BIALYgen Second Annual Meeting at the Jerusalem Conference  08 July 2004

By Mark Halpern *

 

 

Great Synagogue, Bialystok

 

BIALYGen – Bialystok Region Jewish Genealogy Group

I. Introduction

We welcome you to and thank you for your interest in BIALYGen

 

The primary function of this group is to facilitate discussion amongst Jewish researchers interested in the city of Białystok, Poland (coordinates 53°08' 23°09') and nearby towns and villages.  BIALYGen has defined its geographic scope as those towns and villages currently in Poland that were part of Grodno Gubernia during the period from 1815 up to World War I.  In addition, a few border towns now in Poland with strong connections to Bialystok will be included. 

 

This Discussion Group is open to anyone with a genealogical or historical interest in Jewish Bialystok and nearby towns and will be the forum to discuss:

This forum will also serve members of the BIALYGen to discuss the goals and projects of the organization.

 

Since Grodno Gubernia between 1815 and WWI was mostly in what is now Belarus, any discussion about towns currently in Belarus should be carried out on the Belarus SIG Discussion Group.

II. BIALYGen

BIALYGen was formed on July 23, 2003, when 40 researchers met at The 23rd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Washington, DC, USA and committed to developing a cooperative group with the following objectives:

  1. Sharing research and experiences
  2. Commemorating our Ancestors and their lives
  3. Cooperating on projects of value to all researchers

The specific goals of BIALYGen as determined on July 23, 2003 are:

  1. Gain access to Jewish records in the National Historical Archives of Belarus in Grodno, create an inventory, and create useful indices.
  2. Translate and index vital records not yet indexed by JRI-Poland.
  3. Acquire and index non-vital Jewish records available at the Bialystok branch of the Polish State Archives and other sources, e.g. Business directories, old newspapers.
  4. Acquire maps and photos from NARA and other sources for shtetlach in BIALYGen region.
  5. Acquire and index records of the Bialystok Hebrew Gymnasium.
  6. Search repositories in Israel for records applicable to the BIALYGen region and index those records.
  7. Indexing of Cemeteries in Poland and in other countries where Landsmanshaften burial plots exist.

Welcome aboard!

 

 

BIALYGEN AREA

 

 

 

POLISH TOWNS FORMERLY IN GRODNO GUBERNIA

 

 

Distance from Bialystok

 

 

 

Town Name

Pre-War Population

KM

Direction

Coordinates

JGFF Researchers

Bialowieza

?

69

SE

5241

2349

2

Bialystok

39,602

0

 

5308

2309

over 1,500

Bielsk Podlaski

2,392

45

S

5246

2312

23

Bocki

725

56

S

5239

2303

6

Bokiny

?

18

WSW

5303

2255

1

Bransk

2,165

69

S

5244

2251

46

Choroszcz

450

13

W

5309

2259

8

Ciechanowiec

1,649

69

SSW

5240

2231

71

Czeremcha

25

75

SSE

5231

2321

0

Czyze

22

45

SE

5247

2325

0

Dabrowa (Bialostocka)

1,218

62

N

5340

2321

9

Drohiczyn

814

88

SSW

5224

2239

23

Goniazdz

1,135

45

NW

5329

2245

32

Grodek

1,508

35

E

5306

2340

19

Grodzisk

16

62

SSW

5235

2244

16

Hajnowka

41

56

SE

5244

2335

1

Jalowka

?

52

ESE

5301

2354

20

Janow (Sokolski)

1,027

45

N

5328

2314

11

Jasionowka

1,306

32

NNW

5323

2302

16

Kleszczele

621

62

SSE

5235

2329

6

Knyszyn

1,235

26

NW

5319

2255

40

Krynki

3,495

45

NE

5316

2347

61

Kuznica

450

56

NNE

5331

2339

10

Lapy

623

26

SW

5259

2252

9

Lupianka Stara

?

