Schmoozing* With the Local Jews

*schmooze (Yid.) to converse informally, to chat in a friendly way so as to gain favor, business, or connections

Last month I wrote about shlepping to the cemetery and getting pictures of your loved ones’ headstones.  Little did I know that I would actually be doing just that on my latest vacation to Indiana!  Ever since I started researching my family I have taken the opportunity to combine visits with my family and trips to the library, archives, or court houses.  Over the past few years I have had some success and have managed the six hour drive on a more regular basis. This time, I was fortunate to be able to travel with my mom and she suggested that we get in touch with the local Jewish Historical Society. I took her advice and ran with it! 

Cemetery Record for Dora Engel

Before I had even started on the road, I had gotten in touch with Maggie Goldberg who is the Executive Director for the Michiana Jewish Historical Society. I wanted to see if she would be able to squeeze in some time for me (and mom) to come to the Jewish Federation building and schmooze about my Jewish ancestors who had settled there.  Mom had suggested that they might have records from the burials at the cemetery of our family and so we were able to get copies of those while there. We were able to get copies of a number of our relatives’ cemetery records and even though I already knew most of the data; it was interesting nonetheless. You can see here on my Great Grandma Dora’s card that at the very bottom it shows the other Engel family members and their death dates. 

Unfortunately the Michiana JHS archives are a bunch of boxes in a storage room right now and so it was pretty challenging to try and find out anything new.  Apparently the synagogue that my Great Grandfather Samuel Engel helped start was a bit confused in my Grandmother’s mind as she had stated it was the “Sons of Israel Synagogue on Taylor Street”.  According to Maggie, there was a synagogue on Taylor Street, but it wasn’t Sons of Israel.  The one on Taylor was Temple Beth-El and Sons of Israel (B’Nai Yisrael) was on Williams Street.  We looked at some newsletters from Temple Beth-El, but had no luck finding my Engels.  The box with all the information from the Sons of Israel was out on loan so we did not get to confirm he was a founder there.  Luckily, my cousins who live up there are well known and should be able to help me get copies when the box is returned.  I’ll just have to wait.

After our meeting there, we drove over to the Hebrew Orthodox Cemetery, Rose Hill, and Mom quickly guided me around to my family’s plots.  While visiting I was able to get a picture of my Great Grandparents’ headstones and left a rock to let them know I was there. Of course I posted the pictures on the Viewmate site and got the following translations.


Samuel Engel
Here Lies
Shmuel Natan, son of Mr. Yitchak Peretz Engel
Died on 2nd of Kislev, in the year 5688. May his soul be bound up for life eternal


Dora Engel
Here Lies (two-letter acronym on top)
The woman, Devorah daughter of Mr. Abraham  
Engel  Died 12 of Second Adar
In the year 5603. May her soul be bound up for life eternal

I did not have Samuel’s father’s name before this! An exciting development has revealed itself. Not to mention that I now have Dora’s (or should I say, Devorah’s) father’s name too. Prior to this I had not known his name for sure. I can not wait to take this information and try and unearth more on the JewishGen site!

Next time, I’ll share with you how my visit to the St. Joseph County Archives went and other discoveries I made as a result. In the meantime, schmooze those connections!

This blog entry was originally written for “The In-Depth Genealogist”.

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