Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois 


JGSI Programs  
Detailed meeting location information and map/directions are located at the bottom of this page.

Upcoming events

    • 29 Apr 2018
    • 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. - - - - 12:30 pm Library and Help Desk, 2:00 pm Guest Speaker

    Gesher Galicia board member and author Andrew Zalewski will give two talks at a special meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois on Sunday, April 29, 2018, at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. His first talk, “Gesher Galicia: What’s New and What’s Coming Soon,” will begin at 1 p.m. After a short break, his main talk, “Galician Portraits: Jews, Gentiles, and Emperors,” will be presented beginning at about 2 p.m.

    This event is free and open to the public. The JGSI library and help desk will not be available for this special meeting. For more information, see

    About the talks: The first talk, “Gesher Galicia: What’s New and What’s Coming Soon,” is an update about, its research and resources, such as the All Galicia Database, Map Room, Inventories of Records and more.

    In his main talk, “Galician Portraits: Jews, Gentiles, and Emperors,” Zalewski intertwines genealogical discoveries with a broader historical context to bring to life the Jewish community of Galicia during the era of Austrian rule. Galicia, annexed into the Habsburg Monarchy in 1772, was home to a large Jewish community: Approximately 10% of the population was Jewish.

    Zalewski, author of two books on his Jewish roots in Galicia, explores the impact of Habsburg rule and the “Jewish enlightenment.” Habsburg imperial edicts were both stifling and inspiring for the Jewish community in Galicia — the laws about Jewish marriages, surnames, schools and military service brought dizzying changes but also controversies.

    From inside the community emerged a wave of the Galician Enlightenment (Haskalah). Local Jewish cultural rebels offered biting satires and wrote poetry. Galicia’s diverse community included pious traditionalists and impatient reformers, laborers and professionals, dwellers of shetls and cities. Among them, passionate arguments about language (German, Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish), customs and loyalties easily erupted. But even in difficult times, there were brave voices that spoke loudly against prejudice.

    Based on expanded research for the speaker’s book “Galician Portraits: In Search of Jewish Roots,” the talk is of interest to general audiences interested in Jewish genealogy and is illustrated by many pictures, unique archival documents and old maps of Galicia.

    About the speaker: Andrew Zalewski is a physician and former professor of medicine at Jefferson University, Philadelphia. He serves on the board of directors of Gesher Galicia Inc., a non-profit organization, with a global membership, which has been dedicated to researching Jewish genealogy in Galicia. He is also executive editor of the Galitzianer, the organization's quarterly research journal.

    Zalewski has been interested in the history of Austrian Galicia (1772–1918) and its Jewish community. Several generations of his Jewish and Christian ancestors traced their roots to this former province of the Austrian and Austro-Hungarian Empire.

    He has published two historical books about Galicia: “Galician Trails: The Forgotten Story of One Family” and “Galician Portraits: In Search of Jewish Roots,” which are available through Unique archival records, population surveys, old newspapers and cadastral maps have all provided important insights in Zalewski’s research in regard to governmental policies and the social fabric of Galician society at the time.

    He has been a frequent guest speaker for Jewish genealogical societies, at various cultural institutions, and in academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad. He and his wife, Margaret, live near Philadelphia. They have two children and four grandchildren. His hobbies include travel and unearthing old records concerning Galicia, as well as writing about little known details about Galicia.

    • 30 May 2018
    • 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. - Library and Help Desk, 5:30. Guest Speaker 7:00 pm

    Genealogist Alvin Holtzman will present “A DNA Discussion with a DNA Devotee” at the Wednesday, May 30, 2018, meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. His presentation starts at 7 p.m. Registration, networking, and the JGSI genealogy help desk and research library will open at 5:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to this free event.

    In his presentation, Holtzman, a long-time JGSI genealogy help desk volunteer, will share what he has learned from testing more than 30 relatives and would-be relatives. One of the first to DNA test (kit No. 60) with FamilyTreeDNA, and a DNA tester with AncestryDNA and 23andMe, he will touch on the strengths and weaknesses of each genetic testing service. Plus, he’ll review and

    Genealogy has been a favorite hobby of his since 1979. Holtzman has attended the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies annual conference at least 12 times since 1999. His research has taken him around the world, visiting with relatives discovered through his research efforts.

    Professionally, he is a former owner of a printing and copying service in downtown Chicago. Prior to that, he worked for 19 years as a marketing manager for Sears, Roebuck and Co.

    While this program is free, those who join the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois have access to several valuable members-only resources on the JGSI website. They include video recordings of more than 30 presentations from past JGSI events, valuable informational handouts from past speakers, and access to past Morasha newsletters containing informative articles about Jewish genealogy. To learn more about the benefits of joining the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, go to

    At each regular JGSI monthly meeting, a genealogy “help desk” will operate prior to the main program. Member volunteers will access online databases and answer genealogical questions one-on-one for members and visitors as time allows.

    The JGSI library has more than 800 volumes of interest to Jewish family historians. Many are available for borrowing by JGSI members for a limited time. All are available for perusing at each regular monthly meeting before the main program begins.

    For more information about the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois or the JGSI schedule of future events, visit or phone 312-666-0100.

    • 24 Jun 2018
    • 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. - Library and Help Desk, 12:30. Guest Speaker 2:00 pm

    The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois will hold a “Kvell and Tell” session on Sunday, June 24, 2018, as part of the group’s annual meeting. Selected members will take turns sharing family history discoveries and research tips starting at 2 p.m. at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill.

    JGSI meeting facilities at Temple Beth-El will open at 12:30 p.m. for those who want to peruse or borrow genealogy research library books, get help with genealogy websites or ask genealogical questions of volunteer mavens, or network with other Jewish family historians before the main program begins at 2 p.m. For more information, call 312-666-0100 or see This event is free and open to the public.

    Those who wish to participate in the “Kvell and Tell” session as presenters are asked to send an email to explaining their presentation idea and estimated time of presentation. Each presentation is to be between 5 and 10 minutes to allow more members to share their discoveries, experiences and suggestions.

    Kvell and Tell presentation topics should relate to Jewish genealogy, family history research methods, anecdotes or discoveries. PowerPoint presentations are suggested but not required. Copies of informative handouts for those in attendance are encouraged.

    The most relevant presentation proposals will be accepted as time allows, and preference will be given to shorter talks. Presentations will be recorded and later made available in the Members Only section of the JGSI website.

    The June 24 meeting will also feature the reading of a short play depicting one of our member’s Jewish family history, the JGSI president’s annual report and the introduction of JGSI officers and other board members.


