Paris, France

31 December 2012
Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 14 seconds

The long stay in Uzhhorod was unexpected, but the end excitement to see the record books was worth it. I only wish I had more time because my next intended visit was Moldova. Instead, I conveniently found a well priced flight from L’viv to Paris via Warsaw.

I took a few walks outside of the hotel during the conference, sometimes for a meal with friends, other times just to take a walk. I escaped the conference one day for a little local sightseeing, then I had one day after the conference to see Paris.

Many Parisians spoke English, but even when they didn’t, my public school French, along with a recent vocabulary refresher, made the language feel much less foreign.

A lovely surprise awaited me at the Eiffel Tower, my first stop, when my cousin was standing in line at just the right moment. I easily convinced him to give up on the multi-hour wait and we toured the city together. I had marked out the places I most wanted to see and it was much more fun to have the company.

My photos here begin at the Ukraine airport, because I didn’t think to put them into an earlier post. This was the final part of my European trip. The next related blog posts will be sorting through all of the records I acquired.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/12/31/paris-france/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Mukachevo, Ukraine

26 December 2012
Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 9 seconds

On another outing from Uzhhorod, I visited Mukachevo. This is my Rosenthal and Schwimmer ancestral city. They all lived in or nearby to the large city. I had nothing specific to look for, so we just visited the usual places.

We began at the synagogue. My driver’s uncle worked there and we waited until someone let us into the building. Then we headed for the two Jewish cemeteries. Again, my driver stopped to ask directions instead of knowing where he was going. It made the trip a little more interesting. We visited the main downtown square where the synagogue used to be, and saw at a distance a renovated synagogue building. Apparently, there are now two synagogues in Mukachevo, though everyone refers to “the” synagogue as if there’s only one. And finally, we stopped at Palanok Castle. My driver stayed with the car to stave off the gypsy kids, so I walked through myself. There was no information in English, so I didn’t learn any of the history or stories behind things.

I did have a moment at the castle. Two people were talking to each other in English, mentioning they wanted to ask me to take a photo of them. Then they asked me, probably in Ukrainian.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/12/26/mukachevo-ukraine/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Kopinovtsi, Ukraine

21 December 2012
Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 49 seconds

This entry is for my Rosenthal family. Kopinovtsi is a small village northwest of Mukachevo. It is our Rosenthal ancestral village.

My driver didn’t like using the GPS that he had in his car, opting instead to stop and ask for directions every few people we saw. We were doing fine until we ran out of people. By the time we saw another, we had already driven past the village and off of the paved road. Kopinovtsi sits on a kind of side street to the main road, and we drove past both entrances. Neither had a sign with the village name, as every other village seemed to have.

After a quick stop, and asking more directions, we stopped at the Village Council building. Several people were soon on their cell phones to help. A cousin told me that our house was somewhat recently half post office, so I didn’t think it would be too hard to find. They knew that a Jewish family had once lived in the house directly across the street, but were able to verify it was my family. Down the street, a woman remembered Hershie and his family, while another spoke on the phone to a relative of her husband’s who knew them also.

The house turns out to be one third post office, one third library, and one third in ruins. The people in the village even offered to sell it to me. The post office was locked up, but I walked through the other sections. The back yard was pretty big with a mikveh at the back. It had its own private bridge over a picturesque stream; the water used to be suitable for drinking.

In all my excitement, I didn’t take any pictures of the village, just looking down the street, to get a feel for the area. Maybe on a future visit to the country, I’ll swing by there again.

This was the most personal part of my trip, where I visited the house my grandfather was born and raised in.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/12/21/kopinovtsi-ukraine/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Uzhhorod, Ukraine

19 December 2012
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 15 seconds

I had trouble when I got to Ukraine. I had put a lot of work into building a working knowledge of Polish, but I hadn’t tackled Russian. I started learning and intended to do more, but I really didn’t. I tried to hire a genealogist to help me when I got there, but that didn’t work out. I felt more lost than ever. As time passed, I started getting used to it. I still don’t know if I got used to all the Cyrillic or if I just got used to not understanding.

