Schedule of 2018-2019 Events

There are 10 monthly meetings: January-June; September-December 2018.

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

Information is regularly updated.  


Sunday, December 16, 2018  (Please note later time)

Research Help and Registration 3:00PM-3:30PM

Lecture: 3:30PM

Location: Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, 8339 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027

Speaker: Jeffrey Cymbler

Jeff earned his BA from Yeshiva University and a JD degree from Boston University School of Law. A child of Holocaust survivors, he has been an avid genealogist since 1983. Jeff was co-chair of the 11th Annual Conference on Jewish Genealogy and Program Chairman of the 19th Annual Conference on Jewish Genealogy. He was on the Editorial Boards of both Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories and Jewish Roots in Poland: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories and authored chapter one of the latter book, entitled, “Introduction to Polish-Jewish Genealogical Research.”

Topic: Passports for Life: The Bernese Group Rescue of Polish Jews in WWII

Passports for Life is a presentation dedicated to the Polish Envoy in Bern, Aleksander Lados, his subordinates, and members of the Jewish community in Switzerland who in the war-time period acted hand in hand in saving hundreds of European Jews. The members of the so called “Bernese Group” embarked on an illicit operation aimed at massive forging of passports of Latin American countries and smuggling them to the ghettos in Poland, Holland, France and other places in the German-occupied Europe. A noticeable, yet differential, number of bearers of the passports managed to survive the war. Some of survivors are still alive today.

The presentation will depict the origins of the covert operation, its protagonists, division of work among the members (half of them were Polish Jews), modus operandi of the group and consequences of their activity. A significant number of widely unknown documents and photographs will accompany the presentation, including forged passports, Nazi era postal communications from Polish ghettos to Switzerland, a database which is being developed of the passports, diplomatic correspondence and ledgers of the names and personal data of Jews for whom passports were procured.

Sunday, January 27, 2019 

Research Help and Registration: 1:00PM-1:30PM
Lecture: 1:30PM 

Location: Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Ave, Wynnewood, PA 19096

Speaker: Lara Diamond, President, Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland

Lara Diamond is President of JGSMD and has been researching her family for 25 years. She has traced all branches of her family back to Europe and most multiple generations back in Europe using Russian Empire-era and Austria-Hungarian Empire records. Most of her research is in modern-day Ukraine, with a smattering of Belarus and Poland. She leads JewishGen’s Subcarpathia SIG, is on the Ukraine Sig board, and also runs several town-focused projects to collect documentation to assist all those researching ancestors from common towns. She blogs about her mostly Eastern European research at

Topic: DNA 101: How to Use Genetic Testing for Genealogical Research
In this session, Lara Diamond will share insights on how to use genetic testing for genealogical research citing various types of tests available (including autosomal, yDNA and mtDNA). She will explain the types of genealogical questions each test can help answer, how each company presents results, the strategies for transferring results from one company to another, and how to benefit from each.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Research Help and Registration: 1:00PM-1:30PM

Lecture: 1:30PM

Location: Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Ave, Wynnewood, PA 19096

Speaker: Linda Levi, Executive Director of JDC’s Global Archives

Linda Levi is Executive Director of JDC’s Global Archives at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and is responsible for archives centers in NY and Jerusalem. The JDC Archives is one of the most significant collections in the world for the study of modern Jewish history. JDC or the “the Joint” as it is known to its hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries worldwide, is the major instrument of American Jewish for meeting global Jewish needs.

Ms. Levi is a graduate of New York University and received her MA in Contemporary Jewish Studies from Brandeis University.

Topic: The History of the Joint and What We Have to Offer Jewish Genealogists
“The Joint” has borne witness to the most pivotal events of twentieth-century Jewish history. The JDC Archives documents JDC operations and activities overseas, serves as a record of life in Jewish communities throughout the world, and testifies to JDC’s mission of providing rescue, relief, and rehabilitation services to global Jewish communities and individuals in need worldwide. Its extensive holdings include eyewitness accounts, correspondence, reports, logs, passenger lists, emigration cards, and much more, including an astonishing collection of approximately 100,000 photographs, which document the organization’s global activities. The presentation will focus on the Joint’s work over the last century and provide sample documents, film clips, and photos of interest to Jewish genealogists. Participants will learn how the Archives are organized, view examples of rich genealogical records, and discover how to conduct research in its repositories. Learn about the JDC Archives website and the treasures that await researchers.


Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 1:30 PM
Main Line Reform Temple
Speaker: Hadassah Lipsius

Hadassah Lipsius is a long time board member of the JRI-Poland board as well as Archive Coordinator for the Warsaw and Tomaszow Mazowiecki Archives. She is the database manager for JewishGen’s Warsaw Research Group and has helped index Warszawa newspaper life cycle announcements. She serves on the executive council of the Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc (New York). Hadassah has travelled many times to Poland to pursue her family research.
Topic: Warsaw 2018: Research Opportunities and the Conference
Warsaw is and has been the capital of Poland and had the largest population of Jews in all of Europe before WWII. Hadassah Lipsius will talk about the varied and unique sources for researchers whether they are researching Warsaw or any part of pre-War or post-War Poland. Sources include; vital record research, newspaper announcements, business directories, homeowners lists, cemetery records, notarial records as well as business records and much more. This lecture will review the sources, show examples and provide aides and tips in how to perform your search.
As you all know, the 38th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held in Warsaw, Poland between August 5-10, 2018. This is the first time that the conference will be held in Eastern Europe and in order to assist researchers in preparation for the conference, Hadassah Lipsius and Mark Halpern will provide some information about the Conference, the program, and travel options and answer participants’ questions.

Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 12:00 PM (please note earlier time)
Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel

Speaker: Rhoda Miller, Certified Genealogist

Rhoda Miller, Ed.D., CG® has been a Certified Genealogist since 1998 specializing in Jewish research and Holocaust studies. Rhoda is a Past President of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island (JGSLI) and continues her leadership as a board member. With JGSLI, she led the project to produce the Arcadia Images of America book Jewish Community of Long Island. Under Litvak SIG, Rhoda volunteers as Co-coordinator of the Svencionys District Research Group, administers a Svencionys DNA group, and is webmaster of the JewishGen Kahilalinks Orlya, Belarus website.
Topic: Evidence Analysis: Which is the Right Record?
Utilizing the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), this presentation will demonstrate methods of looking at your research to find gaps as well as evaluate findings, especially those with conflicting evidence. Holocaust records will be utilized to support the GPS.

Handout Evidence Analysis

Sunday, March 25, 2018
Lecture: 1:30PM
1:00PM-1:30PM Research Help
Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel
8339 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027
(Corner of Old York Road and Township Line Road)
Speaker: Anat Feinberg, Professor Hebrew and Jewish Literature

Anat Feinberg, born in Tel Aviv, is Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Literature in Heidelberg, Germany. She has published books and articles on Israeli literature, on Jews in German theatre, and was in charge of Modern Hebrew Literature in the revised edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica.
Topic: The Jeckes in Israel
The Israelis call them “Jeckes” and refer to those Jews who came to pre-state Israel from Germany after 1933. In my talk, I shall relate the story of their emigration story and shed light on their contribution to social and cultural life. While at first Israelis tended to be critical about the Jeckes, over the past decade their image underwent a radical change. The talk will close with a short examination of the way the Jeckes have been portrayed in Israeli literature.

Sunday, April 22, 2018
1:00 PM-1:30 PM Research Help
Lecture: 1:30 PM
Main Line Reform Temple
410 Montgomery Ave., Wynnewood, PA 19096
Speakers: Monique Rubens Krohn and Mark Halpern
Monique Rubens Krohn is the daughter of a family rescued by the Portuguese diplomat, Aristides de Sousa Mendes. She is an accomplished writer and historian whose career has spanned many sectors and fields. Currently, she writes book and film reviews for an online media network and is the Secretary of the Sousa Mendes Foundation, based in New York City.
Mark Halpern was an international businessman who spent three years in Japan. In retirement, Mark spends his free time working with JRI–Poland, JewishGen, IAJGS, and the JGS of Greater Philadelphia helping others research their roots in Eastern Europe, especially Poland. Recently he researched the stories of a number of refugees saved by Sempo Sugihara.
Topic: Two Righteous Gentiles: Sousa Mendes and Sugihara
Most Jewish Genealogists know the story of Sempo Sugihara, known as the Japanese Schindler. Sugihara, Japanese consul in Kaunas, Lithuania, issued over 2,000 Japanese transit visas that enabled over 6,000 Jews to escape war torn Europe in the summer of 1940. Less well known is Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul stationed in Bordeaux, France. Sousa Mendes defied his government and issued some 30,000 visas, including about 10,000 to Jews.
Both men were awarded Righteous Among the Nations by the Government of Israel. Their stories – similarities and differences – will be discussed.

Sunday, May 27, 2018
1:00 PM-1:30 PM Research Help
Lecture: 1:30 PM
Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel
8339 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027
(Corner of Old York Road and Township Line Road)
Speaker: Ron Arons, Author and Speaker

Over the past 20 years, Ron has given 450+ presentations re methodology and technology. He has authored three books, including The Jews of Sing Sing, WANTED! U.S. Criminal Records, and Mind Maps for Genealogy. In 2006 he appeared on the PBS TV series The Jewish Americans, talking about Jewish criminals on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. That same year he won a research grant from the New York State Archives to continue he research on the topic of Jewish criminals in New York City. Ron earned a B.S. in Engineering from Princeton and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Topic: Sex, Lies, and Genealogical Tape
Most genealogists focus their efforts on collecting names, dates, and places to grow and expand their family tree as much as possible. This is quite natural. However, a much different experience can be had by focusing one’s efforts on one ancestor at a time. By doing so, one can go beyond the questions: Who?, When?, and Where?. One can explore the far more interesting and powerful questions, WHY? and HOW? Why did our ancestors act the way that they did? How did their behavior have an impact on us? Individual-focused genealogy provides additional insights not into ancestors’ lives but our own lives as well.
The truly unexpected benefit of this approach is that it broke down brick walls, allowing the speaker to push back his family tree another four generations. (Truly remarkable.) It also exposed the speaker to all sorts of records he might not have explored otherwise.

