Barbara Toby Stack's ZichronNote Columns


ZichronNote: Journal of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society

December 2023
Volume XLIII, Number 4
page 3

Editor’s Column

Oh my, InDesign is a continuing challenge! I upgraded my version and finally found all the steps to making the links visible in all versions of Acrobat (I hope!); I solved more issues in linking images to text, and failed miserably in enabling right-to-left Yiddish text, though I did change to a bilingual version. Sigh. And the roses continue to reveal new branches of the family. Off with their heads! My resolution is resolve.

I also learned in this interval between issues about the the power of ZichronNote. I sent copies of my little article on the Waldman family to the two grandchildren of my Aunt Betsy and Uncle George, one of whom sent it on the the family in France. Before long I received several replies from the French family, elucidating the mysteries, showing among them an eager family historian, and bringing new revelations. The shoe I photographed in 1960 did its job once again!

What do genealogists look like? They look eager to please their audience. We are all, in fact, audiences to one another. We are story tellers, and story actors, and sometimes just part of the chorus. We may busy ourselves preserving and passing along the tales, and records, and recipes, and photos, and fuzzy clues. We remember, we follow, we dispute, and we celebrate. There are many, many roles to play in this enterprise.

What does a future SFBAJGS Board member look like? Curious. Our Zoom Board meetings are open to interested members. Our next meeting is Sunday, February 4, 2024 at 10:00 am. For more information email Jeremy at

If I may once again quote a Jewish philosopher, this time Bob Dylan:

The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I’s taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that the land that I live in
Has God on its side

Barbara Toby Stack
December, 2023
Berkeley, CA

ZichronNote: Journal of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society

November 2023
Volume XLIII, Number 3
page 3

Editor’s Column

For this issue I reached a modicum of comfort with InDesign, though in no way a mastery. And ever-so-slowly extended the annual pruning of my branching roses. These things take time, and my gratitude, in this season of thanks, is for time.

Our team here at SFBAJGS continues to labor valiantly in the wake of Jeff’s passing. As you may have noted in Jeremy’s column, we are looking to expand our little genealogical circle. A perk of Board membership: Over the years, I have received considerable genealogical assistance from my fellow Board members. My first ZichronNote article was published in the August, 2017 issue, Pierre Hahn, Généalogiste Extraordinaire, this after Pierre got me started in harvesting documents from Paris as I spied upon my Waldman almost-family.

What does a future genealogist look like? They look interested. Engage them. Beguile them. Put them in the story.

What does a future SFBAJGS Board member look like? Probably just like you: interested in your own genealogy and helping the Society support our membership and all present and future genealogists. Our Zoom Board meetings are open to interested members.

I repeat here the second-most-important finding aid in genealogy, and usable on almost any search engine and website:

your name here

The most important is the search function of your computer’s OS.

It’s once again time to quote a Jewish philosopher, Diane Warren, in the title and lyrics to her great genealogical song, “If I Could Turn Back Time.” May you have the time you need and the time you want and, above all, a good time. Happy Chanukah!

Barbara Toby Stack
November, 2023
Berkeley, CA

ZichronNote: Journal of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society

September 2023
Volume XLIII, Number 2
page 3

Editor’s Column

For this issue I reached across time and reanimated the remnants of my facility with InDesign, survived my first bout with covid, which bit off about a month’s editing capacity, and began the annual pruning of my vining roses when I needed outdoor branchings. I mirrored the footers, learned how to make images flow with the text, wrangled tables, and ventured into Illustrator to jazz up an image. I also got my mtDNA tested and matched a longtime SFBAJGS member (not Janice).

Our new/old Treasurer Dana Kurtz recently asked me for my thoughts on strengthening our Society. I responded that just as a family with a genealogy and family history can become more confident and potentially a stronger network for having a back story, so might an organization benefit from an accessible history with recognizable actors and accomplishments. I hope ZichronNote can continue to serve such a purpose.

What does a child, a future genealogist look like? They might be a curious asker and listener, a photographer, a collector, a reporter, a writer, an organizer of events, people, information. Nurture them.

What does a future SFBAJGS Board member look like? Look in the mirror.

When people ask me about travel, I say that I prefer time travel.

We genealogists routinely reach across time to document and interpret the past and to wrap our albums and genealogies and stories in such a fashion as to send them forward into the future with good prospects. I recently bought some acid-free and lignin-free paper, and dove backward into the ZichronNote archive for facts and inspiration. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has been a great help in making available old versions of the SFBAJGS website. I might also mention here an invaluable finding aid for the current state of our Society’s website, and usable on almost any search engine and website is:

search term(s)

Now it’s time to quote a Jewish philosopher: “Be Here Now.” I am enormously grateful to have found a place on the SFBAJGS team. It is a beautiful thing to have such colleagues as these.

Barbara Toby Stack
September, 2023
Berkeley, CA

ZichronNote: Journal of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society

May 2023
Volume XLIII, Number 1
page 3

Editor’s Column

For this issue I lost and found my ambition to be an editor, lost and found my facility with InDesign, and lost and found my love of genealogy. It’s as if I’d been called upon to renew my vows.

I drifted into genealogy from being the ten-year-old who pointed her camera at any relation who would allow it; by listening to my mother narrate her scrapbooks and guiding me though maintaining my own collections; by asking what my first personal computer could do with the 20-foot tree which came down to me via my mother’s cousin; by learning that I didn’t have to guess, that there were answers to be had, many in nearby Oakland. By asking why.

And as I began to explore the worlds of genealogy, I realized that trees offered a new way of looking at my matrixed world, that I could slither up the lines of ancestry and down the byways of laterals and gain unsuspected reflections and points of view.

In a world dominated by misinformation, impatience, short-term thinking and anomie, genealogy offers a path, colleagues, guidance, and the possibility of meaning. We document our discoveries and processes. We strive to pass along enduring insights, memories, trees, and collections. Let me here suggest that an article published in ZN is a great gift to the family as well as a ticket into the future. ZichronNote is held by genealogy libraries worldwide.

Genealogy is a field which invites and permits so many of us to be not only seekers, but also finders and revealers. Generosity and gallantry abound.

There are so many ways to participate in the team sport which is genealogy. Take some responsibility for passing along the important stuff to the curious ones in the next generations. And you get to decide what’s important! Protect the roots, even their outlines. Be a librarian. Be a shepherd of our histories. Be an inspiration to youth. Play some role. There are many to choose from. Just do something!

Wishing you all continued success in genealogy, a deep and worthy education

Barbara Toby Stack
May, 2023
Berkeley, CA