In my time of need, I was glad to be Jewish. I’ve read stories of how Jews always help each other, but I’ve never really used such kind of help. I contacted Hesed Shpira, a Jewish Welfare Center. At the time, I didn’t know what they did, but they were in Uzhhorod and some of them spoke English. They were a huge help, connecting me with guides and translators that made my stay in Ukraine interesting and fruitful.

My driver took me out of the city to Mukachevo and Kopinovtsi on different days. His English wasn’t terrific, especially when people in my ancestral village were recalling stories about my family and he had trouble translating, but it was enough.

My other helper came with me to the Uzhhorod Archive and spoke to the director for me. We sat to fill out the record request forms while the director went out, so we had some time to chat about genealogy and how research works, and why those forms were of little use. We waited a week for him to get back to us. We finally called him on my last day in the country. I wish we’d called sooner, because we went back to the archive and were able to look through all of the books of birth records for Mukachevo, but didn’t have time for marriages and deaths. I need to go back and finish.

While waiting for that call, I spent quite a few unexpected days in Uzhhorod. Without any planning, I ended up in a hotel in the city center. I slowly learned this, as well as how many things were in walking distance. The coolest find was when I was just wandering around and spotted a building around the corner and off in the distance, and I recognized it from pictures as the former synagogue. I also visited the Uzhhorod Castle, the botanical garden, and the Zakarpattia Museum of Folk Architecture and Life. Many days I just wandered around the city center.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/12/19/uzhhorod-ukraine/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Poland to Ukraine

4 December 2012
Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 7 seconds

Crossing the border between Poland and Ukraine was an adventure in itself. The train I boarded in Kraków was about ten cars long, but only three went all the way through to L’viv. I had to buy a ticket on a sleeper car, though I had no intention to sleep before arrival. One cabin mate spoke a little English, the other did not.

The map didn’t make the trip out to be as long as it was scheduled for, but I soon learned that there were two stops along the way, at Przemyśl to leave Poland, and just over the border to enter Ukraine. Each stop was about two hours long. In Poland, we were pushed around a bit as they switched engines and adjusted the wheels beneath us, then we were pushed backwards into the station for customs. An agent came through the train and stamped our passports.

We then slowly headed for the border. In Ukraine, they took away our passports while we waited, still not leaving the train. And they even brought dogs through each cabin. Eventually, we headed off to L’viv, arriving after midnight, where I had to quickly buy another train ticket for Uzhgorod.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/12/04/poland-to-ukraine/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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December Goals Review

2 December 2012
Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 41 seconds

It seems that, until yesterday, I completely forgot about blogging my goals review since I went to Europe — but that was a goal. So here is my review after all these months.

1. Go to Europe. Done! I can’t wait to go back and would like to next year. Anyone want to hire me for Eastern European research?

2. Organize my documents. Well, that stalled out again, but I’ll get back to it. I’m still posting the photos from my Europe trip to this blog, then I’ll get to the documents, and I’m sure I’ll get back to organizing some of the older ones around that time too.

3. Get pictures on the family web site. Oops. I’ve been posting Europe trip pictures on the blog at least.

4. Blog more. I slowed a bit in November for NaNoWriMo, but I should be picking that up more now, especially since I have a new computer and everything is faster. When I add a second monitor eventually, it will be even better.

5. Don’t procrastinate emails. I’ve done much better with this, save for between computers when running my email program on the six year old back-up computer often crashed it.

6. Invoice better. I should do this. Even QuickBooks runs faster now.

7. Index more. Not so much lately, but when I get to organizing the records I brought home from Europe, I’ve got quite a bit to index for one group.

In addition, the new computer and new desk have brought new life to my productivity on the computer. I needed a change of scenery and this was enough. I have been backing up old backup CDs and DVDs to my hard drive and scanning old papers to eliminate more files. I even got more reading done while doing these.

I have a month left of 2013 to try to do better on a few of these goals. I predict a couple will improve more and at least one won’t change. So is life.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/12/02/december-goals-review/.

