Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois


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

Upcoming events

    • 22 Nov 2020
    • 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM (CST)
    • From the convenience of your home computer.
    Register

    Nov. 22, 2020, JGS of Illinois virtual meeting to focus on FamilySearch's Jewish records

    “Using FamilySearch for Jewish Research” is the topic of a webinar by expert genealogist W. Todd Knowles for the Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois virtual meeting. His live streaming presentation, which will begin at 2 p.m. Central Time, will be preceded at 1 p.m. by a genealogy question-and-answer discussion time. 

    Register/RSVP above left. After you register/RSVP, you will be sent a link to join the meeting. This webinar will be recorded so that JGSI’s paid members who are unable to view it live will be able to view the recording later.

    For more information, see https://jgsi.org or phone 312-666-0100.

    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, Todd says. 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 Family History Library catalog to find the records, and in this presentation, we will learn how best to do that.

    This year FamilySearch is celebrating 125 years of preserving the records of humanity. Founded in 1894 as the Genealogical Society of Utah, the purpose remains the same, to help people connect with their ancestors by providing access to historical records and to work together to document and preserve their own family histories.

    W. Todd Knowles, AG, is a member of the staff at the Family History Library, where he has been for 22 years. He currently serves as deputy chief genealogical officer at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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, six databases that as of Oct 1, 2020, contained the genealogical records of more than 1.4 million people. Todd has spoken throughout the world and his articles have been widely published.

    The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping members collect, preserve, and perpetuate the records and history of their ancestors. JGSI, a member of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, is a resource for the worldwide Jewish community to research their Chicago-area roots.

    The JGSI motto is “Members Helping Members Since 1981.” The group has more than 300 members.

    JGSI members have access to useful and informative online family history research resources, including a members’ forum, more than 50 video recordings of past speakers’ presentations, the free searchable JGSI Jewish Chicago Database, monthly JGSI E-News, quarterly Morasha JGSI newsletter, and much more.


    • 24 Jan 2021
    • 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM (CST)
    • From the convenience of your home computer.

    Stanley Diamond to present update on JRI-Poland on Jan. 24, 2021

    Jewish Records Indexing-Poland’s founder and executive director, Stanley Diamond, will present “JRI-Poland Update and More” for the Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, virtual meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois. His live streaming presentation, which will begin at 2 p.m. Central Standard Time, will be preceded at 1 p.m. by a genealogy question-and-answer discussion time. 

    Details on registering for this free event will be forthcoming. After you register/RSVP, you will be sent a link to join the meeting. This webinar will be recorded so that JGSI’s paid members who are unable to view it live will be able to view the recording later.

    For more information, see https://jgsi.org or phone 312-666-0100.

    This is a rare opportunity to get deep inside the story of Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (JRI-Poland), an award-winning international project to create Internet-searchable access to the Jewish vital records of Poland.

    Diamond will present an update on JRI-Poland's revolutionary next-generation website and data management  project and the current status of various records-indexing and extraction projects, the latest news on scanning of Jewish records in the Polish State Archives, and an overview of not-yet-announced projects for which hundreds of thousands of records have already been indexed.

    Both new and more experienced researchers will be able to ask questions directly related to their research and learn about off-line records and what might be expected in the foreseeable future. Diamond will also field questions about visiting Poland and how to find the best guides and researchers. Attendees may send their questions in advance to Stanley Diamond.

    Stanley M. Diamond is the founder and executive director of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland. He is founding president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal and the winner of the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal of Canada for his work in establishing and directing JRI–Poland.  

    Diamond is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

    The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping members collect, preserve, and perpetuate the records and history of their ancestors. JGSI is a resource for the worldwide Jewish community to research their Chicago-area roots.

    The JGSI motto is “Members Helping Members Since 1981.” The group has more than 300 members.

    JGSI members have access to useful and informative online family history research resources, including a members’ forum, more than 50 video recordings of past speakers’ presentations, the free searchable JGSI Jewish Chicago Database, monthly JGSI E-News, quarterly Morasha JGSI newsletter, and much more.


    • 21 Feb 2021
    • 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM (CST)
    • From the convenience of your home computer.

    Photo expert Ava ‘Sherlock’ Cohn to share her expertise in Feb. 21 JGS of Illinois virtual event

    Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois member Ava “Sherlock” Cohn will present a webinar called “Clued-In: Interpreting Real Photo Postcards from the Diaspora” at 1 p.m. Central Time for the Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, JGSI virtual meeting. After her lecture there will be a short break, then from about 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Ava will speak about old family photos that have been submitted by a limited number of JGSI members or guests.

