rhu: (Default)
A few months ago, I was puzzling over what to give my nephew as a bar mitzvah present. I wanted it to be meaningful, both now and later in his life.

Around the same time, I heard that those whose grandparents' German citizenship had been stripped in 1941 because they were Jewish could apply to have it restored. My mom still has all her parents' paperwork, and when I got to their "Certificate of Identity in lieu of passport for stateless persons", issues by the British government and stamped by the US with my grandparents' immigration visa lottery numbers, I knew exactly what my nephew's present would be.

I threw myself into a genealogical research project. My goal was to create a "photobook" of our family's history, telling the story with primary documentation as much as I could.

What I found amazed me. And even after I finished the book, I couldn't stop, because I kept finding more and more.

Sometimes, what I found was raw data -- names, dates, places. Sometimes, what I found was narrative -- the stories behind the raw data. And sometimes, what I found was a cousin from a branch of the family that we'd lost touch with. That was the most gratifying of all.

I intend to start writing up this experience in my blog. I think all of these types of narratives are interesting -- not only my family's story, and the story of making new connections, but also the nuts-and-bolts of how I applied the talents and techniques of a Mystery Hunt solver to a different kind of puzzle. (For what it's worth, I haven't done a crossword puzzle since mid-July.)

(If you're one of my relatives, don't worry -- I plan to preserve your privacy, except in those cases where you already have a highly visible online presence.)
rhu: (Default)
A few months ago, I was puzzling over what to give my nephew as a bar mitzvah present. I wanted it to be meaningful, both now and later in his life.

Around the same time, I heard that those whose grandparents' German citizenship had been stripped in 1941 because they were Jewish could apply to have it restored. My mom still has all her parents' paperwork, and when I got to their "Certificate of Identity in lieu of passport for stateless persons", issues by the British government and stamped by the US with my grandparents' immigration visa lottery numbers, I knew exactly what my nephew's present would be.

I threw myself into a genealogical research project. My goal was to create a "photobook" of our family's history, telling the story with primary documentation as much as I could.

What I found amazed me. And even after I finished the book, I couldn't stop, because I kept finding more and more.

Sometimes, what I found was raw data -- names, dates, places. Sometimes, what I found was narrative -- the stories behind the raw data. And sometimes, what I found was a cousin from a branch of the family that we'd lost touch with. That was the most gratifying of all.

I intend to start writing up this experience in my blog. I think all of these types of narratives are interesting -- not only my family's story, and the story of making new connections, but also the nuts-and-bolts of how I applied the talents and techniques of a Mystery Hunt solver to a different kind of puzzle. (For what it's worth, I haven't done a crossword puzzle since mid-July.)

(If you're one of my relatives, don't worry -- I plan to preserve your privacy, except in those cases where you already have a highly visible online presence.)
rhu: (Default)
I encountered an interesting language quirk during Yom Kippur. [This is a post about the English language, not about Yom Kippur.]

I was reading a brand new translation into English of a German commentary on the piyyutim, the paraliturgical poems added to the services on Yom Kippur. And the phrase "wake-up call" leapt off the page at me.

There was nothing wrong, technically; it was an appropriate metaphorical translation. But it was jarring because Rabbi Breuer wrote the original German commentary in 1928. Looking at the Google n-gram chart shows almost no usage before 1970, then exponential growth.

It raises an interesting question about translation, I think. I certainly wouldn't expect a translation of the Bible to only use English words from 3,500 years ago (ha, ha). But somehow the use of a 1970s coinage in a translation of a 1928 text struck me as incongruous.

[I hope to post a full review of the Feldheim machzor later, and also of the Koren/Sacks machzor. Yes, this year I had TWO new machzorim for Yom Kippur!]
rhu: (Default)
I encountered an interesting language quirk during Yom Kippur. [This is a post about the English language, not about Yom Kippur.]

I was reading a brand new translation into English of a German commentary on the piyyutim, the paraliturgical poems added to the services on Yom Kippur. And the phrase "wake-up call" leapt off the page at me.

There was nothing wrong, technically; it was an appropriate metaphorical translation. But it was jarring because Rabbi Breuer wrote the original German commentary in 1928. Looking at the Google n-gram chart shows almost no usage before 1970, then exponential growth.

It raises an interesting question about translation, I think. I certainly wouldn't expect a translation of the Bible to only use English words from 3,500 years ago (ha, ha). But somehow the use of a 1970s coinage in a translation of a 1928 text struck me as incongruous.

[I hope to post a full review of the Feldheim machzor later, and also of the Koren/Sacks machzor. Yes, this year I had TWO new machzorim for Yom Kippur!]
rhu: (Default)
I found myself wondering: The stamp in my great-grandfather's machzor says "M. H. Bissinger -- Cigarren & Wein -- Ichenhausen". But we only ever knew his name as "Max". What did the H stand for?

Well, I've been doing all this genealogical research lately, right? And just the other day I found this awesome database at http://jgbs.org/ with lots of facsimile records from Bavarian Swabia, with many records (including all the ones from Ichenhausen) indexed. So tonight I looked him up; his birth record just says "Max Bissinger" but his marriage record says "Max Heinrich L Bissinger".

The Internet is an amazing place.
rhu: (Default)
I found myself wondering: The stamp in my great-grandfather's machzor says "M. H. Bissinger -- Cigarren & Wein -- Ichenhausen". But we only ever knew his name as "Max". What did the H stand for?

