Schedule of 2021 Events

We schedule meetings usually every 3 weeks from January to June and September-December 2021.  

Please note: Meeting times, dates, locations and speakers are subject to change.

Information is regularly updated. 

Due to the Corona virus situation, our meetings this year will be conducted on the Zoom until it is safe to meet as a group.




The Steve Schecter Memorial Lecture for 2021

Date: Sunday, October 10, 2021

Time: 1:00 PM check in, chat, and schmooze (optional); official program starts promptly at 1:30

Guest Speaker: Dr. Robert Watson, Historian, Author, Political Commentator, and Professor at Lynn University



Robert Watson is an award-winning author who has published over 40 books and 200 scholarly articles and essays on topics in history and politics, as well as two multi-edition, multi-volume encyclopedia sets on the presidents and first ladies. His recent books include Affairs of State (2012), America’s First Crisis (2014), The Presidents’ Wives (2014), The Nazi Titanic (2016), The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn (2017), George Washington’s Final Battle (2021), Escape (2021), a story about a notorious Confederate Prison and the Union soldiers who escaped, and the forthcoming books When Washington Burned (2022) and 100 Days of Terror, a story about a pandemic that struck the capital city in 1793. His books have won the John Barry Book Award, John Lyman Book Award, Independent Publishers’ Gold Medal in History, and others, have been published in international translation, and featured on C-SPAN’s Book TV and at prominent literary festivals around the country.

Dr. Watson co-convened several national conferences, co-founded the annual Truman Legacy Symposium for the Truman Presidential Library, and served on the boards of numerous academic associations, community organizations, and the Harry S. Truman Foundation, Calvin Coolidge Foundation, and George McGovern Center for Leadership. Watson is the recipient of many awards for his contributions to the study of the presidency, election commentary, community service, civics programs, and efforts to combat anti-Semitism and incivility.


Topic: Truman and Israel: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of Statehood in 1948


Based on a multi-year series of interviews with former aides to President Truman and former Israeli diplomats as well as extensive archival research in the Truman Presidential Library, this talk examines the behind-the-scenes politics and planning that led to Truman’s courageous decision to support the creation of the modern state of Israel, the meetings among Zionist leaders and the American president, and the inspiring commitment to a host of bilateral policy initiatives that continue to define the special relationship between the two nations to the present-day.

Our Past 2021 Meetings

Sunday, January 17, 2021 at 1:30 pm Via Zoom

Speaker: Sharon Taylor, JGAGSP Member


Sharon Taylor graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. For ten years, Taylor worked for the University of Colorado School of Medicine as a Professional Research Assistant.


Taylor and her husband live outside of Philadelphia where Taylor continues writing and researching her family and the Jews of Galicia. She is a member of Gesher Galicia, and the Jewish Genealogical and Archival Society of Greater Philadelphia. Her articles have been published in their journals, on The National Library of Israel Blog, and in Jewish newspapers in Philadelphia and Arizona.


Topic: Extra! Extra! Read All About it: Using to Research Family History


Sharon Taylor’s roots lay in Mariampol, a typical small town in eastern Galicia (today western Ukraine), and in Philadelphia. No vital records are known to exist for the time Taylor’s family lived in Mariampol. In Philadelphia, it was rumored that Taylor’s family was involved in organized crime, an activity that strives to leave no trace. Turning to Taylor explored the tale of her great-uncle’s kidnapping by the Russian Army. She’ll share her results and methodology as she tracks the struggles of Mariampol during the First World War, and finds evidence of her family’s colorful life in Philadelphia in the 1930’s.


Sunday, February 21, 2021 via Zoom

1:00 pm   Check-in, Chat, and Schmooze.   Program starts promptly at 1:30

Guest Speaker:  Miriam Weiner, Genealogist, Author and “Creator of the Consolidated Eastern European Archival Database”

In 1989, Miriam Weiner accepted an invitation from the Polish National Tourist Office to visit the Polish archives as preparation for arranging genealogy tours to Poland. That visit led to a 30-year career working in the archives of Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, and Ukraine.  On December 15, 2019, Miriam Weiner will give a presentation about her extraordinary and unpredictable odyssey as she “walked in the footsteps of her ancestors.”

In 1991, “The Jewish Week” in New York referred to Miriam as “The genealogist who lifted the archival iron curtain” and in 1998, “The Forward” referred to her as “The Indiana Jones of pre-war Polish Jewry.”

