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Gesher Galicia Programs at the 2011 IAJGS Conference in Washington DC

Gesher Galicia Programs for Monday, Aug. 15, 2011

9:30 – 10:45 AM
The Galicia Jewish Museum: History & Virtual Tour

The Galicia Jewish Museum exists to commemorate the Jewish Heritage of Galicia. The main exhibition features photographs by the late Chris Schwarz and texts by Prof. Jonathan Webber (UNESCO Chair of Jewish and Interfaith Studies, University of Birmingham, UK). Over a period of twelve years, they worked together to gather material that offers a completely new way of looking at the Jewish past that was destroyed in Poland. The exhibition pieces together a picture of the relics of Jewish life and culture in Polish Galicia that can still be seen today, interpreting these traces in a manner which is informative, accessible, and thought-provoking. The exhibition is divided into five sections, corresponding to the different ways in which the subject can be approached. Speaker: Jakub Nowakowski

11:00 – 12:15 AM
Gesher Galicia SIG Meeting

Take a tour of the brand new “All Galicia Database,” which has over 170,00 new genealogical records, and get an update on town and region research groups, our expanding map, landowner record and voter record projects and meet filmmakers, Olha Onyshko and Sarah Farhat who will be screening “Three Stories of Galicia” at the conference film festival. Alex Feller will offer a presentation about his recent trip to Lviv and Rohatyn, Ukraine and Mark Halpern will offer a JRI-Poland Galician records status report.

12:30 – 2:00 PM
Gesher Galicia SIG Luncheon
“A Tour of Jewish Krakow: Past, Present & Future”

Jews have lived in Krakow, one of the largest centers in Poland / Galicia, since the 12th century and their history is a long and complicated one. Today Kazimierz — the heart of Jewish Krakow — is a thriving district of cultural festivals, museums, synagogues, antique shops, restaurants and bars. There a noticeable resurgence of Jewish culture and — more importantly — Jewish population. Join us for a virtual tour of this reborn and re-imagined Krakow, from the first days of Jewish settlement, through the unimaginable years of WWII, to this present-day tourist destination with its new JCC and a Disneyland-like “Schindler Factory Museum,” and into a future of what will become an authentically Jewish Krakow. Speakers: Jakub Nowakowski and Pamela Weisberger. (You can only attend this with a ticket: $42 – Kosher lunch. Purchase before July 31 by adding on to your registration (log in to your account at

2:15 – 3:30 AM
“Galician Cadastral Maps, Landowner & Voter Records”

Galician (today Polish and Ukrainian) cadastral land records, property maps and voter records are valuable sources of historical information, especially when vital records are missing. The 19th and 20th century maps show exact locations of synagogues, cemeteries, schools, and market squares and often have the names of the landowners written onto the plots. House numbers can be used to chart a family across several generations and land records provide inheritance patterns. Early 20th century voter records provide names, ages and town of birth for men and women, and often are the only evidence of a family living in a particular locale. Discover the relevance of these unusual resources, with instructions on how to obtain these records online or from overseas archives. Speaker: Pamela Weisberger.

Other Programs of Interest to Galicia Researchers

Sunday, August 14

2:00 – 5:00 PM
Gesher Galicia Table at the SIG/BOF Fair

Monday, August 15

3:45 – 5:00 PM
Jewish Records Indexing – Poland: What’s New?

JRI-Poland has an online searchable database of indices to more than four million records from current/former territories of Poland. This database has enabled researchers trace their families’ growth and migration inside Poland. The database has also been a resource in family reunification, genetic and family health research and in efforts by those in Poland today to trace their Jewish heritage. The presentation will outline new resources and developments, as well as many other initiatives planned by JRI-Poland. It will also have the latest information on methods of ordering copies of records from the Polish State Archives. Speaker: Stanley Diamond.

5:15 – 6:30PM
The Bolechow Jewish Heritage Society (BJHS) Annual Meeting
* NOTE: Off-site – Hillel House

The BJHS is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the memories, and the monuments, of the small Galitzianer town of Bolechow (now Bolekhiv), Ukraine and of other shtetls around L’viv. This program will take place at an off-site location near the Hyatt, to be announced soon and will include an update on the work of the BJHS in commemorating our ancestors (including maintenance of the Jewish cemetery in Bolechow and the nearby Taniava mass grave site), transformation of the Bolechow synagogue into a museum of Galician Jewish life (as opposed to the monuments of death that predominate in Ukraine), and the ongoing development of a an ambitious historical, genealogical, and interactive web site. Even if your relatives were not from Bolechow (the setting for Daniel Mendelsohn’s acclaimed book, “The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million”) this gathering should be of interest to all Galitzianers. Refreshments will be served.