    Those who wish to submit a photograph for consideration must send it as an attachment in an email to info@jgsi.org by Jan. 20. In the email subject line, indicate “For Feb. 21 JGSI presentation.” (See more guidelines below.)

    Further details about registration will be forthcoming soon. After you register/RSVP, you will be sent a link to join the meeting. This webinar will be recorded so that JGSI’s paid members who are unable to view it live will be able to view the recording later.

    For more information, see https://jgsi.org or phone 312-666-0100.

    Ava Cohn, “Sherlock Cohn, The Photo Genealogist,” is an internationally-known expert on Jewish family photographs. She holds a degree from Brandeis University with coursework in decorative arts, art history and costume history at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Recognizing the need for accurate dating of Jewish photographs with specialized knowledge of immigrant and Eastern European culture and traditions, she devotes her work, almost exclusively, to Jewish family photographs from throughout the world. In addition to being a popular speaker and writer on photography and genealogy, Ava is also a collector of 19th and 20th century Jewish photographs.

    Ava says of her Feb. 21, 2021, postcard presentation: “As our ancestors moved throughout the world, they communicated with friends and loved ones with photographs on the fronts of postcards and messages, often intimate ones, on the backs. These real photo postcards were the social media of the day starting around 1900 and lasting into the 1960s. The photographs on these cards captured the everyday lives of our ancestors, their celebrations, their triumphs and at times, their tragedies.

    “This ‘new’ medium gave our relatives a quick and inexpensive way to send messages near and far, before cellphones and modern social media,” Ava says. “Learning to recognize and interpret the clues in real photo postcards can lead us not only to date the images more accurately but also learn more about the everyday lives and relationships of our family members as they moved throughout the Diaspora.”

    Ava has provided the following set of guidelines for those who wish to make one of their family photos available for brief analysis in the second part of this online event:

    Guidelines for Submission of Photographs for Feb. 21 Presentation: The purpose of this part of the overall presentation will be to help you get started on learning about your family photograph. I will not provide all the answers, but will give you tips on your photo and, where applicable, suggestions on how to continue your research into your photograph. If you want more complete answers that will require me to do further research, please contact me personally at Sherlock.cohn@comcast.net. Likewise, I may not be able to get to all photos submitted within the allotted meeting time period. Those that I cannot do in this presentation, can be submitted for a cost estimate. This part of the program is intended as a learning experience so even if you do not submit a photograph, please feel free to stay and see what others have submitted. In the case of program cancellation due to factors beyond my control, numbers 1, 2, 9, 12, and 14 below are not applicable and all photo analyses will be subject to regular costs.

    1. One photograph per person unless asking for identification of an individual in a photograph, then two photos are allowed for comparison. In some cases, photo identification may require more than two photos. In that case, photos may be submitted by email after the meeting for a cost estimate.

    2. No military photographs.

    3. No recently colorized photographs.

    4. All photos should be scanned at 300dpi and in jpeg format.

    5. Scan both sides of each photo, regardless of whether there is anything on the back side or not.

    6. Scan the full photograph including any information at the bottom of the image. If the photograph is in a frame, include one scan of the photo in the frame and one out of the frame.

    7. If the photograph is a copy and not the original, please indicate that.

    8. Do not crop the photograph.

    9. Send the photograph as an attachment to an email to info@jgsi.org by Jan. 20. In the email subject line, indicate “For Feb. 21 JGSI presentation.”

    10. In the email include as much information as you know. For example, where you got the photograph, who you believe is in the photograph, where they lived, where they may have moved to etc.  Include full names, if known and birthdates, if known, and other information that may be helpful.

    11. Do not pose open-ended questions such as “what can you tell me about this photograph?” Instead narrow your question down to one that can be easily and briefly answered and will be of use in your genealogy research. Some examples might be, in what time period was this photo taken? Or where was this photo taken? Is this person the same in photo #1 as in photo #2?

    12. If you have had any translations done of writing or other printing on the front or back of the photograph, please let me know what the English translation is. For this presentation, no translations will be done.

    13. In the email to JGSI, include your name and email contact information.

    For more information about the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois or the JGSI schedule of future events, visit http://jgsi.org/ or phone 312-666-0100.

    The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping members collect, preserve, and perpetuate the records and history of their ancestors. JGSI is a resource for the worldwide Jewish community to research their Chicago-area roots.

    The JGSI motto is “Members Helping Members Since 1981.” The group has more than 300 members.

