JBuzz News December 18, 2012: Dead Sea Scrolls available in online library

JBUZZ: ISRAEL/JEWISH CULTURAL BUZZ

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

Dead Sea Scrolls available in online library

Source: JTA, 12-18-12

The Dead Sea Scrolls are now available online….READ MORE

Sarah Traister Moskovitz: CSUN Professor Emeritus Preserves Warsaw Ghetto Poetry in Online Book

JBUZZ: ISRAEL/JEWISH CULTURAL BUZZ

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

Source: San Fernando Valley Sun, 8-25-11

Sarah MoskovitzPolish Jews faced a cruel destiny in 1940. Nazis soldiers had crammed more than 400,000 Jewish citizens into 1.3 square miles of territory known as the Warsaw Ghetto. From there they would be taken by trains to death camps.

Left in ruin, with faltering spirits, shattered hope and deteriorating health, the people of the ghetto began collecting all kinds of information to document their history for the future. The group was called the Oneg Shabes — Joy of Sabbath group. It was organized by a history professor who was an underground leader and social worker in the ghetto named Emanuel Ringelblum.

Their work came to be known as the Ringelblum archives. They contained, among other things, underground newspapers, public notices by the Jewish council, stolen Nazi propaganda and poetry, which was all illegal to write and possess under penalty of death.

“I thought it would be very interesting to look at the Yiddish poetry,” said Sarah Moskovitz, professor emeritus at California State University, Northridge who compiled poems from the Warsaw ghetto into a new online book, “Poetry in Hell.”

“I became interested in the material and I knew it was housed in the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. I was fortunate to learn from the historian Samuel Kassow that this poetry had recently been sent in microfiche format to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C.”

In 2001 Moskovitz applied for a grant from the Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association (ERFA), proposing to translate the poetry. She was awarded $1,500 from ERFA and invited to come to the museum as a visiting scholar with an additional grant from the museum. With the help of her husband, Irving. spent three weeks going through the relevant microfiches to make copies to translate when she returned to California. He also made unreadable microfiche copies readable.

“It’s been a 10-year endeavor,” Moskovitz said. “I not only wanted the English translations, but wanted to keep the original Yiddish language in case future scholars wanted to see the originals, which has made getting it published very difficult.”

The collection contains 153 poems, most of which was written during the Nazi occupation of the Warsaw ghetto. Some were written by professional poets, some by amateurs. Several were not written in the ghetto, but were the favorites of people living in the ghetto so they were collected with them, Moskovitz said.

Moskovitz divided the poetry into five different groups: “Nature;” “Home, Love and Life;” “Ghetto;” “Hunger and Struggle;” “Death, Protest and Mourning;” and finally, “Tradition, Faith and Legacy.”

Moskovitz starts with “Nature” because she wanted to introduce a sense of familiarity to the reader. Each section deals with particular themes. “Home, Love and Life” is people recollecting normalcy. Poems about home life, parents. “Ghetto” is life in the ghetto, which included the daily struggles and hunger the poets suffered and witnessed. “Death, Protest and Mourning” deals with loss of family, attachments people one loves through illness, death, people being taken away, dying, disappearing. “Tradition, Faith and Legacy” deals with the underground, forbidden schools that were training young people who survived to continue with tradition.

Most of the poetry was written by adult males in their 30s. About one-fifth of them are anonymous, while the others have an author attributed to them. There are six poems written by women and one written by a child.

“What piqued my interest and made it intense was my own life,” Moskovitz said. “My parents were Polish Jewish immigrants. I never met my other family that both my parents left behind in Poland, like cousins, aunts and uncles. I have one picture of an aunt Rivele with her husband and three children taken in 1938. They disappeared in the Holocaust and were never heard from again. Murdered in Treblinka? Auschwitz? Babi Yar? Even the Red Cross Tracing Service does not know. By the time I was 13 I knew that if I hadn’t grown up in the United States and my parents had stayed in Poland, I wouldn’t be alive.

“In a way, I was uncovering what could have been my past and paying homage to the families that belonged to my family. I learned a lot about history. A lot of detail and a lot of courage it takes to go into it,” she said. “I wanted to know. I was inspired by the fact that there are people who can write even while living in tragedy. I, myself, shut down during tragedy. I admire that ability and it is inspiring that some people were able to do that.”

Sarah Moskovitz taught at California State University, Northridge for 28 yearsand retired in 1997. She taught human development and even developed a course in adult development. She also taught individual counseling, group counseling and family therapy.

She did research on people who were children during the Holocaust and established the first organization that gathered them together in the Los Angeles area called Child Survivors.

