Schedule of Upcoming Events


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

Information is regularly updated. 

Our meetings will be in-person AND online whenever possible and safe, and for members who do not live near the Philadelphia area.

 



Date:  Sunday, July 14, 2024

Time: Official meeting starts at 1:30 pm     

(1:00 pm for Schmoozing and Mentoring)

Location:   Zoom only

Speaker:  Ellen Kowitt, JewishGen USA Research Division Director and D.A.R. Jewish Specialty Research National Vice Chair

 

Ellen Kowitt is founder and principal genealogist at Sole Searching Genealogy & Historical Research. Specializing in American records and Jewish ancestry, she is a frequent presenter at national conferences and has published articles in Family Tree Magazine and Avotaynu: The International Journal on Jewish Genealogy. Topics include getting started in Jewish genealogy, methodology, Jewish institutional records, comparing Jewish resources on the genealogy giant websites, Russian Empire research, and Holocaust in Ukraine. Ellen received her B.A. from Alfred University and spent twenty-five years working in marketing management and communications before transitioning into full-time research. She has completed the ProGen study program and several genealogical institutes, and Ellen is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. While accepting clients, she continues to volunteer and is JewishGen USA Research Division Director and D.A.R. Jewish Specialty Research National Vice Chair. In 2022, Ellen launched Shul Records America for JewishGen which is a unique finding aid pointing to the location of synagogue records in over one hundred repositories. She has spent thirty years studying her paternal Jewish origins in Ukraine which are documented back to the mid-1700s prior to the assignment of Jewish surnames. Ellen has organized extensive volunteer town research projects for her ancestral shtetl towns of Lyubar and Chudnov, as well as across the former Volhynia Guberniya, and she has partnered with scholars in five countries on projects about Babyn Yar and Holocaust in Ukraine. Originally from New York and Washington DC, Ellen resides in Colorado with her Israeli-born husband and is mother to two college students. For more information and lecture dates, visit www.EllenKowitt.com.

Topic: U.S. Synagogue Records as a Genealogical Resource

A primer on how to find synagogue records, what genealogical material they include, and what they look like. Finding synagogue records can be problematic and time consuming as they are hard to find, sometimes with errors in catalogs and a variety of ways materials are described. To make it easier, and in one place, JewishGen starts the search for you with Shul Records America. This new finding aid points to the location of American synagogue records. Launched in fall 2022 with over 1,000 collections identified to date and held at over 100 repositories, about 10% include URLs for digitized materials. Not only a historical resource but important as modern-day synagogues merge or close, Shul Records America also encourages congregations to preserve records with genealogical value.


Date:  Sunday, September 15, 2024

Time: Official meeting starts at 1:30 pm

           (1:00 pm for Schmoozing and Mentoring)

Location:   Hybrid In Person Venue Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, Elkins Park, PA (tentative)

Speaker: Lisa Grunberger, Author and Temple University English Professor

 

Author, Pushcart nominee and Temple University English Professor Lisa Grunberger is a first-generation American writer. Her award-winning poetry book I am dirty (First Prize, Moonstone Press) and Born Knowing (Finishing Line Press) are lyrical reflections on life as a woman, a mother, and a daughter of Holocaust survivors. She is the author of: Yiddish Yoga: Ruthie’s Adventures in Love, Loss and the Lotus Position (Harper Collins); Mercy Wombs, (Finalist in Settlement House American Poetry Prize for first-generation poets); and For the Future of Girls (Kelsay Press). A widely published poet, her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Paterson Literary Review, Mudfish, The Drunken Boat, Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, Philadelphia Poets, Paroles des Jour, Dialogi, Crab Orchard Review, Mom Egg Review, The Baffler, Fine Linen Press. Her poems have been translated into Hebrew, Slovenian, Russian, Spanish and Yiddish. Almost Pregnant, her play about infertility and is published by Next Stage Press; “Inheritance” appears in an anthology called Infertilities: A Curation (Wayne State UP). Her play, Alexa Talks to Rebecca won the Audience Choice Award at the Squeaky Bicycle Theatre. Lisa teaches Yoga and Infertility workshops and lives with her family in Philadelphia. She is working on a memoir called Chosen: An Adopted Woman’s Double Holocaust Inheritance.

Topic: Adoptive Daughter’s Search for her Birth Mother: My Double Holocaust Inheritance

When orphaned Mom Lisa Grunberger spits into a plastic vial to find her birth mother, History becomes Personal, as she finds herself staring into the eyes of her maternal grandmother, Eva Bass, who is the lead photo in Life Magazine’s 1944 story about Jewish refugees arriving in Oswego, NY as “Roosevelt’s Guests.” Lisa’s audio-visual scrapbook of archival postcards – she calls A Decalogue of Epiphanies – is addressed to her young daughter Rachel and chronicles her journey to find her lost birth mother who was taken from Eva in 1945 as she was deemed unfit to mother; Lisa’s Epiphanies are a tragic-comic Jewish reckoning with blood family and adoptive family, and a questioning of how we all belong to each other –how do we turn ghosts into ancestors, does DNA without memory mean anything?


 

Sunday, November 10 or 17, 2024 at 1:30 pm

(1 pm for Schmoozing and Mentoring)

Hybrid Meeting – In Person Venue TBD

Speaker: Rabbi Lance Sussman, Emeritus Rabbi Keneseth Israel and Historian

 

Lance J. Sussman has taken on many roles as a thought-leader in the Jewish community. In his 40+ years as a rabbi, Sussman’s insights and expertise have brought a fresh perspective on the issues of the American Jewish experience. Throughout his career, Sussman has been an active scholar, writer, educator, and public speaker.

 

As Senior Rabbi at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, PA, for more than 20 years, Sussman left his mark on the synagogue and its community that will be woven through its history for decades to come. Now that he has retired as a pulpit rabbi, Sussman has set his sights on a new and expanding role in the Jewish community.

 

Topic: The Remarkable Jewish Story of the National Farm School

 

In 1896, Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, purchased a 100-acre farm in Doylestown with the intention of starting a school that would attract Russian Jews – helping them to start a new life in a new country. Learn more about what led this esteemed Philadelphia rabbi to undertake this remarkable project — and how it ultimately resulted in the creation of Delaware Valley University.


Sunday, December 8, 2024 at 1:30 pm

(1 pm for Schmoozing and Mentoring)

Hybrid Meeting – In Person Venue TBD

Speaker: Jean Lewanda, Author

 

Jean retired to Yardley, PA after spending 40 years as a special educator in the Greater Hartford, CT area. She had the honor and pleasure of editing her father’s memoir, which details her family history in Austria, his escape from Vienna, life in Shanghai, escape from China to Europe, and his eventual arrival in New York City with her mother and brother. Jean was born in 1954, one year after their arrival. Through her involvement with the Jewish Book Council, and other organizations, Jean has been able to share her Dad’s memoir. She have done work in the area of Holocaust Education and hopes to continue on this path. Jean has completed her first book, a historical fiction account of her Mom’s life, which has been accepted for publication, hopefully to be released this year. Shalama: My 96 Seasons in China relates the story of Russian Jews who emigrated to China in the early 1900’s.

 

Topic: Jews in China: 1840-1957

Three Jewish Communities lived in China from the 1840s through 1957. The three groups were the Baghdadi Sephardim, the Ashkenazi Russians, and the Ashkenazi refugees from central Europe, predominantly Germany, Austria and Poland. Some survived, while others thrived, but for all, China proved to be a safe haven until it was time to move on again. The journey of two families, one Russian, the other Austrian, will be highlighted in this presentation, as will the important role the Baghdadis played in supporting the entire Jewish Community.


 

 Sunday, January 15, 2025 at 1:30 pm

(1 pm for Schmoozing and Mentoring)

Zoom Only Meeting

Speaker: Andrea Bentschneider, Professional Genealogist based in Hamburg, Germany

 

Andrea Bentschneider, a highly respected professional genealogist based in Hamburg, Germany, is renowned for her expertise and contributions to the field of genealogy. Since establishing “Beyond History” in 2004, she has emerged as Germany’s foremost expert in genealogical research. Andrea’s proficiency has led her to feature prominently in various national and international television formats, including shows like “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Finding Your Roots,” as well as being a regular guest on German radio and TV programs. Her firm specializes in diverse genealogical services, including ancestor research, World Wars documentation, Jewish family research, and assistance with citizenship applications, catering to clients globally.

Since 2013, Andrea has served as the President of the Association of German-speaking Professional Genealogists, setting modern standards and accreditation in the field. She joined the board of the International German Genealogy Partnership as a Director at-large in 2024. A passionate educator, she regularly conducts webinars and presentations in English and German at various conferences, notably captivating audiences at RootsTech, IGGP and IAJGS conferences . With over 20 years of professional experience, Andrea and her team have completed more than 2,000 research projects, aiding over 1,800 clients. Her work philosophy, “We give your ancestors a voice and tell their stories,” reflects her commitment to uncovering and honoring the narratives of ancestors. Andrea’s global perspective.

 

Topic: Voyage of Hope and Hardship: The 19th Century Emigration Experience through German ports – Atlantic Crossing Realities and Requirements

 

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, a massive wave of emigrants, embarked on arduous journeys from German ports such as Hamburg, Bremen, and Stettin, seeking new lives across the Atlantic. This presentation delves deeply into the historical context of German emigration, emphasizing the compelling reasons behind these monumental decisions, with a particular focus on Jewish emigrants. It explores in detail the challenging conditions faced during the ocean crossing – from the financial burdens and lengthy travel durations to the often harsh and cramped conditions aboard the ships. The talk also highlights the phenomenon of indirect emigration, where Hamburg emerged as a pivotal transit point, leading to many emigrants becoming unexpectedly stranded in the UK, unable to reach their final destinations. The final segment of the presentation is dedicated to unveiling the rich tapestry of records and sources available for tracing these emigrant ancestors, including specialized lists of Jewish emigrants departing from Hamburg and other valuable resources that illuminate the paths of those not found in conventional passenger departure records.