21

WSW

5303

2252

0

Malesze

14

45

S

5248

2258

0

Michalowo / Nezbodka

887

32

ESE

5302

2336

6

Mielnik

233

94

S

5220

2303

8

Milejczyce

648

75

S

5231

2308

10

Narew

419

38

ESE

5255

2331

3

Narewka (Mala)

758

50

ESE

5250

2345

19

Niemirow

149

94

S

5218

2309

1

Nowy Dwor

402

62

NNE

5338

2333

?

Nurzec

38

75

S

5229

2310

0

Orla

1,167

50

SSE

5242

2320

19

Sidra

455

56

NNE

5334

2327

10

Siemiatycze

3,718

82

S

5227

2253

64

Sokolka

2,821

45

NNE

5325

2330

69

Suchowola

1,262

56

N

5335

2306

52

Suprasl

390

19

NE

5313

2321

5

Suraz

120

26

SSW

5257

2257

0

Troscianka

?

45

N

5328

2322

0

Trzcianne / Trestina

1,401

45

WNW

5320

2241

18

Tykocin

1,461

26

W

5312

2247

83

Wasilkow

950

13

NNE

5312

2313

7

Zabludow

1,817

19

ESE

5301

2321

47

Source: Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack, Where Once We Walked, A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in The Holocaust,  Avotaynu 2002

 

 

 

BialyGen - Bialystok Region Jewish Genealogy Group

 

GRODNO ARCHIVES RESEARCH PROJECTS

 

Scope: This project covers only those records of Jewish interest that are found at National Historical Archives of Belarus in Grodno for the Uyezds of Bialystok, Bielsk, and Sokolka. An inventory of the holdings of National Historical Archives of Belarus in Grodno can be found on the Belarus SIG website at http://www.jewishgen.org/belarus/grodno_archives.htm.

 

Background: Other than the City of Bialystok, there are very few Jewish vital records for towns now in Poland that were formerly part of Grodno Gubernia. This has stymied many Jewish genealogists in their efforts to create their family histories. The hope of these genealogists is that the Grodno Archives will have records that will fill the large holes in their family histories.

 

With the efforts of the Belarus SIG over the last five years, access to Archives in Belarus has increased, although it is still one of the most difficult to access in Eastern Europe. It is apparent that group resources and activism will be required to gain access to the treasures in the Grodno Archives.

 

Project Summary: This project is a general effort to gain access to the Jewish records for Bialystok, Bielsk, and Sokolka Uyezds that exist at the Grodno Archives through direct work with the Archives, through hiring of third- party professional researchers, and/or through cooperative research with Belarus SIG.

 

The funds collected for this project will be used to create detailed inventories of Jewish records, to acquire Jewish records, to index Jewish records, to translate the indices and/or records, and to create data to be added to the All Poland and All Belarus databases.

 

Specific records targeted by this project are Jewish Community Records, 19th Century Revision Lists, and the All Russia Census of 1897.

 

This project includes the participation of Bialystok Region researchers in the Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) project undertaken by Belarus SIG in August 2003. Here is a summary of the Belarus SIG BOF project:

Belarus SIG and private researchers in Belarus have agreed to combine the family research of multiple researchers with interests in the same towns.

Belarus SIG will provide coordination of projects and fundraising through JewishGenerosity.

Small groups of researchers with interests in the same town or group of nearby towns will create lists of surnames.

Each project will have a project coordinator.

Results of the research will go to researchers who contribute and to Belarus SIG for addition to the All Belarus Database and All Poland Database.

BIALYgen Projects Completed Or Underway
as of June 2004

 

 

 

 

