Sunday, January 9, 2022, 1pm Pacific Time 

Guest speaker, Alex Krakovsky

Jewish Documents Kept by Ukrainian Archives

Alex Krakovsky is a Jewish Ukrainian born in Kyiv. He is using the Freedom of Information laws and the court system in Ukraine to force archives to allow him to scan records.  Alex became interested in learning about his roots after his mother’s death in 2011. He found references to his grandfather, whom the family knew almost nothing about in a book and some documents at the archive in Zhytomyr.  He was asked to pay 116,000 hryvnia (about $4,600) for copies of the documents! He refused and continued to refuse until the archives decreased the fee to $2, which he paid. Alex later sued the archive, winning back his $2 plus an additional 100 hryvnia ($4) for the hassle the archive put him through.  

The case also changed Alex’s life. With no formal legal training, he has become a litigation machine—a hero of sorts to frustrated researchers and genealogists. Alex has sued more than a dozen archives with the goal of bringing Ukraine’s archives up to European standards. Among other things, he advocates for the publishing of inventories online so that people know what is in the archives. This would also help prevent the illegal sale of archival materials, which he suspects is ongoing. He also agitates for the right to freely photograph documents.

Alex has not lost a single case to date. He often wins, citing constitutional precedent. Recently, he faced his most powerful adversary. Alex filed suit against Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice. The Ministry has the state archives under its wing and issued a June 2018 order barring the copying of documents larger than letter-size, files thicker than 1 ½ inches, old printed books, listings of documents, and basically anything a researcher or genealogist might need to see.

About Alex Krakovsky

Alex was born at a very young age in 1982 in Kyiv. He graduated from the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in 2005 with a degree in Flexible Computer Systems. He has been actively doing genealogy since 2011.

Alex has been digitizing records in Ukrainian Archives, including Jewish metrical books and other vital records, school records, revision lists, poll tax censuses, and more.  He then posts the records online to a wiki page which yields a massive amount of raw data for those interested in Ukrainian research. Alex uses high resolution scanning equipment to scan virtually all records in an archive. He has spent a great deal of time and his own money doing this important work and he is constantly battling a very difficult government system. Alex has received donations for the purchase of state-of-the-art scanners, which are now in use in most Ukraine archives.

You can access his main wiki page at Ukraine Document Wiki  (use the Google Chrome browser to view Alex’s link (as it can translate this Ukrainian Wikipedia page). 

Sunday, February 6, 2022, 1pm Pacific Time 

Guest speaker, Robinn Magid

Finding your Eastern European Jewish Family on

Join us for a presentation of some truly memorable stories from the case file that highlight what this incredible database and website might do for your own research. For 25 years, JRI-Poland has served as the preferred finding aid for the Jewish records that survive in the archives of Poland today. This vast collection of 6.2 million records from over 550 towns includes information about towns and families from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Germany and the former territories of Galicia and Prussia. Through understanding the contents of the database and how to improve your search results to exploring preserved Holocaust-related records, this lecture will focus on the good things that can come out of a genealogical search. Come listen to stories of the people we’ve helped in the hope that you’ll get a useful new idea from our more surprising experiences.

About Robinn

Magid Robinn Magid is the Assistant Director of and a recent recipient of the IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award. She recently became the project manager of the JRI-Poland “NextGen Project” to redesign the JRI-Poland website, search engine and database. She a frequent speaker and writer on Jewish genealogy topics.

As the Lublin Area Projects Coordinator, she is responsible for coordinating the indexing of Jewish vital records for approximately 100 towns. Robinn’s genealogical work resulted in her being recognized by the City of Lublin, Poland – her grandmother’s hometown – with a medal from the mayor for inspiring the future and cultural identity of that city of 450,000 people on Lublin’s 700th birthday in 2017. Robinn has spoken at many IAJGS conferences on behalf of JRI-Poland and has served as the chair of two groundbreaking conferences: IAJGS 2018 Warsaw, Poland conference, and the IAJGS 2020 Virtual Conference on Jewish Genealogy. She is a member of the San Francisco – Bay Area JGS and has spoken to her group and to other societies. Robinn is sheltering-at-home in Berkeley, California with her husband, four children and new daughter-in-law!

Sunday, March 13, 2022 at 1pm Pacific Time 

Guest Speaker: Todd Knowles

Using FamilySearch for Jewish Research

The Family History Library has an extensive collection of Jewish records. Understanding what is there and how best to access it, is vital to having a successful search. The Jewish records in the collection of FamilySearch can best be obtained through the Family History Library catalog. 

