Past Speakers

  • Allen Halberstadt
    Allen Halberstadt was a member of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Toronto. He served as a member of the Board of Directors and Cemetery Project Coordinator.
    Through his efforts and the efforts of others, there are now 75,000 Toronto entries in JOWBR covering gravesites in all of Toronto’s Jewish cemeteries. This remarkable achievement places Toronto as a leader in making this important genealogical information available to those researching their family trees.

 

  • Antony Polonsky
    Antony Polonsky was born in Johannesburg, and studied history and political science at the University of the Witwatersrand. He went to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship in 1961 and read modern history at Worcester College and St Antony’s College. He taught at the London School of Economics and Political Science from 1970 to 1992. Since then he has been at Brandeis University, where in 1999 he was appointed Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies, an appointment held jointly at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Brandeis University. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Warsaw, the Institute for the Human Sciences, Vienna, and the University of Cape Town; Skirball visiting fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies; and Senior Associate Member of St Antony’s College, Oxford.
    He is the author of Politics in Independent Poland (1972), The Little Dictators: A History of Eastern Europe since 1918 (1975), and The Great Powers and the Polish Question, 1941-1945 (1976). He is the editor of Abraham Lewin’s A Cup of Tears: A Diary of the Warsaw Ghetto (1988), which was awarded the Joseph and Edith Sunlight Literary Prize in 1989 and the prize of the (US) National Jewish Book Council in the Holocaust section in 1990. He is co-author of The History of Poland since 1863 (1981) and The Beginnings of Communist Rule in Poland (1981), and co-editor of Ideas into Politics Aspects of European History, 1880-1950 (1984), The Jews in Poland (1986), Polish Paradoxes (1990), The Jews in Warsaw (1991), Jews in Eastern Poland and the USSR, 1939-1946 (1991) and The Jews in Old Poland (1993). He is the editor of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, also published (since 1993) by the Littman Library. His most recent work is The Jews in Poland and Russia volume 1, 1350 to 1881; volume 2 1881 to 1914; volume 3 1914 to 2008 (Oxford, 2010-2012).
    Professor Polonsky is vice-president of the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies and of the American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies. He is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Mordechai Anieliewicz Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Warsaw, and of the Executive Committee of the National Polish American–Jewish American Task Force, and an Associate of the Ukrainian Research Institute of Harvard University. In 2011 he was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Polonia Restituta and the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Independent Lithuania. In 2012 in Kraków, Poland he was awarded the ‘Pro historia Polonorum’ prize for the best book on the history of Poland in a foreign language published in the last five years.

 

  • Arthur Ryman
    Arthur Ryman is a software developer at the IBM Toronto laboratory. He is the administrator for the new JGS website.
    Arthur is a newbie genealogist and has been a member of JGS since 2007. His goal is to locate the grave of his great grandfather Yankel Ryman/Riman who probably died in Toronto.

 

  • Barbara Borenstein
    Barbara is a partnership and marketing consultant but prefers to be known as a filmmaker and storyteller.
    She set out to honour her Father, to touch people’s hearts, to laugh, to cry, to learn, to remember, and be left with a warm feeling about a man who had left his mark in people’s lives.
    Her teen years were spent on a Kibbutz in Israel and she is fully bilingual in English & Hebrew.
    In making the film, she discovered a new path of passion, as a Documentary Filmmaker.
    Her interest is to help and encourage people to share their tales from the heart, and create precious legacies on film. She is looking forward to sharing this labour of love with the Jewish Genealogy Society.

 

  • Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
    Dr. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is a scholar of Performance and Jewish Studies and a museum professional. She was born in Canada during the Second World War to Jewish immigrants from Poland. Professor of Performance Studies at New York University since 1981 (and distinguished University Professor since 2002), she is best known for her interdisciplinary contributions to Jewish studies and to the theory and history of museums, tourism, and heritage.

 

  • Bennett Greenspan
    An entrepreneur and life-long genealogy enthusiast, Mr. Greenspan founded Family Tree DNA in 1999, turning – dare we say – a hobby into a full-time vocation.
    Family Tree DNA is the world leader in Genetic Genealogy. Since its inception in April of 2000, the company has been constantly developing the science that enables genealogists around the world to advance their family’s research. Family Tree DNA works in association with a scientific advisory board and the University of Arizona Research Labs. The Arizona Research labs are led by Dr. Michael Hammer, one of the world’s leading authorities in the field of Y DNA Genetics.
    Family Tree DNA and other cooperative ventures, including the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project and AfricanDNA.com, now comprise the largest non-medical DNA testing program in the world. A database that now contains over 300,000 records.
    Mr. Greenspan, a Nebraskan native who received his B.A. from the University of Texas, spent years investigating the ancestors of his maternal grandfather, an obsession which eventually led to the founding of Family Tree DNA and the beginning of a new kind of genealogy.
    Despite the long hours and frequent travel, Mr. Greenspan is still married and enjoys returning home to his wife and two children.

 

  • Betty Sherwood
    Betty, a member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto), is a former elementary school teacher/librarian with the Toronto District School Board.Betty and Myrna Levy have written books for children since their retirement.

 

  • Bill Gladstone
    Bill Gladstone is a well known genealogist, author, Canadian Jewish News arts columnist and past president of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Canada.
    Bill is the author of Roots and Remembrance: Explorations in Jewish Genealogy, and One Hundred Years in Canada: the Rubinoff-Naftolin Family Tree. He is also the author of two forthcoming books, a history of Toronto’s Beth Tzedec Congregation and a history of the Jewish community of London, Ontario. He gives frequent talks about the Jewish history of Toronto.
    He is the head the Toronto-based publishing company Now and Then Books which has published several titles relating to the history of the Jews of Toronto and Canada.
    Visit Bill’s website “The Best of Bill Gladstone” for lots of information on Jewish Genealogy, the Jews of Toronto, the city of Toronto, arts & literature & more.
    Bill spoke to our Society on the following topics:
    Landsmenschatfen and Mutual Benefit Societies of Toronto
    The Jews of Old Toronto
    Publishing Your Research: How to Stay Organised and Sane.
    Remembrance: Explorations in Jewish Genealogy
    The How, What and Why of Canadian Naturalization Records
  • David Price
    David is a Polish and Cyrillic volunteer Translator for Viewmate and JRI-Poland. Although he does not speak Polish or Russian, he can extract names, dates and towns. David is quite modest, but those Polish researchers in our Society note how often he goes out of his way to assist them. For many years he continues to work tirelessly in extracting an infinite number of records for JRI-Poland.
    A JGS Toronto member since 1997, David was a past librarian of our society.
    2015-06-17 JRI-Poland’s Latest Towns Added During the Past Year

 

  • Dorion Liebgott
    Dorion Liebgott has been the curator of Beth Tzedec Congregation’s Reuben and Helene Dennis Museum since 1992. In that capacity she is responsible for the care and restoration of the Synagogue’s artifacts and artwork, the majority of which are housed in the Museum collection.
    As well, she is mandated to create, in the membership and the community at large, awareness of the collection and of subjects of Jewish Interest through exhibitions and lectures. She has produced more than 20 original exhibitions for Beth Tzedec. “A Common Thread: A History of Toronto’s Garment Industry” was the winner of a City of Toronto Heritage Award. In 2001, she won the Laks-Wajsfus Award for World Jewish Culture at the Canadian Jewish Book Awards for editing “Art and Tradition: Treasures of a Jewish Life”. Dorion arranges loans from the Museum to other museums locally and internationally, and organizes and acts as tour guide for members, visitors, schools and adult groups.
    An artist in her own right, Dorion has had several exhibitions as an individual and in group shows. In the 1980’s she owned and operated a gallery, Dorion’s Fine Judaica, where she sold artist-produced Judaica. Prior to that, she was the Director of Arts and Crafts for ten years at the Baycrest Centre.
    Dorion is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and of the Ontario Museum Association Museum Certificate Studies program. Originally from Coventry, England, she is married to Bernie, mother of Rachel and Joanna and grandmother of Naomi.
    2014-05-28 The Stories our Family Heirlooms Tell

 

  • Dorothy Pullan
    Dorothy Pullan is a member of JGS of Canada (Toronto) She is a retired clinical psychologist. Her interest in genealogy began after meeting cousins that had survived the Holocaust.

 

  • Elaine Cheskes
    Elaine is a graduate of the University of Toronto where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree and subsequently received a diploma in Library and Information Technology. Upon graduation she worked at the University of Toronto, Bora Laskin Law Library and was on staff for twenty-two years at the University of Toronto, Victoria College, Pratt Library as a cataloguer in Technical Services.
    Since her retirement, she has pursued many interests such as, genealogy, current affairs, opera, and literary societies. She enjoys travelling with her husband Albert, and loves to spend time with their nine grandchildren.
    She has held the position of acting Librarian for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto since 2006, and serves as a Board member. Elaine writes articles, posts new acquisitions and reviews books in her column Branching Out for the Society’s publication, Shem Tov. She has also curated the following exhibits: Tracing Our Jewish Roots: Selections from the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto) Library Collection and Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto) that have been displayed at synagogues and libraries throughout the Toronto area.
    She has conducted extensive research on the Holocaust in which her husband Albert’s relatives, the Czeskies (Cheskes) family perished. From her findings, she has presented the lecture entitled: Unlocking 50 Years of Secret Documents: The Brest Ghetto Passport Archive.
    Elaine is a contributing author of Tracing Our Roots, Telling Our Stories, and she is an active participant in Jewish Heritage Month.

 

  • Ellen Scheinberg
    Dr. Scheinberg has been the director of the Ontario Jewish Archives since the fall of 2002. She holds a B.A. and Masters degrees in history from Queen’s University and was awarded her Ph.D. in history from the University of Ottawa in 2007. She spent most of her archival career at the National Archives of Canada (now LAC), where she worked as an archivist within the Government Archives Division from 1990 until the spring of 2000. She also worked as an information management consultant for a year. Ellen has spent a great deal of time presenting papers and publishing articles in the area of women’s history, immigration history and archival studies. She has also been an active member of the archival community.

 

  • Eric Bowman
    Eric Bowman and his wife, Penny Bowman, have been residents of the West Indian island of Barbados for 40 years. They are dual Canadian and Barbados citizens.
    Eric developed a keen interest in the history of the Jews of Barbados and subsequently became a leading authority on the Jewish presence in this beautiful Caribbean country.
    2014-09-10 The Jews of Barbados: 1627 to the Present

 

  • Eric Stein
    Toronto’s Eric Stein is a multi-instrumental musician (mandolin, bass, cimbalom) and a leading figure in Canada’s world, folk and Jewish-roots music scenes. He is founder/leader of the innovative klezmer/world fusion group, Beyond the Pale, with whom he has performed across North America, Europe and Australia and released three award-winning CDs.
    Eric also leads the Brazilian choro ensemble, Tio Chorinho, is a member of the newly-formed Ger Mandolin Orchestra, and has performed with a number of other leading artists, including Socalled, Theodore Bikel, Flory Jagoda, and various Canadian chamber groups and symphonies. Eric is Artistic Director of Toronto’s Ashkenaz Festival, one of the world’s largest celebrations of Jewish music and culture.
    2012-11-28 Eric spoke on the topic The Ger Mandolin Orchestra: An Inspiring Tale of Genealogy, Remembrance and Musical Innovation
    www.beyondthepale.net
    www.tiochorinho.com
    www.ashkenazfestival.com