Well, I've been doing all this genealogical research lately, right? And just the other day I found this awesome database at http://jgbs.org/ with lots of facsimile records from Bavarian Swabia, with many records (including all the ones from Ichenhausen) indexed. So tonight I looked him up; his birth record just says "Max Bissinger" but his marriage record says "Max Heinrich L Bissinger".

The Internet is an amazing place.
rhu: (torah)
My Rabbi gave a very interesting Shabbat Shuvah Derasha yesterday, focusing on how the Rambam structured his Hilchot Teshuvah, his explanation of the laws of repentance. And the question arose: Is there a commandment to repent? Cut for length )
rhu: (torah)
My Rabbi gave a very interesting Shabbat Shuvah Derasha yesterday, focusing on how the Rambam structured his Hilchot Teshuvah, his explanation of the laws of repentance. And the question arose: Is there a commandment to repent? Cut for length )
rhu: (torah)
Last year, we ordered our lulav and etrog sets from MyEsrog.com. They were inexpensive and lovely. This year, we're going to do that again, but they had a special deal where if I agree to put their ad on my blog, people using that link get 10% off. (Disclaimer: I also get a small commission.) The ad, with the coupon code and link, is behind the cut.

Coupon code back here! )
rhu: (torah)
Last year, we ordered our lulav and etrog sets from MyEsrog.com. They were inexpensive and lovely. This year, we're going to do that again, but they had a special deal where if I agree to put their ad on my blog, people using that link get 10% off. (Disclaimer: I also get a small commission.) The ad, with the coupon code and link, is behind the cut.

Coupon code back here! )
rhu: (Default)
Yesterday, my nephew celebrated becoming a bar mitzvah. I had decided earlier this summer that a meaningful gift would be a book documenting our shared family roots.

Some of this was easy: my mom had many records from her parents, for example. Some has been challenging but rewarding research. I have found living cousins I never knew existed; I have found gravesites of ancestors whose lives were almost lost to the currents of time.

I haven't been able to blog about these discoveries as they've happened, because I wanted to keep this a surprise. But today I gave Josh his book, and I brought an extra copy of it and of all my primary sources to share with our relatives. I have some great stories to share, and now I have some more clues. I plan to write up both my ancestors' stories and the stories of my research and post them to this blog after the holidays.
rhu: (Default)
Yesterday, my nephew celebrated becoming a bar mitzvah. I had decided earlier this summer that a meaningful gift would be a book documenting our shared family roots.

Some of this was easy: my mom had many records from her parents, for example. Some has been challenging but rewarding research. I have found living cousins I never knew existed; I have found gravesites of ancestors whose lives were almost lost to the currents of time.

I haven't been able to blog about these discoveries as they've happened, because I wanted to keep this a surprise. But today I gave Josh his book, and I brought an extra copy of it and of all my primary sources to share with our relatives. I have some great stories to share, and now I have some more clues. I plan to write up both my ancestors' stories and the stories of my research and post them to this blog after the holidays.
rhu: (torah)
As I had hoped, here's a followup on my earlier review of the Koren/Steinsaltz Talmud Bavli now that I've been learning from it for a few weeks.

Cut for length )
rhu: (torah)
As I had hoped, here's a followup on my earlier review of the Koren/Steinsaltz Talmud Bavli now that I've been learning from it for a few weeks.

Cut for length )
rhu: (torah)
One of the hardest things to do is to take a project for which one had high hopes and give up on it.

Today, I'm sad to announce that the Dafcast project is on "indefinite hiatus."Cut for length ) I'm not deleting the website yet, but unless someone else wants to take it on, this is probably not a case of "Hadran Alach" -- "We will return to you."

I thank the handful of volunteers who submitted translations and comments over the last few years. I thank those who supported me in my original vision. I thank those who helped me face the reality that this was not a good use of my time and talents.

And I look forward to learning Daf Yomi in cycle 13, and hope to make it through all 2,711 pages this time.
rhu: (torah)
One of the hardest things to do is to take a project for which one had high hopes and give up on it.

Today, I'm sad to announce that the Dafcast project is on "indefinite hiatus."Cut for length ) I'm not deleting the website yet, but unless someone else wants to take it on, this is probably not a case of "Hadran Alach" -- "We will return to you."

I thank the handful of volunteers who submitted translations and comments over the last few years. I thank those who supported me in my original vision. I thank those who helped me face the reality that this was not a good use of my time and talents.

And I look forward to learning Daf Yomi in cycle 13, and hope to make it through all 2,711 pages this time.
rhu: (Default)
A few things that may be obvious but in case they're not I thought I'd share. I'm also on an older phone, so some of these may be built in to later versions of Android. Cut for length )

I hope some of these may be useful to others.
rhu: (Default)
A few things that may be obvious but in case they're not I thought I'd share. I'm also on an older phone, so some of these may be built in to later versions of Android. Cut for length )

I hope some of these may be useful to others.
rhu: (xword)
As you know, yesterday's New York Times crossword puzzle was by me. This was my first solo byline, and only my second appearance in the Times crossword, so I'm very excited about it. I've gotten a lot of questions about it, which I thought I'd answer in a blog post which is long, and therefore behind a cut tag. )
rhu: (xword)
As you know, yesterday's New York Times crossword puzzle was by me. This was my first solo byline, and only my second appearance in the Times crossword, so I'm very excited about it. I've gotten a lot of questions about it, which I thought I'd answer in a blog post which is long, and therefore behind a cut tag. )

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Andrew M. Greene

January 2013

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