There are multiple ways to search the catalog and to find the records, and in this presentation, we will learn how to best do that. We will discuss the best way to find our Jewish ancestors from all parts of Family Search. 

About Todd Knowles

Todd Knowles, AG, is a Deputy Chief Genealogist at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, UT. After being introduced to family history at the age of 12, he soon discovered his Jewish roots. The journey to find these Polish Jews has led to the creation of the Knowles Collection (, which contains the records of over 1.4 million Jews, and is now part of Todd is Past President of the Utah Jewish Genealogical Society (UJGS)and currently a Trustee of the International Society of British Genealogy and Family History (ISBGFH). Todd has spoken throughout the world, and his articles have been widely published.

NEW!   Extra In-Person Double Presentation  

 Sunday, April 3,  1pm Pacific Time Zone in Santa Cruz, CA

Guest Speaker:  Steve Morse

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 300 web-based tools divided into 16 separate categories ranging from genealogical searches to astronomical calculations to last-minute bidding on e-bay.  This presentation will describe the   range of tools available and give the highlights of each one.

Getting Ready for the 1950 Census:

Searching with and without a Name Index. When the 1950 census will be released in April 2022, it will not have a name index. So finding people in the census will involve searching by location instead. Even when a name index becomes available, there will still be many reasons for  doing locational searches.  The census is organized by Enumeration Districts (EDs), so the location needs to be converted  to an ED before the census can be accessed. The One-Step website contains numerous tools for obtaining EDs. This talk will present the various tools and show circumstances in which each can be used.

About Steve Morse

 Steve Morse, creator of the “One-Step” web pages, has been a mainstay of genealogy research, inventing many tools that ease research work for both the novice and the experienced genealogist. He managed to get to use his approach in order to ease research on that site and has developed special tools that help handle data as each new U.S. census has been released. For details on his enormous number of research aids, see his website at

Sunday, May 22, 2022, 1pm Pacific Time Zone

Guest Speaker:  Gil Bardige

Part 1: Updated Help! I Just Got My DNA Results & Iʼm Confused

Prioritize your match list, get organized and reduce stress and confusion online Resources

Description: This first presentation in a two-part series is A MUST for the serious ancestral researcher. This presentation, geared for the beginner through intermediate researcher, will provide specific guidance on how to use DNA/Genetic Genealogy as an effective tool in your genealogy tool belt. Gil will review examples from the four major DNA testing companies to clarify ethnicity estimates and give a detailed review of the specific tools available with each testing company. With these recommended formulas, data , you will learn to prioritize matches, despite endogamy with the end goal viewed in your family tree as you learn to connect with your matches. Watch for Gilʼs second part of this series which teaches techniques to analyze your matches as you advance your genetic genealogy skills.

About Gil Bardige
Gil Bardige, recently retired, has been a genealogist for over 40 years, with over 10 years of experience in DNA/Genetic Genealogy. He has been recognized as someone who can clarify ethnicity estimates and help you understand what matches mean and how to know which ones to respond to and what to expect. He has tested at all 4 major companies and is a Project Manager at FTDNA on 3 projects including Jewish R1b. Gil has utilized DNA to confirm a family relationship on his family tree and even utilized it to prove no relations despite the same surname.

June 12, 2022, 11am Pacific Time Zone

Guest Speaker:  Serafima Velkovich

The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names and Other Sources at Yad Vashem

Over 4.8 million of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices are commemorated in Yad Vashem’s online Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names. The lecture will highlight new features and materials, as well as “tips” on utilizing the database to the fullest.  It will also include guidance on the use of other Yad Vashem sources online that are relevant for genealogists.

About Serafima Velkovich

Serafima Velkovich is the Head of the Family Roots Research Section in the Reference and Information Department of the Yad Vashem Archives division. She has been working at Yad Vashem for 16 years. She is also a PhD Candidate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  Serafima was closely involved in the work on names material in Yad Vashem`s databases. At the same time, the main research field is family roots. She lectures on the use of Yad Vashem resources for genealogical and other research to various groups, as well as to visiting genealogists and organizations who make use of genealogical tools for their research.  She participates in international conferences and films on Holocaust topics. 


Sunday, June 26, 2022, 1pm Pacific Time Zone

Guest Speaker:  Gil Bardige

Intermediate-Advanced Level: I Got My Autosomal DNA Results, What Are My Next Steps?

