Events 2008

Advanced Googling for Genealogists
Michael Marx, Sunday, January 6, 2008         icons-audio
Michael Marx Learn how to take your genealogy research to a new level by making your Google searches more successful. Google is a simple and helpful way to search the internet, but are you getting just what you want or need? When you get a promising looking return, do you know how to get the most out of it? Did you know there are many more very useful things Google can do beyond that simple search screen?  These and many more questions will be answered at the program.

Marx of Lexington has been researching his German roots since 2001 and can now trace his ancestors back to the mid- 1600s. Much of his success has come from searching the World Wide Web, and his primary tool has been Google. He is the treasurer of the JGSGB.

Click here to get the Google Cheat Sheet.

Ask The Experts
Sunday, Feb 3, 2008   
Problem solve with our “experts.” Learn how to get started or get over that “brick wall” in your family research. Visit various roundtables, some with computers connected to the Internet for online research.

Included are tables dedicated to the following topics:

  • Finding your ancestors using immigration, naturalization, and vital records;
  • Getting started with Jewish genealogy (e.g., using the JewishGen and Steve Morse websites);
  • Holocaust research (e.g., using the Internet and Transport Books);
  • Country-specific research (e.g., Polish, German, Lithuanian);
  • Translation of foreign-language documents (e.g., Yiddish, Polish, German, Russian);

Genealogical reference materials will be available for perusal. So bring in your research questions and your foreign documents for translation. If you want help at the meeting in obtaining information about a relative, please try to have at least their name and their date and place of birth.

Foundations of Jewish Genealogical Research
Heidi Urich & Tom Weiss   Feb 25 – April 14


This course is jointly sponsored by JGSGB and Hebrew College and will take place at Hebrew College, 160 Herrick Road, Newton Centre.


This course will last eight sessions and will be held at Hebrew College starting on February 25th, 2008. The faculty will be course coordinators, Heidi Urich and Tom Weiss, as well as other experienced researchers from the JGSGB. The course is geared toward both beginners and more advanced students. Students will gain a strong foundation in Jewish genealogy to enable them to research family origins. The course will include introductions to relevant world history, geography, methodology and knowledge of resources. Students must have basic computer skills.

Film: Who Do You Think You Are? Stephen Fry
Sunday, March 16, 2008   


This event will take place from 1:30-4:30 at Needham Library, 1139 Highland Avenue, Needham 02494
This film realistically portrays the joys and sorrows of a genealogical search from an initial spark of interest through the process of interviewing family, going to archives, traveling to ancestral lands, visiting important people and places of the past, hiring a researcher, and using sites on the Internet.

Part of a series from the British Broadcasting Corporation that followed popular figures as they traced their roots, this film follows the efforts of Stephen Fry, who has starred in many productions, including Jeeves and Wooster. He unlocks his roots and uncovers some engaging secrets.

A panel discussion with experienced researchers explaining how they go about their research will follow the film.

“This film is one to which everyone can relate,” says Judy Izenberg who helped to select the film for Sunday’s program. “It demonstrates everything a researcher goes through from the technical avenues you explore to the many emotions you feel when discovering the details of your ancestry.”

The Lives of Our Galician Ancestors
Suzan Wynne   Sunday, April 6, 2008        icons-audio


This event will take place from 1:30-4:30 in Reisman Hall at Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward Street, Newton.
The presentation will begin with a geographical orientation to Galicia, which no longer exists as a political entity. Western Galicia is now in Poland and Eastern Galicia is now in Ukraine.  Wynne will give an overview of the government-mandated self governing system, the Juedische Kultus Gemeinden (Jewish Religious Communities), a uniquely Austrian construct which governed virtually all of Jewish life.  She also will discuss the impact of the rigid class structure of Polish society on the Jews of Galicia, daily life and Jewish observance, the enormous role of the Hasidic movement, conditions before and after the 1869 Emancipation of the Jews, education, marriage and the tricky issue of surnames for genealogical research.

Wynne has been involved with Jewish genealogy since 1977 as a teacher, lecturer, author and former professional. A founding member of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington, she was the founder of Gesher Galicia in 1993. She has written two books about Jewish genealogical research for Galitzianers, and has contributed to or written numerous articles for Avotaynu and books about genealogy. A clinical social worker, she works as a geriatric and mental health care manager and consultant in the Washington, DC area.

Using Maps for Genealogical Research
Ronald Grim   Monday, May 5, 2008        icons-audio


This event will take place on MONDAY from 6:30-9:00 in the Mezzanine Conference room at the Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., Boston..
Ronald Grim, the curator of maps at the Boston Public Library, will explain how to use maps in genealogical research. He will use as examples historical maps of Europe, the Mediterranean basin, and—the specialty of the Leventhal collection—greater Boston.

