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September 07, 1990 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-09-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

UP FRONT

Israeli Museum Helping
Computerize Ellis List

HUGH ORGEL

Special to The Jewish News

T

here's an old joke they
tell of the weary im-
migrant who has just
arrived at Ellis Island.
When asked his name by an
English-speaking immigra-
tion official, the exhausted
new arrival replied, "Shoyn
fergessen" ("I've forgotten"
in Yiddish).
"Shawn Ferguson," the
overworked officer repeated,
mistakenly inscribing the
newcomer's name in his
register.
Such is how an East Euro-
pean Jew may have come by
a Scottish name without a
drop of Scot blood or even a
slight Scottish lilt to his
speech.
This is just one of the
many reasons any search for
accurate recordings of im-
migrants to New York's
Ellis Island, reopening Sept.
10, is fraught with frustra-
tion and error.
Yet, help is on the way.
Descendants of the 2.5
million Jews who passed
through the port between
1882 and 1954 in their quest
for a better, freer life will
soon be able to consult com-
puter terminals at the new

Ellis Island Immigration
Museum and at Bet Hatefut-
sot, the Diaspora Museum
on the campus of Tel Aviv
University.
In total, 17 million people
streamed through Ellis
Island, the main point of ar-
rival from Europe, from the
late 1800s to the mid-20th
century.
An estimated 100 million
children, grandchildren and
great- grandchildren stem
from those European immi-
grants.
The paperwork from the
immigration flood which
flowed through the caver-
nous main hall at the
island's immigration ter-
minal is kept in the National
Archives in Washington.
It mostly contains ship
manifests of the thousands
of vessels that carried Emma
Lazarus' "tired, poor, huddl-
ed masses yearning to
breathe free" to the shores of
the United States.
The idea for the Ellis
Island Family History
Center, of which the com-
puter terminals will be part,
.arose with the foundation's
restoration commission.
The commission proposed
that Temple University's
department of immigration
research, the Balch In-

The new Ellis Island Immigration Museum stands in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

ROUND UP

Soviet Jew Wins
MacArthur Prize

Boston (JTA) — It reads
like a great American tale:
Soviet immigrant journeys
to the United States in sear-
ch of religious freedom,
becomes a professor at one of
the world's great univer-
sities and then wins more
than a quarter of a million
dollars.
But this is no tale. It is the
real-life story of Harvard
University mathematician
David Kazhdan, who recent-
ly received $275,000 from
the MacArthur Foundation.
This so-called "genius
grant" has no restrictions
and no reporting re-
quirements, so winners may
use the money any way they
choose.
Mr. Kazhdan did not apply
for the grant, but was in-
stead selected by an anony-
mous panel for his work in
geometry, number theory
and mathematical physics.
A teacher at Harvard since
he immigrated in 1975 from
the Soviet Union, Mr.

Kazhdan did not leave
Moscow because of anti-
Semitism but because "there
is no Jewish education in
Russia." He is the father of
four.
Mr. Kazhdan said that
when he entered Moscow
State University as a
graduate student in the
1960s, "there was little anti-
Semitism," particularly in
his field of mathematics.
But by the early 1970s,
Mr. Kazhdan began to meet
with difficulties from the
Soviet government. He was
refused permission to travel
abroad to deliver a lecture.
At the same time, Mr.
Kazhdan's interest in
Judaism began to increase.
He soon realized that his
family's future as practicing
Jews would be secure only if
they left the Soviet Union.
So when Harvard offered
him a position, he jumped at
the chance.
A resident of Boston, Mr.
Kazhdan is today involved
in the effort to absorb new
Soviet immigrants, par-

worldwide Jewish com-
munities, past and present,
and of family names compil-
ed from the Jewish En-
cyclopedia and from inter-
ested individuals who have
volunteered to provide
details of their recent and
distant family trees.
At the museum, visitors
can consult the computers to
obtain a printout of the
details of the town or village
from which their forefathers
originated, or of the history
of their family name.
Bet Hatefutsot will
prepare the new material,

stitute, prepare the hun-
dreds of thousands of docu-
ments for easily accessible
computerization.
Temple, in turn, recom-
mended that Israel's
Diaspora Museum formulate
the actual computer
database software, writing
onto computer disks and
entering the millions of
names and details of the
immigrants into a central
computer memory.
The Israeli museum was
selected because of its expe-
rience in compiling and
operating its data base of

titularly scientists and
academicians, into the
Israeli economy.

Facility Opens
For The Blind

Jerusalem — Hebrew Uni-
versity of Jerusalem has just
dedicated a new state-of-the-
art audio studio, equipped by
the Jewish Braille Institute



Some 100 blind and visu-
ally impaired students at-
tend universities and col-
leges in Israel. Their
primary need is for sound
recordings of study material
to keep pace with their class
work.
The JBI also has equipped
a modern sound studio in the
center of Tel Aviv to meet
the general reading needs of
Israel's blind and visually
impaired.

Jews Of Shanghai
Topic Of Program

JBI officials oversee the opening
of the new audio studio.

of America (JBI) to record
textbooks for blind and visu-
ally impaired Israeli college
students.

over the next two to three
years, for the Island's Fami-
ly History Center and will
maintain a copy of the data
in Tel Aviv.
Visitors to either location
will be able to access the
desired information via
computer terminals made
available for that purpose.
According to the history
center, most of the various
ethnic groups which arrived
during the designated time
period are easily identified
by country of birth.
The center estimates that
Continued on Page 10

Washington, D.C. — Mill-
ions today call the crowded
Asian port city of Shanghai
home. But for thousands of
Jewish refugees who fled
Nazi persecution before
World War II broke out,
Shanghai meant more than
home; it meant survival.
On Sept. 17 and 18, Na-
tional Public Radio will br-
ing to life the little-known
story of "The Jews of
Shanghai" through recollec-
tions of some of the 22,000

Jews who spent the war in
China's biggest city.
The program will be in-
cluded in NPR's "All Things
Considered," which airs in
the Detroit area 5 p.m. on
WDET-FM, 101.9.

Program Recalls
Slain Children

New York (JTA) — A new
program in Israel is attemp-
ting to memorialize the 1.5
million children who perish-
ed during the Holocaust.
Young students in Israel
undertake the study of in-
dividual mashnayot from the
Talmud in memory of a Jew-
ish child. To date, more than
2,500 students throughout
Israel have participated in
the program.
The program is seeking
names of children who
perished, their dates of birth
and death. Names should be
sent to Rabbi Yitzhak
Shapira, P.O. Box 980,
Netanya, Israel.
Compiled by
Elizabeth Applebaum

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS 5

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