Meeting Type: / Meeting Year:

Fall, 2006 Regional Meeting — New York City

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Center for Jewish History (CJH) – New York City
15 West 16th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues

Gesher Galicia Program
11:15 – 1:00 p.m.
Kovno Room

Gesher Galicia Update
Pamela Weisberger, Research Coordinator

Unusual Resources in Western Galicia
Peter Jassem

Add depth to your genealogical research by accessing government records, court proceedings, interwar identification documents (complete with photographs), school and university records, property and business documents, wartime ghetto records and more. These resources can be found by traveling to local Polish archives, ancestral places of residence and cemeteries. Examples of documents from the Krakow, Rzeszow and Bochnia archives will also be presented.

The Revival of Jewish Culture in Poland
Peter Jassem

Many young Poles are reconnecting to their Jewish ancestry and non-Jewish Poles are discovering and celebrating the Jewish heritage of their country. Jewish congregations are being formed and synagogues are reopening. In a surprising turn of events, Poland became Israel’s best supporter and closest ally in Europe. Peter will illustrate the many cultural events, publications, commemorations and academic work, which are contributing to the revival of Jewish culture in Poland and offer a preview of the prestigious museum of Jewish history that will open in Warsaw in a few years.

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews
Michael Berkowicz

Michael Berkowicz, New York chairman of the museum’s North American council will continue Mr. Jassem’s theme by detailing this highly innovative and ambitious project–a world-class multimedia, documentary and educational center which will spotlight and preserve the rich, 1000-year-long culture and civilization of Poland’s Jews. Overseen by a panel of scholars, the exhibits will include the Holocaust and the post-war Jewish life in Poland. Mr. Berkowicz will also explore the museum’s cultural, intellectual and academic significance in this informative multi-media presentation.
PLEASE NOTE: The Gesher Galicia meeting has been arranged with the cooperation of JGS, Inc. and the CJH Genealogy Institute and is free of charge and open to all.

Following the meeting, lunch will be available in the Center’s Date Palm Café (Kosher) and the Center Genealogy Institute will be open (until 1:45 PM) for networking with other researchers and access to resource materials and computers. Messrs Berkowicz and Jassem will also be available to answer questions during the presentations as time allows and during the lunch recess as well.

Jewish Genealogy Society Program
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
CJH Auditorium

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
Daniel Mendelsohn

The Lost is the story of an odyssey in search of six ghosts. Daniel Mendelsohn grew up in a family haunted by the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust — an unmentionable subject that gripped the author’s imagination from his earliest childhood. Decades later, spurred by the discovery of a cache of desperate letters written to his grandfather in 1939, he embarked on a hunt for the remaining eyewitnesses to his relatives’ fates in the (formerly Galician) town of Bolechow, Ukraine. In this extraordinary epic, the quest for the truth behind his family’s tragic past in World War II becomes a sweeping investigation into the meaning of memory, family, and history. The focus of his talk will be the “writer’s angle” in genealogical research and the emotions encountered when one moves between past and present in an effort to solve a long-standing family mystery. A book signing of The Lost will be held in the Center’s bookstore following the lecture.

The $5 JGS admission charge for people who are not JGS members will be waived for attendees of the GG meeting. The program will be held at the Center for Jewish History,15 West 16th Street, Manhattan (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues). Subway: 4, 5, 6, L, N, R to Union Square; F, V, L to 14th Street & Sixth Avenue.


PETER JASSEM is a Polish-born architect and urban planner, a former member of political opposition groups in Poland and the Solidarity movement, who now lives in Canada. Peter’s discovery of his Jewish roots some 12 years ago led to his interest in Polish-Jewish heritage and involvement in Jewish genealogy. He served as an executive member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada for several years and was program director for the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Toronto in 2002. He is on the board of directors of Jewish Record Indexing (JRI) – Poland and the steering committee of Gesher Galicia. He is currently president of the Canadian Foundation of Polish-Jewish Heritage, an organization dedicated to preservation and fostering research of the unique heritage of Polish Jews.

MICHAEL BERKOWICZ grew up in post-war Poland and attended a public Jewish school in Wroclaw where he studied Yiddish and Jewish history along with his secular subjects. He currently serves on the board of the North American council for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews (Warsaw) and is its New York chair. He is past chairman of the AIA Professional Interest Area for the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture, and is also a founding member and past president of the American Guild of Judaic Art and the Friends of the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. In working as a synagogue designer and with congregational committees he deals with issues of Jewish identity both religious and secular. He is passionately interested in Polish-Jewish dialogue and Jewish presence in contemporary Poland.

DANIEL MENDELSOHN is an award-winning author, journalist and critic, and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and numerous national publications including The New Yorker, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine and Book Review, The Paris Review and Travel + Leisure. He is the faculty chair of humanities at Bard College.

Gesher Galicia is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people research their Jewish family roots in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire province of Galicia, which is today southeastern Poland and southwestern Ukraine. Our organization's primary focus is researching Jewish roots in Galicia, but the diverse community records in our databases contain names that span all the ethnic and religious groups who once lived in this region.

Search our free All Galicia Database, Map Room, and Archival Inventory today, and learn about our terrific member benefits for genealogists, researchers, and families, starting at just $36/year. You can join online!