Ronald E. Grim is the Curator of Maps for the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. Previously he was Specialist in Cartographic History at the Library of Congress and Assistant Chief for Reference in the cartographic section of the National Archives. He has curated numerous map exhibitions and lectured widely on the use of maps in genealogical research.

American Jewish History for Genealogists
Norm H. Finkelstein   Sunday, June 8, 2008   


This event will take place from 1:30-4:30 at Vilna Shul, 18 Phillips Street, Boston.
Jews have been part of the American fabric for over 350 years.  Their stories directly affected not only the lives of Jewish people in the United States today but also the course of American history.  For genealogists, learning about where their families came from and how they lived provides a deeper understanding of their ancestors’ experiences on American soil.

Finkelstein, who lives in Framingham, is a teacher, writer, and editor. A former school librarian in the Brookline public schools, he has been teaching children’s literature and history courses at Hebrew College for over 26 years. He is the author of 16 books for young readers, including Forged in Freedom: Shaping the Jewish American Experience and Heeding the Call: Jewish Voices in America’s Civil Rights Struggle, both National Jewish Book Award winners. His biography of Edward R. Murrow, With Heroic Truth, won the Golden Kite Honor Award for Nonfiction. He holds degrees from Boston University and Hebrew College.

The program is free and open to the public. Validated parking ($10.00) is available in the underground part of the Charles River Plaza garage on Cambridge Street (near Au Bon Pain). For directions, please visit: The Shul is also close to the Charles/MGH T station on the Red Line

Finding Relatives in Israel
Batya Unterschatz   Thursday, June 19, 2008   


Finding Relatives in Israel
An Informal Discussion with Batya Unterschatz
This event will take place at 7 pm at Cary Public Library, Lexington Center
Is it possible that you have yet-unknown family in Israel? Has your family lost contact with relatives in Israel? Have you discovered possible relatives through Yad Vashem’s Pages of Testimony but don’t know how to contact them?

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the Jewish Agency in Israel set up the “Search Bureau for Missing Relatives” to assist survivors and to help reunite families that had been separated. Over the decades, the Bureau developed into a major resource for genealogists seeking to find family members living in Israel.

Batya Unterschatz was the director of the Search Bureau for its last 16 years, helping thousands of people find lost family and friends. She will give a short history of the Search Bureau and then answer questions from the audience about looking for lost relatives. This will not be a lecture, but rather an informal question-and-answer session.

Ms. Unterschatz was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, and immigrated to Israel in 1971. She continues assisting people today as a professional researcher.

The Cary Public Library, 735 Massachusetts Avenue, is located in Lexington Center where Bedford Street (Route 4-225) and Mass. Avenue meet at the Lexington Battle Green.

The International Tracing Service: A Major New Resource for Holocaust Research
Sallyann Sack   Sunday, September 7, 2008        icons-audio


This event will take place from 1:30-4:30 at Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward Street, Newton.
Sallyann SackFor 60 years the vast store of Holocaust documents housed in the International Tracing Service (ITS) were not available to the public. That changed in November 2007.  The first group to take advantage of the new open-door policy were 40 Jewish genealogists who visited the ITS at Bad Arolsen, Germany, in May 2008 and were given full access to vast numbers of records relating to Holocaust victims and survivors.  All of these records will ultimately be shared with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, and  the National
Institute of Remembrance (IPN) in Warsaw. Learn more about the kinds of records that exist and how they may be accessed from members of the research group that visited Bad Arolsen.

Sallyann Sack, our guest speaker, has made three trips to the ITS and organized the group that visited in May. She is the editor of Avotaynu (the leading journal for Jewish Genealogy), a past president of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, author or editor of seven major reference books on Jewish genealogy, and a recognized pioneer and leader in the world of Jewish genealogy. She will be joined by JGSGB members Tom Weiss and Heidi Urich, who researched the fates of family members during their week at the ITS archive.

Research Workshop at the National Archives
September 24, 2008


This event will take place from 6:00 – 9:00 pm at NARA, 380 Trapelo Road, Waltham..
Join fellow JGSGB members at our annual research night at the National Archives and Records Administration on Trapelo Road in Waltham. There will be an orientation session for those who have not recently used the NARA facilities and resources. Learn how to look up census records, Boston passenger arrival records, Canadian border crossings, and New England WWI draft registrations and naturalizations. Help will be available for both beginners and experienced researchers.