Tuesday, August 16

8:00 – 9:15PM
The Resurgence of Jewish Life in Poland

How do the Jews from around the world remember their cultural heritage in Poland and is creating a “Jewish life” possible in the land of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Sobibor? How much has been done during the last twenty years to commemorate the history of Jews in Poland and how much has been forgotten in last 70 years after the Holocaust? Who are the Jews of Poland today and who are the non-Jews that are trying to preserve the memory? It is believed that a large percentage of Poles have Jewish roots they may not be aware of or are only now discovering. What is their future in the international Jewish community? The speaker will try to find the answers to these profound and extremely complicated questions. Speaker: Jakub Nowakowski

3:15 – 5:15PM
Three Stories of Galicia Film Screening
T-FS4 “Three Stories of Galicia” (Film, 86 min.) Followed by a Q&A with Olha Onyshko and Sarah Farhat. A Jewish man whose family chose to save the life of its worst enemy. A Ukrainian woman who endured the theft of her children to save her country. A Polish priest who risked everything to end the sectarian hatred that tore at his parish. They all came from a land where the Second World War never ended and where children grow up with the burden of fighting the battles of their grandparents. The land was called Galicia. The people who lived there were Jews, Ukrainians and Poles. When the Second World War erupted, Galicia was caught in the ruthless struggle between Hitler’s Third Reich and Stalin’s Red Army. In their quest to rule the world, those two empires made use of the ethnic jealousies between Ukrainians, Jews and Poles, and fueled some of modern history’s worst ethnic conflicts. But in the midst of evil, where trust had lost its meaning and human life had no value, there were those who were willing to risk what little they had left to do what was right instead of what was easy. In the epic settings of the events that changed the course of modern history, Three Stories of Galicia reveals the intimate stories of three courageous individuals who took it upon themselves to preserve the dignity of the human spirit. (2010, Courtesy of Olha Onyshko and Sarah Farhat.)

5:30 – 7:00PM
Rohatyn Research Group Meeting

Wednesday, August 17

2:15 – 3:30PM
Kolbuszowa Region Research Group (KRRG)

3:45 – 5:00PM
Suchostaw Region Research Group (SRRG)

Thursday, August 18

2:15 – 3:30PM
Research in Galicia: Working with Vital Records

A great many Galician researchers have acquired family records from repositories in Poland and Ukraine. Over the last twelve years, the work of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland and Gesher Galicia has made these records more readily available to all Galician researchers. This session offers an in-depth examination of vital records along with a strategic framework to help researchers in acquiring Galician records to further their research. We will provide a historical perspective covering the regulations that governed Jewish record-keeping and how regulations covering civil marriages impacted the legitimacy and surnames of children. Close examination of sample birth, marriage, and death records will reveal the information contained in the records, identify the records. Speaker: Mark Halpern. (Beginners – Intermediate.)

2:15 – 3:30PM
Online Databases of the Polish State Archives
How to search the databases provided online by the Polish State Archives: ELA, SEZAM, PRADZIAD, IZA. This instruction permits the researcher to know what exists in Polish state archives prior to visiting or sending a agent to obtain records. Speaker: Kahlile Mehr.

Friday, August 19

11:00 – 12:15PM
Cartography for Genealogists: Mapping Across Time

The boundaries of mapping are expanding and genealogists are the beneficiaries. Take a tour of the innovative digital projects focusing on historical maps. Learn how to access US Birds-Eye View maps from the Library of Congress to view the buildings where your ancestors resided. Explore the Hypercities international map collection, a collaborative research and educational platform for traveling back in time to unearth the historical layers of city spaces in an interactive environment. Tour Berlin from 1238 to 2003. Explore Jaffa in 1918. Learn more about Gesher Galicia’s Cadastral Map and Landowner Records Project. All of these sites are virtual portals to view your ancestors’ footsteps etched in “snapshots” of time and place. Learn how to browse, network, search, and download content to “walk” the streets they once walked without leaving your home. Speaker: Pamela Weisberger.

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!