Preparing to write about the Schtakleffs, my maternal grandmother’s family, the other night I finally had a close look at the photos I took of the ‘Register‘. Its official title is the Register of the Christian Orthodox Community in Holy Jerusalem. Its discovery is one of the big coups of my last trip to my mother’s birth town in the summer of 2015. Before I write about its contents, I figured I’d tell the story of how I got hold of it.
Looking to continue the previous year’s research in Jerusalem into official documents, I started by asking around about burial records and was told that Bajali, a jeweller in the Old City, was responsible for issuing licences for burials at the Greek Cemetery so he would have the records. I mentioned this to George Tsourous (a Greek social anthropologist who had spent more than a year studying the Greek Orthodox community in Jerusalem – mentioned in a previous post) in our first meeting so we decided to go check there.
I’ve picked up again The Club (Η Λέσχη), the first book of Stratis Tsirkas’ Drifting Cities trilogy (Ακυβέρνητες Πολιτείες, Στρατή Τσίρκα). I started it years ago but never finished it. Couldn’t appreciate it at the time and found it confusing. But after my last trip to Jerusalem, the book practically begged to be read.
Not only is the writing beautiful but I now have such a better sense of the place and even the time in which it is set: Jerusalem during World War II. And as one reviewer of the book has said, Jerusalem is the main character in the book.
The last from last year’s trip, first posted on Facebook on 14 Jul 2014. Once again, lightly edited and with the addition of photographs.
Saturday was my last day in Jerusalem. And my last chance to visit the Greek Orthodox cemetery. I was glad I had gone exploring the afternoon before as I wouldn’t be wasting precious time now. So once again I walked across the old city, exited from Zion Gate and made straight for the cemetery. It was a hot day, the hottest one since my arrival, the official temp being 34C (93F). I was armed with a cap and water bottle.
First of a two-part post from last year’s trip, originally posted on Facebook on 14 Jul 2014. Lightly edited and with the addition of photographs.
One of the things I was hoping to achieve during this trip was to find the graves of two family members on my maternal grandmother’s side who I knew for certain were buried in Jerusalem.
The first one was my great-great-grandfather, George Schtakleff, who hailed from Tetovo, a town/village in what is modern-day Macedonia, and was, as far as we can tell, an ethnic Bulgarian albeit Greek-speaking. He came to Jerusalem as a pilgrim sometime in the mid- to late-1800s, felt there was a business opportunity to set up a flour mill and had his brother, Zachar(ias), join him. He married twice, ‘importing’ his wives from Tetovo, and built his life in Jerusalem. His first-born was my great-grandfather, John. (You still with me?)