Sunday, June 24, 2018
1:00-1:30PM Research Help
Lecture: 1:30PM
Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel
8339 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027
(Corner of Old York Road and Township Line Road)
Speaker: Felicia Mode Alexander, Holocaust Educator

Recently retired history teacher specializing in Holocaust Education and Global Human Rights. Mrs. Alexander has traveled and studied extensively in Europe and Israel to deepen her knowledge of the Holocaust and its aftermath. She has toured Holocaust sites in Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands and studied at international research facilities in Poland, Israel and the US with the Summer Seminar to the Infamous Sites of the Holocaust (NJ Commission on Holocaust Education) and the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers Program (American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants). In addition, she is an Alfred Lerner Fellow of the Jewish Foundation of the Righteous, and an alumnus of the Master Teacher Institute in Holocaust Education at Rutgers University. Currently, though still working on many genealogy projects, and writing articles for JGSGP’s Chronicles, Mrs. Alexander is editing and annotating a recently discovered 500 page manuscript written by her grandmother, who immigrated to Boston from Kiev during the pogroms in the 1880’s.
Topic: My entire family was already in America before the Holocaust……or were we? Newly digitized Holocaust records can lead to the discovery of previously unknown family in Europe
In this presentation, Felicia will share research methodology and repositories through which Holocaust survivors, their children and even distant cousins (in my case) can be connected thanks to a plethora of searchable databases and archival information that is easily searchable. Through her training as a Museum Teacher Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, she has learned how to mine these archives and have had incredibly moving results.

Sunday, September 16, 2018
1:30PM – 2:00PM Research Help
2:00PM Lecture
Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Avenue, Wynnewood, PA 19096
Speaker: Jessica M. Lydon, Archivist at Temple Libraries’ Special Collections
Jessica M. Lydon is an Associate Archivist at Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. Jessica is primarily responsible for providing reference and instruction services, accessioning new acquisitions, processing, and cataloging materials for the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Collection. Jessica holds a Masters in Library and Information Science with a concentration in archival studies from Drexel University and is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists. She is an active member of MARAC, a regional consortium committed to providing affordable archival education, training, and support to archivists and allied professionals throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.
Topic: Genealogical Resources in the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Collection
An introduction to the records available at Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center useful for conducting genealogical research on Philadelphia’s Jewish community during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 1:30 pm

1:00PM-1:30PM Research Help
The Steve Schecter Memorial Lecture: 1:30PM
This program is sponsored by JGSGP and the Main Line Reform Temple
Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Avenue, Wynnewood, PA 19096
Speaker: Robert Watson, Professor of American Studies, Lynn University

Robert Watson, Ph.D. is a professor, author, and media commentator. He has published more than 40 books and hundreds of scholarly articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia/reference essays. His most recent books, America’s First Crisis and The Nazi Titanic have, respectively, won the book of the year in history at the Independent Publishers’ Awards in NYC and been accepted at numerous book festivals throughout the US and internationally. Watson has been interviewed by most major media outlets in the US, including USA Today, New York Times, NBC, and MSNBC, and many major media outlets around the world.
Topic: Hamilton: Man, Myth, Musical… Mensch
Dr. Watson will explore the little-known story of the Founding Father’s Jewish roots and lifelong support of Jews in America, among other topics.
He will also share some stories about the little-known final days of the Holocaust from his book The Nazi Titanic.


Sunday, November 18, 2018
Research Help and Registration 1:00PM- 1:30PM
Lecture: 1:30 PM
Location: Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, 8339 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027
Speaker: W. Todd Knowles, Accredited Genealogist (AG)

Todd is a member of the International Patron Services team at the Family History Library in Salt lake City, Utah. After being introduced to family history at the age of 12, he soon discovered his Jewish roots. The journey to find these Polish Jews has led to the creation of the Knowles Collection (, 6 databases that as of May 1, 2016, contain the genealogical records of over 1.4 million people. Todd has spoken throughout the world and his articles have been widely published.

Topic: Making the Most of FamilySearch for Jewish Research
This presentation will focus on the FamilySearch website ( ) which holds the records of over 6 billion people worldwide, making it the largest collection of free family trees, genealogy records and resources in the world. In this lecture Todd will guide us through the FamilySearch website which an emphasis on finding our Jewish families. We will also learn how to use the Knowles Collection, 6 databases that contain the records of over 1.4 million Jewish people.




Last Updated November 2018 Copyright © 2017 Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia