777 reputation
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location California, USA
age
visits member for 3 years, 10 months
seen Nov 14 at 8:21

I am a former computer programmer/technical writer and am currenlty retired. I have been involved in researching genealogy in the Spis Region of Slovakia and certain towns in Poland. Since there are almost no Jews living in the Spis Region now, I have a colleague, an Evangelical Christian, living in Kezmarok, who has undertaken to travel and photograph tombstones in the abandoned/destroyed/neglected Jewish Cemeteries there.

Since 2004, he has e-mailed me these photographs and I have translated and captured relevant information from the tombstones. He has also found birth, marriage, and death records for the same towns, and we maintain spreadsheets of this information. We also published a small book about our findings.

People looking for their ancestors have benefited greatly from this information.

Some of my questions are a direct result from my on-going research and attempts to understand what I cannot find anywhere else.


Oct
3
comment What is the meaning of surnames that number-related?
I'm tired of having to defend this topic. I thought it might have been of interest to understand why some Jews had names related to numbers. I don't care what they represent in the secular world, where a 17=17. These names are somewhat unusual and thought they might have been chosen because of a connection to something in the Torah, Talmud, Kehila, Halachot, Mesorah, and so forth. I provided some specific names to which people could respond and that's all I could think of at the time. If you folks feel this it totally of topic, then just pull it. Too bad you don't have sufficient interest.
Oct
1
comment What is the meaning of surnames that number-related?
This deals with Jewish people and their Germanic-based names. It took me a while to realize Sibziner was a version of Siebzehner. All the number-names I showed were of Jewish people. So why is this not related to Judaism? Especially if I want to find out if 17 had any special Judaic connection. This person was living in Galicia, not Germany. Ashkenazi Jews for the most part did not have family names until edicted by the Hapsburg emperor in 1780s and/or by Napoleon ca. 1814, in other areas, so this relates to the history of the Jewish people and the names that they now bear.
Nov
8
comment Community/Synagogue Honorifics
I learned a bit more about No. 8, the אנשי שם קרואי מועד Anshei Shem Kruei Moed. It would seem that if the community didn't have a head rabbi, that they had a group of honorable men who comprised a council and could make decisions on behalf or for the community. See also Devarim (Numbers) 16:2, with the words slightly rearranged.
Sep
20
comment Becoming Bnei Eretz Yisroel on Yom Tov
Please comment on the "ownership of land in Israel" as being a criteria for keeping only one day yom tov. Would owning burial plots in Israel be considered sufficient criteria in that case to keep only one day? Also, there are people who once came from chu"l to live in Israel, switching from 2 to 1, went back to chu"l, and kept 2, then come back to visit for numerous yamim tovim. So that's a lot of switching back and forth. Hard to know what to do when!
Jul
7
comment Non-Jews Tending to Abandoned Cemeteries
OK, the opinion I got from the rabbi who had relatives buried in such a cemetery, was that this should not be a problem. As some of you have indicated, even the Jewish organizations who do restorations employ non-Jews. It probably is not necessary to have a Mashgiach, if they can be relied upon to do the work in a respectful manner. I think I can live with that and not worry about it any more! The rabbi felt these people are really doing a very good thing. I'll add, ken yirbu! Thanks everyone!
Jul
4
comment Non-Jews Tending to Abandoned Cemeteries
I always appreciate the responses I get from everyone -- isn't that really the best raison d'etre of this website anyway? Since submitting this question here, I also managed to submit a similarly worded question to a rabbi who has visited such a cared-for cemetery because of an ancestor buried in it. I'm hoping he'll have an answer or psak for me. If so, I'll be glad to share!
Jul
3
comment Non-Jews Tending to Abandoned Cemeteries
For me it is worrisome -- have they been doing an averah? Have I been encouraging them to continue this work? The valuable information they have helped collect through their efforts have helped people living today to reconnect with their ancestors. Many rabbanim have visited from Israel, USA, and elsewhere and have been very grateful for their efforts.
Jun
18
comment When/where did the practice of “recycling” names begin?
Thanks for that, but there's a long expanse from those guys until the next time, perhaps? Thanks
Jun
18
comment When/where did the practice of “recycling” names begin?
Thanks for the extensive comment and the Hebrew pasukim. Of course, I realize it was an Ashkenazi custom to name after the deceased, but even naming it after the living implies "recycling" a name. Thanks Alex and Charles.
Jun
18
comment When/where did the practice of “recycling” names begin?
I sincerely looked through 10 pages of questions under the tag of "names" and did not find this question. That's why I felt I could send this in. I confess to not knowing EVERYONE mentioned in the Torah, but it certainly seemed that way. Thanks for your comment though!
Apr
30
comment Were Maftir Honors in 19th Century different from today?
Perhaps this answers my own question. I just called long distance to a descendent of the Huncovce Horowitz family and asked him about this.
Apr
30
comment Were Maftir Honors in 19th Century different from today?
In my humble experience, a person given the honor of Maftir, generally also said the brachos and read the navi section. I presumed this was the practice in at least, Orthodox services, and presumably the custom in that part of the world at that time, where the services were also Orthodox.
Apr
23
comment tying tzitzis together on Simchas Tora
I (as a little girl) also did this with the little boys, in the 1950s. In addition, at that time, for little swigs of schnapps, there were no little plastic cups that we use today, but rather tiny glass "mugs" with handles, and we tied these heavy things to the tzitzit also. Such naughty kids we were then!
Apr
12
comment When did the use of Rashei Tevot, Heh Kuf, הק׳ in writings, books, letters, etc., begin?
Just to be annoying, I have the book אוצר ראשי תבות by Shmuel Ashkenazi and Dov Jarden. The title of the book in English reads: OZAR RASHE TEVOT.
Mar
25
comment How did they establish in the USA, post-WW II, that a Rav had smicha prior to the Holocaust?
Shmuel, Thanks for responding and adding to your answers. Very enlightening!
Mar
25
comment The Ability to Pasken
Thanks, Yaakov!
Mar
23
comment How did they establish in the USA, post-WW II, that a Rav had smicha prior to the Holocaust?
Thanks Shmuel, I did read the various links. I believe the rabbi in question served under the auspices of Young Israel. Wouldn't all rabbis of the Young Israel ilk be capable to pasken and their psakim considered acceptable?
Jan
27
comment Why was Rabbi Yitzchok Alfasi known as the Rif - rather than the Ria? (הרי"ף - רבי יצחק אלפסי)
Curiously, A few years ago I asked the one Rabbi Alfasi we knew, who taught at a Jewish day school in Los Angeles, if he was Sfardic. He answerd in the negative, saying he was Ashkenazic and I believe his family came from Poland. (On the other hand, some years ago, Rabbi Berel Wein was visiting LA, and in a lecture mentioned that he had discovered that in his ancestry, he should have been Sfardic). Go figure -- we are such a mixed up people!
Jan
13
comment Kosher Cheese without a posted hechsher
OK, here's either a comment or answer: Check out this website that lists all kinds of cheeses in the USA. Surely some must make it up north: kcheese.com/US.htm
Jan
12
comment Dipping fingers in Havdalah Wine
My father who was born in Slovakia to a father who had smicha from the Pressburg Yeshiva, had the custom of dipping pinkies in the havdallah wine and tapping them to his forehead and pants' pockets. He told me that it was in hopes of not having any headaches (physically or spiritually, I presume) and having parnassah throughout the week. He died when I was 15, so I never had a chance to ask him any other details. But if this is what he learned at home, it must have been quite acceptable.