    JGSI members have access to useful and informative online family history research resources, including a members’ forum, more than 50 video recordings of past speakers’ presentations, the free searchable JGSI Jewish Chicago Database, monthly JGSI E-News, quarterly Morasha JGSI newsletter, and much more.

    To learn about the benefits of joining the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, go to our Join Uspage.

    • 21 Mar 2021
    • 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM (CDT)
    • From the convenience of your home computer.

    JGSI will meet virtually for an informative Jewish genealogy presentation on Sunday, March 21, 2021

    A live streaming presentation that begins at 2 p.m. CDT will be preceded at 1 p.m. by a genealogy question-and-answer discussion time.

    This event is free and open to the public, however preregistration will be required. 

    FURTHER DETAILS WILL BE FORTHCOMING. 

    • 25 Apr 2021
    • 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM (CDT)
    • From the convenience of your home computer.

    JGSI will meet virtually for an informative Jewish genealogy presentation on Sunday, April 25, 2021

    A live streaming presentation that begins at 2 p.m. CDT will be preceded at 1 p.m. by a genealogy question-and-answer discussion time.

    This event is free and open to the public, however preregistration will be required. 

    FURTHER DETAILS WILL BE FORTHCOMING. 

    • 23 May 2021
    • 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM (CDT)
    • From the convenience of your home computer.

    JGSI will meet virtually for an informative Jewish genealogy presentation on Sunday, May 23, 2021

    A live streaming presentation that begins at 2 p.m. CDT will be preceded at 1 p.m. by a genealogy question-and-answer discussion time.

    This event is free and open to the public, however preregistration will be required. 

    FURTHER DETAILS WILL BE FORTHCOMING. 

    • 13 Jun 2021
    • 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM (CDT)
    • From the convenience of your home computer.

    The Greater Chicago Jewish Festival is scheduled for  Sunday, June 13, 2021

    For more information, see: https://jewishfestival.org/

    FURTHER DETAILS WILL BE FORTHCOMING. 


    • 27 Jun 2021
    • 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM (CDT)
    • From the convenience of your home computer.

    JGSI will meet virtually for an informative Jewish genealogy presentation on Sunday, June 27, 2021

    A live streaming presentation that begins at 2 p.m. CDT will be preceded at 1 p.m. by a genealogy question-and-answer discussion time.

    This event is free and open to the public, however preregistration will be required. 

    FURTHER DETAILS WILL BE FORTHCOMING. 

