Berman home movies

These films were recorded by Aaron (Al) Berman from the 1940s through the 1970s. At some point in the 1990s, the 8mm reels were converted to VHS tape. Barbara Berman-Moonlight recently loaned me the VHS tapes to convert to digital format. She also provided several home recordings on vinyl that I digitized and published earlier this year.

I will need some help labeling these videos, so I’ll continue to update this page as I have more to share.

Yeruslavitz family history

Over the past few years, a team of volunteers have been translating and transliterating Jewish vital records from Iași, Romania. The effort is ongoing, and last year, the coordinator of this effort made some of these records available to the public through the JewishGen website. Among these records, I found a marriage listing for my second great grandparents, Moses Landes and Bertha (Brauna) Yeruslavitz. The names were spelled incorrectly in the record, so I’m lucky I was able to find it.

The record names Brauna’s parents, Meer (Meier) and Eidil. This is the first time I was able to confirm her father’s name. So far, this is my starting point for the Yeruslavitz family, living in or near Iași in the middle of the nineteenth century.

When I added these names into my tree on Ancestry.com, I was able to find additional information. I am considering the possibility that Eidil might be the individual who immigrated to Canada from Liverpool with her daughter in 1900, as the record includes Edith Yeruslavitz with an age that might be the appropriate age for Eidil at that time.

What follows is a description of the known descendants of Moses Yeruslavitz, the son of Meier Yeruslavitz and Eidil Paucker, and Bertha’s older brother. To complete the Yeruslavitz history, it’s necessary to also follow the path of Meier’s daughter, Bertha Brauna, who married Moses Landes. The progression of Moses Landes and his descendants is found within the Landes family history.

Moses Yeruslavitz Marriage Record
Moses Yeruslavitz Marriage Record

Canadian marriage records informed me that Meier and Eidil had a son in Romania, Moses Yeruslavitz, who immigrated to Canada and was living in Valleyfield and Montréal. Moses first married Rosa Haaze (Hayes), and after she passed away, he married Becky Katz. These records also indicate that Eidil had passed away by 1893, the year Moses married Rosa, which casts doubt on the identity of Edith Yeruslavitz in the passenger list.

The name Yeruslavitz has never been spelled consistently in English on official documents. I eventually chose to conform to this spelling of the name as I found more records pertaining to the descendants of Moses Yeruslavitz.

Moses had three sons and two daughters with his first wife: Léon (Jack), Martin, Joseph, Fanny, and Ruth; he had two sons and one daughter with Becky: Max (Mendel), Jacob, and Rachel. After Moses Yeruslavitz died in 1918, Rosa’s children stopped using the name Yeruslavitz consistently, adopting their mother’s maiden name Hayes as a last name. Some travel records include both names, with one or the other as an alias. Becky married Benjamin Rosenbloom, and her children with Moses took on Rosenbloom as a surname. Becky and Benjamin also had a biological daughter, Sara.

Rosenbloom Yeruslavitz Travel Record
Rosenbloom Yeruslavitz Travel Record

Léon married Rebecca Webber. The inscription on Rebecca’s gravestone reads: “Beloved wife of Max and devoted mother of Alan and Marcia.” Marcia Rosalie Hayes is a daughter of Leon and Rebecca, and I believe Alan to be Rebecca’s son with a different husband, Max Webber (same last name). Marcia Hayes married a man whose last name is Goldberg; while other public family trees have more information about this family, I haven’t found any publicly-available sources to confirm any of the details.

The only information I’ve found regarding Martin Yeruslavitz consists of the 1901 and 1911 Canadian Census records; for Joseph, all I’ve found is the 1901 census.

Fanny Hayes Yeruslavitz Certificate of Arrival
Fanny Hayes Yeruslavitz Certificate of Arrival

Fanny Yeruslavitz Hayes immigrated from Canada to Massachusetts in 1927 and married Benjamin David Disman Brooks. They had two children, Marcia Rosalie Brooks (who married Marvin Morris Smith) and Ruth Estelle Brooks (who married Allan Burton Schaffer).

Ruth immigrated to Massachusetts and married Rubin Ralph Webber, the brother of Rebecca Webber, Léon’s wife.

