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Next Meeting - Tuesday, March 5th, 2019 - 7:30pm at Temple Sholom

The Undocumented Life of Ida Hasenson
by Michael Levy

In August 1923, my grandmother, Ida Hasenson, left Riga for South Africa. A month later, in Cape Town, she married Morris Thal, a man who was 22 years older than her. Six or seven years later, she divorced him, later to remarry. Morris Thal, my grandfather, died in 1947, four years before I was born. The circumstances of Ida’s marriage to Morris have always been a family mystery. My grandmother did talk to me about her life before leaving Riga, but never said much about my grandfather. Only recently have some the other parts of our conversation begun to make sense to me.

Recently, I have tried to reconstruct, as best I can, the story and circumstances of Ida’s marriage and her life. I have some family photographs and a memoir written by Ida’s sister Manya. This memoir was written after my grandmother had died, and there are only two very brief references to her in the memoir. I recently managed to get some more documents and family stories, in an attempt to uncover my grandmother’s secret. In this talk, I will tell the story of my grandmother’s failed marriage, as far as I have been able to discover it. I will also describe, and show, some of the material about her that I was able to collect.

Michael Levy is on the executive of the Jewish Museum and Archive of British Columbia. He has lived in Canada since 1975. Before moving to Vancouver, he was a professor of Computer Science at the University of Victoria. He also served a term as president of the JCC of Victoria. In 2005, he and his wife moved to Vancouver. He worked as a Software Engineer for Apple until he retired.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of British Columbia (JGSBC), a non-profit organization, brings together people who are interested in pursuing their Jewish ancestry or family history. Together with the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC we try to restore the history and family links that time has erased.

While there are many resources available on the internet, their use does require some skill and training. Many traps await the unwary: name changes, spelling errors, the same name for two different people, the many vagaries of census takers, clerks and other takers of record. The difficult task of digitizing the records has led to other errors creeping in. We will help you to avoid those pitfalls and develop an accurate and descriptive family tree. If you are interested in joining us, you can pay for a yearly membership here. Any questions? – send us an email.

This site also has links to resources (including Jewish newspaper archives) that we have found useful in our research.

JGSBC is a member of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies