IAJGS 2016 Speaker Profile: Mike Karsen

KarsenMikeA professional speaker, Mike Karsen is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Genealogical Speakers Guild (GSG), and is Past President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois. He has presented over 300 talks on genealogy topics locally, nationally, and internationally including Newberry Library and Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago.

Mike is the author of the JewishGen website “Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland” and has published articles on genealogy.

He holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics/computer science and a Master’s in operations research alongside 30 years in telecommunications management.

See his website at http://www.mikekarsen.com/

“Resources for Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland” (Weds 169), 10:30 – 11:45 A.M.

[This presentation is included in LIVE!]

This comprehensive presentation covers a brief history of Jews and Chicago and then launches into records and resources available for the researcher today.

Chicago was a major location where Jews settled starting in the 1840s. The talk covers records for underground research as well as those above ground.

Today with so many records available online you hardly have to leave you home to research your Chicago roots. Case studies are utilized to pull the process together.

Topics: Immigration and migration over the ages, Westward Ho! (Chicago)

Sleepless in Seattle: “My Cousin, the Gangster” (Tues-162), 8:00 – 8:25 P.M.

Frank Frost, a.k.a. Frank Foster, was a real Chicago gangster who first worked for the north side gang under Bugs Moran and moved up to south siders under the infamous, Al Capone.

While starting with family lore, the facts need to be verified through outside sources. In this case, the problem was not too little information but too much. How to you sort through the scads of information in newspapers, books, and websites and determine which is the truth and which is “speculation and guesswork?”

IAJGS 2016 Speaker Profile: Jean Selkowitz Moss

MossJeanAdopted at 4½ months in Bronx, New York, Jean Moss decided in 2009, to search for her birth family to obtain her medical history. Knowing that both families were Jewish, she joined San Diego Jewish Genealogical Society to begin her search.

She is currently past president of SDJGS, and is now serving in the capacity of program and hospitality chairs. She is a member of Jewish Genealogical Society New York and multiple societies in San Diego.

She presented at international, national, regional and local genealogical conferences. She developed research skills from each society that helped her find her family.

My Adoption Search: Follow My Journey in Solving the Puzzle, Piece by Piece (Weds-129), 9:00 – 10:15 A.M.

Adoption is a subject rarely presented at genealogical conferences. Most adoptees have no idea where or how to begin looking for their birth family. It is very important for an adoptee to learn where they came from and their medical history. With this presentation, one will learn about methods to uncover adoptions from a real life case study.

For some, genealogy is taking bits and pieces from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins – trying to create a path that leads you back to an earlier place in your family history. Moss, an adoptee searching for her birth family, started with small clues, ran into roadblocks, and circumvented them in her successful search to locate family members.

At 57, she went from an only child to being part of a wonderful birth family she did not know even existed. All this in less than a year! What an amazing genealogical journey!

Category: Beginning genealogists 

Topics: Ashkenazic research, Cemetery research, DNA research and genetics, Immigration and migration over the ages, Jewish surname adoption and naming patterns, Repositories 

IAJGS 2016 Speaker Profile: Hannah S. Pressman


Dr. Hannah Pressman is affiliate faculty and Communications Director for the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington.

She received her Ph.D. in Modern Hebrew literature from New York University. She is co-editor of the anthology Choosing Yiddish: New Frontiers of Language and Culture (2012).

Pressman’s writings on culture, language, and religion have appeared in Tablet, Lilith, the Jewish Daily Forward, eSefarad, and MyJewishLearning.com.

Currently, she is crafting a memoir about the quest to uncover her family’s Sephardic legacy, focusing on her great-grandmother Estrella, a French teacher on the island of Rhodes.

“Estrella, My Savante: On Shifting Languages and Landscapes” (Weds-131), 9:00 – 10:15 A.M.

The story of my great-grandmother, Estrella Leon Galante, has fascinated me for over a decade. One of eight children, she grew up on the island of Rhodes and trained to become a French teacher at a Paris seminary.

My project traces Estrella’s journeys from Rhodes to France and then to southern Africa in the early 20th century. Her shifting landscapes and languages lie at the heart of my discussion.