Max (Mendel) Yeruslavitz became known as Max (Mendel) Rosenbloom. He moved to Pennsylvania from Canada and married Matilda Fisch. They had at least three children, and I’ve found the names of two. It’s possible they are both living, so I won’t list the names here.

For Jacob Yersulavitz, I have found nothing more than his record of birth from the Beth David Synagogue in Montreal.

Rachel Yeruslavitz took the surname of her step-father, and became known as Rachel Rosenbloom. She moved to New York from Canada and married Benjamin Weiner. Rachel (Rae) and Ben had three children. One happens to be a public figure, so there are no concerns about identifying him here. Michael Alan Weiner is a son of Rae and Ben. Michael and his second wife, Janet Roll, have two children. Michael Alan Weiner changed his name and is known now as Michael Savage. He hosts a popular right-wing radio program. The family is also associated with the Rockstar energy drink.

FamilyTreeDNA’s My Origins offers a glimpse of geographic ancestry

Where do I come from? The DNA analysis aspect of genealogy keeps trying to answer this question. By comparing an individual’s DNA with the same from a number of control groups, science is trying really hard to come up with an answer. The more I look into these DNA analyses, the less I think they hold any relevance to identity. And the explanation for this lack of relevance is completely clear, and if more people understood this, they’d probably stop using DNA as a gateway to how they are composed as an individual.

The problem is that every human inherits about half of his or her DNA from each of his or her parents, but it’s impossible to predict which half, or what DNA markers are included in that half. This is how this problem manifests itself over two generations in an incredibly simplified example.

Let’s say you know the birth locations of your four grandparents, and they happen to be Germany (father’s father), England (father’s mother), Lithuania (mother’s father), and Romania (mother’s mother). If you were to describe myself with just this information, taking the notion of Jewish heritage out of the mix, you would say you’re quarter German, quarter English, quarter Lithuanian, and quarter Romanian.

This assumes that each of these grandparents are completely “full booded” in their geographic make-up — and that’s not just unlikely, but impossible, and is yet another fault with searching for some kind of genetic explanation of geographic heritage.

Even if the grandparents represented some kind of perfection, your genetic makeup would more than likely not contain four equal components. Your father inherited roughly half his DNA from each of his parents, so he is roughly half German and half English. Your mother did the same, so she is roughly half Lithuanian and Romanian. That’s only because in this strange hypothetical example, the grandparents are each homogeneous. The succeeding generation, everything falls apart.

You inherit half your DNA from your father, who is half German and half English. But the half you inherit is not necessarily split evenly between your father’s German half and his English half. The DNA you inherit — your admixture — could be only his English DNA, it could be only his German DNA, it could be precisely 50% each side, but it most likely is some kind of unbalanced mix. So half of your DNA is most likely an unbalanced mix of German and English, and the other half is most likely an unbalanced mix of Lithuanian and Romanian. Your sibling could have inherited a different mix from each of your parents, and could thus have a significantly different geographical genetic fingerprint than you. But why should your sibling be different? He or she had the precisely the same family history through the centuries and the same migration patterns.

By the time you look back to your sixty-four fourth great grandparents, the chances are high that one is not reflected at all in your DNA today. I increasingly believe that while ancestral maps based on autosomal DNA tests are interesting to look at, they can’t really tell you the full story people really want to see.

FamilyTreeDNA My Origins
FamilyTreeDNA My Origins

Above is what FamilyTreeDNA’s new My Origins analysis has determined for my geographical make-up based on my autosomal (FamilyFinder) DNA test. It’s not terribly different from the analysis provided by AncestryDNA with that company’s autosomal test.

AncestryDNA
AncestryDNA

These might reflect an accurate approximation of the geographic locations some of my ancestors lived at some point in their lives, but it doesn’t tell nearly the complete story of my ancestors. Some might be completely missing from the calculation. The geographic regions may only extend to several hundred years ago. The genetic material that represents a focus in Poland may come from a different century than the material that represents Afghanistan. There is no way to turn this information into a description that has a strong relevance to who I am.

So if you decide to take a DNA test looking for some sort of insight into your genetic composition, keep these caveats in mind. These results seem to exist only to satisfy curiousity with a scientific “answer,” even if that answer doesn’t exactly answer the question people really have about who they are.