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Christine Usdin

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(April 18, 1947 - June 10, 2013 ZL)

Comment posted on the LatviaSig website June 24, 2013
by Henry Blumberg, Convener - Latvia SIG

It was with a sense of disbelief that I heard of the sudden death of Christine. She has been a vital force in Latvian genealogy to all of us by her unstinting unstinting work and doing translations and thereby opening up many avenues of further Latvian genealogy. (sic)

Christine was selfless and relentless in her dedication not only to translating but in assisting in individual research whenever possible. Her passion for her subject was also reflected in all the additional material that she provided with her translations.

She shunned public recognition for the immense contribution that she made and remained a very private person. She was selfless in her striving to make Latvian genealogical data accessible to all of us and we owe her an immense debt of gratitude. It is some small consolation to me that in my correspondence with her I was able to express appreciation from time to time.

On behalf of the Latvia SIG and the many who benefited from Christine's tireless efforts I express our heartfelt loss at her sudden passing and extend our sympathy to her family.

She will be sorely missed. We all hope her work will continue.


Comment posted on the LatviaSig website June 24, 2013
by Arlene Beare UK

I was really distressed when I learned that Christine had passed away. She was like a close friend in spite of the fact that we never met personally. A lot has been written in the past week and all of it true. Her mother was the sole surviving member of her family who perished in the Holocaust and so Christine wanted to make a fitting memorial to all her lost relatives. She has left a legacy that is invaluable.

She was a graduate of the Institute of Eastern languages of Paris ( Russian and Chinese) but told me she had forgotten a lot of her Chinese. She worked for her father who owned an big industrial foundry and had her own Art workshop there.

In 1981/ 1982 she studied Art foundry lost wax process in different places in the USA( Northern Michigan University of Marquette, in Indiana, Texas and New Mexico.)

From 1987 she ran her own little foundry in a very touristic medieval village Perouges, north of Lyon. She specialized in Jewish art but once she started doing the translations no longer had much time for her art.

She sent me a link to a video of her work and you may be interested in looking at it. She sold most of her sculptures to Jewish Americans. Video

May she rest in peace. I shall miss her.


Comment posted on the LatviaSig website June 17, 2013
by Eli Rabinowitz, Perth, Australia

I have read on Facebook with sadness that Christine Usdin has passed away.

Christine performed many mitzvahs by translating thousands of records from cyrillic and thereby reconnecting so many of us with our roots.

RIP Christine.


Comment posted on the LatviaSig website June 17, 2013
by Harold Rhode

May G-d comfort Christine Usdin her and her family among the mourners of Zion. We will miss her. There is no one who has done as much to bring to us the multiple of records regarding the Jews of today's Latvia.

We have a saying: "All Jews are responsible for each other." Christine did so much to help her fellow Jews understand who and what we are.

May HaShem have mercy on her soul.


Comment posted on the LatviaSig website June 19, 2013
by Martha Lev-Zion, Israel

I am devastated to report that I just received a response from the city hall of Pérouges regarding Christine. Translating their response to my query about Christine: Christine died on the 10th of June in her home. She was cremated the following Friday and her urn was placed in the family vault at the cemetery of Meximieux.


Comment posted on the LatviaSig website June 27, 2013
by Lewis Chilton, Southern California

I was shocked and dismayed to learn of Christine's apparently sudden demise. She was a very special and gifted person. The Jewish genealogy community won't be the same without her, especially those of us with roots in Latvia. Thanks to Christine, I found many of my relatives and my wife's relatives in Dvinsk, Rezekne, Vishki, Kreslava and elsewhere.

What's to become of all her wonderful translations? When her websites go down, won't all of her work just disappear?


This Article Contributed by Esther Rechtschafner

Christine Usdine, a Frenchwoman, was a noted artist and sculptor. She was the owner of ARTFOUNDRY USDIN

She became interested in Latvian Jewry because of her grandfather Zalman-Eliokim Usdin.

She maintained her own websites, which includes her original translations plus transcriptions and other useful genealogical material at:

She made many trips to Latvia to photograph cemeteries. She indexed many cemeteries and translated and transcribed many tombstones.

Christine Usdin has spent many hours translating these records from the Russian entries.

The Jewishgen LatviaDeaths data base owes its existence to the remarkable, indeed unique, contribution of Christine Usdin, , who set out to translate all surviving Jewish vital records held in the Latvia State Historical Archives. The database is the first that has benefited from the project set up in 2007 by the Latvijas Valsts vēstures arhīvs [Latvian State Historical Archives] to digitize their primary holdings relating to family history and to make them available on-line on their website.

When one reads that the Jewish vital records of an entire country are being indexed, one thinks that many volunteers work on the project. Christine Usdin did this singlehandedly. For a number of years, and She posted her accomplishments to the JewishGen Latvia SIG Discussion Group. Usdin extracted the Russian-language records, and Martha Lev Zion of Israel verified the accuracy by reading the Hebrew portion of the entry. She admitted that the number of records she had indexed to date exceeded 100,000.

The Latvian archives have scanned thousands of pages of records, but left them sorted by location and date, and did not alphabetize them by name, making it impossible to find records of a specific person without already having detailed information. (Because the handwriting is not suitable for optical character recognition, computers cannot search them). Christine Usdin retyped hundreds of pages in English, but the arrangement of records on the Latvian site makes it difficult to find the corresponding pages.

She was always willing to help people with their research.

She left a large void in Latvian extraction work.

We feel it correct to honor her memory on this website.