Our 2023 Events

Date: Sunday, January 8, 2023 via Zoom
Time: 1:00 PM check in, chat, and schmooze (Optional) Official program starts promptly at 1:30


A joint presentation of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal and the Jewish Genealogical and Archival Society of Greater Philadelphia

Speaker: Menachem Kaiser, author,  in conversation with Dan Rottenberg

Topic:  Book Talk: Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure

Location: ZOOM co-hosted with JGS of Montreal


Menachem Kaiser is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. His debut memoir, Plunder, won the 2022 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and was named a New York Times’ Critics Best Book of the Year.


Dan Rottenberg, a member of JGASGP, is an author, editor and journalist. He is best known to us as the author of Finding Our Fathers: A Guidebook to Jewish Genealogy published in 1977. This book was instrumental in the growth of pursuit of Jewish family histories.


Topic: In Conversation with Menachem Kaiser, award winning author of Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure


This book describes the author’s quest to reclaim his family’s apartment building in Poland — and of the astonishing entanglement with Nazi treasure hunters that follows.



Date: Sunday, January 29, 2023 at 1:30 pm via Zoom

Time: 1:00 PM check in, chat, and schmooze (Optional) Official program starts promptly at 1:30
Speakers: Jacky Comforty, Award-winning documentary filmmaker, oral historian and media creator and Martha Bloomfield, Award-winning author, oral historian, and artist

Jacky is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning documentary filmmaker, oral historian and media creator who has worked for over thirty-five years creating films and videos in the United States, Germany, Israel and Bulgaria. He has worked on groundbreaking films in Holocaust Studies. He is the director, editor, producer and distributor of three full-length documentaries and a dozen short videos about the Holocaust.

Martha is an award-winning author, oral historian, artist and independent scholar who has written several books about immigrants, migrants and the formerly homeless. In an effort to help dissipate prejudice and discrimination, she conducts oral histories to discover people’s voices and stories to share within the social historical contexts with other people.

Topic: Book Talk – The Stolen Narrative of The Bulgarian Jews and The Holocaust

The speakers share a complex tapestry of voices and memories previously underrepresented, ignored and denied. It is an alternative perspective that includes stolen, silenced but now reclaimed Jewish narratives based on our peoples’ experiences. It contextualizes and personalizes the history, reconstructs the puzzle, praises those who helped the Jews and shares their exemplary acts of humanity for future generations. It fills a void in the Bulgarian Holocaust literature–specifically first-hand accounts of memory of survivors, eyewitnesses, photographs, official publications, laws and newspaper articles. They will also talk about the importance of oral histories and their journey together to write this ground-breaking book. Jacky will also share an excerpt of the movie he is working on based on their book.

Sunday, February 26, 2023 at 1:30 pm via Zoom

Speaker: Emily Garber, Writer, Speaker and Professional Genealogist


Genealogy researcher, writer and speaker, Emily is an anthropological archaeologist by training and has been researching her family history since 2007. She holds a certificate from Boston University’s Genealogical Research program and owns Extra Yad Genealogical Services. Emily blogs at https://extrayad.blogspot.com/, has written two books and several articles on genealogical research that have appeared in Avotaynu. She serves as chair of the Phoenix Jewish Genealogy Group, and a member of the Board of Directors of both the IAJGS and the Arizona Jewish Historical Society.


Topic: It’s Hard to Say, ‘Good-bye’: Russian Jews Emigration to the United States


There were times when it was more difficult for many Jews to leave the Russian Empire than to enter the United States. What did emigrants have to do to get from their towns of origin to their ports of departure? What were the steps they had to take before leaving their communities? What did the Russian government require of potential emigrants? How and where did emigrants acquire tickets to sail? What routes might our ancestors have taken to get from their homes to ports of departure?


This presentation will answer these general questions and suggest how we can find likely answers for our relatives.

Sunday, March 19, 2023 at 1:15 pm (Note the earlier time)

Hybrid Meeting

In Person at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, 8339 Old York Rd, Elkins Park, PA 19027


Speaker: Zachary Mazur, Senior Historian at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw



Zachary Mazur earned his PhD at Yale University and is currently a Senior Historian at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. His research interests include twentieth-century Eastern and Central Europe, national identity, law, and economics.


Topic: Rabbis, Innkeepers and Tricksters: Jewish Life in Poland-Lithuania


Approximately eighty percent of the world’s Jews have a connection to Eastern Europe, and all of them once lived in a unique country called the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Join Zachary Mazur, Senior Historian at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, to discuss the key question of why Jews settled in Eastern Europe and what their lives looked like there. While discussing the larger historical narrative, we will focus on the stories of those living in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to paint a picture of Jewish life before the Great Migration that began in the 1880s.


