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

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



Monday, October 12, 2015 at 7:30 pm at Main Line Reform Temple
Second Annual Steve Schecter Memorial Lecture

Speaker: Stephen Morse is the creator of the One-Step Website for which he's received both the Lifetime Achievement and the Outstanding Contribution Award from the IAJGS, Award of Merit from the National Genealogical Society, first-ever Excellence Award from the Association of Professional Genealogists, and two awards that he cannot pronounce from Polish genealogical societies.

Morse is a computer professional with a doctorate in electrical engineering. He's held various research, development, and teaching positions, authored numerous technical papers, written four textbooks, and holds four patents. He's best known as the architect of Intel's 8086, which sparked the PC revolution 30 years ago.

Topic: One-Step Webpages: A Potpourri of Genealogical Search Tools
The One-Step website started out as an aid for finding passengers in the Ellis Island database. Shortly afterwards it was expanded to help with searching in the 1930 census. Over the years it has continued to evolve and today includes about 200 web-based tools divided into 16 separate categories ranging from genealogical searches to astronomical calculations to last-minute bidding on eBay. This presentation will describe the range of tools available and give the highlights of each one.

Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 1:30 pm at TBD

Speaker: Nolan Altman, JewishGen Vice President for Data Acquisition, was bit by the “genealogy bug” when he was inspired to write his family history in 1996 in memory of his mother. After making use of the valuable information on JewishGen, he volunteered to do data entry on various projects. In time, he was asked to become the Coordinator for JewishGen’s Holocaust Database and subsequently the Coordinator for the JOWBR (JewishGen’s Online Worldwide Burial Registry) project. Nolan currently holds the position of JewishGen’s Vice President for Data Acquisition and will focus on growing the JOWBR, Holocaust databases and JewishGen’s new Memorial Plaque project. He is currently on the board of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) and was President of JGSLI (Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island), where he coordinates their Yearbook, Cemetery, and Memorial Plaque projects.

Topic: JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) and the Importance of Jewish Burial Records.

Jewish headstone inscriptions and burial records can provide crucial information to genealogists. Hebrew name inscriptions, based on patronymics, can link together two generations of Hebrew names unlike any other source document. This can be especially helpful when trying to link first generation American ancestors to their European families.

Nolan Altman will explain the importance of Jewish cemetery records. Through photographic examples and case studies, you will see what information and symbols are found on stones and how the information can help to create your family tree.

Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm at TBD

Speaker: Lara Diamond, Ukraine SIG Projects Director is President of JGS of Maryland and has been researching her family for 25 years, since she was too young to have a driver's license and had to rely on her mother to drive her to the National Archives. She has traced all branches of her family back to Europe and most multiple generations back using Russian Empire-era records. Most of her research is in modern-day Ukraine, with a smattering of Belarus and Poland. She blogs about her mostly Eastern European research at

Topic: Researching Your Roots in Ukraine with the Ukraine SIG

Lara Diamond will talk through some strategies used to get documents from in Ukraine, to include hiring researchers privately, crowdsourcing research for specific towns, and utilizing the Family History Library's resources. These methods should be applicable to much of Eastern Europe. She will also discuss some of the latest initiatives and acquisitions made by UkraineSIG and how to see what initiatives Ukraine SIG currently has underway or completed for a particular town--and how the strategies discussed can be integrated with Ukraine SIG.

Sunday, January 17, 2016 at 1:30 pm at TBD

Speaker: David Brill, Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia has been researching his own family history in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and the United States for over 20 years. He is Coordinator of the Russian Interest Group of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia and has been active in transliterating documents, including all existing Jewish and vital records for his ancestral shtetl of Usvyaty, Russia. He also maintains a KehilaLinks page for Tuchin, Ukraine.

Topic: Letters from a Judean

In February 1918, an eighteen-year old American Jew named William Z. Porter left his home in Philadelphia to join the 39th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers – the Jewish Legion. Over the next several years, as he moved with the 39th from Windsor, Canada, to England, Egypt and pre-Mandatory Palestine, William corresponded extensively with Brill's maternal grandmother. Nearly one hundred years later, these collected letters, postcards, photographs and souvenirs form a remarkable record of a young man’s experience fighting with the “Judeans.” They also cast a fascinating light on subjects ranging from relations between Jewish and non-Jewish soldiers, to the vibrant Zionist youth culture of Philadelphia, to ordinary soldiers’ impressions of the Zionist leaders of the day. Brill's grandmother kept these documents her entire life because she recognized their historic significance. In this presentation Mr Brill describes the collection in detail, and also discusses how he used JewishGen’s resources to find William’s descendants.

Sunday, February 21, 2016 at 1:30 pm at TBD

Speaker: Cassio Tolpolar, Brazilian Film Director and Writer was born and raised in the south of Brazil. He worked for seven years as an Assistant Director on various documentaries, short films, TV shows and commercials. Cassio's debut as a Director and Writer, the short Venus, was screened in a number of film festivals around the world and won several awards, including Best Director and Best Cinematography. It led him to direct for television and, ultimately, to move to the USA and complete the MFA in Film at the San Francisco Art Institute. He has been affiliated with film institutions such as Sundance (Sundance/NHK Award and the Film Festival), Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Upon his arrival in the US, he worked in a number of experimental short films, TV shows and documentaries. Cassio has recently returned to Brazil, where he is promoting Mamaliga Blues and developing All the Other Planets, a fiction feature film.

Topic: Mamaliga Blues: A Family Road Movie into the Past

In 2008 and 2012 Cassio Tolpolar and his family traveled from Brazil to Moldova to investigate their ancestry. Having as a starting point only one remaining photograph of a lost grave, the Tolpolars drove through ancient villages, walked in the bushes of abandoned cemeteries, and met locals, looking for what happened to their relatives who disappeared during the Holocaust. The search reveals the fragility of Moldova's memory, and how its Jewish past is vanishing.

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 November 15, 2014

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