner Fischthal, New York

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חג שבועות שמח

הקב”ה אמר לעמ”י מחר ב8 מקבלים את התורה
הייקים הגיעו ב 7:30-קיבלו את הדרך ארץ
הליטאים הגיעו ב8 קיבלו את התורה
החסידים הגיעו ב10- אז הם נשארו רק לקידוש ולריקודים…;-)
שנזכה לקבל את התורה בשמחה ובפנימיות, חג שמח!!

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משא ומתן

יהודי ירושלמי תפרן נכנס פעם עם בנו לחנות והחל להתמקח על מחירו של פריט מסוים. לאחר שכנוע קיבל הנחה ורשם צ’יק על הסכום שסוכם. כשיצאו מהחנות אמר הבן לאבא:

אבא   בינינו אתה הרי יודע שהצ’יק יחזור   מה התווכחת על המחיר?

השיב האב.: המוכר היה נחמד, כאב לי שיפסיד הרבה…

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