Past events

08 Apr 2018 “A DNA Discussion with a DNA Devotee”
11 Mar 2018 "Filling in the Blanks on My Jewish Family History"
04 Mar 2018 Techniques for Using
18 Feb 2018 “Researching Jewish Ancestors on Ancestry Library Edition”
21 Jan 2018 “Insight into FamilySearch and The Wilmette Family History Center”
19 Nov 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 “My Mother’s Life in Cuba: In Her Own Words”
22 Oct 2017 Sunday, October 22, 2017“Apple Does Not Fall: Shtetl Cousins Meet Iron-Curtain Cousins”
27 Aug 2017 Sunday, August 27, 2017 “Resources for Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland-What’s New”
16 Jul 2017 Sunday, July 16, 2017 “Choosing the Right Family Tree Software” and “What’s New at Ukraine SIG”
25 Jun 2017 Sunday, June 25, 2017 “Kvell and Tell” session
21 May 2017 Sunday, May 21, 2017 “DNA Presentations"
07 May 2017 Sunday, May 7, 2017: JGSI in the West Suburbs. Agenda:Online tools.
26 Apr 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 “Document and Share Your Genealogy Now!”
19 Mar 2017 Sunday, March 19, 2017: West Suburban Chapter JGSI: Watch a JGSI presentation called “Genealogy is Easy, Fascinating, and Fun: How I Found the Feldmans”.
19 Mar 2017 Sunday, March 19, 2017 “Making the Most of the County Clerk’s Genealogy Resources,”
22 Feb 2017 Wednesday, February 22, 2017 “Getting Started in Genealogy”
19 Feb 2017 Sunday, February 19, 2017 “Getting the Most Out of MyHeritage”
22 Jan 2017 Sunday, January 22, 2017 “Genealogy is Easy, Fascinating, and Fun: How I Found the Feldmans”
20 Nov 2016 Sunday, November 20, 2016 “Archivist with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, will describe the court’s archival holdings.”
30 Oct 2016 Sunday, October 30, 2016 “Techniques for Using”
25 Sep 2016 Sunday, September 25, 2016 “Putting the Flesh on the Bones” and “Evaluating Evidence: Asking a mini-Minnie Question.”
28 Aug 2016 Sunday, August 28, 2016 “Resources for Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland-What’s New”
09 Aug 2016 JGSI Dinner in Seattle, Washington
31 Jul 2016 Sunday, July 31, 2016 "Specifics of Hungarian Jewish Genealogy - Historical Background and a Practical Guide"
17 Jul 2016 Sunday, July 17, 2016 “Getting Started in Genealogy”
10 Jul 2016 Sunday, July 10, 2016: “Discover Your Family Genealogy.”
26 Jun 2016 Sunday, June 26, 2016 “Kvell and Tell”
05 Jun 2016 Sunday June 5th, 2016 Greater Chicago Jewish Festival
22 May 2016 Sunday, May 22, 2016 “Cadastral Maps as a Genealogical Resource”
17 Apr 2016 Sunday, April 17, 2016 “German Jewish Genealogy: A Case Study”
07 Apr 2016 Thursday April 7, 2016 Newberry Library Tour & Research
13 Mar 2016 Sunday, March 13, 2016 “The Children of La Hille: Eluding Nazi Capture During World War II.”
14 Feb 2016 Sunday, February 14, 2016 “Jewish Genetic Genealogy - A Study in Endogamy”
31 Jan 2016 Sunday, January 31, 2016 “Genealogy Research & Book Research Have a Lot in Common”
22 Nov 2015 Sunday, November 22, 2015 “Making the Dead Dance: How to Breathe Life into Your Ancestors”
01 Nov 2015 Sunday, November 1, 2015 “Getting Started in Genealogy”
25 Oct 2015 Sunday, October 25, 2015 “The Greenebaum Family: From the Rheinpfalz to Chicago”
27 Sep 2015 Sunday, September 27, 2015 "Tour of Zion Gardens Cemetery"
30 Aug 2015 Sunday, August 30, 2015 “Jewish Genetics”
09 Aug 2015 Sunday, August 9th. Stepping Stones to Researching Your Family's Jewish Roots
19 Jul 2015 Sunday, July 19, 2015 “Family History: Caring for Your Treasures”
06 Jul 2015 35th IAJGS Conference in Jerusalem July 6-10, 2015
28 Jun 2015 Sunday, June 28, 2015 “Kvell and Tell” session
07 Jun 2015 Sunday, June 7th. JGSI Conference 2015
20 May 2015 Wednesday, May 20, 2015 “Online Resources for Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland: What’s New?”
26 Apr 2015 Sunday, April 26, 2015 “Finding Frida: My Mother’s First Cousin, a Holocaust Survivor”
29 Mar 2015 Sunday, March 29, 2015 “Clued-In: The Stories are in the Details”
22 Feb 2015 Sunday, February 22, 2015 “Making a Family Tree Coffee Table Book”
25 Jan 2015 Sunday, January 25, 2015 “How I Do Genealogy: Starting Research and Beginning to Gather Information”
23 Nov 2014 Sunday, November 23, 2014 "Reconnecting with My Lithuanian Roots”
26 Oct 2014 Sunday, October 26, 2014 Out of Chaos: Hidden Children Remember the Holocaust
19 Oct 2014 Sunday, October 19, "Getting Started in Genealogy"
28 Sep 2014 Sunday, September 28, 2014 “Using and the Family History Research Center”
24 Aug 2014 Sunday, August 24, 2014 “Treasures in Print: Finding and Using Historical Newspapers”
28 Jul 2014 JGSI Dinner at IAJGS Conference in Salt Lake City
23 Jul 2014 Wednesday, July 23, 2014 “Looking Outside the BMD Box for Your Mother and Aunts: A Case Study Based on Eretz Israel”
20 Jul 2014 Sunday, July 20, 2014 “My Cousin the Murder Defendant”
29 Jun 2014 Sunday, June 29, 2014 "Ethical Wills-Values Handed Down Through Our Genealogy"
18 May 2014 Sunday, May 18, 2014 “Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors’ Arrival Records Online”
04 May 2014 Sunday, May 4, 2014 JGSI beginners' workshop
27 Apr 2014 Sunday, April 27, 2014 "Why am I stuck? 10 Solutions to Common Genealogical Brick Walls."
30 Mar 2014 Sunday, March 30, 2014 “Locating Israeli Relatives and Holocaust Survivors: Search Strategies and Integrating Resources”
16 Feb 2014 Sunday, February 16, 2014 "The Mystery of the Green Dumpster,"
26 Jan 2014 Sunday, January 26, 2014 "From Babylon to Skokie: A Short History of Ashkenazim"
24 Nov 2013 Sunday, November 24, 2013 Chicago's West Side Jews vs. South Side Jews
27 Oct 2013 Sunday, October 27, 2013 More, Much More Than Fiddlers on the Roof!
29 Sep 2013 Sunday, September 29, 2013 Beginners’ Genealogical Workshop
25 Aug 2013 Sunday, August 25, 2013 Remembering Jewish Lawndale
28 Jul 2013 Sunday, July 28, 2013 Researching Your Chicago Ancestors
30 Jun 2013 Sunday, June 30, 2013 My Cousin, The Gangster
09 Jun 2013 Digging Deeper: Researching Our Ancestors With Technology
19 May 2013 Sunday, May 19, 2013 Spreadsheets 101: Excel, the Genealogist's Underutilized Tool
28 Apr 2013 Sunday, April 28, 2013 “The Lemba Jewish Community of Zimbabwe”
17 Mar 2013 Sunday, March 17, 2013 Editor, writer and genealogist Martin Fischer will speak about “Finding Living Relatives”
24 Feb 2013 Sunday, February 24, 2013 "Rumbula’s Echo” focuses on the Rumbula forest murders
27 Jan 2013 Sunday, January 27, 2013 Ask the Experts
Monthly Meetings are usually held at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Rd, Northbrook.
Please check
for any changes in venue by reading the event details, which has the event location.

The Temple will open at 12:30 pm for the help desk and library. JGSI members will be available to help answer genealogical questions, help with Internet searches, and help in the library.
Scheduled programs will begin at 2:00 pm.

Link to map showing location of Temple Beth-El.Select link to view map of Temple Beth-El

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© 2016 JGSI   P.O. Box 515, Northbrook, IL 60065-0515 • 312.666.0100 •