Schedule of 2019 Events

There are 10 monthly meetings: January-June; September-December 2019.

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

Information is regularly updated.  


Sunday, December 15, 2019 

Annual Steve Schecter Memorial Lecture

Research Help and Registration: 1:00PM-1:30PM
Lecture: 1:30PM
Location: Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Ave., Wynnewood, PA 19096

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 in preparation for arranging genealogy tours to Poland.  That visit led to a 30-year career working in the archives of Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and Lithuania.

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”.

Topic: Research and Revelations in Ukraine

 The lecture will focus on Ukraine (current borders) and includes anecdotes about the changes, discoveries and delights of navigating the complexities of the former Soviet Union.  Miriam was the first Jewish genealogist to collaborate officially, by contract, with the archives in the foregoing countries to produce her two award-winning books and website,

Miriam is well known for her handouts and attendees at this lecture will not be disappointed.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

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

Lecture: 1:30PM

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

Speaker: Fred Blum, President of JGASGP

Fred started his attorney service company, B&R Services for Professionals in 1968. In 1988 he obtained his Private Detective license. In 1998 he became interested in his family history. He studied genealogy and was able to locate his ancestors dating back to 1810. To date he has identified 1200 family members. With the knowledge he obtained, in 2005 he decided to volunteer for the IRC Holocaust Tracing Service, to reconnect Jewish, Polish and Ukrainian Holocaust survivors. In 2006 he was awarded the local and national “Volunteer of the Year” Award from the IRC.

Topic: How to Locate Individuals through Genealogy
Fred will teach us some techniques he uses to locate individuals through genealogy. This information will enable researchers to not only locate family, uncover distant relatives, assist in searching for heirs, as well as locating missing relatives.


Sunday, February, 23, 2020  

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

Lecture: 1:30PM

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

Speaker: Ira Siegal, JGASGP Member

A JGASGP member for the past two years, Ira Siegal has been a CPA since 1980 and since 2010 has been a Revenue Agent at the IRS in the Global High Wealth group in the Large Business & International division which audits the wealthiest taxpayers. He used his audit and investigative skills to find and pull together distant branches of a family tree.

Topic: The Irish Torah
Ira Siegal will share the story of a family heirloom, a Sefer Torah, originally from the town of Oshmyany (now Belarus – near Vilna) that made its way to Dublin, Ireland and then to Philadelphia, carried by his grandfather Isaac Schreider in 1908.
Ira met with the last Schreider third cousin in Dublin in 2018 and more third cousins in Israel this summer in Israel. Research in the archives at Yad Vashem found information on Holocaust survivors.



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 JDC Archives 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, March 17, 2019
Research Help and Registration: 1:00-1:30PM
Lecture: 1:30PM
Location: Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Ave, Wynnewood, PA 19096
Speaker: Ira Poliakoff, author of Synagogues of Philadelphia

Ira Poliakoff was born in Manhattan in 1945 just as his father returned from 4 years of service as a Ship’s Doctor during WW2. He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and Rockville Centre, Long Island. He is a retired business owner and has lived with his wife, Judy, in Wynnewood for almost 40 years. They have 2 children and two grandchildren. Ira’s first book, published in 2017, “Synagogues of Long Island”, was awarded first place in the category “Religion, General,” at the 2018 Best Book Awards at Book Fest.
Topic: Looking at the History of Philadelphia’s Jewish Community through the eyes of more than 500 Synagogues

Ira will discuss interesting stories and facts about some of the more than 500 Synagogues that exist or have existed in Philadelphia and it’s PA suburbs. Ira has conducted many interviews and done extensive research for this book.

Autographed copies of this book will be for sale after Ira’s talk.

Sunday, April 14, 2019
Research Help and Registration: 1:30PM – 2:00PM (Please note later time)
Lecture: 2:00 PM
Location: Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 N. Broad Street, Phila., PA 19123
Speaker: Dan Oren, author of The Wedding Photo


Dan A. Oren, M.D. has worked for thirty years as a psychiatrist and faculty member at Yale University, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the University of Rzeszów, Poland. Prior to publishing The Wedding Photo <>, Oren wrote Joining The Club: A History of Jews and Yale, and co-authored How to Beat Jet Lag: A Practical Guide for Air Travelers, as well as numerous scientific articles.
Topic: The Wedding Photo: When a genealogical tree bears fruit!

A visit to an abandoned Polish Jewish cemetery in 1993 launches a 20-year search to solve the mystery of “Who is Buried in Sarah’s Tomb?” A visit with a cousin unearths a breathtaking photo of a Berlin family wedding from 1926 and leads to discovering their unimaginable post-wedding history. An archivist in Prague discovers an unknown uncle whose life takes the reader from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the Vatican. A memoir by Philip Roth shocks a daughter into unlocking a father’s concealed past. In The Wedding Photo Dan Oren shares inspiring stories and techniques of how the pursuit of genealogy opens new worlds.
Autographed copies of this book will be for sale after Dan’s talk.