We are very lucky to have our Lifetime member join us for a special encore presentation!


Searching the new Surname Database

Miriam Weiner Introduces New Surname Database with 2,000,000+ names at her Website!


From 30+ years of working in the archives of Eastern Europe, I have acquired hundreds of various document collections and have formed a close working relationships with archivists on all levels which continues to this day. During the last 2 years, I have created a surname database (searchable via standard search and OCR search) which enables the researcher to access Holocaust name lists, vital records, census lists, school records, property lists, various telephone & business directories, most of which does not appear elsewhere online. Written permission was obtained from archivists, authors and institutions for me to create data files & publish this information. The data entry is ongoing. Additionally, at, a town name search can produce: 1: archive data for that town, 2: images of the town, and 3: link to street map of the town. A surname search can produce 1: document results with that surname, 2: link to a street map, and 3: links to town images. All in a single search!

Date:  Sunday, February 28, 2021 Via Zoom

Time:  1:00 check in, chat, and schmooze.   Official program starts promptly at 1:30

Guest Speaker:  Leora Tec, Founder and Director, Bridge to Poland

Leora Tec is the founder and director of Bridge To Poland, which seeks to educate people about Jewish history in Poland with an emphasis on how the Jews of Poland are being remembered by non-Jewish Poles today. Leora is the Special Projects Partner of Brama Grodzka-Teatr NN in Lublin, Poland and a Mary Elvira Stevens Traveling Fellow from Wellesley College (2018-2019). In cooperation with Brama Grodzka-Teatr NN Leora has created the online video archive, The Neshoma Project: Conversations with Poles Rescuing Jewish Memory. Leora sits on the board of the American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies. She is the author of several articles including “Bridge Building in the Polish Jewish Landscape in Jews in Dialogue (Brill 2020) and the forthcoming, “An Inclusive Model of Memory Work in Poland: Bridge To Poland as a Case Study” with Professor Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs in the Polish journal Politeja.  Leora’s mother, Nechama Tec, is a Holocaust survivor and Holocaust scholar whose book, “Defiance,” was made into the film of the same name starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber. Leora holds a B.A. from Wellesley College and a J.D./LL.M. from Duke University School of Law.

Topic:  What is There for Jews in Poland Today? An Introduction to The Neshoma Project

As we know, ninety percent of Polish Jews were murdered during World War II. It’s understandable that some people, especially Jews of Polish descent, might have reservations about going to Poland, the site of such vast pain and loss. And yet, Poland is an integral part of Jewish history.

Leora Tec has traveled all over Poland having conversations with non-Jews who, in different ways, are remembering the Jews who used to be their neighbors. Those interviewed, working to heal historical wounds, come from many different fields including: scholarship, teaching, guiding, grassroots activities, museum work and the arts.

In this talk, Leora Tec lays out several reasons in favor visiting Poland, focusing on those people she calls Rescuers of Memory, who are featured in the online video archive she created in cooperation with Brama Grodzka-Teatr NN, The Neshoma Project.

Date:  Sunday, March 7, 2021 Via Zoom

Time:  1:00 check in, chat, and schmooze.   Program starts promptly at 1:30

Special Program: Beginner’s Seminar open to both members and non-members

Speaker: Joel Spector, former President of JGASGP


Joel is a Past President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia, where he has also been chairperson of its Russian Special Interest Group. Joel has given presentations and workshops on the Russian language, both contemporary and pre-Revolutionary, and has provided translations of documents to individuals and groups. Currently Joel is a member of the Ukraine Research Group and serves as its Director of Metric Record Projects. Joel has been actively engaged in genealogy for over 30 years and has been conducting research in several historic Russian language encyclopedias. He has produced a unique English language Index to the Russian language Evreiskaya Entsiklopedia.

Topic: “Finding Your Ancestors: How to Get Started and Where to Go.”

The presentation will focus on how to find information about your ancestors, both those you know and those you didn’t even know you had. We will explore what data is immediately available and review what information can be derived from the many types of resources – local, national and international – and from on-line resources. Throughout, we will focus on the excitement in discovering information about your little-known ancestors and on the various types of information that make the search in Jewish genealogy fun.


