Join the JGSLA for our upcoming slate of summer through winter programs. Unless stated otherwise, these program are open to the public, no reservations needed. JGSLA members are free, guests are $5.00.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 7:30PM

American Jewish University – Sperber Library
15600 Mulholland Dr. Los Angeles 90077

“Jewish Genetic Genealogy – A Family Study” with Israel Pickholtz

Israel Pickholtz of Jerusalem will speak about his new book “Endogamy: One Family, One People.” European Jews have always married mainly within the tribe. Whether our numbers five hundred years ago in Europe were four hundred or four hundred thousand, the pool was limited. As a result, the members of the tribe today are all related to one another, multiple times. This phenomenon, known as endogamy, makes Jewish genetic genealogy very difficult, often impossible. There is a similar phenomenon in some other population groups. The speaker was convinced that this brick wall is not as impenetrable as it seems, at least in some circumstances. Mr Pickholtz used his own family as an example, and was able to utilize DNA to clarify multiple family relationships. He steps through how he did this in hopes that it will encourage and inspire other researchers of their European Jewish families and other endogamous populations to say “I can do this!”

Israel Pickholz was born in Pittsburgh and has lived in Israel since 1973. His personal research includes single-surname research in Galicia (formerly Austria, now Ukraine) as well as his families from Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, Hungary and later in the US, UK and Israel. His flagship work is the Pikholz Project which serves to identify and reconnect all Pikholz descendants. He has participated in grave translation projects, searches for missing relatives and Holocaust-era insurance claims, as well as traditional genealogy research using European, American and Israeli sources. He has served on the Board of the Israel Genealogical Society, as Secretary of Gesher Galicia and as Town Leader for JRI-Poland.

There will be a book sale and signing after the program. Read more about the book here:

Pickholtz bookIsrael-Pickholtz-bio-picture

Tuesday, September 8, 2015 – 7:30PM

American Jewish University- Sperber Library
15600 Mulholland Dr. Los Angeles 90077

“Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film” with author, Glenn Kurtz

3 Minutes in Poland illustration

During a 1938 vacation to his hometown, Glenn Kurtz’s grandfather filmed the townspeople of Nasielsk, a Jewish community in Poland, just before World War II. (USHMM photo)

In 2009, Glenn Kurtz stumbled across some old family films in a closet in his parents’ house in Florida. One of the films, shot more than 70 years earlier by his grandparents while on vacation in Europe, turned out to include footage of his grandfather’s hometown in Poland. “I realized it was 1938,” Kurtz tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “And there are all of these beautiful images of children and adults in this town, one year before World War II begins. I was just haunted by these faces. They’re so happy to be filmed, they’re so excited to see these Americans coming to visit the town. And of course I know something that they don’t know — which is what’s about to happen.” Kurtz set out to restore the film (which you can watch here) and find the people in it. The book based on this journey is called Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film.

Glenn KurtzGlenn Kurtz is the author of Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film, which was selected as a “Best Book of 2014″ by The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, and National Public Radio. The Wall Street Journal praised it as “captivating,” and The Los Angeles Times described Three Minutes in Poland as “breathtaking. Glenn’s first book, Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music was hailed by the New York Times as “a thoughtful and fluid meditation” and by Newsday as “the book of a lifetime.” He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory-Tufts University double degree program and holds a PhD from Stanford University in German studies and comparative literature. His writing has been published in The New York Times, Salon, Southwest Review, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere. He has taught at Stanford University, California College of the Arts, and New York University.

Book sale and signing after the presentation.

RESERVATIONS SUGGESTED. JGSLA MEMBERS FREE, GUESTS $5. YOU CAN EMAIL: Please indicate how many people will be attending.


Sunday, October 11, 2015 – 1:30PM

American Jewish University
15600 Mulholland Dr. Los Angeles 90077

“Immigration and Naturalization Service Citizenship Records: Beyond the Basics” and “Obscure Records of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration” with Zack Wilske

The first presentation will use sample files and case studies to introduce researchers to the Bureau of Naturalization Correspondence files at the National Archives. The files document all aspects of citizenship policy from 1906 to 1946 and can provide researchers with in-depth information not found in court naturalization records. In addition to seeing sample cases, participants will receive guidance for exploring the records, including an introduction to two newly accessible indices that have made these previously under-utilized records practical for genealogy research.
The second presentation will focus on lesser-known federal records of derived citizenship, repatriation, and correspondence covering a variety of citizenship-related problems and topics. While the records discussed were created after 1906 some involve events that occurred years or decades before. In addition to case studies and examples, the presentation will provide guidance for researching the records at either USCIS or the National Archives.

Zack WilskeZack Wilske is a historian for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). His research interests include the history of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the uses of INS records for genealogists. He regularly speaks about immigration and naturalization records and has published several articles on researching with INS records.

Sunday, November 15, 2015 from 12:30PM – 6:00PM

Members Only Assisted Research Day at the Los Angeles FamilySearch Library

Join us for an afternoon of mentor-guided research using the databases, microfilms, books and records at the LAFSL with free access to, FindMyPast (UK records) & Have your documents in Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, German and Russian translated, free of charge, by expert, professional translators and attend the special research classes throughout the day.

Sunday, December 13, 2015 at 1:30PM

Hanukkah Party & Presentation!

University Synagogue
11960 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles 90049

“The Top Ten Things I Learned About My Family From My Couch” with Tammy Hepps

New to genealogy and short on time? You can make amazing discoveries using online resources! These true research examples, all taken from Jewish immigrant families, demonstrate the breadth of materials available, especially Jewish-focused web sites, and suggest next steps for when you have time to go deeper. A number of Jewish-specific research techniques will be discussed to help you overcome the unique challenges of our ancestry. If you are intermediate to advanced researcher, Tammy will also cover more esoteric ways of searching and making incredible, unexpected discoveries. Latkes will be cooked, sufganyiot will be sprinkled with sugar. Come for the facts, festivities and food!

Post dessert bonus talk: “The Margarine Moonshiners from Minsk: Taking Your Research to the Next Level”


click to enlarge

In this half-hour presentation, Tammy will elaborate on one of the research examples from her first talk to demonstrate the amazing progress you can make when you persist with your research. Follow the rollicking genealogical journey of how she traced a group of brothers and brothers-in-law recently immigrated from Minsk, who set out to sell margarine as butter in defiance of one the stranger pieces of legislation ever passed. This case study will build upon her first talk, demonstrating more advanced research techniques and a wider array of resources. Plus, you’ll laugh more than you’ve ever laughed before in a genealogy talk.

Tammy HeppsTammy A. Hepps is the founder of, a family story-sharing website and winner of the RootsTech 2013 Developer Challenge. With a degree in Computer Science from Harvard, more than fourteen years experience in digital media, and more than two decades in genealogy, she brings a fresh perspective on sharing family history in engaging ways that take advantage of the latest technology.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles (JGSLA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the sharing of genealogical information, techniques and research tools with those who are interested in Jewish genealogy and family history.

Founded in 1979, the Society has grown to over 500 members and is governed by an elected Board of Directors. We publish a quarterly journal, “Roots-Key,” and hold monthly meetings and twice-yearly research workshops which provide a varied mix of lectures and films to assist our members in their family history research.


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