This virtual seminar will incorporate POLIN’s Core Exhibition, a journey through 1000 years of the history of Jews in Poland from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Sunday, April 23, 2023 at 1:30 pm

In-person Meeting at Gratz College, 7605 Old York Rd, Melrose Park, PA 19027 – No Livestream, but recording of the meeting and the Documentary film will be available to JGASGP members


Special Program hosted by Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center (HAMEC) and Jewish Genealogical and Archival Society of Greater Philadelphia (JGASGP) in association with the African American Genealogy Group (AAGG).

1:30 to 2:00 PM: HAMEC, JGASGP, and AAGG will have tables set up for guests to learn more about these organizations and discovering their roots.


2:00 to 2:30 PM: An introduction to genealogy “Honoring our Ancestors: Discovering the Roots We Share” with JGASGP President Felicia Mode Alexander and AAGG President Teddi Ashby


2:30 to 3:00 Documentary Film: The Danon Family’s Survival with Sibling Survivors Sarah, Isak and Esther

3:00 to 3:30 Q&A with Danon family, Documentary producers, and Genealogy speakers

Sunday, May 21, 2023 at 2:30 pm (Note later time)

Hybrid Meeting – In-person venue Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Ave, Wynnewood PA 19096


Speaker: Tammy Hepps, Local Historian and Genealogist



Tammy is a genealogist and local historian who focuses on topics within American Jewish history, especially small towns and synagogues. Her projects combine research techniques from genealogy and history and draw heavily upon her technology expertise to break new ground in data gathering and interpretation. She is best known for her community reconstitution project focusing on the Jewish community of Homestead, PA, available online at HomesteadHebrews.com. Tammy earned her AB in computer science from Harvard.


Topic: The Ancestor Deep-Dive: How You Can Find Out Everything There Possibly is to Know About Your Ancestor


Too often our research is driven by sources. We look for an ancestor in all the sources we’ve heard about, and we only break new ground when we hear about new ones. How do we assess how comprehensive our search has been? How do we know if we’re even on the right path to get the answers we long for?  This presentation will teach a methodology for creating a research plan centered on the discoveries we want to make, not just the sources we think we are limited to.

Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 1:30 pm

Zoom Only Meeting


Speaker: Barbara Krasner, Poet, Author, Workshop Leader, Historian


Barbara Krasner has been researching her family’s history since 1989. She is the author of Discovering Your Jewish Heritage (2001) and leads workshops about writing family history. She holds a PhD in Holocaust & Genocide Studies from Gratz College and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.




Topic: Where’s the Story? Mining Your Family’s History to Bring the Past to Life


As genealogists, we often focus on names, dates, and places. But lurking within this data and other finds in the paper trail — letters, diaries, photographs — are kernels we can pop into full-fledged stories. In this session, learn how to uncover the stories and write a narrative to capture your family’s history.


Date:  Sunday, July 9, 2023 This meeting is in partnership with JGS Toronto!

Time: 1:30 pm

Speaker: Dr. Robert Watson, Professor, Author, Historian, and Media Commentator

Topic: The Legacy of the Nuremberg Trials

Location: on Zoom

Robert Watson is an award-winning author who has published over 40 books and 200 scholarly articles and essays on topics in political, military, and social history, as well as two multi-edition, multi-volume encyclopedia sets on the presidents and first ladies. Some of his recent books include Affairs of State (2012), America’s First Crisis (2014), The Nazi Titanic (2016), The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn (2017), George Washington’s Final Battle (2021), and Escape (2021), as well as the forthcoming books When Washington Burned (2023) and American’s First Plague (2023). Watson’s books have won numerous awards including the Independent Publishers’ Gold Medal in History and Silver Medal in History, John Barry Book Award, and John Lyman Book Award, have been featured on C-SPAN’s Book TV and at prominent literary festivals around the country, and are available in both audiobook and international translation.


Topic: The Legacy of the Nuremberg Trials


This presentation examines the philosophical, legal, and political debates surrounding the decision to hold the trials as well as the format for the trials, types of trials, and categories of charges and crimes. We will consider the important legacy of these historic trials on international law and human rights, but also their impact far beyond the courtroom.


Sunday, September 10, 2023 at 2:30 pm (Note the different time)

Hybrid Meeting Schmooze at 2:00 pm (Note the different time)

In Person Venue: Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Ave, Wynnewood PA 19096


Speaker: Jim Meyer, JGASGP webmaster and board member

Jim has been researching his genealogy for many years but has never found any ties to Jews of Morocco. He and his wife Cindy toured Morocco in March with a trip sponsored by his synagogue that focused on this country frequently thought of as Muslim.

