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The Documenting MaineJewry project is an effort by a number of Jewish Mainers to understand the history of the Portland Jewish community, to preserve memories of the people involved in that history, and to enhance the documentation of Portland Jewish cemeteries. It is a project that is open to all with a good curiosity about the past or good recollections of people and organizations that have been part of that past.

The DOPJ project itself is a part of the JCA and in addition works in conjunction with a wide range of Portland Jewish religious institutions and cemeteries. We will be providing JewishGen, the largest Jewish geneological association and website, information on the cemeteries in Portland . As we have census and burial data for other Jewish communities in Maine, we are open to developing joint Jewish history projects with those in other Maine cities and towns.

We work in a series of interlinked sub-projects. If you are interested in joining this effort, please select a sub-project and contact one of the coordinators.

Documenting Mt. Sinai and other older cemeteries : Mt. Sinai is the largest traditional cemetery in Maine. Over the years Mt. Sinai records have used various recording approaches : annotations on a map, 3x5 index cards, personal recollections, and of course headstones. With over 3000 headstones for traditional largely immigrant Jews, the cemetery is central to the effort to document Maine Jewish history. Steve Hirshon is co-ordinating documentation efforts at Mt. Sinai. Approximately 2/5th of the headstones have been photo-ed and uploaded to the web . Additional images are being reviewed, aligned with the cemetery map and prepared for uploading on the website. We welcome assistance in documenting and photographing the headstone in other Maine Jewish cemeteris.

Oral histories and recollections : Everyone who has lived in the Jewish communites of Greater Portland has recollections and personal knowledge that can supplement or correct the information in the current DOPJ database. Some senior members of the community of course have a special depth of knowledge of their extended family members, friends, community institutions, and neighborhoods. Judy Halpern (email address), Wilma Rose (email address) and Annette Elowitch (email address) are coordinating an effort to gather these recollections as well as existing family trees.

Jewish Organizational History : The synagogues, community social organizations, and the Jewish aide organizations are both the glue that hold communities together and let's acknowledge a source of many conflicts . Michael Cohen is continuing to document Portland Jewish religious organizations and other community organizations

Jewish Hebrew School education : The hebrew schools of Greater Portland have a fifth grade program on the history of Jews in the States and in the local community. Discussions are underway to develop a way to use the DOJP database in this joint program

Software development The DOPJ project started by intergrating various separately standing databases and spreadsheets into an Access database. We have continued to extract information from a series of on-line geneological, census, and official databases and to merge this data into the central Access database. For the web a series of php files were created to permit wider access to the database. Harris Gleckman and Raphael Krut-Landau welcome assistance in upgrading the software that supports this project

Data entry : DOPJ has a number of printed sources that need to typed into a computer file. Currently we have an early membership list for Etz Chaim and an list of the foundering members of Temple Beth El. We have also located sources that need to be reviewed at their current locations, such as a collection of photographs in basement of Cedars and a memorial plaques at the Ceders and Etz Chaim.

Last updated : September 10 2007