Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois (JGSI) is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization established in 1981 and now with over 300 members. JGSI is a member of IAJGS, the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. 

We help members collect, preserve, and perpetuate the records and history of their ancestors and serve as a resource for the worldwide community to research their Chicago area Jewish roots. JGSI hosts our monthly meetings with informative speakers and expert genealogy volunteers  to answer your questions about Jewish genealogy.

Jewish family surnames to be focus of Aug. 29 JGSI webinar 

“What the Genealogist Needs to Know About Jewish Family Names” will be the webinar topic of Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus, co-owner, founder and editor of AVOTAYNU, the International Review of Jewish Genealogy, at 2 p.m. CDT, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, for the virtual meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois. (A separate JGSI members-only genealogy question-and-answer discussion time will start at 1 p.m.) 

In this talk, we will hear how, why and when Jews acquired family names; what kinds of names they adopted; some special aspects of rabbinical names; techniques devised to avoid being identified; spelling considerations; Soundex; the variable effects of emigration; expert sources; and a few words about how to locate maiden names and married names of women.

More details and registration on the Programs page.


Join fellow JGSI members in online discussions about DNA genealogy

JGSI members are invited to join members-only online discussion sessions about genetic genealogy. Scheduled for 7 p.m. Sundays, Aug. 15, Sept. 19, Oct. 17, Nov. 7, and Dec. 12, 2021, each of these live streaming events will provide opportunities for open discussion of genetic genealogy (DNA). Bring your genetic genealogy questions and brick walls, and help answer questions for others. JGSI members will be able to share their DNA discoveries and quandaries related to using genetic tests for researching their family history and discovering previously unknown cousins. 

More details and registration on the Programs page.

Mystery Photos. If you would like to help us identify these people, please click here.

Monthly Meetings

Mark your calendar now for our future events, which are listed on the Programs page of this website. Also, sign up for Burbio.com, a free website and mobile app that lists events from local organizations in one online calendar.

Future JGSI events are also promoted on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

We hope to see you at our next meeting.

If you would like to receive meeting notices via email, please click here.

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Upcoming events

29 Aug 2021 2:00 PM • From the convenience of your home computer.
14 Nov 2021 2:00 PM • From the convenience of your home computer.

Join JGSI Today!

Members have free access to the pay-for-use Jewishdata.com, meeting recordings and handouts, and an online members' discussion forum. 

Learn more about Membership Benefits and Join or Renew.

JGSI Jewish Chicago Database (JJCD)

The JGSI Jewish Chicago Database (JJCD) includes information compiled from cemeteries, obituaries, memorial plaques, retirement homes, and other Jewish organizations. Many volunteer hours were spent compiling this information.  JGSI is proud to offer free access to both members and non-members.

What's New?

We have added about 1000 death notices to our JUF collection. 

JUF Death Notices & Obituaries Published 1994-Aug 2019 (17,753)

A Translation Guide to 19-Century Polish Language Civil Documents (Birth, Marriage and Death Records) by Judith R. Frazin is back in print. Information about the book is available at judithrfrazin.com. You can also contact Judith at judyfrazinbooks@gmail.com

Tour of Hebrew Benevolent Society (HBS) Cemetery