Here are links to Joel’s handouts (one in MS Word format, one as a PDF)

Word handout

PDF handout


Sunday, March 21, 2021 at 1:30 pm Via Zoom

Time:  1:00 check in, chat, and schmooze.   Program starts promptly at 1:30 

Speaker: David Brill, Experienced Russian Empire Researcher

David Brill has been researching his family history in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and the United States for over 25 years. A longtime member of JGASGP, he coordinates the Russian Interest Group, and is an avid (and self-taught) translator of prerevolutionary Russian records. In addition to managing the Tuchin, Ukraine, KehilaLinks page, David leads the Rovno Uezd Jewish Records Project for the JewishGen Ukraine Research Division, which is currently translating more than 52,000 records of Jewish families from Tuchin, Rovno and nearby towns. In his non-genealogical existence, David is a research civil engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration, specializing in the design and evaluation of airport runways. He has a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Rutgers University, and also graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where he met his wife Michelle. They have two grown children, Ari and Rachel.


Topic: Getting the Most from Revision Lists – A Regional Approach


Revision lists are among the most important genealogical resources from the Russian Empire, and they are often the only available confirmation that an ancestor actually lived in a particular shtetl. They may contain important information pertinent to neighboring towns too. Fortunately, we now have access to greatly expanded online databases, plus new sources of online revision lists and other original documents (such as Alex Krakovsky’s wiki page, topic of last April’s meeting by Joel Spector). This means that it is now easier than ever to expand one’s research beyond the borders of a single shtetl, and discover previously unknown genealogical connections to nearby communities. David’s presentation shares examples from the ongoing Rovno Uezd Jewish Records Project (present-day Rivne, Ukraine) that illustrate the power of a region-wide search. In addition, David will discuss the current status of the Rovno regional translation project, and what a deep reading of the revision lists can tell us about our ancestors’ lives in the Russian Pale of the 19th-century.


Date:  Sunday, April 11, 2021 Via Zoom

Time:  1:00 check in, chat, and schmooze.   Program starts promptly at 1:30

Guest Speaker:  Ellen Kowitt

Ellen Kowitt is Director of JewishGen’s United States Research Division and National Vice Chair of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Jewish Task Force. She is past president of JGS Colorado and JGS Greater Washington DC, and has served on the IAJGS board of directors. Ellen publishes articles in Avotaynu and Family Tree Magazine, and she’s a member of the Colorado Association of Professional Genealogists. For information,


Topic: Comparing Jewish Resources on the Genealogy Giants


Enjoy this comparative overview of Jewish record collections and research tools found on the global powerhouse websites referred to as “Genealogy Giants.” Covering Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast, and MyHeritage, this lecture includes many substantive record examples. Learn how each site can be helpful for documenting Jewish families, and get tips on each site’s best features or challenges. Current JewishGen partnerships with Ancestry and MyHeritage will be featured.

JGASGP MEMBERS: You can find Ellen’s handout on the Links page (go to the top menu and click LINKS)

Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 1:30 pm Via Zoom

Time:  1:00 check in, chat, and schmooze.  Program starts promptly at 1:30

Special Event: Ask the Experts

Speakers: JGASGP experts to be announced

JGASGP will develop a mechanism using Zoom to allow members to ask their most burning questions and research and breaking down brick walls. Stay tuned for more.

Date:  Sunday, May 23, 2021 via Zoom

Time:  1:00 check in, chat, and schmooze.    Program starts promptly at 1:30

Speaker: Alex Krakowsky: Referred to by FamilySearch as “one of the most influential figures in modern Jewish genealogy”

Alex Krakovsky, a Jewish Ukrainian, is using freedom of information laws and the court system in Ukraine to force archives to allow him to scan their records and post them on a public website.


Alex was born in Kyiv in 1982 and graduated Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in 2005. He started his own genealogy with a trip in 2011. Since then, he became involved in various Ukrainian archive projects. Most notable is Jewish towns (use Google’s Chrome browser and it’s translate function to view in English) with the goal to digitize and publish online all of the Jewish records in Ukraine. Alex spent years in Ukrainian archives finding various unknown Jewish lists and putting them online. He won many lawsuits with Ukrainian archives to make records open and available to everyone.


Topic: Tracing Jewish Ancestors from Ukraine: Why Many Researchers Fail and How to Succeed.


The Internet is full of typical questions like “my Rabinovich ancestors came to the US from Berdychiv in the early XX century but I can’t find any records”. People struggle for years and most eventually fail to find anything and give up. The key to success is it just doesn’t work this way. It’s not hard to find records you need. Genealogy is not rocket science. But you need to understand fundamental principles of how it all really works. And then you might find much more than you expected.