Among the questions I pose:

  • What choices did Estrella have, or not have, as a Sephardic woman at a time of colonialism and rapidly changing world events?
  • How can I best utilize the documents and correspondence that I possess in order to reconstruct her life?
  • What’s at stake for members of my generation who are trying to learn Ladino and access their family’s past?

Category: Beginning genealogists

Topics: Immigration and migration over the ages, Jewish history and culture, Organization and preservation, Sephardic research

Online Registration Deadline: July 24th, 11:59 P.M, PDT

On-line registration ends on Sunday,  July 24 (11:59 P.M., Pacific Daylight Time)!

If you have not yet decided whether to attend the IAJGS 36th annual conference, you may still decide to do so after July 24, but it will cost you a bit more and you will only be able to register at the conference.

If one registers for the full conference before the July 24th deadline, the primary registrant fee is $345. Registration for a spouse/domestic partner is $245.

After the deadline, registration at the conference will be $370 for the primary attendee and $270 for a partner. After July 24th, registration will only be accepted at the conference.

Students, 26 years old and younger may register for the full conference before of after the deadline for $100.

IAJGS 2016 Speaker Profile: Lea Haber Gedalia

GedaliaLeaDr. Lea Haber Gedalia co-chair for programs at IAJGS2015 in Jerusalem. She was president, secretary and J-M branch chair of Israel Genealogical Society between 2005-2012 and thus responsible and organizer for many genealogical day seminars, conferences and events.

Lea is an active second generation member of the Organization of Bukovina Jews and a member of the team of those deciphering tombstones in the Czernowitz cemetery. She is responsible for establishing the Harlau, Romania, kehilalinks site on JewishGen. She is a researcher and developer of family trees, and a lecturer and tutor for beginners and advanced groups.

“Working by the book (literally) in Sephardic research” (Weds-126), 7:30 – 8:45 A.M.

Lea Haber Gedalia’s talk will follow the wandering Portuguese Gedalia family as a case study after expulsion and their wandering descendants.

Gedalia’s research started with Chief Rabbi Rachamim Gedalja who died in Nis, Serbia circa 1765 and who was (according to the Sephardic community lore) a descendant of Don Yehuda Gedalia the first Hebrew printer in Salonika after the expulsion.

Data on the web gives information regarding Gedalia/Gedaliah,Ghedalia/Gedilia ( and more variants) families in cities such as Salonika, Livorno, Mogador, Marakesh, Amsterdam, ,Hebron, New York, London and Nis, Serbia and countries such as Gibraltar, Brazil, Curacao and Egypt.  Lea’s quest to find out if these families were all branches of the same clan required many hours of library work for positive confirmation of the relevant branches. The next phase should be final verification by DNA.

Topics: Immigration and migration over the ages, Sephardic research 

IAJGS 2016 Speaker Profile: William Korn

KornWmWilliam Korn was born in NYC, 1947 and attended the University of Michigan BA (Psychology, Education), 1969 and the  University of Colorado MBA (Finance, Real Estate), 1977. He has been Lecturer in Real Estate, Finance Dept., School of Business, University of Colorado, 1977-82. William has  resided in Colorado since 1970 and Leadville since 1989.

He is founder and president of the Temple Israel Foundation, 1987. William organized the restoration of Leadville’s Hebrew Cemetery, the restoration of the Temple Israel building and its conversion into an operating museum, and helped research and create the Temple Israel website www.jewishleadville.org.

“Pioneers Jews of Leadville, Colorado, 1878-1914” (Weds-106), 7:30 – 8:45 A.M.

This presentation begins with a review of Leadville’s history as a frontier mining town transforming into an industrial center. It then examines the experiences of several pioneer Jews – their families, businesses, social and civic organizations, and their interactions with the broader community.

Prominent names include David May (May Corp., department stores) and the Guggenheims; but, the emphasis is placed on more “normal” people who were stereotypically small Main Street merchants. The history of the cemetery and the synagogue is recalled and there is some discussion of their restoration and current uses.

The talk is accompanied by a PowerPoint exhibition and the audience is encouraged to ask questions.

Topics: Cemetery research, Jewish history and culture, Pioneer Jews in the Rocky Mountains

IAJGS 2016 Speaker Profile: Alex Denysenko

A.Den (FaceBook)

Alex Denysenko lives in Lviv, Ukraine. He graduated from Lviv State University, and studied at Institute of International Tourism in Moscow, Russia; and Yad Vashem International School of Holocaust Studies, Jerusalem, Israel.