Project Description

Responsible Organization

Status

Comments

1897 All Russian Census for Grodno Gubernia

Belarus SIG/BIALYGen

Completed

Search on Belarus SIG website

1903 Business Directory

BIALYGen

In progress

Donated by Belarus SIG

1929 Business Directory

JRI-Poland/BIALYGen

To be started

Index BIALYGen area

1938 Bialystok Telephone Directory

Zchor.org

Completed

Online at www.zchor.org/bialystok/bialystok.htm

Bialystok Children Transport from Theresenstadt to Auschwitz - 1943

Zchor.org

Completed

Online at www.zchor.org/bialystok/bialystok.htm

Bialystok Martyrs List

Zchor.org

Completed

Online at www.zchor.org/bialystok/bialystok.htm

Bialystok Memorial Website

Zchor.org

Ongoing

Thank you Ada Holtzman

Bialystok Photo Album -- Translation of Name Index

BIALYGen

Completed

Waiting on website

Bialystok Survivor List -- 1946 Bialystoker Stimme

Zchor.org

Completed

Online at www.zchor.org/bialystok/bialystok.htm

Bialystoker Center (NY City) Archives

BIALYGen

To be started

Team established

Bialystoker Memorial Book -- Name Index

BIALYGen

In progress

Donated by David Rosen

Bialystoker Memorial Book on the Web

Zchor.org

In progress

Approved by Bialystoker Society

Ellis Island Database -- Bialystok Jewish Index

BIALYGen

Completed

Waiting on website

Indexing Landsmanshaften Plots in NYC Area Cemeteries

Steve Lasky

In progress

 

Indexing Bialystok Jewish (Ulica Wschodnia) Cemetery

BIALYGen

In progress

With Golden Macewa project

Inventory of Bialystok Area Survivor Testimonies

BIALYGen

To be started

Available at Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw

JRI-Poland Indexing -- Extended Indices

JRI-Poland

In progress

Adding Mother's names/other data

Old Bialystok Photographs

BIALYGen

Completed

donated by T. Wisniewski and Zchor.org. / Waiting on website.

Seized Property List -- Regional Liquidation Office

BIALYGen

Completed

from USHMM

BIALYGen at the Jerusalem Conference

By Mark Halpern

 

 

The Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Jerusalem was a great success and BIALYGen had its part in this success.

 

BIALYGen Meeting

BIALYGen had its Second Annual meeting on Thursday, July 8 2004. More than twenty family researchers interested in Bialystok, Bielsk Podlaski, Bocki, Bransk, Ciechanowiec, Grodek, Hajnowka, Jalowka, Jasionowka, Krynki, Sokolka, Sokoly, Trzcianne, and Tykocin attended. The meeting was a chance to share with the group new sources of information for Bialystok and the surrounding area, especially collections available in Israel.

 

Below is a list of some of the resources mentioned.

 

  1. Central Archives of the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem: There are many Bialystok and area town collections that are catalogued by Town. For example, the following Bialystok collections were identified:
    1. Approximately 500 Tombstone inscriptions from the Bialystok Cemetery translated to Polish in 1985 by the Polish Conservation Authority.
    2. Rabbinate Books of Marriage 1923-1924
    3. Fragments of Kahal birth, marriage, and death records 1896~1939

                                                               i.      Death Book 1926-1927

                                                             ii.      Marriage Protocols 1929-1930

The Tombstone inscriptions and 1929-1930 Marriage Protocols were copied and will be indexed.

  1. The Bialystoker Center in New York City has a large collection of Index Cards containing information about people memorialized by members of the New York Landsmanschaft. One of our members volunteered to try and gain access to this collection.
  2. Hebrew University Library has boxes of archival material that has never been catalogued. One of the attendees offered to help organize and catalog the materials.
  3. Someone mentioned a 1910 list of Bialystok property owners. Will this person please tell us more about this information and other material you mentioned at the meeting.
  4. The Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw has materials concerning Bialystok.

 

Two of the original seven objectives for BIALYGen identified at the first annual BIALYGen meeting in Washington, DC were:

 

Representatives of BIALYGen at the Jerusalem Conference made a start on these objectives. The Israel Landsmanschaft has very strong connections to the Hebrew Gymnasium and the author of the “The Immortal Spirit – The Bialystok Hebrew Gymnasium – Poland 1919-1939.”

