Archive for November, 2010

So you want a villa on the Mediterranean

Who knew!

Israeli immigration laws will accept an application for Israeli citizenship if there is proven documentation that any grandparent—not just the maternal grandmother—was Jewish. This does not mean that person is an “ethnic Jew”, but Israeli immigration will accept that person because he or she has an ethnically Jewish connection, and because this same degree of connection was sufficient to be persecuted as a Jew by the Nazis. See Jewish ethnic divisions.

This Wikipedia site has an interesting overview of what it means to be Jewish.  It is not as straightforward as one would assume.

In a related area, today I heard on the CBC (Tapestry) a program on Jewish aetheists, agnostics and ignostics.    Apparently a recent study in the United States determined that 17% of Jews are aetheists.    The same program indicated that the Sephardic Jews who were chased out of Spain into northern Portugal by the Catholics at the end of the 15th century  AD went on to university there and many became  aetheists, apparently the first in Europe.   Now I ask you, did it not cross anyone’s mind before that?  So far I have not attempted to confirm the information presented in that program. The program is available in a podcast .

From the Wikipedia entry cited above:

Who is a Jew?” (Hebrew: מיהו יהודי‎ pronounced [ˈmihu jehuˈdi]) is a basic question about Jewish identity and considerations of Jewish self-identification. The question is based in ideas about Jewish personhood which themselves have cultural, religious, genealogical, and personal dimensions. The question was of importance during the rule of the Nazis in Germany, and was addressed by the Nuremburg Laws

There are controversial aspects — to begin with, the question has a logical inverse, namely, “Who is not a Jew?” Recent court cases have gained particular prominence in connection with several legal cases in Israel since 1962,[1][2] and in 2009 there was a prominent and controversial court case, in the United Kingdom, about the question.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

The definition of who is a Jew varies according to whether it is being considered by Jews based on normative religious statutes, self-identification, or by non-Jews for other reasons. Because Jewish identity can include characteristics of an ethnicity, a religion,[9] and citizenship, the definition of who is a Jew has varied, depending on whether a religious, sociological, or ethnic aspect was being considered.[10]

According to halakha, the oldest normative definition used by Jews for self-identification, a person is matrilineally a Jew by birth, or becomes one through conversion to Judaism. Adherence to this definition has been challenged since the emergence of the Karaite sect, emergence of modern groups in Judaism since the 19th century, and the creation of Israel in 1948. Issues that have been raised reflect:

  • Child’s non-Jewish mother: i.e. whether a child born of a non-Jewish mother should be considered Jewish through the father’s Jewish identity.
  • Conversion: i.e. what process of conversion other than the historically normative procedure according to Jewish law should be considered valid.
  • Historical loss of Jewish identity: i.e. whether a person’s or group’s actions (such as conversion to a different religion) or circumstances in his or her community’s life (such as being unaware of Jewish parents) should affect his or her Jewish status.
  • Diaspora identity: identity of Jews among themselves, and by non-Jews throughout the Jewish diaspora.
  • Claim to Israeli citizenship: the examination of the three previous issues in the context of the Basic Laws of Israel.

As indicated in an earlier post, we don’t yet have proof of patrilineal  Jewish ancestry but we have definitive proof of patrilineal  Semitic ancestry.


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E1b1b1 haplogroup is second most prevalent haplogroup among the Jewish population

Y-chromosomal Aaron

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Y-chromosomal Levi (para)

The E1b1b1 haplogroup (formerly known as E3b1) has been observed in all Jewish groups worldwide. It is considered to be the second most prevalent haplogroup among the Jewish population outside of the J haplogroups. According to one non-peer reviewed paper[46] it has also been observed in moderate numbers among individuals from Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Samaritan communities having traditions of descending from the tribe of Levi, suggesting that the E1b1b1 men claiming to be Levites may have existed in Israel before the Diaspora of 70 C.E.

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Research – Orphan

Orphan Trains

Note: There are extensive records at the new York Children’s Aid Society but they are not on line because they are restricted.  A manual search in their offices in New York would have to be done by an approved individual.  For records that old, getting approval shouldn’t be that difficult.

On their site is the following.

An estimated 30,000 children were homeless in New York City in the 1850s.

The children ranged in age from about six to 18 and shared a common grim existence. Homeless or neglected, they lived in New York City’s streets and slums with little or no hope of a successful future. Their numbers were large – an estimated 30,000 children were homeless in New York City in the 1850s. Charles Loring Brace, the founder of The Children’s Aid Society, believed that there was a way to change the futures of these children. By removing youngsters from the poverty and debauchery of the city streets and placing them in morally upright farm families, he thought they would have a chance of escaping a lifetime of suffering.

He proposed that these children be sent by train to live and work on farms out west. They would be placed in homes for free but they would serve as an extra pair of hands to help with chores around the farm. They wouldn’t be indentured. In fact, older children placed by The Children’s Aid Society were to be paid for their labors.

The Orphan Train Movement lasted from 1853 to the early 1900s and more than 120,000 (note: as many as 200,000) children were placed. This ambitious, unusual and controversial social experiment is now recognized as the beginning of the foster care concept in the United States.

Orphan Trains stopped at more than 45 states across the country as well as Canada and Mexico. During the early years, Indiana received the largest number of children. There were numerous agencies nationwide that placed children on trains to go to foster homes. In New York, besides Children’s Aid, other agencies that placed children included Children’s Village (then known as the New York Juvenile Asylum), what is now New York Foundling Hospital, and the former Orphan Asylum Society of the City of New York, which is now the Graham-Windham Home for Children.

More information can be turned up by Googling the following search terms <orphan train “North Dakota” names>.

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Orphan Train Research Sources

Orphan Train Heritage Society of America Inc OTHSA
The legacy of the famed Orphan Trains that began during the first days of the Children’s Aid Society in New York lives on today. An estimated 150,000 children took part in the Orphan Train Movement from 1854 to 1929, giving them new lives and a bright future by removing them from the poverty and danger of the city streets.

Victor Remer Historical Archives

Important historical records can be accessed via The Guide to the Records of The Children’s Aid Society (1853-1947). This guide contains materials pertaining to emigration programs such as the Orphan Train, foster care and adoption programs operating between 1853-1947, annual reports to 2006, a small collection of materials from 1948-1951, and The Children’s Aid Society lodging houses, industrial schools, convalescent homes, health centers and farm schools.

Guide to the Records of the Children’s Aid Society 1836-2006 (bulk 1853-1947)  MS 111

A solid collection of records and references, but primarily focused on New York or the point of departure.

Although the emigration program became known as the “orphan train,” many of the children were not orphans. They were children whose guardians could not care for them, or who hoped they would find a better life, and who signed surrender documents releasing them to the care of the Children’s Aid Society. Many others were adolescents without known guardians who were seeking their own fortunes by heading west.

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