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Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois

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State of the society 2023-24

The Jewish Genealogical Association of Illinois continues to provide programs and services to the community, via both in-person and virtual meetings. Our 344 members are both local and remote, with close to 30% living outside of Illinois and some living as far away as Australia. Membership has been stable over the past year.

Sunday afternoon meetings have been well attended virtually. This is important, especially since we have so many members from out of state. We are typically seeing more than 100 registrants for the Zoom version of the meetings, while only 15-20 people are registering for the in-person version of the meetings, with usually less than 10 people actually showing up at the Temple. Our pre-Covid average attendance was about 40 people.  The lower attendance is disappointing because meetings can be far more interesting and the Society more vibrant and fun when we can actually get together as a community.

Our contract with the Temple has renewed for another 10 in-person meeting schedule during the 2024-25 fiscal year. We have been and will continue to experiment with different ways to get people back to the Temple during this time. Our recent in-person “Share Fair” event drew 38 attendees. Members created posters discussing a topic of interest, and the public came and discussed the poster with the creators. All attendees had a great time learning and socializing. It was really nice to have a larger group in the room, almost like before the pandemic.  In addition to the Share Fair, we are holding more meetings where the speaker is in-person, meetings with an optional lunch, extended discussion time, door prizes and book sales. If we are successful in bringing more people back to the Temple, we will continue to hold 10 in-person meetings per year. If not, then we will consider reducing our in-person efforts. 

Among the benefits of our relationship with Temple Beth-El is a dedicated room for our library of books. As part of a re-evaluation of the JGSI’s library function as a non-lending, reference library, Terry Taylor did an inventory of all the books and media in the library including an analysis to determine which titles we should keep and which titles might be better served at a public lending library. Terry also updated our online library catalog to better reflect our current holdings. This process will continue in the coming year. 

In addition to our Sunday afternoon meetings, the JGSI offered eight evening meetings this year. These meetings were mostly DNA Discussions, but we will also be offering meetings on Chicago History and other topics in the future. If you have ideas for a future Sunday night meeting, please let us know. 

The past year saw a variety of improvements to the JGSI Website, the event registration process, the eNews, and the Morasha distribution process. These improvements as well as all of the regular operations of the society are handled by volunteers. Take the Morasha, for example, it is published three times a year thanks to our members that research and write columns, contribute articles, design the layout, edit and proofread the articles, and double check each issue before it is sent to the printer and our distributors. 

Thanks to all of our volunteers. It takes countless people to handle all the various roles and responsibilities of the society, and we are grateful that so many of you are willing to donate some of your time.

Finally, a big thank you to the Board. The JGSI Board is a dynamic group of people with lots of great ideas and willingness to participate. We would be lost without all of them.

Doug Bank and Alvin Holtzman, JGSI Co-Presidents

© 2024 JGSI | P.O. Box 515, Northbrook, IL 60065-0515 | 312.666.0100 | info@jgsi.org
JGSI is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.