Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois 


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

Upcoming events

    • 02 Jun 2019
    • 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM
    • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, IL

    DNA: Tests, Tools and Tales

    A one-day conference presented by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois.

    Our Presenters

    LARA DIAMOND has been researching her family for 25 years, starting as a middle school student. She has traced all branches of her family multiple generations back in Europe using Russian Empire-era and Austria-Hungarian Empire records. Most of her research is in modern-day Ukraine, with a smattering of Belarus and Poland. As she is an Ashkenazic Jew, she gets to have particular fun with her completely endogamous genome.

    Lara is President of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland, leads JewishGen’s Subcarpathian SIG, and is on JewishGen’s Ukraine SIG’s Board of Directors. She also runs multiple district and town-focused projects to collect documentation to assist all those researching ancestors from common towns. She blogs about DNA and her Eastern European research. 

    GIL BARDIGE has been working on his genealogy since 1979 and now has nearly 1,400 people on his family tree including three branches traced back to his 5th-great-grandfathers born about 1740. His families arrived in Chicago in the early 20th century and were involved in founding Knesses Israel Nusach Sfard (K.I.N.S.), one of the oldest synagogues on the West Side of Chicago.

    A member of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society in Ohio, Gil has spoken at a number of local events and international conferences and is a firm believer DNA results can be a valuable tool in genealogical research as it generates clues to help people confirm relationships. Most recently he has managed the mentoring program for IAJGS at its international Jewish genealogy conferences, allowing people to get one-on-one tutoring to help break through brick walls.

    For the last 10+ years he has expanded his knowledge of genetic genealogy, testing at each of the major DNA companies. Gil currently manages three Y-DNA projects at FamilyTreeDNA as a volunteer administrator.

    Sessions include:

    • Introduction to Genetic Genealogy: Y-DNA, mtDNA and Autosomal DNA, The Basics and Next Steps
    • Leveraging the Power of GedMatch
    • Introduction to Genetic Genealogy: Working with your DNA Results
    • Using Y-DNA and mtDNA: Genetic Genealogy As an Innovative Tool in your Research
    • Autosomal DNA Tools and Techniques: Beyond GEDMaTch


    • Mentoring Session
    • Work with volunteers at a computer help desk.
    • Explore and check out books in the JGSI library.
    • and lunch!
    Full brochure available for download here.
    • 23 Jun 2019
    • 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. - Registration and networking, 12:30. Guest Speaker 2:00 pm

    The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois will hold a “Kvell and Tell” session on Sunday, June 23, 2019, 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. Sign-in, networking, and the JGSI help desk and research library will open at 12:30 p.m.

    Those who wish to participate in the “Kvell and Tell” session as presenters are asked to send an email to explaining their presentation topic 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 also 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.

    This meeting will also feature an annual report from JGSI’s president, Debbie Kroopkin.

    At most monthly meetings, 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.  This event is free and open to the public.

    • 21 Jul 2019
    • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. - Registration and networking, 12:30. Guest Speaker 2:00 pm
    Hold the date - details to come for the Sunday, July 21, 2019, meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois.

    We are tentatively planning a cemetery tour.

    • 25 Aug 2019
    • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. - Registration and networking, 12:30. Guest Speaker 2:00 pm
    Amateur genealogist Zalman Usiskin will share “More Stories about Things I’ve Learned from Doing Genealogy” at the Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019, meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. His presentation starts at 2 p.m.

    Sign-in, networking with others interested in Jewish genealogy, and the 800-volume JGSI research library and genealogy help desk will be available starting at 12:30 p.m.

    Usiskin has been interested in the genealogy of the various branches of his family since he was a teenager. Over the years, he has compiled family trees on three of his four grandparents with a total of more than 4,800 named relatives. On his paternal great-grandfather’s line he has names of more than 1,000 descendants of Usiskins all over the world but has never been able to definitively verify that any are blood relatives. 

    Usiskin, born in Chicago, is an emeritus professor of mathematics education at the University of Chicago. In his field, he has given talks in all 50 states and 27 foreign countries and been a major speaker at national and international conferences. This will mark the fourth time that he has spoken at a JGSI meeting. In 2002, he spoke about writing and distributing a family tree book.  In 2015, he described how three examples of how people arranged genealogical information into coffee table books for distribution to relatives. Last December, he delivered a presentation called “Stories about Things I’ve Learned from Doing Genealogy.” 

    Usiskin is a fine storyteller, and JGSI immediately invited him back when we heard that he had more stories to tell that offer research lessons or hints that might help others doing genealogy. In his new presentation, questions are raised and discussed: Who goes on a family tree? To what extent are family stories “cleansed”? How did a “black sheep” of the family turn out to be just the opposite? How did some Jews survive World War II in Europe and how might they be found even today? How did DNA help to find both biological parents of someone who was adopted? And he will explain how his wife’s heritage can be traced back to Adam and Eve. (What? You are skeptical?)

    • 15 Sep 2019
    • 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. - Registration and networking, 12:30. Guest Speaker 2:00 pm
    Sarina Roffé will speak on a Sephardic topic at the Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. Her presentation starts at 2 p.m.

    • 27 Oct 2019
    • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. - Registration and networking, 12:30. Guest Speaker 2:00 pm
    Mike Karsen will present his very popular annual Chicago the Sunday, October 27 2019, meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois.

    • 17 Nov 2019
    • 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. - Registration and networking, 12:30. Guest Speaker 2:00 pm
    Curt B. Witcher of the Allen County Public Library will speak  at the Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. The presentation starts at 2 p.m.

Past events

06 May 2019 Susan Weinberg to speak on “A 3-D View of Immigration"
28 Apr 2019 Barry Finkel will speak on “Three Hershberg Mysteries”
07 Apr 2019 Scott Meyer to speak at Jewish Genealogical Society meeting in Naperville on April 7
24 Mar 2019 Tammy Hepps will give two presentations: “The Margarine Moonshiners from Minsk” and “Conducting Story-Driven Research.”
03 Mar 2019 Martin Fischer to speak at Jewish Genealogical Society meeting in Naperville on March 3
24 Feb 2019 “Write It! Tips for Saving and Sharing Family History.”
27 Jan 2019 “Courthouse Finds”
16 Dec 2018 Stories about Things I've Learned from Doing Genealogy by Zalman Usiskin
18 Nov 2018 “Resources for Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland—What’s New” For 2018
14 Oct 2018 Resurrecting Grandpa’s Store
26 Aug 2018 “Research Genealogical Resources in Israel From Your Couch”
29 Jul 2018 “Researching Individuals with United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Resources”
24 Jun 2018 “Kvell and Tell” session
30 May 2018 “A DNA Discussion with a DNA Devotee”
29 Apr 2018 Two Talks: “Gesher Galicia" and "Galician Portraits”
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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