Sunday, May 19, 2019
Research Help and Registration:
Lecture: 1:30PM
Location: Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel
8339 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027
(Corner of Old York Road and Township Line Road)
Speaker: Garri Regev, Immediate Past President, Israel Genealogy Research Association, IGRAPrevious Meetings 2018

Garri Regev lives in Israel and was an elementary teacher there for over 20 years. Garri has been doing genealogical research since 1995. She volunteers and lectures on Genealogy to adult groups including AACI, Hadassah, Touro College, the Central Zionist Archives, Yad VaShem, the National Library of Israel (NLI), EVA/MINERVA and IAJGS Conferences. She was President of the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) has served on the IAJGS Board of Directors and is currently Vice-President of LitvakSIG. She was the Vice-Chair of the 2015 IAJGS Conference in Jerusalem and co-chair of program for that Conference.

Topic: Searching for records in Israel – What can be found and where
Trying to find records for relatives in Israel? Here is an opportunity to understand what records are available and where to begin your research. Some records have now been digitized, others still not. Different Archives have different collections, we’ll go through the various options. What’s in English and what’s in Hebrew – we’ll cover that as well. Be sure to prepare questions and bring along names you may want to research!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Bus Trip to Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York City. Reservation deadline:
May 25, 2019.

Highlights: 90 minute docent led tour of exhibit: “Auschwitz, “Not Long Ago, Not Far Away”; Kosher bag lunch with Avraham Groll, Director of JewishGen. One hour on your own to tour museum, etc.

For more details, click here!

Sunday, September 22, 2019
Research Help and Registration: 1:00 PM-1:30PM
Lecture: 1:30 PM
Location: Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, 8339 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027
Speaker: Sarina Roffe

Sarina Roffé is a career journalist and holds a masters in Jewish Studies. She is the editor of Dorot for JGS of NY, the author of Branching Out from Sepharad, and has researched numerous genealogies including the Kassin and Labaton rabbinic dynasties and is considered an expert in Syrian Jewry. She is a member of the IAJGS board, co-chair of the Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative and founder of the Sephardic Heritage Project. She is a member of Brooklyn’s Syrian Jewish community.
Topic: “Solving a Converso Mystery” — Traces Jews from Spain to Syria to the Americas; with information on Chief Rabbi Jacob Kassin and his lineage from Spain. Solves the issue of missing years from 1492 – 1540.

Sunday, October 27
Research Help and Registration: 1:00 PM-1:30PM
Lecture: 1:30 PM
Location: Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, 8339 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027
(Corner of Old York Road and Township Line Road)
Speaker: Jordan Auslander, Forensic Genealogist

Jordan Auslander is a New York based forensic genealogist, title and real estate historian. He has pursued cases across the United States, Europe and Israel.  Jordan published, an index to Jewish records in Slovakia, a genealogical gazetteer of Greater Hungary and served as  board member of the Jewish Genealogical Society, NY. He is known as  “Heir Jordan, Extreme Genealogist”.  In addition, Jordan is a Telly award winner for and the ‘reliably inappropriate’ host of IAJGS conference Gameshow Night.
Topic: Researching New York City Resources Remotely

Between 1820 and 1920 over 82 percent of immigrants to the United States came through the port of New York. Learn how to trace your New York ancestors, whether they were passing through or called it home as well as resources to help you reconnect with family that remained elsewhere. While on-site research is the optimal approach to research, this is not always convenient or feasible. Nevertheless, much can be accomplished in advance or in lieu of physical travel. Components of New York City family history can be identified without setting foot on Broadway using a broad array of free and subscription internet sites as well as some conventional sources. These resources will be evaluated in the context of the questions and needs of lecture participants.

Sunday, November 17, 2019
Research Help and Registration: 1:00PM-1:30PM
Lecture: 1:30PM
Location: Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Ave., Wynnewood, PA 19096
Speaker: Deborah Long, Author and Educator

Deborah Long has been researching her family’s Holocaust history and looking for surviving family members for more than 50 years. Her research in 2009 led to the discovery of surviving cousins in Sweden, Hungary, Canada, and most recently in Israel. Deborah is a professional educator, though typically her audiences are licensed professionals. She has written more than 20 books, including a memoir about growing up as a child of survivors titled “First Hitler, Then Your Father, and Now You.” She is the founder of the Triangle JGS in Durham/Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Topic: Out of the Whirlwind: Finding Your Family Lost in the Holocaust
The daughter of two Holocaust survivors, Deborah Long reviews the best (as well as some of the obscure) resources and methods for determining the fate of those involved in the Holocaust, including survivors and victims. Deborah will use examples from her own research to demonstrate the documents and artifacts she discovered.


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.

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.