Past Programs - 2007


The following programs and workshops were held in 2007; they are shown here so that you may view the range of activities of JGSGW.



Ralph N. Baer, Ph.D., "Researching Pre-World War II German-Jewish Genealogy"
  Jewish research in Germany can best be divided into three eras: prior to about 1800, from about 1800 to soon after German unification in the 1874, and post-unification. It is simplest to start from the most recent and work backwards. Copies of vital records starting in 1876 can be obtained from the local Standesamt (registrar's office) but are currently only available to direct descendants. In the middle period, vital records usually started to be kept at approximately the time permanent family names were adopted in the Kingdom, Principality, Duchy, etc., of interest. This date depends upon the place but is usually prior to the 1830's. The content and form of these records greatly vary. In some regions, Jewish records were kept separately from Christian records, and in some cases they are together with them. Prior to this day there is even more variability, and almost every town has different types of records available. Examples of records will be shown and methods of obtaining them will be discussed.

Ralph N. Baer was born in New York City in 1948. His parents, grandparents, and last living great-grandparent fled their native Germany in the 1930's. He has a doctorate in mathematics and has worked as a research scientist in the Acoustics Division of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC, since 1974. His interest in personal genealogy was piqued by a vacation in Germany in 1977, and he has been there to research his family on several subsequent occasions. Dr. Baer is a charter member of JGSGW and has given several previous presentations to the Society. He is the author of about a half dozen articles which have appeared in Stammbaum, the Journal of German-Jewish Genealogical Research, and has also written for Avotaynu and Mishpacha.


Marlene Bishow and Jeff Miller, "Beginner's Workshop"
  Jewish family history does not have to be a mystery. We all leave a paper trail that can unravel the story of our families for many generations, across the ocean and into the smallest of shtetls.

Join us for our FREE Beginner's Workshop, for members only:
  • A great start for the novice, or
  • Even if you have been a member of JGSGW for a while. A great way to get back to the basics..........
This will be a 2-hour session jam-packed with resources, helpful hints and motivation.


Wendy Turman, "Preserving Your Family's or Synagogue's History (Tips on Safeguarding Family Treasures)"
  In this joint program, co-sponsored with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW), Wendy Turman will talk about a variety of ways to preserve and care for family history materials such as photographs, scrapbooks, old letters and documents, highlighting some of the current preservation issues in the Society's collections. She will also provide an overview of the Society's archival collections and their use in genealogical research.

Wendy Turman, who holds an advanced degree in museum studies, has been the archivist/ curator of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington for the past seven years. She manages the archival, photographic, and object collections and is responsible for preservation as well as accession and loan documentation, archival processing, and cataloging. Her previous museum positions include working with the National Museum of Health and Medicine, the Smithsonian Institution's America's Smithsonian Exhibit, and National Museum of American History.


Optional tour of the award-winning exhibit, Jewish Washington: Scrapbook of an American Community, at the nearby 6th & I Historic Synagogue.


Marlene Bishow, "Family TreeMaker for Beginners" - Using FTM 16 (not FTM 2008)
  We will be demonstrating the basics of using FTM 16. Participants should have the software at home for follow-up on the instruction. This course will cover installation of the software, and building a family tree, including tips on how to start data entry. There will be an overall review of the features of the software, including basic reports. This is PC software and is not available for the Mac. Students should have a basic understanding of the PC, keyboard, mouse, etc.

Marlene Bishow has been doing genealogical research for 51 years and has used Family TreeMaker (FTM) since v.1 came out in the late 1980's. She earned a BS in Education from SUNY and did graduate work in Special Education at Penn State. She completed an MS in Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh.


Logan J. Kleinwaks, "Searching Online Historical Directories"
  Many pre-World War II Central and Eastern European business and address directories have been scanned and made available online as part of library digitization programs. Unfortunately, they are presented online as images, not as searchable text. Logan will describe how to use a search engine he developed based on optical character recognition (OCR) software to search these directories, with an emphasis on how to find what you are looking for despite errors introduced by the OCR process. The OCR-based approach allows data from print sources to be made searchable very quickly, with little manual intervention. Its applications to other Jewish genealogy projects will be discussed also.

As a bonus, there will be a brief presentation of a new tool to reunite families separated by the Shoah, which allows email addresses to be associated with Pages of Testimony found on Yad Vashem's website, and automatically matches people associated with same Pages.

Logan Joseph Kleinwaks, Coordinator of the JewishGen Danzig/Gdansk SIG, is a hobbyist genealogist living near Washington, D.C. with a research background in physics and mathematics. He is the creator of the online tools, for Page of Testimony research, and, for searching historical business directories, as well as the general genealogy site His broader genealogical interests include the photographic documentation of Jewish cemeteries, improving Internet access to genealogical information, and privacy.


Dr. Michael Matsas, "The Jews of Ioannina", and movie, "The Last Greeks of Broome Street"
  In Manhattan, a small shul on the Lower East Side has been named a “National Treasure.” It was built in 1926 by the descendents of Jewish slaves who were deported to Rome in the early days of the Diaspora. Their stopping point was Ioannina, then Greece during the reign of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), a part of the Roman Empire. The earliest reported evidence of Jews in Ioannina is 1319. It was there that they developed a litany written in Greek and Hebrew and developed customs unique to their sect. They are neither Sephardic nor Ashkenazic. The filmmaker, Ed Ashkenazi, son of one of the founders of Kehila Kedosha Janina, tells the story of its founding and of the attempts by members of the community to retain the rich traditions of the place of their birth.

Dr. Michael Matsas, a retired dentist, was born in Ioannina, Greece in 1930. After we view the movie, he will talk about the city of Ioannnina and its Jewish community--where the Jews came from, what were their occupations, their way of life, and what happened to them in 1944. He has spoken at the United States Holocaust Museum, Kehila Kedosha Synagogue in NY, the JCC, and other places about the Greek Jews in relation to the book he wrote called "The Illusion of Safety, the Story of the Greek Jews during the Second World War." Mike is the husband of our JGSGW Treasurer, Eleanor Matsas.


Jeffrey Malka, M.D., "Sephardic Genealogy: Resources, Similarities and Differences"
  In this presentation, Dr. Malka will discuss getting started in Sephardic Jewish genealogy, where the records are found, and surnames. Resources will be identified that are especially relevant to pre-expulsion Spain. He will discuss the similarities and differences between Sephardic and Eastern European Jewish genealogy. The role and uses of DNA and the differences found between Sephardic and Ashkenasim will be presented.

A retired professor of orthopaedic surgery, Jeffrey Malka is the author of the prize-winning book "Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering your Sephardic Ancestors and their World" (Avotaynu, 2002) and the creator of JewishGen's Sephardic SIG website based on his own popular Sephardic Genealogy Resources website. Descended from a long line of Sephardic rabbis going back to 14th century cabbalists and authors (as well as Catalan blacksmiths and money lenders), he is one of the pioneers of Sephardic genealogy in the United States and a well known lecturer on the subject. Dr. Malka has been an invited lecturer at the Library of Congress, several IAJGS annual conferences, Washington Jewish Historical Society, and numerous Jewish Genealogy Societies in the U.S., Canada, and Spain.


Member Appreciation Event - Members Only - Annual potluck luncheon and installation of officers
  Flory Jagoda, "Sephardic Culture and History as Experienced Through Music"
Flory Jagoda provides a historical lecture journey to a Sephardic community in the small town in Bosnia where she grew up. Her presentation is highlighted by stories of daily life in the community and holiday songs, ballads and romances. Slides of the village and her musical family before World War II provide a true view of a vanished culture.

