Exploring the Palestinian side of my family

Category: MPS (Page 1 of 2)

Census Stories

The brothers were both of medium height with “wheat-coloured” faces and grey-blue eyes. They hailed from Kalkandelen (as the town was known in the Ottoman Empire) and came to Jerusalem to create flour mills and bakeries—and families. 

Two unexpected snapshots of sorts, taken in 1905-1906, have added colour and detail to the picture I’ve been building over the years about these two brothers and their families. The younger brother was my great-great-grandfather George Schtakleff; the other, his brother Zacharia

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The Gaitanopoulos of Jerusalem

~ In Memoriam: John Thorogood (1933-2022) ~

*Note: Since its initial publication, this post has been edited at the request of a family member who wishes to remain private.

On a hot summer afternoon in London I made my way to the Thorogoods. A few months earlier, their eldest daughter, Cathie, who lives in Australia, had discovered this blog and my connection to her grandmother’s family – the Gaitanopoulos – and suggested I visit her parents next time I passed through town. I dropped them a line when I was planning a stopover and they invited me over without hesitation. 

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Dancing in the Greek Club

When I became involved in the Katamon Project, I made available to them a series of short video clips I had extracted from a film that was part of great-uncle  Nando’s (Ferdinand Schtakleff’s) extensive library.  ‘Nando’ and ‘films’ are synonymous in our family’s parlance. Rarely was he to be found without a camera in hand. In his Jerusalem days, he even ran the Regent Cinema in the German Colony for a spell.

A copy of this particular film, labelled Jerusalem 1946-47, had been given to us in VHS which I then had transferred to DVD from which I extracted the individual short clips. The quality, as a result of all these transformations, is poor but the content, depicting as it does various aspects of our family’s life in Jerusalem, is simply precious.

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‘This is a strange country’

The second of last year’s reports from my trip to Jerusalem, first posted on Facebook on 11 July 2014. Once again, ligthly edited and with the addition of photographs.

It’s Friday, Muslim holy day of prayer. But in Jerusalem, this particular Friday is not just that. Not only it’s in the month of Ramadan but also in a week where rockets have been flying out of Gaza aiming at the city and in return Gaza is being pummelled by the Israeli Air Force with the BBC reporting 100 dead already. To say things are tense would be far from stretching the truth.

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Third Night in Jerusalem

In July 2014 I visited  Jerusalem for a few days to meet Dorit Naaman as part of the Katamon Project. The tragic events that culminated in the Gaza war were already under way. By the time I left, the onslaught had begun.

Below is my first dispatch, posted on Facebook on 9 Jul 2014. I’m reposting with minor edits and the addition of photographs.

Third night in the old city of Jerusalem. This is a place that exudes history and religion from every nook and cranny: churches of more denominations I knew existed, domes, belfries, spires, synagogues, mosques, minarets, cemeteries. It’s also a city rife with conflict. Police barricades are stacked along the streets, ready for deployment, soldiers armed to the teeth walk up and down all the time, and there are enough cameras in every corner of the old city to make even a Londoner uncomfortable.

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