Events 2006

The History of the Jewish Community in the Merrimack Valley   — Louise Sandberg    icons-audio
Mike Hoberman
How Strange It Seems: An Oral History of Jewish Cultural Life in Small Town New England    —Michael Hoberman     icons-audio    

Sunday, December 3, 2006 — 1:30 – 3:30PM

Our December program will feature two speakers on early Jewish communities in New England. Michael Hoberman will speak on “How Strange It Seems: An Oral History of Jewish Cultural Life in Small Town New England,” the title of his book soon to be published. Louise Sandberg will talk about “Jewish Communities in the Merrimack Valley”.

Hoberman’s presentation will highlight findings of his research about how the Jewish heritage in rural New England has been both unique and similar to Jewish experience in other regions of the United States. He will illustrate these findings with examples drawn from 60 oral history interviews he conducted in Jewish communities in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and western Massachusetts and Connecticut. The talk will feature an audiotape of excerpts and accompanying photographs.

Hoberman is an assistant professor of English and folklore at Fitchburg State College. He also is the author of Yankee Moderns: Folk Regional Identity in the Sawmill Valley of Western Massachusetts, 1890-1920. He lives with his family on a small farm in Shelburne Falls, MA.

Sandberg, who is in charge of the Special Collections at the Lawrence Public Library, wrote Lawrence in the Gilded Age, part of the Image of America series.

Piecing Together The Quilt

Judy Cohen, Sunday, November 19, 2006            icons-audio

Judy CohenJudith Cohen, the director of the Photographic Reference Collection of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, will speak on “Piecing Together the Quilt.” She will show how examining both large and small photo collections in the Museum’s Archives helps to deepen our understanding of the historic record.

The Photo Archives at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have some 80,000 historic images documenting not only the tragic events of the Holocaust but also Jewish life in the decades before and after the war. While some of these photographs come from large well-known archival collections, many are the only remaining photographs of an individual family. Through the collection of private family photographs, the Museum both memorializes individual victims and also documents historic events.

Cohen has worked in the Photo Archives since 1998. Earlier, she was a researcher and text writer for the Museum’s special exhibition, “Hidden History of the Kovno Ghetto”. Before joining the Holocaust Museum in 1995, Cohen taught history and Jewish studies in Jewish day and afternoon schools. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in 1976 and a Master of Arts in Contemporary Jewish Studies from Brandeis University.

Learn how to donate your family photographs and artifacts to the Photographic Reference Collection of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Introduction To Jewish Genealogy

Jay and Daphnah Sage, Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Jay and Daphnah Sage, past presidents of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston, present an introduction to Jewish genealogy. They will describe some of the joys of discovering your relatives, debunk some of the common myths, and show you how easy it is to get started on your own research.

Exhibit on Discovering Your Jewish Roots

October 5 – 30, 2006     JGSGB at the Brookline Library

Morse Fun With Genealogy

Stephen P. Morse, Sunday, October 22, 2006       icons-audio

Steve MorseThis program will feature Stephen Morse speaking about the tools he has developed for genealogical research on the internet. His One-Step website started out as an aid for finding passengers in the Ellis Island database. Shortly afterwards it was expanded to help with searching in the 1930 census. Over the years it has continued to evolve and today includes over 100 web-based tools divided into twelve separate categories ranging from genealogical searches to astronomical calculations to last-minute bidding on e-bay. This presentation will describe the range of tools available and give the highlights of each one.

Stephen Morse is an amateur genealogist who has been researching his Russian-Jewish origins for the past few years. His websites on searching the Ellis Island database and the 1930 census have attracted attention worldwide. He has received both the Outstanding Contribution Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the IAJGS.

In his other life, Steve is a computer professional who has spent a career alternately doing research, development, teaching, consulting, and writing. He is best known as the designer of the Intel 8086 microprocessor (grandfather of today’s pentium processor) which sparked the PC revolution twenty years ago. He has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and still enjoys tinkering with electronics in his spare time.