Past events

25 Oct 2020 “Resources for Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland—What’s New” by Mike Karsen
30 Aug 2020 “Out of the Whirlwind: Finding Your Family Lost in the Holocaust” by Deborah H. Long
26 Jul 2020 "Comparing Jewish Resources on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, Findmypast, MyHeritage and JewishGen” and “What Would Nancy Drew Do in the Quest for Missing Family" by Ellen Kowitt
28 Jun 2020 Annual meeting with "Kvell and Tell"
07 Jun 2020 Mark your calendar for the Sunday, June 7, 2020, VIRTUAL Greater Chicago Jewish Festival
31 May 2020 “A Case Study in Getting Past a Genealogical Brick Wall” by Martin Fischer
03 May 2020 "When DNA or Documents Reveal Life-Altering Origin Secrets” by Steven Flack
22 Mar 2020 “When DNA or Documents Reveal Life-Altering Origin Secrets” by Steven Flack
23 Feb 2020 “Unique Aspects of Jewish Genealogy” by Debbie Kroopkin
26 Jan 2020 “Family History Resources from the Library of Congress” by Tina Beaird
17 Nov 2019 “Using Periodical Literature for Genealogical Research” and “More than Surname Surfing: Best Practices for Using the Internet for Genealogy” by Curt B. Witcher
03 Nov 2019 “Online Resources for Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland” by Mike Karsen
27 Oct 2019 “Resources for Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland—What’s New” by Mike Karsen
15 Sep 2019 “A Guide to Sephardic Genealogy” by Sarina Roffé
25 Aug 2019 “More Stories about Things I’ve Learned from Doing Genealogy” by Zalman Usiskin
11 Aug 2019 Tour of Hebrew Benevolent Society (HBS) Cemetery
29 Jul 2019 JGSI Dinner at IAJGS Conference in Cleveland
23 Jun 2019 Annual meeting with Kvell and Tell
02 Jun 2019 DNA: Tests, Tools and Tales -- A one-day conference
06 May 2019 “A 3-D View of Immigration" by Susan Weinberg
28 Apr 2019 “Three Hershberg Mysteries” by Barry Finkel
07 Apr 2019 “Resurrecting Grandpa’s Store” by Scott Meyer
24 Mar 2019 “The Margarine Moonshiners from Minsk” and “Conducting Story-Driven Research” by Tammy Hepps
03 Mar 2019 “Who Was B. Berman? A Case Study in Getting Past a Genealogical Brick Wall” by Martin Fischer
24 Feb 2019 “Write It! Tips for Saving and Sharing Family History" by Martin Fischer
27 Jan 2019 “Courthouse Finds” by Tina Beaird
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” by Mike Karsen
14 Oct 2018 "Resurrecting Grandpa’s Store" by Scott E. Meyer
26 Aug 2018 “Research Genealogical Resources in Israel From Your Couch” by Daniel Horowitz
29 Jul 2018 “Researching Individuals with United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Resources” by Diane Afoumado
24 Jun 2018 Annual meeting with “Kvell and Tell”
30 May 2018 “A DNA Discussion with a DNA Devotee” by Alvin Holtzman
29 Apr 2018 “Gesher Galicia" and "Galician Portraits” by Andrew Zalewski
08 Apr 2018 “A DNA Discussion with a DNA Devotee” by Alvin Holtzman
11 Mar 2018 "Filling in the Blanks on My Jewish Family History" by Annette Gendler
04 Mar 2018 "Techniques for Using Jewishgen.org" by Debbie Kroopkin
18 Feb 2018 “Researching Jewish Ancestors on Ancestry Library Edition” by Jane G. Haldeman
21 Jan 2018 “Insight into FamilySearch and The Wilmette Family History Center” by Suzanne Hoffman
19 Nov 2017 “My Mother’s Life in Cuba: In Her Own Words” by Martin Fischer
22 Oct 2017 “Apple Does Not Fall: Shtetl Cousins Meet Iron-Curtain Cousins” by Bena Shklyanoy
27 Aug 2017 “Resources for Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland-What’s New” by Mike Karsen
16 Jul 2017 “Choosing the Right Family Tree Software” and “What’s New at Ukraine SIG” by Chuck Weinstein
25 Jun 2017 Annual meeting with “Kvell and Tell”
21 May 2017 “General DNA and Genealogy” and “The DNA of the Jewish People” by Bennett Greenspan
07 May 2017 "Online Genealogy Tools" by John Miller
26 Apr 2017 “Document and Share Your Genealogy Now!” by Clara Tomaz and Heather Hehman
19 Mar 2017 “Genealogy is Easy, Fascinating, and Fun: How I Found the Feldmans”
19 Mar 2017 “Making the Most of the County Clerk’s Genealogy Resources" by Angela Wright Madison
22 Feb 2017 “Getting Started in Genealogy” by Judith R. Frazin
19 Feb 2017 “Getting the Most Out of MyHeritage” by Daniel Horowitz
22 Jan 2017 “Genealogy is Easy, Fascinating, and Fun: How I Found the Feldmans” by Steven Flack
20 Nov 2016 “Archival Records of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County" by Philip J. Costello
30 Oct 2016 “Techniques for Using Jewishgen.org” by Debbie Kroopkin
25 Sep 2016 “Putting the Flesh on the Bones” and “Evaluating Evidence: Asking a mini-Minnie Question" by Ron Arons
28 Aug 2016 “Resources for Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland - What’s New” by Mike Karsen
09 Aug 2016 JGSI Dinner in Seattle, Washington
