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Read an article about our president, Fred Blum, run in the Winter 2013 edition of Inside magazine at

New on the Website

Thanks to the generosity of the Ginsburg, Platsis, Pressman & Vederman families, we have a diary of a 16-year old with advertisements from the John Wanamaker department store. The diary includes references to Sunday school and Gratz. The advertisements show items of the day available at Wanamaker's and other Philadelphia businesses. There are other small articles that include items of interest, including some of special interest to Jews, such as the article on page 294 about the Shofar.

This is a large PDF file (346MB) with images of 446 pages. It will take time to download and may not be compatible with all devices.

Click on the image of the cover above to view the document.

Pennsylvania Records News

The initial batch of Pennsylvania state death certificates is now online through (as of April 18th). Remember only birth and death certificates that are open records will be online (50 years for death certificates and 105 years for birth certificates). The overall schedule is:

 • 1906-24 death certificates – April 2014
 • 1925-44 death certificates – June 2014
 • 1945-63 death certificates – November 2014
 • 1906 birth certificates – March 2015

Pennsylvania residents (and only Pennsylvania residents) have free access to this particular database as they do with other Pennsylvania State Archives records already scanned and made available online by Ancestry. Free access for Pennsylvania residents is accomplished by registering online at no cost through this link (please be sure to read the instructions carefully): Pennsylvania residents that already have a subscription to Ancestry do not need to do anything as long as they continue to have a subscription to Ancestry.

Out of state residents do need a subscription to Ancestry to access these records. However, many libraries and research centers everywhere provide free access to Ancestry. After three years the records will be moved to the Pennsylvania State Archives website and be free to all.

Thank you for your help in getting the PA state law changed that made this possible. Without your help we would still be stuck with the old extremely restricted access to Pennsylvania state birth and death certificates and wishing it were different. For more information please visit Good luck in your searches and keep in mind mistakes in indexing (most especially on Ancestry) and the original certificates are to be expected.

1940 census link

From Recent Meetings...

Click here for Joel Spector's presentation entitled "The Growth of the Russian Jewish Population From Early Historical Data through the 1897 Census".
Click here for Alan Jordan's notes on probate, records, and wills from his talk in November, 2014.

Links From Recent Chronicles...

Click here for ZACHOR – Memories of the Jews of Bialystok by Mark Halpern from Winter 2014 CHRONICLES



April Meeting will be: Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 1:30 pm at Adath Israel, 250 N. Highland Avenue, Merion Station, PA 19066

Speaker: Tammy A. Hepps, founder of, a family story sharing website, and a past winner of the RootsTech Developer Challenge. With fifteen years of experience in digital media and more than two decades in genealogy, she brings a fresh perspective on combining creative research, cutting-edge technology, and and meaningful storytelling to make family history more engaging. This past spring she presented her current research into the Jewish community of one of her ancestral towns, documented at, at the Library of Congress.

Topic: Reconstructing Small-Town Jewish Communities in America: A Case Study

While the history of the American Jewish community remains largely an urban one, most of us have at least one branch from a small town. Though these places may seem harder to research for being relatively unknown, they actually pose a unique opportunity for family historians to understand our ancestors in the context of their communities. This talk will review research approaches for understanding your ancestral small town, as well as concrete steps descendants can take to ensure these communities aren't lost to history. Along the way you'll hear lots of memorable and surprising stories of what life was like for the minority of Jewish immigrants who became Americans far from the safety of the urban cultural centers.

May Meeting will be: Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 1:30 pm at Keneseth Israel

Speaker: Andrew Zalewski, Author of Galician Portraits: In Search of Jewish Roots, is a cardiologist who despite a busy professional life published two books on Galicia, a rewarding experience in which he discovered amazing details about his family and the people of Galicia. The latest, Galician Portraits: In Search of Jewish Roots, is more than a record of one family. The story is anchored in Austrian Galicia, but it also covers centuries of Jewish history in the region, before and after Galicia existed. Large cities and small towns are the tale’s backdrop. In them, people from a variety of ethnic groups live alongside a large community of Israelites.