How To Restore Photos – Roger Weiss
How To Digitize Your Family History – Hal Slifer     


Sunday, September 10, 2006

RogRoger Weisser Weiss, the webmaster for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston, is the owner of the Boston Web Company and Boston Photo Restorations and has been digitally restoring photographs for many years. During his talk, Roger will discuss photo restoration techniques and provide advice about what we can do at home. The talk will include plenty of examples and cover such topics as storing and scanning your photos, fixing yellowed or faded photos, repairing tears or cracks, restoring missing pieces, removing stains, as well as suggestions for necessary hardware and software.

Hal SliferHal Slifer, one of New England’s top videographers, has been capturing family memories for over 25 years. His work has been shown at numerous Jewish organizations. He has also done promotional videos for the Rashi School, Solomon Schechter Day School, and Gann Academy. Hal’s specialty is producing biographies for families that include family interviews, photographs , and home movies to create a family legacy that will be passed down through the generations. He will be speaking about how to make your own family history DVD/video using interviews, old photos, and film, etc.


Jewish Migration Into and Within Greater Boston

Ellen Smith, Sunday, June 11, 2006  

Ellen Smith will talk about “Jewish Migration Into and Within Greater Boston” at our next program. The talk will cover different periods of immigration into Boston from various parts of the world as well as the movements of Jews within the Boston area.Ellen Smith

Award-winning historian, curator, and author, Ellen Smith is the Associate Director of the Gralla Fellows Program for Religion Journalists at Brandeis University, where she teaches courses in American Jewish Women’s History and American Jewish Material Culture. Smith is the co-editor, with Jonathan Sarna, of The Jews of Boston, and she was the chief a dvisor to the Emmy Award-winning WGBH television documentary of the same name. The former Curator of both the American Jewish Historical Society and the National Museum of American Jewish History, she is also Principal of Museumsmith, a firm specializing in museum exhibitions and historic site interpretations throughout the nation. She has curated over three dozen exhibitions—including three on Boston Jewish history and has published over two dozen books, articles, and catalogs on American Jewish life and culture.

Smith sits on numerous civic and academic boards, and she is a past president of the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center in Newton, Massachusetts. Smith and her husband have a grown daughter and son and live in Newton in a multi-generational house with Ellen’s father and multi-generational pets.

How to Read Hebrew Tombstones

Judith Shulamith Langer-Surnamer Caplan, Sunday, May 21, 2006      icons-audio

Professional genealogist Judith Caplan will explain the important genealogicaJudith Caplanl value of gravestones and how you can decipher and decode the Hebrew letters on gravestones even if you are not literate in Hebrew. She will distribute a handbook she has written that explains how to read family gravestones almost anywhere in the world.

Judith Shulamith Langer-Surnamer Caplan, has published articles on genealogy research and on her Surnamer family (which she has traced to 1650) in Avotaynu, the Jewish Star, Lineage and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. She created a Holocaust database and the Rabbi Samuel Langer Database (searchable online at JewishGen) and is working on two New York City synagogue databases. She is the Chair of the Litvak SIG Publications Committee and Editor of the Litvak SIG Online Journal for JewishGen ( Caplan also founded a professional genealogical research and cemetery visitation service in New York City – Long Island, called Up, Roots!

Caplan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Brooklyn College, a Masters in Mass Communications from Syracuse University and studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She taught high school English in New York City for 20 years and is a published poet and short story writer. She and her husband have two grown sons and three grandchildren, one of whom is named for her eighth great grandmother.

Jewish Genome Research Project

Karl Skorecki, Sunday, April 30, 2006  

Karl SkoreckiDr. Skorecki is head of the Jewish Genome Project which is tracing the origins of the Jewish people through DNA. He will discuss the revelations resulting from his research which traces the direct male line through the Y chromosome and the direct female line through mitochondrial DNA. Dr. Skorecki became known worldwide in Jewish genetics when he helped to determine that half of the Jewish people claiming descent from the priestly class, the Cohanim, are descended from one man who lived 3,000-3,800 years ago.

In a recent study, Dr. Skorecki and colleagues reported new information on the origins of the Jewish population in Europe. They determined that just four women who lived about 2,000 years ago in the Middle East are the ancestors of 40 percent of Jews whose families came from in eastern and central Europe. The women are thought to have migrated with men who came, perhaps as traders to Europe. Researchers had previously thought that only the men came from the Middle East and that they had married local women.

