Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland


2017 Program Descriptions

Listed below are descriptions of selected programs we held in 2017

December 3, 2017

ANNUAL MEETING - Election of Officers
Report on the 2017 IAJGS Orlando conference.

Speakers Phyllis Bravo, Kenneth Bravo, Sherri Routman, and Helen Wolf reported on the 37th Conference of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies which was held in Orlando in July. The panel shared conference sessions and experiences such as: deciding if a family tree should be private or public; how to evaluate records; special interest groups; and featured speakers.

The meeting also included the annual election of officers and trustees.

November 8, 2017

How A SIG Can Further Genealogy Research

Amy Wachs
Russ Maurer

Amy Wachs Russ Maurer

Special Interest Groups, or SIGs, bring together family history researchers with common interests. In Jewish genealogy, SIGs are organized around region of origin or special topics. Amy Wachs and Russ Maurer have extensive experience with a variety of SIGs, as users, volunteers, and in leadership positions. In their presentation, they drew on their knowledge to explain how SIGs work and how SIGs can help genealogy research.

October 22, 2017

Searching for Individuals in the International Tracing Service at the USHMM

Dr. Diane Afoumado
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Dr. Diane Afoumado

We learned about one of the largest Holocaust archives in the world, the International Tracing Service (ITS). Dr. Diane F. Afoumado, of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, shared how to use the ITS digital collection. Forms to request ITS searches were available.

ITS, located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, was the largest closed Holocaust archive in the world. The archive was established by the Allied powers after World War II to help reunite separated families and trace missing family members. The Allies placed in the ITS millions of pages of documentation captured during the war. Opened in 2007, the ITS collection contains about 200 million digital images of documentation, such as camp arrival lists, grave locations, transport lists, prisoner cards, forced labor lists, death lists, displaced person applications for assistance, deportation lists, emigration applications/questionnaires, registration and work cards, sometimes with photographs.

Dr. Afoumado’s appearance was sponsored by
The Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland
The Kol Israel Foundation
Siegal Life Long Learning Program of Case Western Reserve University
Laurel School
and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

September 6, 2017

Jewish marriage and divorce documents: their use to genealogists

Rabbi Hal Rudin-Luria
B’nai Jeshurun Congregation

Rabbi Hal Rudin-Luria

Rabbi Rudin-Luria shared the differences between what is found on a civil marriage license and in a ketubah, a Jewish marriage document and in a public divorce record and a get, a Jewish divorce record.

An expert in the laws of Jewish divorce, Rabbi Rudin-Luria explained how a get, a Jewish divorce, shows all the various names a person used and how this facilitates genealogical research.

August 2, 2017

How To Use Newspapers To Research Family Stories

Ken Bravo,
President, IAJGS
and Past President, JGSC

  Ken Bravo

Newspapers contain a wealth of information about our families; not only the usual birth, marriage and death announcements, but, often more importantly, what relatives did in the years in between. Bravo demonstrated the types of information to be found and then explained how to locate and research newspapers, both large and small, general and Jewish specific, which published in the towns and cities of ancestors.

July 12, 2017

Soviet Jewry Oral History Project.

Sean Martin, Ph.D.,
Associate Curator for Jewish History,
Western Reserve Historical Society.

Dr. Sean Martin

Cleveland's Jewish community played an active role helping Soviet Jews emigrate from the Soviet Union and resettle in the United States, and especially in Cleveland, from the 1960s to the 1990s. Approximately 12,000 Soviet Jews came to Cleveland during these years. The recently completed the Soviet Jewish Oral History Collection documents the experiences of 81 of these immigrants. Dr. Sean Martin discussed how WRHS worked with the local community on this project and shared what he has learned about oral histories and the Soviet Jewish immigrants in Northeast Ohio.

June 7, 2017

Make the Most of Family

Betty Franklin
Westlake Family History Center

  Betty Franklin

Betty Franklin shared how to use this free site for Jewish heritage research. is an ever-growing site that aims to remain accessible to all. It provides records from around the world.

May 3, 2017

NE Ohio Jews and the Civil War

Peter Haas,
Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Jewish Studies Emeritus
Department of Religious Studies, Case Western Reserve University

Professor Peter Haas

Professor Peter Haas shared his research on the role of Jews from Northeast Ohio in the Civil War

During the Civil War, Jews participated in the War as part of the communities in which they lived and worked, and were similarly affected by its various aftermaths. Jews were drafted into, or volunteered for, Ohio infantry units, fought in numerous battles, were wounded or killed along with their gentile neighbors, and occasionally even rose to high ranks. In contrast to Europe, the American Civil War showed that Jews here were facing an unprecedented level of social, political and economic openness.

April 5, 2017

Reclaim the Records – via video conference

Brooke Shreier Ganz – Founder of Reclaim the Records

Reclaim the Records is a not-for-profit group that files Freedom of Information requests to get public data released back into the public.

The goal of Reclaim the Records is to get these record sets put online for free, for everyone. Reclaim The Records‘ first request was an attempt to gain access under the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to an index of some old marriage documents that were stored only in the New York City Municipal Archives in lower Manhattan. It won this case and the data from 48 microfilms, which yielded nearly 80,000 scanned images and about 450,000 names, is now online and free for public use at

February 5, 2017

Lessons in Jewish DNA -
One Man's Journey and What he learned on the Journey

Israel Pickholtz, author One Family, One People

Genetic genealogist Israel Pickholtz discussed how he enjoyed significant successes using DNA to sort out relationships in his family, despite the "Jewish problem" of marriages within the tribe. The lessons he discussed are relevant to both Jewish and general genealogy.

January 8, 2017

Before the Holocaust: Jews of Tetiev – documentary and oral history project

Susan Kirkman Zake
Assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication
at Kent State University

Susan Kirkman Zake

Susan Kirkman Zake shared her efforts to document Jewish families who fled a series of pogroms in Tetiev, Ukraine, from 1918 to 1920 during the Ukrainian War of Independence.

"Dante’s Inferno pales beside the realities of every day life [for Jews] in the Ukraine," according to a report issued by the Committee of Jewish Delegations in 1920. The pogroms perpetrated at this time killed an estimated one hundred thousand and were the most extensive massacres of Jews prior to the Holocaust. This documentary and oral history project tells the story of hundreds of Jews from the town of Tetiev who made their way to Cleveland, Ohio, and established vibrant communities on the city's East Side.