Our Past 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.