For the last 10 years, Dr, Skorecki has been a researcher in molecular biology and human genetics at the Technion and a clinical nephrologist at the Rambam Medical Center. During this time, he also has served as the Director of the Nephrology Department and Director of the Rappaport Research Institution in Haifa. Dr. Skorecki’s current research focuses on population health and genetics as well as stem cell biology, among other areas. His work has attracted funding from major agencies leading to over 150 publications, over 80 invited lectureships or visiting professorships throughout the world and many international awards.

A native of Toronto, Canada, Dr, Skorecki received his medical degree from the University of Toronto with the highest overall standing in the Faculty, He did his post graduate clinical and research training in Boston at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and at the Massachusetts General Hospital. After nearly 10 years of teaching and research at the University of Toronto, he and his wife, Linda, fulfilled a lifelong ambition and moved to Israel. They have five children and four grandchildren who all live in Israel.

The Krelitz Family: A Personal Face in Berlin’s New Memorial to the
Murdered Jews of Europe

Joel Alpert, Sunday, April 23, 2006        icons-audio

Joel AlpertAlpert will discuss his genealogical research that led to his family being one of only 15 Jewish families to be permanently featured in the Family Fates Room of the Memorial. He will describe the experience that he had with 14 cousins, invited by the German government, when they attended the dedication of the Memorial in May 2005. The head Memorial researcher contacted Alpert after discovering his extensive research on the Internet. Alpert will describe his “wild genealogical adventure” where he learned about the members of his family murdered during World War II in his ancestral town of Yurburg, Lithuania.

“No one wanted to speak about family members who perished in the Holocaust,” said Alpert. He found out about his relatives who died from a 1960s conversation with his grandfather, a 1903 immigrant from Lithuania. “This behavior was very common in many families. Now that our parents and grandparents are gone, it is up to our generation to find out about and honor our murdered ancestors. Amazingly we can now research this information using the resources available on the Internet.”

His illustrated talk includes a historic 1927 film from a cousin’s visit to Yurburg, as well as archival photographs and letters that the relatives sent just before the war and are now permanently exhibited in Berlin. Alpert also will discuss his recent visit to Yurburg.

A resident of Woburn, Alpert has been an electrical engineer at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington for 24 years. He began doing genealogical research and computerizing his family tree in the 1990’s when the genealogical software became available. He also translated and published a Yizkor (Memorial) Book about Yurburg.

How To Plan a Family Reunion

Judy Izenberg & Jay Sage, Sunday, March 19, 2006     icons-audio

Judy Izenberg and Jay Sage, two members of JGSGB, will share their experiencJay Sage  Judy Izenberge in planning family reunions. They will discuss the pitfalls and pleasures of being in charge of a whole reunion or just one part of it. Their talks will include details from designing name tags to producing a wall-size family tree diagram.

Izenberg says, “If you’ve never planned a reunion, it can seem like a daunting task. But if you plan ahead, it can be a wonderful experience both for you and your relatives.” A retired school teacher who is currently co-president of the JGSGB, she has been doing research since 2000. She helped a friend plan a reunion in 2002.

“The greatest joy after doing genealogy research and finding people is to have them meet each other,” says Sage, a past co-president of JGSGB who has been doing research since 1996. “Telling stories, meeting relatives for the first time, sharing pictures, displaying family treasures and solving mysteries are part of an awesome reunion.” He organized the genealogical part of a family reunion held in August 2000.

After the talks, there will be opportunities to do research and meet with other genealogists. Informal discussion groups will be available for beginning genealogists and for those who are interested in writing their family history.

Getting More from JewishGen

Michael Marx, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2006     icons-audio

Michael Marx

By now most genealogists have discovered the premier Jewish genealogy web site – In this presentation, Michael Marx will lead you through an exploration of the vast resources of JewishGen. Beginners as well as intermediate users will learn how to get more out of the many information files, extensive databases, discussion groups, tools, and other facets of this phenomenal, user friendly web site.

Marx, who lives in Lexington, has been interested in genealogy since he retired in 2000. He now has over 1500 people in his family tree. He frequently used the resources available on JewishGen to further his research, and he found the site to be the most useful internet source for Jewish genealogy.

Following the presentation, attendees will have a chance to participate in small discussion groups based on their genealogical interests.