Singer composer Flory Jagoda maintains one of Judaism's richest cultural traditions through her performances of authentic as well as original compositions of Sephardic songs. She was born into the musical Altarac family in Sarajevo, Bosnia and learned the songs from her grandmother. Ms. Jagoda is internationally known as The Keeper of the Flame for her untiring commitment to her family's musical heritage. In 2002, she was honored with a NEA National Heritage Fellowship. She serves as a Master Artist in the Folklife Apprenticeship Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Ms. Jagoda gives lectures and concerts worldwide. her music is circulated through records and in The Flory Jagoda Songbook. The Key from Spain, a documentary about her life has been featured in national and international film festivals. In 2003, Ms. Jagoda was invited to sing in a ceremony at Auschwitz, Poland to commemorate the sephardim who died there during the Holocaust.


Bennett Greenspan, "The Role of DNA in Advancing Genealogical Research"
Have you gone as far as you can go genealogically in your paper search? There is another tool, i.e., DNA, which can be used effectively to determine relationships. Bennett Greenspan, President and CEO of Family Tree DNA, will explain the use of DNA in genealogical research. Information on how family relationships are determined and what to do when the paper trail ends will be presented. He will highlight the science of DNA and what can be tested and learned from this process. The details of collecting DNA and what you can learn from the results will be covered. The numbers that are presented as a result of the testing may be the key to answering the question of "are we related." Mr. Greenspan will conclude with a discussion of the future of DNA testing.
Bennett Greenspan, an entrepreneur and life-long genealogy enthusiast, recognized the value of and potential for genetic genealogy when he encountered a paper trail roadblock in his own family genealogy. Not willing to be sidetracked he turned to molecular anthropology to find an answer to his genealogical dilemma. In 1999, Mr. Greenspan founded Family Tree DNA, turning a hobby into a full-time vocation.
  After the program, Bennett Greenspan will meet with the participants in the JGSGW DNA Project for a Q&A. Members are encouraged to bring their test results and questions.


Dr. Richard Roth, "A Clueless Amateur Visits Galicia"
  In the late spring of 2006, Richard Roth and his then 13-year old daughter traveled to Poland and the Ukraine on a very personal search for the ancestral shtetls of Dr. Roth’s grandparents. They traveled without a group, but at some points with a guide, for two weeks. The experience was captured in the photographs and notes he wrote for himself and his family. This program will explore the preparations, expectations and the experience, as seen through his eyes.

After the presentation, a panel of JGSGW members who have made shtetl trips will discuss their experiences, preparation and answer questions from the audience.

Dr. Richard Roth is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mass Communication at Franklin Pierce College. He has taught communication courses in higher education full-time for twenty years. He has also worked, full-time, in public broadcasting as an associate producer. His own education has been interdisciplinary, and has always had a liberal arts underpinning. He spent his sabbatical year in 2005-6 in Ireland and it was during this time that he decided to pursue his ancestral shtetl trip.

Workshop 1:

Arline Sachs, "Beginner's Workshop"
  Join us for a Beginner's Workshop. Even if you have been a member of JGSGW for a while you can get back to basics. Jewish family history does not have to be a mystery. We all leave a paper trail that can unravel the story of our families for many generations, across the ocean and into the smallest of shtetls.

Join one of JGSGW's past-presidents, Arline Sachs, for a 2-hour session jam-packed with resources, helpful hints and motivation.

Workshop 2:

Jonina Duker, "Getting the Most Out of the JewishGen Website"
  Participants will look systematically at the overall JewishGen website. The organized approach will facilitate participants' ability to navigate among its many current features and to understand and integrate future offerings without getting overwhelmed.

Jonina Duker wrote JewishGen infofiles on what to do with published and unpublished research; founded the JewishGen Yiddish Theater and Vaudeville Research Group; and coordinated the JewishGen translation of the Minsk yizkor book.

Workshop 3:

Jeff Miller, "Enhancing Your Research Using the Steve Morse One-Step Portal"
  Participants will have a chance to use research their families using the Steve Morse one-step portal. Jeff Miller will help in the formulation of search strategies.

Jeff has been researching his families for eight years and has found information about his ancestors arrival in the United States, and connected with numerous cousins through judicious use of the Steve Morse one-step portal and other online resources.
Program Mike Karsen, "Write your Family History NOW"
  We genealogists are very good at doing research and collecting many facts about our families. For any of a number of reasons, however, most of us delay publishing the results of this research. Mike Karsen shows how you can publish your findings in books that vary from a simple 30 page document to one that contains detailed biographies and places your family in historical context. Your goal should be to organize your findings and share them with your family as soon as possible.

A professional genealogy speaker/instructor and researcher, Mike Karsen is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Genealogical Speakers Guild (GSG), and the National Genealogical Society (NGS). He speaks on genealogy topics locally and nationally, teaches classes in genealogy, and is on the faculty of Newberry Library and the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. Mike has presented at state, national and international conferences. He is the author of Chicagoland and has published several articles on genealogy.



Leon Taranto, "Migrations from Sepharad - Communities in Exile"
  While Christian Europe struggled through its Dark Ages, a Jewish Renaissance took root in Islamic Spain with the Moorish conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in 711. It culminated in the Golden Age of the Sephardic communities flourishing there over the next four centuries. This civilization produced such luminaries as Yehuda Halevi, Abraham Ibn Ezra, Solomon Ibn Gabriol, and the incomparable Maimonides. With the mid-12th century invasion of the Almohades, Islamic fanatics who ruthlessly destroyed Jewish communities, many Sephardim fled to the Christian kingdoms of northern Spain and Portugal while others left altogether. The expanding kingdoms of Christian Spain continued as the center for Jewish learning for hundreds of years, but conversionary pressures in the 13th century gave way to massacres by the mid and late 14th century. By the end of the 15th century, the Spain Inquisition, Ferdinand and Isabella's expulsion decree of 1492, and forced conversions in Portugal forced the Sephardim to seek refuge across the Mediterranean Basin, and later in the port cities of western Europe, and even in the Americas. This workshop will trace their migrations and identify genealogical sources for the communities they established.


Iris Posner, "Looking for the Only Unaccompanied Children Rescued from the Holocaust by America"
  Between 1934 and 1945, private American organizations and individuals rescued approximately 1000 unaccompanied children from the Holocaust by bringing them to the U.S. to be placed with relatives and other foster families. In 2000, One Thousand Children, Inc. was formed to find out who these children were, how they were rescued and resettled, and locate as many as possible. Using archival materials, the internet and other resources, the names of virtually all the children have been obtained, and to date, over 500 found. This presentation is the story of that undertaking.

Iris Posner, a former social science researcher, is the co-founder and President of One Thousand Children, Inc. (OTC). As President of OTC, she established the first archives of materials dedicated to the OTC rescues and co-edited the first book of memoirs of the OTC children and rescuers, entitled, "Don't Wave Goodbye."



Dr. Miriam Isaacs, "Yiddish Language and Culture: Understanding the Context of Our Ancestors' Lives"
  Yiddish was the language spoken and written by so many of our ancestors.  They also immersed themselves in Yiddish culture even as immigrants to the United States.  Our grandparents/parents spoke Yiddish but most of us no longer speak nor understand the language except for a few phrases or words.  This presentation will help us to understand better the life our ancestors lived.  Dr. Isaacs will focus on Yiddish cultures as a transnational culture.  She will speak about the history of Yiddish and will then focus on names, personal and place names and Jewish geography.  To get the most out of the presentation Dr. Isaacs recommends that we read in advance some Jewish literature, in English translation, which connects to our families' places of origin, e.g. Sholom Aleichem stories

Miriam Isaacs holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Cornell University.  She is currently a visiting associate professor in Yiddish Language and Culture.  Dr. Isaacs is a native speaker of Yiddish and was born in Germany in a displaced persons camp.  She has translated her father's and stepmother's memoirs and hopes to publish them.  She has published some personal essays as well as many academic articles and lectured both nationally and internationally.


Jeff Miller, "Internet Research: Making the Most of the Steve Morse Website"


Participants will learn about the one-step utilities available at the Steve Morse site, and will see a demonstration of their use for personal research.

© 2014, Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington, Inc.