All five JGSGB’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs) met on a recent Sunday to share stories, expertise and the results of research projects.

The Litvak-Baltic SIG  meeting was devoted to looking up towns and surnames. “We searched in detail for records of the ancestors of two members. We found matches on a variant of one of the surnames for which the member had not found records previously. We also used the JewishGen Family Finder to identify other researchers searching for the same town and surname and we found a yizkor book that the member had not known was available online. Next month, The SIG will begin our session the same way, reserving time at the end for a tour of the SIG’s Google Group.” (David Ellis, Coordinator)

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At the Bessarabia SIG, Florence Feldman-Wood presented “Coming to America in Ships.” Her illustrated talk was based on her research on her ancestors’ transatlantic crossings, a project she prepared for an upcoming Bar Mitzvah gift. Yefim Kogan, SIG Coordinator for both the JGSGB Bessarabia SIG and the JewishGen Bessarabia SIG shared photos from the Bessarabia Society of Greater Boston (1920-30s).

Belarus SIG member Aaron Ginsburg shared photos of his recent trip to Minsk and several others towns where he attended meetings and events with local people  including a walk with school children and local officials in a small village to remember Holocaust victims. Aaron also had been an invited guest at a symposium of Reform rabbis from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. He described the resurgence of those Jewish communities. Aaron’s personal interest is in restoring and preserving Jewish cemeteries in Belarus.

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At the Ukraine SIG, Judy Izenberg, Past Co-president JGSGB, presented “Living in Novograd Volynskiy, Ukraine, through the eyes of my Great Uncle.”

Poland SIG learned about Polish genealogical web sites and whether they are a source of Jewish family records.  The meeting time was split between general questions and a presentation. One person  described the difficulty she is having tracing forebears. The group contributed possible sources of information and useful suggestions: Billion Graves, Findagrave, The Jewish Genealogy Surname Project, and JRI.  Harris F describing a few trips he and his wife had taken. He hired local archivists and genealogy specialists in the Bialystok and Warsaw regions to search for records of Harris’s ancestors. In addition, they visited three Shtetls near Bialystok. Harris described the advantages (but not necessarily guarantees) of hiring services of Polish residents to intervene on his behalf in the Bialystok and Warsaw Archives. He shared two large photo albums showing the places he and his wife visited. Poland SIG meeting participants were eager to learn more about the logistics of undertaking such trips.

Poland SIG Dec 13 2015

JGSGB’s Special Interest Groups are free with JGSGB membership.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston offers monthly speakers, special interest groups, individual help with research and a comprehensive beginner’s course. We have an extensive collection of research materials and publish an award-winning journal, Mass-Pocha.

The next SIG meetings will be January 8 before and after the speaker program: Two Talks: The Art of Taking an Oral History and How I Put Together a Memoir.

Litvak-Baltic SIG and Ukraine SIG  12:30 pm – 1:20 pm

Belarus SIG and Poland  SIG (approx. 4:00 pm)

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