31 Jul 2016 "Specifics of Hungarian Jewish Genealogy - Historical Background and a Practical Guide" by Karesz Vandor
17 Jul 2016 “Getting Started in Genealogy” by Judith R. Frazin
10 Jul 2016 “Discover Your Family Genealogy” by Mike Karsen
26 Jun 2016 Annual meeting with “Kvell and Tell”
05 Jun 2016 Greater Chicago Jewish Festival
22 May 2016 “Cadastral Maps as a Genealogical Resource” by Alex Feller
17 Apr 2016 “German Jewish Genealogy: A Case Study” by Dennis Aron
07 Apr 2016 Newberry Library Tour & Research
13 Mar 2016 “The Children of La Hille: Eluding Nazi Capture During World War II" by Jeanne Reed
14 Feb 2016 “Jewish Genetic Genealogy - A Study in Endogamy” by Israel Pickholtz
31 Jan 2016 “Genealogy Research & Book Research Have a Lot in Common” by Walter Reed
22 Nov 2015 “Making the Dead Dance: How to Breathe Life into Your Ancestors” by S.L. (Sandi) Wisenberg
01 Nov 2015 “Getting Started in Genealogy” by Judith R. Frazin
25 Oct 2015 “The Greenebaum Family: From the Rheinpfalz to Chicago” by Joan Adler
27 Sep 2015 Tour of Zion Gardens Cemetery
30 Aug 2015 “Jewish Genetics” by Murray Brilliant
09 Aug 2015 "Stepping Stones to Researching Your Family's Jewish Roots" by Harriet Rudnit
19 Jul 2015 “Family History: Caring for Your Treasures” by Eileen A. Ielmini
06 Jul 2015 35th IAJGS Conference in Jerusalem
28 Jun 2015 Annual meeting with “Kvell and Tell"
07 Jun 2015 JGSI Conference 2015
20 May 2015 “Online Resources for Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland: What’s New?” by Mike Karsen
26 Apr 2015 “Finding Frida: My Mother’s First Cousin, a Holocaust Survivor” by Ken Bravo
29 Mar 2015 “Clued-In: The Stories are in the Details” by Ava Cohen
22 Feb 2015 “Making a Family Tree Coffee Table Book” by Zalman Usiskin
25 Jan 2015 “How I Do Genealogy: Starting Research and Beginning to Gather Information” by Barry Finkel
23 Nov 2014 "Reconnecting with My Lithuanian Roots” by Harriet Rudnit
26 Oct 2014 "Out of Chaos: Hidden Children Remember the Holocaust" by Walter Reed, et al
19 Oct 2014 "Getting Started in Genealogy" by Judith R. Frazin
28 Sep 2014 “Using FamilySearch.org and the Family History Research Center” by Judith R. Frazin
24 Aug 2014 “Treasures in Print: Finding and Using Historical Newspapers” by Robin B. Seidenberg
28 Jul 2014 JGSI Dinner at IAJGS Conference in Salt Lake City
23 Jul 2014 “Looking Outside the BMD Box for Your Mother and Aunts: A Case Study Based on Eretz Israel” by Rose Feldman
20 Jul 2014 “My Cousin the Murder Defendant” by Martin Fischer
29 Jun 2014 "Ethical Wills-Values Handed Down Through Our Genealogy" by Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler
18 May 2014 “Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors’ Arrival Records Online” by Mike Karsen
04 May 2014 JGSI Beginners' Genealogical Workshop by Judith R. Frazin
27 Apr 2014 "Why am I stuck? 10 Solutions to Common Genealogical Brick Walls" by Marsha Peterson-Maass
30 Mar 2014 “Locating Israeli Relatives and Holocaust Survivors: Search Strategies and Integrating Resources” by Rose Lerer Cohen
16 Feb 2014 "The Mystery of the Green Dumpster" documentary film
26 Jan 2014 "From Babylon to Skokie: A Short History of Ashkenazim" by Ron Grossman
24 Nov 2013 "Chicago's West Side Jews vs. South Side Jews" by Mark Mandle
27 Oct 2013 "More, Much More Than Fiddlers on the Roof!" by Brian Zakem
29 Sep 2013 Beginners’ Genealogical Workshop by Judith R. Frazin
25 Aug 2013 "Rembering Jewish Lawndale" documentary film
28 Jul 2013 "Researching Your Chicago Ancestors" by Stephen M. Szabados
30 Jun 2013 "My Cousin, The Gangster" by Mike Karsen
09 Jun 2013 Digging Deeper: Researching Our Ancestors With Technology 2013 JGSI Conference
19 May 2013 "Spreadsheets 101: Excel, the Genealogist's Underutilized Tool" by Jeanne L. Bloom
28 Apr 2013 “The Lemba Jewish Community of Zimbabwe” documentary film
17 Mar 2013 “Finding Living Relatives” by Martin Fischer
24 Feb 2013 "Rumbula’s Echo” documentary film discussion with Mitchell Lieber
27 Jan 2013 Ask the Experts panel discussion
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

Want reminders about our meetings and events?

Email info@jgsi.org and request 'Email meeting and events reminder"

Adding an event to your calendar

You can now import the downloaded .ICS file into most calendar programs, including MS Outlook, Apple iCal, and Google Calendar. Your calendar program will automatically use the timezone of the event to set the equivalent event time in your calendar.

An .ICS (iCalendar) file will be generated containing the event details and a link to the event page.
The file will be downloaded via your browser.

LINK TO FAQ How to add the file to your calendar.
© 2019 JGSI   P.O. Box 515, Northbrook, IL 60065-0515 • 312.666.0100 • info@jgsi.orgwebmaster@jgsi.org