Since 1991, Alex has worked as a researcher and guide in research/teaching/touring programs. These projects deal with the Jewish segment of Central European history to find documentation/material/oral evidence about Jewish residents and their heritage.

Alex also conducted applied research projects about Jewish-Polish-Ukrainian-Russian-German relations in Galicia connected with the events of the First and Second World wars, as well as border changes/resettlements/genocide that resulted from the above conflicts.

See his website at http://ukrainelivingfamily.blogspot.com/

“Carpathian Puzzle” (Weds-119), 7:30 – 8:45 A.M.

For centuries the Carpathian area was divided between several countries: Austria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, etc. Boundaries and administrative units of these countries were often changing. Laws, rules, languages and traditions of registration of vital statistical events followed boundary and administrative unit changes. These changes were, often,  controversial. Consequently, vital and other relevant records are now, seemingly illogically, scattered among several countries and kept by a number of institutions. Thus, when one plans to trace one’s family history, it is necessary to contact various types of offices often located in different provinces and countries.

This presentation will describe an efficient search process for locating and acquiring Jewish genealogical information and communities’ history information in various archival institutions of the Carpathian region.

Category: Beginning genealogists

Topics: Ashkenazic research, Cemetery research, Genealogy and Jewish history related to WWI, Immigration and migration over the ages, Jewish history and culture, Organization and preservation, Rabbinic research, Repositories, Carpathian region.


IAJGS 2016 Speaker Profile: Janice Lovelace

LovelaceJaniceJanice Lovelace, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, recently retired from 30 years of full-time college teaching. She has 20 years of experience in family history research as well as academic work in the field and brings many years of teaching and presenting on a variety of topics including Women’s History and Cultural Studies.

“Becoming America – A Story of Immigration” (Weds-124), 7:30 – 8:45 A.M.

What conditions existed for your ancestors to leave their home countries and make a journey to a new place? What conditions existed to encourage settlement in the Americas, especially the United States. This presentation focuses on the push and pull factors for European Jewish immigration.

Topics: Immigration and migration over the ages 

IAJGS 2016 Speaker Profile: Teven Laxer


Teven Laxer has served on the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee since 2006. He is the Librarian and Archivist of JGS Sacramento.

Teven served 40 years in the labor movement, most recently for the CSU Employees Union, SEIU Local 2579. He has worked as a negotiator and legislative advocate.

Teven has been researching his family’s roots in Romania, Poland, Germany and Ukraine. In 2013, he helped organize a coalition of genealogical, labor, media and good government groups to lobby against proposed restrictions to public records access in California. Teven has been representing IAJGS and RPAC in California.

Will You Be Able to Get Records In The Future?” (Thurs-146), 4:30 – 5:45 P.M.

Globally, access to public records is becoming increasingly difficult. Whether it be due to the expansion of the “right to be forgotten/erased” which will prevent genealogists from searching their ancestry by names, places or events; or by governmental legislation and regulations that impinge on our access to vital records, our access to genealogically relevant records is being challenged.

Learn what is happening worldwide as well as in the United States. You need to become engaged in your state/country to help retain access to these records that are so important to genealogical and historical research.

[presented with Jan Meisels Allen]

Topics: Ethical considerations in genealogy, Organization and preservation 

IAJGS 2016 Speaker Profile: Preeva Adler Tramiel


Preeva Tramiel is an amateur genealogist and author who has been researching the Adler family of Mukacheve since 2008. She sits on the board of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society as a member at large.

Visit her website at http://preeva.net/

“Samuel Adler” (Thurs-118), 4:30 – 5:45 P.M.

How could a man born in 1911 in the countryside of a region that had five governments in 100 years find lodging for a child stuck in Montreal in the 1970s? By being a Wandering Jew buffeted by the forces of the Holocaust and a strong Zionist of the Betar movement.

Using the personal story of her own father, Preeva Adler Tramiel will illustrate how the forces of history created a worldwide social network for one man and his family–before Facebook and LinkedIn.

Category: Beginning genealogists

Topics: Holocaust research, Immigration and migration over the ages