Most of our events take place at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan unless otherwise noted.

Founded in 1985 by Betty Provizer Starkman, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Michigan is a leader in education, research, information exchange forums and resources for Jewish genealogy. Most of our events are hosted at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

We are the proud winner of such prestigious awards as:

  • Outstanding Programming that Advances Jewish Genealogy
  • Best Publication for our quarterly newsletter, Generations
  • Genealogical Research Award for utilizing the most modern techniques for research
  • Genealogical Library Award for maintaining an independent research library

Membership is available to anyone interested in genealogy. Dues are based on a fiscal year of August 1 to JuIy 31.

We invite you to take a look around, learn about our society and explore all that we have to offer.

Upcoming Events

December Film: Ahead of Time: The Extraordinary Journey of Ruth Gruber

Sunday, December 14 at 11:00 am
Holocaust Memorial Center
Free for members; $5 for guests

Film provided by The National Center for Jewish Film,

The National Center for Jewish Film

USA, 2009, 73 minutes, Color, English & Hebrew with English subtitles
Directed by Bob Richman
Produced by Zeva Oelbaum

About the Film

“I am experiencing that feeling of zest which goes with exploration. I am in the thick of an historic moment. I am in an era in the making…” – First lines of Ruth Gruber’s initial dispatch from the Soviet Arctic, 1935

Born in Brooklyn in 1911, Ruth Gruber became the youngest Ph.D. in the world before going on to become an international foreign correspondent and photojournalist at age 24. She emerged as the eyes and conscience of the world. With her love of adventure, fearlessness and powerful intellect, Ruth defied tradition in an extraordinary career that spanned more than seven decades.

The first journalist to enter the Soviet Arctic in 1935, Ruth also traveled to Alaska as a member of the Roosevelt administration in 1942, escorted Holocaust refugees to America in 1944, covered the Nuremberg trials in 1946 and documented the Haganah ship Exodus in 1947. Her relationships with world leaders including Eleanor Roosevelt, President Harry Truman, and David Ben Gurion gave her unique access and insight into the modern history of the Jewish people.

Through her own words and images, the film follows Ruth Gruber’s incredible journey as a student, a reporter, an activist leader and a prolific author. The film captures the drama of her life as she lent her camera lens – and her heart – to refugees of war. Ruth continues to travel all over the world re-connecting with many of the people who shared historic moments with her in Europe, in Israel, in the Arctic Tundra, in DP camps and refugee centers overseas and in the United States.

NCJF Ruth Gruber and her Leica camera. Courtesy of The National Center for Jewish Film

Courtesy of The National Center for Jewish Film

“Passing” or “Covering”? Debates over Name Changing in the Years After World War II

Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 11:00 am
Holocaust Memorial Center
Free for members; $5 for guests

Thousands of name change petitions were submitted to the New York City Civil Court during the 1940s and 1950s. A disproportionate number of them were submitted by Jews. Debates over Jewish identity at this time tended to equate name changing with passing and escaping the Jewish community. Rabbi Milton Steinberg, for example, in 1945, called for stronger Jewish identity among Jewish youth, warning that some “Jews change their names, dissociate themselves from their fellows, calculatingly conceal their origin and try to ‘pass.’” Quietly challenging portraits of name changers as “passers,” however, were Jewish voices like sociologist Erving Goffman, who described name changing as a more complex act of “covering”: hiding the most obtrusive parts of a stigma so that they did not impede daily life. My paper will use name change petitions, published writings, and unpublished letters from name changers during the postwar era to suggest that “covering” indeed more accurately reflected the complicated practice of name changing for the majority of American Jews.

Kirsten Fermaglich, Ph.D.

Kirsten Fermaglich is Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Michigan State University. Her book on American social scientists and Holocaust metaphors, American Dreams and Nazi Nightmares: Early Holocaust Consciousness and Liberal America, 1957-1965, was published in 2006. She is also co-editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (2013). She is currently researching the history of name changing in New York City in the twentieth century for a book tentatively entitled A Rosenberg by Any Other Name.