Description: Now that you have watched the first presentation you are no longer a beginner. This presentation will guide you through the next steps using advanced tools and refined formulas such as triangulation, applying DNA clusters, Pile-Up regions, Johnny Pearlʼs DNA painter techniques, and the concept of adding DNA matches of your siblings and cousins to further capture new DNA matches. This will include a couple of brief case studies of how Gil used these techniques in his own research. Now that you have watched the first presentation you are no longer a beginner. You have followed the formulas and prioritized your matches.

About Gil Bardige
Gil Bardige, recently retired, has been a genealogist for over 40 years, with over 10 years of experience in DNA/Genetic Genealogy. He has been recognized as someone who can clarify ethnicity estimates and help you understand what matches mean and how to know which ones to respond to and what to expect. He has tested at all 4 major companies and is a Project Manager at FTDNA on 3 projects including Jewish R1b. Gil has utilized DNA to confirm a family relationship on his family tree and even utilized it to prove no relations despite the same surname.

Sunday, July 17, 2022, 1pm Pacific Time Zone

Guest Speaker:  Alexander Beider, PhD

Researching Eastern European Jewish Surnames

Description: A large majority of Jews of the Russian Empire received their family names only about 200 years ago. In contrast with many other Ashkenazim, the whole surnaming process was managed internally within Jewish communities, with marginal participation by Christian clerks. The names adopted in the Russian Empire reflect a panorama of Jewish life at the beginning of the 19th century including: languages used and their peculiarities, occupations, given names, and places of settlement.

Some surnames provide information about ancestors who lived well before the 19th century. This is the case of surnames revealing Jewish “castes” (Cohanim, Levites), those belonging to rabbinical dynasties, and those of other migrants from Central Europe, as well as a small group of names of Sephardic origin. Because of the Ashkenazic tradition of naming children after deceased close relatives , certain surnames based on given names (patronymics or matronymics) can provide information linking us to those who lived in the Middle Ages.

About Alexander Beider
Alexander Beider holds one doctoral degree in applied mathematics (Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology) and another in Jewish Studies (Sorbonne, Paris). He uses onomastics and linguistics as tools to unravel the history of the Jewish people. He has written a series of reference books dealing with the etymology of Ashkenazic and Sephardic surnames and Ashkenazic given names, all published by Avotaynu Inc. (1993-2019). His book “Origins of Yiddish Dialects,” published by Oxford University Press (2015), sheds light on the early stages of the development of Yiddish. Beider was born in Moscow and currently lives in Paris.

Sunday, August 14, 2022, 1pm Pacific Time Zone

Guest Speaker:  Karen Franklin, Genealogist

New Strategies in German Jewish Research

Description: In this talk, Karen identifies creative strategies for Jewish genealogical research that could be of interest to all genealogists regardless of the locations they are researching. She will describe how to utilize Leo Baeck Institute collections–including methodologies for exploring women’s stories — and will discuss the German Jewish DNA group, Facebook groups, the International German Genealogy Partnership (IGGP), databases on JewishGen, the Obermayer Awards, and many other resources.

About Karen Franklin
Karen S. Franklin is Director of Family History at Leo Baeck Institute and a Consultant for the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. She has served as chair of the Council of American Jewish Museums, the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, the Memorial Museums Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), and as co-chair of the Board of Governors of A co-founder of the Obermayer German Jewish History Awards, she is currently on the board of the Southern Jewish Historical Society and is co-editor of the Memoirs Section of Southern Jewish History. Karen is the recipient of the 2018 IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sunday, September 18, 2022, 1pm Pacific Time Zone

Guest Speaker:  Ellen Kowitt, Genealogist

New Jewish Resources on the Genealogy Giant Websites

Description: This presentation is a MUST! Enjoy this updated comparative overview of Jewish record collections and research tools found on the global powerhouse websites referred to as “Genealogy Giants.” Comparing Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast, and MyHeritage, this lecture includes many substantive record examples. Learn how each site can be helpful for documenting Jewish families, and get tips on each site’s best features or challenges. Current JewishGen partnerships with Ancestry and MyHeritage are featured.

About Ellen Kowitt
Ellen Kowitt (pronounced KO-witt, like KO-dak) is Director of JewishGen’s USA Research Division and National Vice Chair of Jewish Research for the Daughters of the American Revolution. She is past president of Jewish Genealogical Societies in Colorado and Greater Washington, DC, and she served for three years on the IAJGS board of directors. Ellen publishes articles in Family Tree Magazine and Avotaynu: The International Journal on Jewish Genealogy. She has completed the ProGen Study Group, attends genealogy institute programs, and is a member of the Colorado Chapter Association of Professional Genealogists.