Topic: Jewish Morocco

Jews have lived in Morocco for thousands of years. The Inquisition in Spain and Portugal in the 15th century swelled the Jewish population there. Jim will show photos of relics of Jewish life in Morocco and discuss life there.



Sunday, October 22, 2023 at 2:30 pm

Hybrid Meeting

In Person Venue: Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Ave Wynnewood, PA 19096




Speaker: Dr. Polly Zavadivker, Assistant Professor of History and Director, Jewish Studies Program, University of Delaware



Pol­ly is Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of His­to­ry and Jew­ish Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Delaware. She is the edi­tor and trans­la­tor of the recent­ly published The 1915 Diary of S. An-sky: A Russ­ian Jew­ish Writer at the East­ern Front. Her work has been pub­lished in jour­nals includ­ing East Euro­pean Jew­ish AffairsThe Simon Dub­now Insti­tute Year­bookRuss­ian Review, and oth­ers. She is cur­rent­ly at work on a man­u­script enti­tled ​“Blood and Ink: Jew­ish Chron­i­clers of Cat­a­stro­phe in Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry Russia.”




She has a Ph.D. from University of California, Santa Cruz, a M.A. from New York University and a B.A. from University of California, Berkeley.


Topic: The Golden Torah, or how Russian Jews Set out to Rescue Sacred Objects during World War I


When Russia’s Pale of Settlement became a battleground and site of military atrocities during World War I, it was not only people but also Jewish sacred objects and spaces that became the targets of pogroms, iconoclastic violence, arson, and theft. Setting out to rescue the centuries-old sacred treasures of the shtetls, the Jewish Historical-Ethnographic Society in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) waged a brief but dynamic campaign in 1916 to evacuate Jewish material heritage from front zones. Its organizers visited 25 shtetls in regions that are now part of Belarus and Ukraine, where they rescued nearly 500 Torah scrolls and hundreds of manuscripts, community record books, and other sacred objects. This presentation sheds light on this little-known campaign and its importance for understanding the transformations and conflicts within Russian Jewry in a time of global war and revolution.


Sunday, November 12, 2023

Time: 1:00 Check in, Chat, and Schmooze
1:30 pm EST Official start time


Hybrid Meeting: Zoom and In Person Venue: Shir Ami 101 Richboro Newtown Rd. Newtown, PA 18940


Speaker: Meryl Frank, Author and former Mayor of Highland Park, NJ



Meryl was appointed as the United States Representative, and subsequently, as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) by President Barack Obama in February 2009. She was selected as one of “The Fifty Most Influential Jews in the World” by the Jerusalem Post (2012) for her work on behalf of women around the world. Prior to her appointment as Ambassador, Frank was elected Mayor of Highland Park, New Jersey. She served in that capacity for ten years, from January 2000 to January 2010.



Topic: Unearthed: A Lost Actress, a Forbidden Book, and a Search for Life in the Shadow of the Holocaust (the title of her book)


A thrilling mystery woven into a beautifully constructed family memoir: Meryl Frank’s journey to seek the truth about a beloved and revolutionary cousin, a celebrated actress in Vilna before World War II, and to answer the question of how the next generation should honor the memory of the Holocaust.

Sunday, December 10, 2023 at 1:30 pm


Speakers: Gary Pokrassa, Data Acquisition Director and Joel Spector, Director of Metric Record Projects for the Ukraine Research Division of JewishGen



Gary is the Data Acquisition Director for the Ukraine Research Division of JewishGen, Treasurer and Director of JRI-Poland, and town leader for 4 shtetls. He is a member of the JGS of Long Island. At the 2020 IAJGS Conference, he presented on Alex Krakovsky and his Wiki and was a panelist on the Ukraine Research Division Meeting. Gary has authored an article on the Alex Krakovsky project published in AVOTAYNU Summer 2020.


Joel Spector is a Past President of the Jewish Genealogical and Archival Society of Greater Philadelphia, where he has also been chairperson of its Russian Special Interest Group. Joel is a former Secretary of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) and now serves as its Archivist. Currently Joel is a member of the Ukraine Research Division and serves as its Director of Metric Record Projects.


Topic: The Alex Krakovsky Project: Navigating the Wiki to Locate Town Records


For several years, Alex Krakovsky, a Ukrainian Jew, has been scanning metrical and census records found in long-closed Ukranian archives. He has placed the indexes, in Cyrillic, on a webpage where they can easily be accessed by anyone interested. This presentation will discuss the origin and method of Alex’s data acquisition, and then give an overview of the contents of his site.