Sunday, June 13, 2021 at 1:30 pm Via Zoom

Speaker: Phil Goldfarb, Founder and President, Jewish Genealogical Society of Tulsa

Researching genealogy for 35 years, Phil is the founding and current President of the JGS of Tulsa which started in 2005. He has lectured extensively on various topics in genealogy, published articles on genealogy in numerous periodicals, and authors a monthly column in the Tulsa Jewish Review. He has written two books titled A Page of History: Passport Applications 1851-1914 and A Page of History: Passport Applications Volume II 1915-1925. Phil is a member of the Leadership Team for JewishGen as well as being the Lead Moderator for the JewishGen Discussion Group.


Topic: How to Utilize The JewishGen Discussion Group Effectively



  • What the JGDG is all about.
  • Ways the JGDG can help you.
  • Advantages of the new JGDG platform.
  • Discussion Group Rules and Guidelines.
  • How to join the JGDG.
  • Group settings.
  • Options for Group Message delivery.
  • How to change an e-mail address or message delivery.
  • Two ways to post a message.
  • How to find archival messages (back to 1998!)
  • Hashtags: how/why important to use them.
  • How to “mute” hashtags to only get certain messages.
  • How to create an automatic signature.
  • How to reply to a message individually or to the group.
  • Why messages are rejected or deleted.

Sunday, July 11, 2021 at 1:30 pm

Speaker: Marian Smith, Retired Historian at INS

Marian Smith retired in 2018 after thirty years as an Historian for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), later US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). She now speaks to groups on US immigration and nationality records and leads the I&N Records Fortnightly study group.


Topic: Researching US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Records


Marian Smith presents an overview of three historical eras of US immigration and naturalization records, illustrated with documents of Jewish immigrants. Using a timeline tool (included in the handout), she demonstrates how plotting an immigrant’s life events can identify what records may exist for that particular immigrant and where these records can be found.

Date: Sunday, August 29, 2021
Time: 1:00 PM check in, chat, and schmooze (Optional) Official program starts promptly at 1:30
Speaker: Michael Tobias, Recipient of IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award

Michael is a co-founder and Board Member of JRI–Poland; Vice President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain; Honorary Research Fellow – Genealogical Studies, University of Strathclyde; Jewish Research Specialist (Q & A) for ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Magazine; Former Vice President, Programming of JewishGen, Inc. He was Database matching consultant to the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims. Michael was awarded the International Association of Jewish
Genealogical Societies Lifetime Achievement award in Washington in 2011. He was awarded the OBE for services to the Jewish Community in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2021.

Topic: Ich bin ein Berliner: JRI-Poland and DNA Matches Unite 5 Half-siblings from 4 Different Mothers

During the Covid19 lockdown in the UK in July 2020 a woman asked for help in identifying her newlydiscovered (via DNA) Jewish birth-father. She could not imagine the story about to unfold. In the next three weeks, following the DNA trail and building family trees for each of 8 significant DNA hits on 3 different websites, her ties to four half-siblings were identified, all sharing the same father but with four different mothers. To be certain of the connections between the DNA matches and the half-siblings, it
was necessary to use the JRI-Poland database to create family trees going back to the late 1700s. In the process the accuracy of the DNA estimated family relationships could be compared with the true family relationships and the impact of any endogamy could be analyzed.

Date: Sunday, September 19, 2021
Time: 1:00 PM check in, chat, and schmooze (Optional) Official program starts promptly at 1:30
Speaker: Erin Smith, Archivist at The Stoogeum: A Museum of Three Stooges Memorabilia

Erin Smith is the Archivist at The Stoogeum: A Museum of Three Stooges Memorabilia. She worked in the library while earning her Bachelors in English Literature at Susquehanna University, and also spent a semester in Washington D.C. interning at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. She attained her Masters of Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in Archives and Preservation Management. She moved to the Philadelphia Area in 2009 from Western PA and started at The Stoogeum in 2011. Having found a binder stuffed with random e-mails from family members, she started compiling the Three Stooges’ family trees and it has remained an enjoyable side project ever since. Personally, Erin has traced her own lineage to early British and German immigrants to Pennsylvania and even a Plantagenet king. Once she gets her act in gear, she hopes to join the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Topic: “What was your family decomposed of?”: The Three Stooges’ Family Trees

This presentation will feature a brief description of the career of the Three Stooges, followed by an in-depth look at the families and genealogy of each of the main figures in the Three Stooges’ long career.