Welcome to the AJGS Blog!

The AJGS blog will promote the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society and highlight interesting stories, links and discoveries from the world of Jewish Genealogy.

This blog will NOT replace our Kosher Koala Newsletter. We hope the blog and the newsletter will work together to help us help you with your genealogical detective work by sharing the most interesting and useful stories from around the world.

To read the latest issue of Kosher Koala: CLICK HERE
To read back issues of Kosher Koala: CLICK HERE

If you have any news, a great success story or an exciting new link you would like to share please email us at ed@ajgs.org.au

Please enjoy your new AJGS Blog.

A hidden gem found in Plymouth

(Image: Sarah Waddington, Plymouth Herald, used with permission)

Sometimes a story comes to light that genealogically speaking just warms your cockles. In late September Sarah Waddington, of The Herald in Plymouth, England,  reported on a chance discovery by a local man that has turned into a genealogical gem for those with ancestors in the area – a 300 year old Jewish cemetery.

Jerry Sibley, the Synagogue caretaker (himself not Jewish), discovered, behind a high wall and a locked door, the original resting place of the early jewish inhabitants of Plymouth. How this cemetery got “lost” is unknown but few in the area seemed to know of its existence.

Jerry Sibley, Synagogue Caretaker (Image: Sarah Waddington, Plymouth Herald, used with permission)

As Sarah writes in The Herald: “After seeing a reference to The Old Jewish Cemetery on Lambhay Hill, Jerry went in search of it – but was still unsuccessful. That’s when he used his initiative and utilised Google Maps.

“I started to look at every single plot on the road,” he said, “and that is when I noticed there were three legs to Lambhay Hill, not just the two, and eventually I found this lovely green spot that seemed to be nothing. I thought, ‘Well, it is a very good chance it is going to be there.

“I really zoomed in on it and you could just make out a couple of the headstones, so from there I came up to take a look, but I could not get in, so the treasurer at the time gave me a whole box of keys and said, ‘Help yourself’.

Jerry eventually managed to find the right key, and what he discovered when he opened the door stopped him in his tracks.”

The Old Jewish Cemetery in Plymouth (Image: Sarah Waddington, Plymouth Herald; used with permission)

The folk from Ripple Theatre, a local theatre group, helped Jerry clear the site of weeds and trees and then recorded dramatised histories of the “residents” of the cemetery as an audio trail, just in time for the Plymouth Art Weekend. Their efforts have created a valuable and lasting legacy for historians, descendants and those who are just plain curious about those buried on Lambhay Hill.

Joining them at rest now is Barney, Jerry’s cat: “He took to life at the Synagogue like nothing like I’ve ever come across before. Not only did he used to sit in the vestry beside the door and watch the people coming in and out, but he always used to follow me to work and come with me to the services. He was a black and white cat and of course the men are all dressed in black and white, so he really did blend in. But Barney passed away at Easter, which in the Jewish calender is Passover – so he really did pass over at Passover.”

When Barney passed away Jerry obtained permission to bury him inside the cemetery grounds. As is the Jewish custom visitors have honoured Barney as they have the others buried there by placing stones on his grave.

You can read the whole story, and watch a video interview with Jerry Sibley, HERE at The Herald.

Kosher Koala has landed!

It’s been a while since our last issue of Kosher Koala but it’s finally here… and worth the wait.

Society President, Robyn Dryen, gives her ‘State of the Society’ report, outlining the various successes and challenges faced by AJGS last year. Di Edelman outlines a fascinating family story in The WACHMANs – three Lithuanian Jewish families – obviously connected but how? Can you help solve this family mystery? Evelyn Frybort shares her experience of touring China, with a distinctly Jewish flavour; and Dianne Johnstone recounts the moving experience of “hearing the voice” of her 3rd great grandfather, Barnet Lazer, when she had the chance to view original letters written over a century ago.

This edition is the final issue under the editorship Robyn Dryen, and is jam packed with fascinating stories, useful information and handy links to help you on your genealogical journey. Just click on the cover image above to read the latest edition.

Save The Date: IAJGS 2018 Conference, Warsaw, Poland.

With great fanfare IAJGS formally announced the 2018 conference will be hosted at the beautiful new POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, cohosted by the Emmanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute

This is the first time the conference has been held in Eastern Europe.
For more information click on the image below.

Rookwood Database Update

Ever since the Jewish Cemetery Trust (JCT) merged into the Rookwood Cemetery Trust there have been concerns about the fate of the wonderful resource that is the JCT database. The good news is that the database continues to be maintained and new burial details are uploaded weekly. This will continue until such time as the other denominations update and upgrade their data capture to the same standard as the Jewish database. The JCT website will only be merged into a general Rookwood cemetery database when it can be demonstrated that it provides the same access to data as currently exists.

IAJGS Orlando Conference is in full swing

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) 37th Annual Conference on Jewish Genealogy is in full swing at the Disney Swan resort in Orlando Florida.

Lots of participants are blogging their conference experience – Extra Yad are posting a running compendium of daily blogs on their own blog.

The conference is also running an interactive webcast program called IAJGS Live! with live and on-demand sessions. A subscription costs US$149.00. However, given the time difference between Australia and Orlando, Australians are at a disadvantage for the live broadcasts.

You’ll find the program of IAJGS Live! HERE

Successful Waverley Workshop

AJGS ran a hugely successful Sunday workshop on July 23rd at Waverley Library. Over 20 people attended. AJGS president Robyn Dryen gave a hugely informative talk on getting the most out of Jewishgen.

AJGS and Waverley Library are keen to run more workshops in the Eastern Suburbs so keep an eye out for further announcements. The next scheduled Eastern Suburbs workshop is October 29. Click HERE for more details.

If there are any particular subjects you would like us to organise a talk on please comment below.

AJGS Heads East – July 23rd Eastern Suburbs Workshop

On July 23rd, AJGS will hold a workshop at Waverley Library – 32/48 Denison St, Bondi Junction NSW 2022 – in the 1st floor theory room – from 2pm-5pm

Between 3pm and 4pm there will be an exploration of the many and varied facets of JewishGen, one of the most comprehensive Jewish Genealogical websites. If you have any questions about navigating or getting the most out of this resource here’s your chance to ask them.

Before and after this talk you can get help and explore our resources. If you have any particular resources you’d like brought over from Lindfield email us at society@ajgs.org.au.

Another Eastern Suburbs workshop will be held at Waverley Library on October 29.

So we know how many people may be coming along please RSVP for the July workshop to society@ajgs.org.au