Sunday, October 23, 2022, 1pm Pacific Time Zone

Guest Speaker:  Leon Gershovich, PhD

New Jewish Resources on the Genealogy Giant Websites

Description: Come learn about the history of the Jews of Belarus (previously known as Jews of Raysen)? Where did they come from? How did they live? What was their identity? How had their life and identity transformed through periods of time? What was their historical experience during the Lithuanian-Polish Commonwealth, Russian Empire, Soviet Union, and post-soviet Belarus? What was their fate during the Shoah? How did the Soviet state transform their Jewish identity, during the pogroms, 1917 and the collapse of the USSR. How many immigrated and where? What are their attitudes towards the current regime in Belarus as well as the Russian-Ukrainian war?
Dr. Gershovich shares an impressive handout list with publications and historical video links in preparation for his presentation.

About Leon Gershovich
Dr. Leonid (Leon) Gershovich was born in Gomel, Belarus (then USSR) and made Aliyah at age 9 in 1991. He lives in Shlomi, on the Lebanese border, and works as an educator. Recently he earned his PhD in Tel-Aviv University after defending his work titled “Jews and Jewish life in south-east Belarus (Gomel and surroundings) during the interwar period (1917-1941)”. His academic interests include the history of pre-soviet, soviet and post-soviet Jewish Life, Sloviet Zionism, world wide Jewish struggle to free Soviet Jews, aspects of Jewish identity and identification, history of the Holocaust, modern antisemitism, Zionist ideology.

Sunday, November 20, 2022, 1pm Pacific Time Zone

Guest Speaker:  Yefim Kogan

Advance Your Research in Bessarabia (Former Russian Empire, Moldova, Romania & Parts of Ukraine)

Description: This presentation is a MUST! Bessarabia Gubernia of the Russian Empire had about 230K Jews at the beginning of 20th century. This presentation will highlight the catalog and database of holdings as well as lesser known resources and links to a wealth of records. Learn about the Jewish history, culture, towns, shtetilakh, cemeteries, Kehilalinks and Yizkor books as we use tools and geographic maps to dive into your ancestral roots. Get your questions ready!

About Yefim Kogan
Yefim Kogan, is the Leader and Coordinator of Bessarabia SIG at JewishGen. Yefim organized the Bessarabia Special Interest Group in 2011 and developed the Bessarabia SIG website and several Kehilalinks. Some of his important projects are the Revision List, translations of more than 250,000 records and indexing and photographing more than 80- Jewish cemeteries in the region many of which have been indexed and photographed. Yefim was born in Kishinev, Moldova and emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1989. He has a Masters in Jewish Liberal Studies from Hebrew College with focus in Jewish cultural history in Eastern Europe. Yefim has presented at all Jewish genealogical conferences on topics related to the Bessarabia/Moldova region. Published an article in Avotaynu on Migration of Jews in Bessarabia/Moldova.

Sunday, December 18, 2022, 1pm Pacific Time Zone

Guest Speakers:  Paul Zoglin and David Feldman

Jewish Genealogical Records for Ancestral Towns in Belarus

Description: We will cover various aspects of Jewish Genealogical research for the Belarus region. We’ll discuss what kinds of records have survived, where to find those records, how to search records that have been translated and the status of various translation projects managed by the JewishGen Belarus Research Division.

About David Feldman and Paul Zoglin
David Feldman is currently a senior partner in SDR consulting services, providing consulting, research, and advanced modeling services to hundreds of organizations, including many of the world’s largest companies and several well-known management and marketing consulting firms. Dave got involved with Jewish genealogy after taking a trip to his family hometown in Shereshevo, Belarus, in 2007. Since 2007 he has overseen the operations of the JewishGen Belarus Research Division (AKA Belarus SIG). Access to new sources of genealogy records has always been an issue for this research group, and he is currently co-developing a surname project that is anticipated to allow access to many more records sources at lower costs.

Paul Zoglin got involved in genealogy after a family reunion in 2004. Frustrated by the lack of translated records from Belarus (where his paternal ancestors are from), he volunteered to be the database coordinator for the JewishGen Belarus Research Division in 2010. Paul is a native of Kansas City but currently lives and works in New York City.

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