Jews in the News: Research using Newspapers
Pamela Weisberger   Sunday, October 26, 2008         icons-audio


This event will take place from 1:30-4:30 at Gann Academy, 333 Forest Street, Waltham.
P WeisbergerSome of the most exciting resources for genealogists are the online databases and microfilms of old newspapers and journals. From the scanned and digitized New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and Times of London—to regional newspapers and Jewish community journals, following this oft-neglected “paper trail” will enhance your genealogical knowledge. From obituaries, birth, engagement and marriage announcements, to curiosities such as “Yesterday’s Fires,” “news of the Courts,” and articles covering Eastern European towns and businesses, you will be astonished by the unexpected appearances immigrant ancestors make in the pages of these tabloids and broadsheets.  Learn techniques for locating people and events meaningful to you, with examples of unexpected insights gained into your relatives’ lives by exploring this under-utilized research tool.

Pamela Weisberger is the program chair for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles, Research Coordinator for Gesher Galicia, and is active in the Hungarian and Sub-Carpathian JewishGen SIGs.  Documenting her family’s history for over twenty years, she has traveled throughout Eastern Europe visiting ancestral towns and villages and conducting research in Polish, Ukrainian and Hungarian archives. A special area of interest has been late 19th to early 20th century city directories, newspapers and court records. She has also produced the documentaries “I Remember Jewish Drohobycz” and “Genealogy Anyone? Twenty-Five Years in the Life of the JGSLA,” and coordinated the IAJGS Conference’s 2006-2008 film festivals. She holds a B.A. in English from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.S. in Broadcasting from Boston University.

Using and Other Resources for New York Research
Carol Clingan and Paul Auerbach   Sunday, November 16, 2008        icons-audio


This event will take place from 1:30-4:30 at Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward Street, Newton.
Carol ClinganPaul AuerbachTwo experienced researchers will partner for a presentation of sources available for American research and a case study of the success in using them.
Carol Clingan will give an overview of the databases offered by She will also briefly introduce some other research sources including the Steve Morse One-Step pages.
Paul Auerbach will present a case study of how he used these sources and a chance remark by a family member to identify a previously unknown great-grandfather and, ultimately contacted an entire missing branch of his family.

Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia
Omer Bartov   Sunday, November 23, 2008        icons-audio


This event is jointly sponsored by JGSGB and Hebrew College and takes place at Hebrew College.
Omer Bartov Once home to a vibrant Jewish community, former Eastern Galicia is now part of Ukraine, where all traces of a Jewish past are being eradicated in the name of a fiercely aggressive Ukrainian nationalism. This region was once part of Poland and also part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where multi-ethnic communities co-existed before WWII.Omer Bartov, an international authority on genocide, traces the destruction of the region’s Jewish communities under Nazi and Soviet rule, and explores the contemporary politics of memory in Ukraine.  He is the Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History at Brown University.  His lecture draws on his most recent book, Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine (Princeton, 2007).

This is the 2nd Annual Genealogy Lecture jointly sponsored by JGSGB and Hebrew College.  It will take place at Hebrew College, 160 Herrick Road, Newton Center on Sunday, November 23, 2008, at 3 pm in Berenson Hall.
Admission is free and advance reservation is required due to limited capacity.

Success Stories: Researching & Reconnecting Families across Continents
Steve Denker and Alex Woodle  Sunday, December 7, 2008       icons-audio


This event will take place from 1:30-4:30 at Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward Street, Newton.
Two dramatic stories of digging into lost histories and reuniting long separated families will be featured.Experienced society researchers Stephen Denker of Brookline and Alexander Woodle of Groton will present their stories of successful family research:

  • Documenting Business History in Cuba, and
  • Reuniting Family Divided by 250 Years.

In the first presentation, Stephen Denker reports on seven years of research, worldwide travel and internet chats. By tracing his American family’s manufacturing business and life in Cuba early in the twentieth century, Denker unravels their genealogical history and reconnects cousins who were apart for over seventy years. In the summer of 2007, Denker spent two weeks in Havana completing his research and visiting the family’s home and factory.

In the second presentation, Alexander Woodle reports on his research that also resulted in re-tying the genealogical thread, this time after 250 years.  Woodle’s quest started with discovering a familiar surname in Austria and Romania in a search of international telephone directories. JewishGen and Familysearch database resources provided evidence of relationship. Then Woodle contacted a family in Romania, and utilizing the latest tool of genea-technology, dispatched a DNA kit. Last May, Woodle traveled to Central Europe to visit his distant cousins.

Both presentations exhibit another important facet of genealogical research: the importance of the historical context.  Denker describes the circumstances of Jewish immigration to Cuba.  Woodle’s review of Jewish history in Central Europe yields clues to the dispersal of his family from 18th century Bohemia to Banat (now partially in Romania) in the southern reaches of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.