 

Visit to Kiriat Bialystok – Bialystoker Community in Israel

Sponsored by BIALYGen and coordinated by Ada Holtzman, a great friend of Bialystokers in Israel and around the world, about 12 Bialystokers, who attended the Conference, visited Kiriat Bialystok on Friday morning, July 9th. For photos and more information about Kiriat Bialystok, visit Ada Holtzman’s Bialystok Memorial website at http://www.zchor.org/bialystok/bialystok.htm#kiria

 


In the Commemoration Hall: Ada Holtzman, Shamai Kzelstein, Mark Halpern, Chana Kizelstein, Zeev Balglej July 9th, 2004

 

Zeev Balglej, the Chairman of the Landsmanschaft, introduced the organization and its beginnings in the early 1950s as a community where Bialystok survivors could settle. Funds were raised by the New York Bialystoker Center to build 251 original housing units. This community is now part of the city of Yehud. Streets in the community are named after famous Bialystok personalities. The community has a medical clinic, 2 nursery schools, a beautiful Synagogue, a recreation hall, an Archive and library, and a memorial wall. Many members still have strong connections to Bialystok. The Organization has provided funds to maintain the Jewish history in Bialystok. The Organization erected a memorial in Bialystok to the Great Synagogue, which was burned to the ground by the Nazis with 2,000 Bialystok Jews inside.

 

Chana Kizelstein (nee Lin), the Archivist for Kiriat Bialystok, spoke to our group about living in prewar Jewish Bialystok where 60,000 Jews (70% of the total population) lived and how proud former residents were to be Bialystokers. She also talked about the events that led to the establishment of Kiriat Bialystok and provided an overview of the Archive and Library collection. See http://www.zchor.org/bialystok/children.htm.

 

Eva Kracowska was one of the young fighters of the Bialystok Ghetto revolt and one of only four survivors of the Ghetto revolt. She talked about her experience in the Ghetto, fighting as a Partisan after she escaped the liquidation of the Ghetto, and her return to Bialystok after the War. See http://www.zchor.org/bialystok/response.htm.

 

Shamai Kizelstein, a survivor of Auschwitz and other camps, talked about his memories of the Nazi march into Bialystok and the early days of the occupation. Shamai witnessed the burning of the Great Synagogue in Bialystok. See http://www.zchor.org/bialystok/kizelstein.htm.

 

The relationship created by BIALYGen’s visit to Kiriat Bialystok will hopefully lead to benefits to members of our group and to the Israeli organization. Both groups are interested in preserving and memorializing our ancestors who lived and flourished in Bialystok before the Shoah.

 

* Mark Halpern (contact: bialystoker "at" comcast.net ) has been actively researching his Polish (Bialystok) and Galician roots for the last eight years. Mark is a Director of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland. He coordinates the JRI-Poland ordering process, the indexing of eastern Galician records at the AGAD Archives in Warsaw and the indexing at the Bialystok Archives. Mark is also President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia (JGSGP). He is the originator and coordinator of BIALYGen, the Bialystok Region Jewish Genealogy Group and coordinates a project to index and restore the Jewish Cemetery in Bialystok, Poland. Mark has written many articles for The Galitzianer, Chronicles, the journal of JGSGP, and Avotaynu.

 

 

Shalom BIALYGen, Bialystok Region Jewish Genealogy Group!
August 3rd, 2003 - 5 Av, 5763

We now have a discussion forum on JewishGen. Please join us. To register for the discussion forum, go to http://www.jewishgen.org/listserv/sigs.htm and click on "Subscribe to a Mailing List." Then follow the instructions and select "BIALYSTOK Area" under "Community Research Group" in step 2. Select also how you wish to receive the emails (the default is DIGEST form).

This Mailing List is part of the newly formed BIALYGen, Bialystok Region Jewish Genealogy Group A JewishGen Infofile explaining the creation of this discussion forum and the (BIALYGen) can be found at: http://www.jewishgen.org/InfoFiles/BialystokRRG.htm.

One of the rules that JewishGen and our moderator will enforce is that no commercial advertisement can be made to this List. Even the mention of EBAY is not allowed.

We hope to see you subscribe very soon.

Shalom BIALYGen!

 

 


The Bialystokers' Synagogue, Yehud, 9 July 2004

Last Updated September 22nd, 2004

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