 

  • Erica Lehrer
    Erica Lehrer is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in the departments of History and Sociology‑Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal.
    She is the author of Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places (Indiana University Press 2013), and co‑editor of Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland (Indiana University Press, 2014), and Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places (Palgrave 2010). As a curator, she produced the 2013 exhibit Souvenir, Talisman, Toy: Poland’s Jewish Figurines in Kraków’s Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum, and published the accompanying catalog Lucky Jews (Ha!Art 2014).
    2015-04-29 Non-Jewish Poles doing Jewish stuff… and the Jews who love and hate them

 

  • Fiona Gold Kroll
    Author Fiona Gold Kroll was born in England and has resided in Toronto since 1966. This professional researcher turned genealogy sleuth talks about her emotional journey writing A Stone for Benjamin: My Genealogical Search for My Great Uncle. This book is about her research into the life of her great-uncle, Benjamin Albaum, who disappeared from Paris during WWII and perished in Auschwitz.
    Read more about the author and her book at her website.

 

  • Gella Rothstein
    Even as a stay-at-home mother of four children, Gella began her career as a community volunteer at the Beth Tzedec Museum and the United Jewish Appeal. Over the years, she assumed many leadership roles in UJA, the Toronto Jewish Congress, the Ontario Region of the Canadian Jewish Congress and was the founding chair of the United Way’s Tomorrow Fund. Subsequently, she chose to try a professional career based on her voluntary experience and spent four years as the Director of the Baycrest Women’s Auxiliary.
    Quite by chance, an opportunity presented itself to completely change direction and Gella became the owner/operator of Dover Imports, sourcing and providing furniture and accessories from the Far East o interior design professionals and their clients.
    Now retired, but still enthusiastically productive, Gella is enjoying her new membership in the Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto. Her first volunteer commitment with the Society has been to record the Beth Jacob (Lambton) Cemetery tombstones for the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry.
    She is presently working on the Goldhar family tree – her father’s side of the family.

 

  • Gregg Loane
    Gregg Loane has been working on his children’s family tree for over 20 years. He has recently completed a Second Edition of his family history that was 19 years in the making. His immediate and extended family are spread far and wide, and so publishing and sharing this history has been a priority from the beginning.
    His family background is Irish, Scottish, English, and Channel Islander (with a bit of Colonial American in him as well), and he has travelled to each of these destinations in search of his roots.
    2015-01-25 Making History Accessible: Illustrating and Publishing Your Family Story

 

  • Harold Troper
    Harold Troper is a professor in the Department of Theory and Policy Studies at the University of Toronto. He teaches on the history of immigration and ethnic relations in Canada and has a special interest in Canadian Jewish history.
    Professor Troper is author or co-author of many scholarly articles and award winning books including Immigrants: A Portrait of the Urban Experience; None Is Too Many and Old Wounds. His latest book, The Ransomed of God was recently reissued in paperback under the title The Rescuer and he has a new book entitled The Pivotal Decade: Identity, Politics and the Canadian Jewish Community in the 1960s forthcoming with the University of Toronto Press.
    Currently Professor Troper is completing a research project with Professor Richard Menkis of the University of British Columbia on the Canadian Jewish community’s engagement with the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the ‘Nazi Olympics’.

 

  • Harvey Glasner
    Harvey retired as head of the multi handicap and physically handicapped programs at Don Mills Collegiate Institute in 1999. He then went into the executive search business, concentrating in finance and accounting.
    He has served on the executive of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto co-editing its quarterly journal, the Shem Tov and was President 2010 – 2012.  Harvey was recently elected to the Board of Governors of Jewishgen.org.

 

  • Hazel Sandow Boon
    Hazel Sandow was born in New York City. She originally moved to Toronto on a work visa when she was hired as a violinist for the Canadian Opera Company. Once here she so loved Toronto that she returned as a landed immigrant the following year. Her husband of almost 39 years, John, is a transplanted Brit and it is his family history which got Hazel hooked on genealogy research.
    She’s been working on her own family tree since around 2000 and has traced all four of her family lines (Haber, Stark Kanet and Sadowski) back to the late 1700s. Hazel was elected the first president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Hamilton and Area back in 2004 and continues to serve in that position. Although her research has mainly taken her to Galicia and Poland, her work with members of Hamilton’s JGS has pushed her to pursue research in a variety of countries.
    2014-11-26 “Have You Heard of this Ukrainian Shtetl called Zurów?”

 

  • Henry Blumberg
    Mr. Henry Blumberg is a member of JGS of Canada (Toronto). He was born in South Africa and immigrated with his family to Canada in 1980. He is the Managing Partner of his Toronto law firm. He is the President of Latvia SIG for the third term and has been particularly interested in the evolving nature of web-related internet research.
    Henry has also presented papers on a number of genealogy-related subjects and has been involved in supporting the erection of memorials in Latvia to Jews murdered during the Holocaust. He has visited Lithuania and Latvia a number of times and was a speaker at the launch of the Names and Fates Project in Riga in June 2008.

 

  • Henry Wellisch
    Henry Wellisch was born in Vienna in 1922. In 1940, he joined with his parents an “illegal” transport to Palestine. The ship was apprehended by the British and its passengers deported to Mauritius where they were detained for the duration of the War. In 1944, Henry volunteered for the Jewish Brigade and served in Western Europe. The Mauritius refugees were allowed to enter Palestine and, in 1948, Henry served with the Israeli army during the 1948 War of Independence.
    Since 1951, Henry has lived in Canada and was for many years a civil engineering technologist. About 18 years ago, he began to research his family background; he was able to trace his family back into the middle of the 18th century and has since established contact with long-lost relatives in many countries.
    Henry joined the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto) in 1989.  He was the Editor of our newsletter, Shem Tov, for several years and the President of our Society from 1993 to 1998. He has lectured to different groups on various genealogical and historical subjects.  Henry has also been a speaker at the 1999 seminar in New York and at the the recent 2008 International Conference in Chicago. He has published numerous articles and contributed to several websites.

 

  • Hymie Reichstein
    Hymie Reichstein, a Montreal-born retired electrical engineer with the Department of National defence, is a founding member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Ottawa; he was its first Treasurer and has been President for the past twelve years.  He has traced his family roots from Belarus to Montreal and beyond.
    2013-05-29 History of the Ottawa Jewish Community. Presentation with John Diener.

 

  • Isme Bennie
    Ismé Bennie, a member of JGS Toronto, was born in South Africa, where she graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand. In Canada, she became a well-known TV executive. Now retired, she has recently released her book, White Schooldays: Coming-of-Age in Apartheid South Africa. (Paperback available from Amazon.com). An article about her book appeared in the Volume XXXI No. 1, 2015-03 issue of our newsletter Shem Tov.

 

  • Jacob Shapiro
    Born in Belarus (USSR) Jacob came to Canada, via Poland, in 1960. Half of his parents’ families died in the Holocaust. His parents and some aunts and uncles survived by joining Belarus partisans and escaping to Eastern Russia. He has been researching his family for over twenty years based on scant information from those who survived. Jacob made an impromptu visit to Belarus recently and he stresses the importance of preparations for such a trip.
    2015-06-17 Preparing for a Trip to Belarus

 

  • James F.S. Thomson
    Mr. Thomson LL.B. has designed and taught over a dozen very popular advanced and expert-level family history courses co-sponsored by Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society and the Toronto Public Library.
    For these courses and in his articles and presentations at conferences and workshops, as well as in his capacity as a University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies instructor, James draws on over thirty years of experience of family and local history research. He also teaches the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies course “Toronto’s Past: Your City, Your House, Your Family”.
    This is the second time he has spoken at a JGS Toronto meeting.
    2013-10-02 Toronto Historical Research: New and Important Resources

 

  • Jerrold Landau
    Jerrold Landau is a freelance translator of Yizkor books (Memorial Books of destroyed Jewish communities published by the landsmanschaft organizations after the Second World War) from their original Hebrew and Yiddish into English under the auspices of the JewishGen organization. Jerrold’s translations, published on the JewishGen website, open up to the English speaking public the rich vista of pre-war shtetl life, personalized Holocaust testimonies by survivors, detailed necrologies, ancient town histories and other fascinating material included in these books. Towns whose books Jerrold has translated over his ten year translation career include among others: Rzeszow, Sochaczew, Stawiski, Debica, Ivano-Frankivk, Przemysl, Zuromin, Orhei, Podhajce, Roznyatow, Lizhensk and Zgierz.
    Jerrold lives in Toronto with his wife and four children. By day, Jerrold is a software test and translation specialist at IBM. He works on his translations on a part-time basis during the evenings.

 

  • Jerry Scherer
    Jerry was born in Russia to Holocaust survivors.  After the War, Jerry and his parents spent four years in a Displaced Persons’ Camp in Germany and then immigrated to Montreal in 1949.
    As is so common, his parents never spoke of their experiences during the war. In 2009, Jerry retired after having taught mathematics for 42 years in Toronto, both in the public system and at CHAT.
    He used the JewishGen database to trace four generations of ancestors and to locate 51 previously unknown relatives in the U.S.A.

 

  • Jo Ann Goldwater
    Jo Ann Goldwater is a physiotherapist by profession who, since her retirement, has become involved in genealogy, photography and environmental causes.  About 12 years ago, she started to research her family from Latvia/Lithuania.
    2015-09-30 My Trip to Lithuania and Latvia

 

  • Joanne Gilbert
    Author of  the recently published WOMEN OF VALOR: Polish Resisters to the Third Reich, Joanne D. Gilbert, M. Ed., Personal Historian, Author; former Bay Area resident currently living in Las Vegas,  is an also educator, and personal historian whose mission is to “preserve and celebrate Jewish History—one story at a time!”
    2014-08-10 Program – WOMEN OF VALOR: Polish Resisters to the Third Reich

 

  • Joe Schlesinger
    Joe Schlesinger is a veteran Canadian journalist who for four decades has reported for CBC Television News from every corner of the world. He has covered wars from Vietnam to the Gulf, with many other conflicts in between.
    Born in Vienna in 1928, Schlesinger was raised in Czechoslovakia. In 1939, after Hitler dismembered the country, Joes parents sent him for safety to England. When he returned to Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II in 1945, he found his parents had been killed in The Holocaust.
    Joe started his journalistic career in 1948 in the Prague bureau of the Associated Press. When the communist rulers of Czechoslovakia started arresting AP staffers, he fled across the Iron Curtain and came to Canada.
    He became a reporter at the Vancouver Province and the Toronto Star, then an editor at the UPI bureau in London, England, and at the European Herald Tribune in Paris.
    In 1966, he joined the CBC in Toronto. He served both as executive producer of The National and head of CBC TV News. In 1970, Schlesinger went overseas again, this time as the CBCs Far East correspondent based in Hong Kong. This was followed over the next 20 years by postings to Paris, Washington and Berlin. In 1991 he became the CBCs Chief Political Correspondent in Ottawa. Joe retired from the CBC news service in 1994, but has continued to contribute regularly to CBC programs.
    A book of Schlesingers memoirs, “Time Zones,” was published in 1990 and became a best-seller. He won four Gemini awards, the John Drainie award for distinguished contribution to Canadian broadcasting and a Hot Doc award for documentary writing. “The Power of Good,” a documentary he wrote and narrated, won an International Emmy award in 2002.
    In 1994, he was named a member of the Order of Canada. He was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of British Columbia, The Royal Military College and Dalhousie University. He has also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Journalism Foundation.  He recently received two more honorary degrees from Queen’s and Carleton.

 

  • John D. Reid
    John D. Reid is an English-born Ottawa-based family historian and genealogy blogger at www.anglo-celtic-connections.blogspot.ca/. He has authored books on home children, the 1885 Northwest Rebellion and numerous articles including many as an environmental research scientist. He is a past president of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa, member of the U.K. Society of Genealogists and often speaks on family history topics.
    2015-03-25 DNA Testing for Genealogy: Not Just For Men

 

  • John Diener
    John Diener is an Ottawa businessman who is the son of a Holocaust survivor and a Montrealer. He is Vice President of JGS Ottawa.  In his research, he has amassed 2,500 names on his family tree.  John co-sponsored the filming of all matzevot in Zhvanets, Ukraine; the data on these 1,200 stones was submitted to JOWBR.  John is shtetl leader for Grzymalow, Ukraine, and is on the executive of Gesher Galicia.  He also writes a monthly column, Connecting the Branches, for the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.
    2013-05-29 History of the Ottawa Jewish Community. Presentation with Hymie Reichstein.

 

  • Judy Kasman
    Toronto-born Judy Kasman has been doing genealogical research for over twelve years. She focuses on her family’s Vilna and Cracow-area roots and on her husband’s family’s Lodz and Zhitomir-area branches. Judy is an active member of JGS Toronto’s Board and has been the Editor of our Society’s bulletin, Shem Tov, since 2008.
    2015-06-17 What I Have Learned from a Lithuanian Internal Passport File

 

  • Karen Lasky
    Karen Lasky is an ardent writer of poetry, a contributor to and member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto), and a Holocaust Education Week volunteer.
    Imagine growing up not knowing where you came form, and forbidden to ask.  Karen Lasky, a child of Holocaust survivors, explores the concept of growing up with details of her parents personal histories.  With little historical knowledge, Karen retraces her parents footsteps through the concentration camps they were were deported to and discovers their hidden pasts, family records and even their birth homes in Poland.  She credits these discoveries with shaping the path to understanding who she is.

 

  • Les Kelman
    Les is the current president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto) (2013).
    Les has been a member of the society for 20 years and was a member of the programming committee since 2002. As a board member, Les was chair of the programming committee and took on a leadership role as vice-president.
    In 1965 Les travelled to Russia, to visit Leningrad and to meet family in Moscow. He also travelled to Russia to meet more of his extended family in 2002, and continued on to Ukraine to visit his father’s birthplace in Zhitomir. On his mother’s side he has found connections to Latvia (Riga) and Lithuania (Seirijai).
    His trip in 2012 to Kiev combined his love of soccer (3 games as part of Euro 2012) with a trip to his ancestral village. Being semi-retired Les is planning more genealogy forays.

 

  • Lil Blume
    Lil Blume is a teacher, writer, and workshop leader living in Toronto.  She has led family stories workshops for JCCs, shuls, and festivals in Hamilton, Edmonton, Victoria, and Vancouver.
    In a story published in Parchment: The Journal of Contemporary Canadian Jewish Writing, Lil explored her familys chess-playing across four generations.
    Lil also teaches communication workshops in industrial, health care, and educational environments on both Canadian coasts and many places in between.  She is currently an instructor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Toronto.

 

  • Linda Offman
    Linda has been a member of JGS Toronto since 2002 when she participated on the committee for the exciting International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Toronto that year, organizing tours and visits to Toronto attractions.
    Linda is on the 2013-14 Programming Committee and is also helping with transcriptions for the Cemetery Project.  Linda enjoys helping friends and family members research their family histories.

 

  • Linden Rees
    Linden was born in Wales and educated at the Law Society College, Guildford, England. He emigrated to Canada in 1974 and recently retired as President of his own company. He claims that he has been a disorganized genealogist for thirty years, but has documented one side of his family back to 1760.
    Linden has been a member of JGS Toronto since 1992.
    2015-06-17 Finding Delia: A Twenty-Five Year Search

 

  • Lorne Miller
    Lorne is a member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto). He has been involved in publishing eight personal memoirs, two community memoirs and authored “These Days Anyone Can Write a Book!”. He will challenge us to think about our obligations to the future as we search out our past.

 

  • Marc H. Stevens
    Marc Stevens was born in Montreal in the 1950s, but grew up between Ottawa and Toronto.  He attended Trinity College at the U of T in the late 1970s.  Marc’s dad, Peter Stevens, was an RAF bomber pilot in World War II, but died in 1979, before Marc was able to question him about his wartime exploits.
    Marc had known from a very young age that his father was originally German, but he was always sworn to secrecy about that part of the family’s history.  What he did not know, and only discovered in 1996, was that Peter Stevens was not only a German, but a German Jew, who had fought for England against the country of his birth.
    Eighteen years of research (including obtaining access to a British government file marked “Secret – Sealed until 2051”) eventually revealed that Marc’s father had been sent to safety in England in 1934 by his widowed mother.  After flying 22 combat operations as a bomber pilot, Peter Stevens was shot down by flak over Berlin and was taken as a Prisoner of War by his own country, without protection under the Geneva Convention.
    Marc H. Stevens is the author of “Escape, Evasion and Revenge”.

 

  • Margaret Ann Wilkinson
    Dr. Margaret Ann Wilkinson is Director of the Area of Concentration in Intellectual Property, Information and Technology Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario.  As an adjunct Professor in the Richard Ivey School of Business, she is involved in the Health Sector stream. Formerly a practicing lawyer in Toronto, she is also trained as a professional librarian.
    Dr. Wilkinson teaches several courses, speaks and writes in the areas of intellectual property law (copyright, patents, trademarks, industrial design, confidential information, etc.), other information law (privacy, personal data protection, censorship, telecommunications regulation, etc.), and professional ethics and professionalism. She supervises graduate students in a number of disciplines who are interested in these issues.

 

  • Marian Press
    Marian Press, MLS, MA, is a librarian at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She is a frequent speaker at genealogical workshops and conferences and writes regularly for Internet Genealogy and Family Chronicle.  She has recently published Education and Ontario Family History: Resources for Genealogists and Historians, OGS/Dundurn Press, 2011.
    She has been doing her own family history for 25 years and has 99% Scottish ancestry with one Irish and one Scottish line.
    2011-10-23 Blogs and Genealogy: Reading Them and Creating Them. Wikis: Developing Genealogical Information Tools
    2014-12-17 Putting Your Family Tree Online

 

  • Mel and Deana Fishman
    Mel and Deana are Sales and Marketing professionals. Deana is a native Montrealer and Mel was born in Turner Valley, Alberta (40 km south of Calgary).
    Until recently they lived in Calgary where they were instrumental in forming the Jewish Genealogy Society of Southern Alberta, creating the Calgary Jewish Cemetery Database, and were heavily involved in the 1600 member strong Switzer Family of Calgary reunions authoring the Switzer Family Tree and Guide.

 

  • Merle Kastner
    Merle Kastner, member of the JGS of Montreal since 1993, has been researching her family roots in Romania, Poland, Moldova, Lithuania and Belarus. She has created a number of Family History books for various branches of her family.

 

  • Michael Goldstein born in Toronto and raised in Montreal, is a Jerusalem-based genealogist who researches, mentors and lectures throughout the world. He carries out North American, Israeli, Holocaust era and international Jewish research.
    Michael  holds a BA from Concordia University and an MSW from Yeshiva University. He serves as president of the Israel Genealogical Society, and belongs to the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Jewish Genealogy Society of Montreal.
    Michael is a professional genealogist, and in addition to his past IGS and current IAJGS leadership roles and his JGS of Montreal membership, he is also a member of the Board of Governors of JewishGen and the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG).

 

  • Michael Rajzman
    Born and raised in Toronto, Michael has done extensive research on early photographic technologies and formats as well as contemporary issues involving digital photography. He holds a combined B.A. in Art History and Canadian Studies from Carleton University and an M.A. in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson University. His recent research involves analyzing how people organize, store and share their digital photographs via online social networking websites.

 

  • Mike Karsen
    A 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 speaks on family legacy topics locally and nationally, presents conference programs and has presented at Newberry Library and Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies 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.
    Program 2013-09-22 Write Your Family History NOW!

 

  • Myrna Levy
    When she is not researching her family history, Myrna Neuringer Levy, a former teacher/librarian with the Toronto District School Board, writes books for children. Marrying a Torontonian brought her here from New York City.

 

  • Neil Richler
    Neil Richler has been a member of JGS Toronto since 1992 and has served on its Executive since 1997.  He has conducted many workshops for members as well as speaking to outside groups about genealogy and using the internet to get started. He has been researching his family since the age of 17 and has a family tree with almost 5,000 people. Neil is married with two children and when not following genealogical pursuits, works for a financial services company, keeping all of their systems running.

 

  • Nolan Altman
    Nolan Altman is an IAJGS board member and JewishGen’s interim VP for Data Acquisition. He coordinates JewishGen’s JOWBR (JewishGen’s Online Worldwide Burial Registry), Memorial Plaque and Holocaust databases. He has presented his introductory genealogy and Importance of Jewish Burial Records programs at the university level and to numerous adult education classes and social groups. In addition to presentations, Mr. Altman has conducted hands-on computer workshops. He has also been a presenter at IAJGS conferences and published articles in several major genealogical journals. Mr. Altman is the immediate past president of the JGSLI and a member of JGSNY.
    2015-05-31 Jewish Gen’s JOWBR Project: The Genealogical Value of Jewish Burial Records

 

  • Pamela Weisberger
    Pamela Weisberger is the 1st vice president/ program chair for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles, and president and research coordinator for Gesher Galicia, Inc. She was co-chair of the 2010 IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Los Angeles, curated the IAJGS Film Festivals from 2006-2010 and was program chair for Limmud Los Angeles 2012. She wrote and produced the videos,”I Remember Jewish Drohobycz”, “Genealogy Anyone? 25 Years in the Life of the JGSLA” and the satirical look at genealogical research, “Who Cares Who You Think You Are?”.
    Documenting her family’s history for over thirty years, she has conducted research in Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Hungary with a specialty in newspaper research and cadastral maps. She lectures frequently on family history topics and works as a professional genealogist and research consultant. She holds a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis in English and Education and an M.S. from Boston University in Broadcasting.
    March 13, 2013 Searching the All-Galicia Database & Gesher Galicia Map Room (online presentation)

 

  • Paul Jones
    Paul Jones is a former Chair of the Toronto Branch of the OGS and is well known in Toronto genealogy circles for original and often humorous presentations. A committed genealogy volunteer, he is also an award-winning writer and currently contributes regularly to the “Roots” column in Canada’s History magazine. He relishes the challenge of taking on family history problems that have stumped the experts.
    2014-04-23 Designing an Efficient and Effective “Tracing Forward” Description

 

  • Paul Sadowski
    Dr. Paul Sadowski is Professor Emeritus and  former chair of the Dept. of Medical and Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. He is an amateur musician and plays the cello in the Koffler Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jacques Israelievitch.
    The Sadowski family has been in Canada since the 1880s, one branch beginning in Massey, northern Ontario and another in Lethbridge, Alberta. The majority of the Alberta family ended up in California and changed their name to Gardner, a translation of Sadowski.
    Paul will be speaking about finding a family member of the Alberta/California branch at the “June 2011 Breakthrough” meeting. Rhea Sadowski was a distinguished pianist during a pivotal period in recorded music.
  • Peter Jassem
    Peter Jassem is a Polish-born architect and urban planner. Peter’s interest in Polish-Jewish heritage started with the discovery of his Jewish roots some 14 years ago.
    He has served as an executive member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto) for several years, has published articles in Shem Tov and organized the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy as a program director in Toronto in 2002.
    Peter is a very active member of the board of directors of Jewish Record Indexing – Poland, an organization that has created the world’s largest searchable online database of over 4 million Jewish records from Poland.
    He was a long-time member of the Steering Committee of Gesher Galicia, the world-wide Jewish genealogical organization of researchers tracing their roots to the province of Galicia.
  • He joined the Polish-Jewish Heritage Foundation of Canada about ten years ago and has been its Chair since 2002.
    As a Canadian representative of the North American Council for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Peter promotes this outstanding upcoming institution among Canadians.

 

  • Professor Paul Robert Magocsi
    Paul Robert Magocsi is Holder of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto, since 1980 a professor of history and political science also at the University of Toronto, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 1996. He is also President of the World Congress of Rusyns and author of nearly 700 publications on Ukraine and Central Europe. Professor Magocsi completed his undergraduate studies at Rutgers University in 1966, and was awarded a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1972. He then went to Harvard University, where he was a member of the Society of Fellows between 1973 and 1976.
    Selected books and publications:

    • Galicia: A Historical Survey and Bibliographic Guide (University of Toronto Press, 1983).
    • The Shaping of a National Identity: Subcarpathian Rus’, 1848-1948 ( Harvard University Press, 1978).
    • A History of Ukraine ( University of Toronto Press, 1996)
    • The Roots of Ukrainian Nationalism: Galicia As Ukraines Piedmont(University of Toronto Press, 2002).
    • Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture, Second Revised Edition (University of Toronto Press, 2002)
    • Historical Atlas of Central Europe, Second Revised Edition (University of Toronto Press, 2002).
    • An Illustrated Historical of Ukraine (University of Toronto Press, 2007).

 

  • Ronald Graner
    Cantor Ronald Graner was a permanent soloist with the National Chamber Orchestra of Israel and has produced concerts for Israel Broadcasting Authority and The Edmonton Symphony, documentaries for CBC Radio, an award-winning film for BRAVO Television and has written a play on the composer. Ronald is a member of our society.
    2013-01-30 Program Searching for David Nowakowsky, Music of a Forgotten Master

 

  • Dr. Rose Lerer Cohen
    Dr. Rose Lerer Cohen a former South African, resident of Jerusalem, is a professional genealogical and probate researcher, writer and lecturer.
    She has widened her scope of research to include provenance research. She has pursued cases in Eastern and Western Europe, Israel, South Africa and the United States.  She coordinates the Lithuanian Names Project and the Southern Africa Oral History Project.  Authored:  Lerer Cohen R. and Issroff, S. (2002) The Holocaust in Lithuania 1941-1945: A Book of Remembrance. (Gefen: Jerusalem).
    Rose is a board member of the Israel Genealogical Research Association (IGRA), a committee member of Association for Oral History and a member of IIJG Committee for Teaching Genealogy at University level. She is the former editor of Sharsheret Hadorot, Genealogy Journal, Israel.
    2014-03-09 Search Strategies and Integrating Resources

 

  • Ruth A. Frager
    Ruth A. Frager teaches history at McMaster University.  She has written Sweatshop Strife: Class, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Jewish Labour Movement of Toronto, 1900-1939, and she is co-author (with Carmela Patrias) of Discounted Labour: Women Workers in Canada, 1870-1939.
    Her most recent article, “Communities and Conflicts: East European Jewish Immigrants in Ontario and Quebec from the Late 1800s through the 1930s,” appears in Canada’s Jews in Time, Space, and Spirit, edited by Ira Robinson.  Her current research focuses on human rights activists in Ontario in the aftermath of the Second World War.
    2013-12-11 Spadina Sweatshops:  Jews & Gender in Toronto’s Labour Movement in the Early 1900s

 

  • Ruth Burkholder
    Ruth is a genealogist, historian, and educator who has been working in the local history and genealogy fields for the past 25 years. She talks and teaches, writes books and compiles indexes, works for others, and volunteers her time with historical and genealogical societies. Helping someone find that detail that leads to further knowledge of their family, however, is still one of the most thrilling things that Ruth experiences.