“In that first group, there were only 35 people,” she said. “Now there are thousands who meet internationally. These are people who lived in Europe during the war and survived. Some survived camps. I gathered them together and wrote a book in 1981 called ‘Love Despite Hate: Child Survivors of the Holocaust and their Adult Lives.'”

Moskovitz’s current poetry collection of the Ringelblum Archive Poetry translated from Yiddish to English can be found and freely downloaded online at www.poetryinhell.org. It contains a forward and introduction by two eminent historians: Professor Samuel Kassow of Trinity College in Connecticut and Professor Michael Berenbaum at American Jewish University in Los Angeles.

Project Heart: Property Lost in Holocaust Is Cataloged in an Online Database

Trove of historic records of Holocaust goes online

Source: AP, 5-2-11

Project Heart

A trove of papers and photographs documenting the lives of Holocaust victims and survivors includes notable names like Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel and former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. But Benzion Baumrind’s name might have stayed forgotten to his descendants without the records kept by a humanitarian aid agency.

A genealogist discovered Baumrind, one of 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust, was in her family with one stray document buried in a database of historic papers and photos kept by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

With over 500,000 names, and more than 1,000 photographs, the searchable collection documents the relief organization’s vast efforts during World War II and the postwar era in 24 countries, from China and Japan to the Dominican Republic and Bolivia. The records, being made available online for the first time on Monday, open a singular view into the lives of survivors that the JDC aided during that cataclysmic period.

“We can get broader pictures of the actual everyday social life in the aftermath of war,” Kenneth Waltzer, director of the Jewish Studies Department at Michigan State University, said of the collection.

Until now, the organization’s archive has been largely inaccessible to the public, kept at a private storage warehouse located a short subway ride out of Manhattan.

Volunteers entered names in a database for over a year; rare, fragile documents were scanned into the computer system. Users of the site can submit names to identify people they recognize in the photographs, which may be later added to captions.

“A website like this is where history meets technology,” said Gideon Taylor, an executive with the New York-based committee. “It’s taking history out of the dusty files… And bringing it out into the community.”

The committee plans to put even more documents from its archive online later this summer.

The project is one of a growing number around the world aimed at making available on the Internet primary records about the Holocaust.

“It is a world phenomenon that’s launched by the technology,” said David M. Kleiman, president of Heritage Muse Inc., a New York-based genealogy technology firm…READ MORE

Property Lost in Holocaust Is Cataloged Online

Source: NYT, 5-2-11

As millions of Israelis paused in reflection on Monday at the sound of the siren marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Internet here was buzzing. The first online databaseof more than half a million pieces of property lost by Holocaust victims, many in Eastern Europe, had just been uploaded as a first step toward restitution.

After years of quiet diplomacy that accomplished little, organizers of the new project, financed by the Israeli government, said the idea was to harness technology in the struggle for restitution and to make as much noise as possible.

“This is an activist approach,” said Bobby Brown, executive director of the Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce, known by its acronym, Project Heart. “We believe there are no secrets anymore about the Holocaust.”

Pointing to the success of public drives in the past, like the campaign for Soviet Jewry and the settlement of claims of Holocaust victims by Swiss banks, Mr. Brown said the issue of property restitution had to be out there on Twitter and Facebook, although negotiations with countries where properties were located “do not have to be made public right away.”

The project, a nonprofit global campaign of the Jewish Agency for Israel, a quasi-governmental body, has set up offices in Milwaukee and Brussels. It was announced at a news conference in Jerusalem on Sunday, and another news conference is planned for Wednesday in New York City. In line with the open approach, donors are paying for advertisements for Project Heart over the next six weeks in Times Square.

This is the first worldwide list of property confiscated, looted or forcibly sold during the Holocaust era to be made available to survivors and their heirs. Compiled from hundreds of European archives, including tax records and voter registries, it includes real estate and land, movable property like art and jewelry, and intangible personal property like stocks, bonds and savings accounts…READ MORE

Historian uncovers new insights into Jewish Religious life in the Byzantine empire

NEWS:

Source: Medievalists.net, 1-10-11

New research has uncovered a forgotten chapter in the history of the Bible, offering a rare glimpse of Byzantine Jewish life and culture. The study by Cambridge University researchers suggests that, contrary to long-accepted views, Jews continued to use a Greek version of the Bible in synagogues for centuries longer than previously thought. In some places, the practice continued almost until living memory.

The key to the new discovery lay in manuscripts, some of them mere fragments, discovered in an old synagogue in Egypt and brought to Cambridge at the end of the 19th century. The so-called Cairo Genizah manuscripts have been housed ever since in Cambridge University Library.

Now, a fully searchable online corpus (http://www.gbbj.org) has gathered these manuscripts together, making the texts and analysis of them available to other scholars for the first time….READ MORE