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NaNoWriMo 2012

1 December 2012
Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 27 seconds

Another year of National Novel Writing Month has come to an end. I finished with 50,055 words a few days early and still hadn’t come up with any kind of ending for my story, so I stopped at that point. I will soon find more time for blogging and my own genealogy research. I still have to finish blogging the pictures from Ukraine and Paris, then onto all the records.

This was my sixth year as Municipal Liaison. MLs are in charge of planning activities for the locals, like write-ins and parties. Kaitlyn has been my co-ML for several years, and this year we had an ML in training, Ike. Next year, we’ll get him signed up officially — this year, he volunteered 30 minutes before the kick-off.

My writers were such a pleasure this year. Last year, we had some grief from a couple of them even before November, but this year they were all wonderful. No fights, no threats of secession, they hosted lots of write-ins, just a couple posts that needed moderating in our forum.

Last night, we had a Last Chance Write-In, in part because Kaitlyn headed off for a family vacation this morning and won’t make it to our TGIO party tonight. Ike had great timing to volunteer this year, and he was a lot of fun to hang out with.

Other events from this month include my computer dying and having to buy a new one. I ended up with a great deal on Wednesday, even better than the Black Friday price. The deals were so good that day, I also bought on a new desk and chair. The change of scenery has been good for me.

After tonight’s party, it’s back to more normal. Until next year.

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Auschwitz, Poland

14 November 2012
Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 10 seconds

On my last day in Kraków, I finally made it out to Auschwitz. I went out with a small, late tour in slightly rainy weather, which just made the trip seem more depressing. I thought it was appropriate. As we arrived, crowds of people were leaving, making the camps very desolate during our tours.

Our guide didn’t even want to walk us around the second camp for a fear of lightning. In the end, some of us insisted so she walked us out, and the rain eventually stopped. However, I thought that one of our goals was to see the big memorial at the end of the camp, and we still missed it.

I’ve heard some people complain about their tours of the camps, where the guides try to change the story and make the Poles seem more like victims. Our guide was not like that. She was unapologetic and simply told us what she knew. Some of the story that stuck with me was their restoration efforts. We saw evidence of this at both camps, scaffolding and tape that we weren’t supposed to cross. Not only were costs prohibitive, but they couldn’t be sure what condition to restore the buildings to, since some had been altered after the war.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/11/14/auschwitz/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Kazimierz

10 November 2012
Estimated reading time: 0 minutes, 48 seconds

Kazimierz is the old Jewish Quarter. When Jews were forced out of Kraków, that’s where they went. It is south of the old town, Stare Miasto. Wawel Castle is between the two.

There have been at least seven synagogues, all of which are still standing, three are still active, one is now a museum.

My hotel was in the corner of Kazimierz nearest to Wawel and Stare Miasto. I walked around the area quite a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t cross the river to see Schindler’s Factory and the ghetto. I was in Kraków during the Jewish Heritage Festival, and I could tell from the crowds I saw a few times.

More about the synagogues and Kazimierz can be found at:

Wikipedia has individual pages for the main synagogues, and a long list of others that I didn’t visit.

The URL of this post is
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Krakow, Poland

23 October 2012
Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 29 seconds

Krakow was my longest stay in Poland. A friend told me I shouldn’t miss it, but also because my only paying client for this trip had family in Kraków.

I had done a little research, but not enough. I had an idea of a few things in the city to look for. Mostly, I just wandered around and saw what I saw, and took a lot of pictures. I did a lot of walking; my feet were in pain for days. Unfortunately, that kept me from crossing the river to visit more things I should have seen. I didn’t know exactly where they were and did not feel up to wandering more.

My photos begin in a small park near the train station. I had an incredible knack for exiting the train stations in the wrong direction and ending up in the “back”. I walked through the park, then headed the long way around towards the front of the train station. I took a taxi to my hotel because my phone had again died, so it couldn’t lead my way.

After a nap, I walked to Stare Miasto, the Old Town of Kraków. I returned again two days later for two days, as the archive was also there.

I learned a lot about the things I photographed while adding these photos to the gallery. Want to know more? Here are some Wikipedia links.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/10/23/krakow/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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