Topic: Jewish Galicia (1772-1918): Lives at the Crossroads

Consistent with the theme ''The Wandering Jew'' the talk brings to life the Jewish community of Galicia. Personal discoveries are intertwined with a broader historical context. Coming from the outside, the imperial edicts are both stifling and inspiring—the laws about Jewish marriages, surnames, schools, military service, and land ownership bring dizzying pace of changes but also controversies. Coming from the inside, there is a wave of the Jewish Enlightenment—biting satires by local Jewish cultural rebels are met with condemnations and counterattack. As never before, Galician Jews face the dilemma of so many linguistic and lifestyle choices. The community comes across as vibrant and diverse: professionals, pious traditionalists and reformers, dwellers of shetls and cities are heard in this narrative. Based on the expanded research to my recently published book Galician Portraits: In Search of Jewish Roots, the talk is illustrated by many pictures, historical documents, and old maps of Galicia.

Sunday, June 19, 2016 at 1:30 pm at Keneseth Israel

Speaker: Leora Tec, Founder and Director, Bridge to Poland and Holocaust Scholar, she creates immersive intellectual and cultural travel experiences in Poland that examine the history of the Jews in Poland and how Christian Poles today are commemorating that history. Leora is the daughter of Holocaust survivor and Holocaust scholar Nechama Tec. She views her work as the second generation of her mother’s work on rescue and resistance during the Holocaust. (Nechama Tec is the author of the book Defiance, which was made into the 2007 film starring Daniel Craig). Leora holds a B.A. from Wellesley College and a J.D./LL.M. from Duke University School of Law. In addition to her work for BTP she writes and speaks publicly about many topics including her own experiences with Polish and Jewish identity. She is currently working on a book about her Polish identity entitled, I’m Not Polish: My Discovery of Identity. Leora is a narrator of audio books at the Perkins School for the Blind and an improvisor. She is a polyglot and has lived and/or studied in: Spain, Israel, France, Italy and Poland.

Topic: The Persistence of Memory: What Happens When All the Survivors Are Gone?

How will we remember the Holocaust when those who lived through it are gone?…How will we hold on to a multiplicity of stories and avoid the stereotypes that can erase the nuances of individual live?…Who is tasked with remembrance and what does it look like?

Through the lens of her experience as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and scholar, and through her own experiences and connections with Polish scholars and artists who are grappling with this history, Leora teases out the many ways of answering these questions. Through the stories she tells, and a sense of the poetry of fleeting moments, she addresses both the challenges and the unexpected clarity that can come from embracing the details of a human life, and finds ways to uncover hope, even in the fragments of this shattered history.

Our annual Genealogy Fair will  be in Sunday September 11, 2016, 1:00 pm at Keneseth Israel.  Watch for more.

36th IAJGS International Conference
on Jewish Genealogy

August 7-12, 2016 Seattle, WA

Brooklyn Bridge 1905

Brooklyn Bridge 1905

Zhytomir, Ukraine

Atlantic City, 1904

New York City

New York City, 1913

The JGSGP sadly announces the passing of our Vice President for Programming, trong>Steve Schecter, suddenly on September 30, 2013. Our society will miss the enthusiasm and leadership that he so freely gave us all.


Leonard Markowitz, past president of the JGSGP, passed away on September 29, 2014. Len was instrumental in leading our genealogy society early on when we were very small. He was very knowledgeable and was an effective people-person when he served as President of our genealogy society. He was the husband of the late Sonya, father of Larry Markowitz and Lynn (Alan) Pechinski.


We now have a Speakers Bureau

To volunteer as a speaker or to request a speaker for your event,  click here and

please contact Stan or Shelda Sandler stanshel(at)


JGSGP Beginner and Intermediate Genealogy Workshops

Interested in attending or sponsoring a workshop for your Congregation or Organization? Send an email to Stan or Shelda Sandler stanshel(at) with specifics about your request.


Genealogy Help in New Jersey

James Gross is at the Cherry Hill Family History Center most Tuesday evenings 6:30 to 9:00.  The FHC is located at 252 E. Evesham Road, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003.  Please call ahead to confirm BEFORE visiting at 856-795-8841.


Brick Walls Q&A

A new feature! JGSGP members can ask for help from fellow members with their research challenges. Have an issue? Send a message to  Questions may be published in our quarterly journal Chronicles. Answers will be sent to the question originator only by email.


News from PJAC







An Interactive Website for Exploring

the City of Neighborhoods


The Life and Times of Congregation Kesher Israel

by Harry Boonin

Click HERE for Details




Jewish Studies Courses Online


Click HERE for more information







Tracing the Tribe - The Jewish Genealogy Blog

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Last updated December 30, 2015

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