 

  • Ruth Chernia
    Ruth is a professional book editor.  She played a major role in the production of the book published in celebration of the 25th anniversary in 2011 of JGS Canada (Toronto) entitled Tracing Our Roots, Telling Our Stories.  The story she contributed to the book illustrated her outstanding research capabilities. Ruth credits her father with getting her interested in her family history 25 years ago.
  • Sharoni Sibony
    Sharoni Sibony is the Manager of the Jewish Life Department at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre. She sits on the Board of Limmud Toronto and serves as a tour guide for the Ontario Jewish Archives’ Sense of Spadina tours. She has taught adult education classes on Jewish literature and pop culture at Temple Emanu-el and the Florence Melton Mini-School. Most recently, Sharoni  curated an exhibition on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the First Narayever Congregation.
  • 2014-12-17 Tradition and Transition: 100 Years of the First Narayever Congregation

 

  • Shelley Stillman
    Shelley Stillman (nee Hailman) was born and raised in Toronto; she has a B.A. from York University and a B.Ed. from the University of Toronto. She was an elected trustee on the North York Board of Education for twelve years — serving three years as Chair.
    Shelley Stillman was president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto) 2007 – 2009.
    Two of her goals during her term as president were: updating the society website. (The New Website Project began in November 2007 with the launch in October 2008) and revitalizing the Cemetery Project. Basic burial data from the 11 cemeteries in the GTA has been submitted to JOWBR and work is underway to digitally photograph the headstones.  A number of individuals have expressed interest in photographing cemeteries around the province and Shelley has been coordinating with the Hamilton and Ottawa societies to ensure that there is no duplication of effort.
    Her greatest genealogy moment was meeting relatives in Belgium who had survived the Holocaust.  She shared this breakthrough in her presentation on June 23, 2010 “Photographs have two sides: How an inscription on the back of a photograph led to finding ‘lost’ relatives in Belgium.”  This story is also included in “Tracing Our Roots – Telling Our Stories” the 25th anniversary book of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto).

 

  • Simon Kreindler
    Dr. Simon Kreindler, a JGS of Canada (Toronto) member since 1997 grew up in Barbados, studied medicine in Montreal and since 1971, has practiced psychiatry in Toronto. He has been researching his family’s Galician roots for many years and has been able to trace his paternal and maternal lines back to the late 1700s.
    In 1995, his serendipitous discovery of a first cousin in Winnipeg, previously thought to have been lost along with his entire family in the Shoah, infused his search with new energy. After visiting Czernowitz and his family’s shtetls of Okna, Zablotov, Ilince and Solotwina (in present-day Ukraine) he embarked on writing a memoir for his children and grandchildren.
    2014-01-29 Program “From Galicia to Barbados, Guatemala, Montreal and Toronto – a genealogist’s journey.”

 

  • Stanley Diamond
    Born 1933, Montreal, Canada.  Education: McGill University, Montreal (B. Commerce 54), Harvard (MBA 58).  Founder and Chairman, Intalite International Group of Companies, 1960   1986.  Winner of 1984 Canada Export Award.
    Lecturer, author and subject of articles on entrepreneurial activity and international marketing.  One subject in “The New Entrepreneurs   80 Canadian Success Stories”, Alan Gould, Author; Seal Books, Canada. Author of many articles on Jewish genealogical research.
    Founder and president, Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal. Genealogist member of genetic research project team with McGill University   Montreal Childrens Hospital and Hebrew University Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem; research related to Beta Thalassemia genetic trait in Ashkenazi Jewish families.  Executive Director, Jewish Records Indexing – Poland. Founding Board Member, International Institute of Jewish Genealogy, Jerusalem. Member of Board of Governors, JewishGen, Inc. Consultant to producers of “Who Do You Think You Are?” television series, episodes on NBC, CBC and BBC.  Awarded the IAJGS (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. Featured in an episode of the “Past Lives” documentary series on Global television.
    Married to the former Ruth Mirjam Peerlkamp of Amsterdam, The Netherlands; three daughters and four grandchildren.

 

  • Steven Brock
    Steven Brock has been researching his family roots in Poland and Ukraine for over 15 years and has traced his ancestors back to the late 1700’s. He was a member of the Montreal JGS until he moved with his family to Oakville in 1999. He has been a member of the Hamilton society since its inception in 2004, where he serves as Treasurer.
    In addition to his own research, he has been involved in several projects including the Jewish Records Indexing – Poland, The Canadian Naturalization Database Indexing, and the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry.
    2015-02-22 Jewish Immigration to Canada: The Ships that Brought Our Ancestors

 

  • Varda Hall Berenstein
    Varda Hall Berenstein was born in Basel, Switzerland to Russian parents. She studied singing in Basel and Rome, and was the first person to sing Israeli songs on Switzerland’s National Radio program, “Beromuenster.”
    During the Second World War, Varda traveled to refugee camps, where she performed for the relatively few Jews who, in fleeing the Nazis, were allowed into Switzerland. Varda immigrated to Toronto in 1949 and, for the next 25 years, performed Yiddish and Israeli songs for local organizations and in Jewish communities from St. John to Winnipeg on behalf of the United Jewish Appeal and the Jewish National Fund.
    In Toronto, Varda was the first music teacher for the Associated Hebrew Schools; she conducted the synagogue choir at Adath Israel and the Sisterhood choir at Beth Shalom; and, for many years, she served as conductor of the Hadassah-WIZO choir. Varda also worked with Ivan Romanoff and often sang on his radio show, “Songs of my People,” and appeared on his TV series, “Rhapsody.”
    Today, at 91, Varda remains an engaging and dynamic educator, an advocate for Israeli and Yiddish music, and an oral historian about Jews in Switzerland.
    2012-12-12 Varda spoke on the topic: Growing up as a Jew in Switzerland, 1921-1949