Sunday, February 18th, 2018 at 10am
Holocaust Memorial Center

Aida's Secrets

In this moving documentary, the discovery of records from WWII sparks a family’s quest for answers as two brothers separated as babies reunite with each other and their elderly mother, who hid more from them than just each other.

Izak Szewelwicz was born in the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp in 1945 and sent for adoption in Israel. Though Izak was able to form a relationship with his birth mother, his life was turned upside down years later when he located not only his birth certificate, but also another of a brother he never knew existed.

Filmmakers Alon and Shaul Schwarz set out to find answers for Izak, uncovering questions of identity, resilience, and the plight of displaced persons as Izak and his brother Shep—both nearly 70 years old—finally meet in Canada before traveling to a nursing home in Quebec to introduce Shep to his elderly mother, Aida, for the first time.




Speaker: Michelle Gettleson

Sunday, November 19th at 9:30 AM
Holocaust Memorial Center, Farmington Hills
Free and open to the public

library bookshelves

Life Member Michelle Gettleson will discuss the several unusual resources she has used in her personal research, including Port Sanitary Authority Records from the UK, Glen Eker books on Canadian Jews in the Censuses, New York Domestic Relations Laws, and many more!


Speaker: Dr. Rick Stoler

Sunday, October 22nd at 10:000 AM to 12:00 PM
Holocaust Memorial Center, Farmington Hills
Free and open to the public

The Volyn area around Sarny is a great part of mass migration to the Detroit area pre- and post- WW1 and WW2. Dr. Stoler’s interest began with his grandfather talking about the Bereznitz area and its landsmanshaft. His journey began a decade ago with a number of progeny meetings and then traveling to Volyn.

This talk will dwell on his visit to Volyn and the manner in which he obtained archival material.

Rick Stoler
Dr. Rick Stoler


The Sephardic Journey to Detroit

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 7:00 PM
Keter Torah Synagogue
5480 Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield
Election and Lecture with dessert reception – $18 per person

Introduction by Rabbi Sasson Natan
The Sephardic Culture: History and Background

Main lecture by Mr. Rick Behar (Chicorel)
The Chicorel Family Story and the Sephardic community in Detroit

Proposed Slate

President: David Goldis
VP, Publicity: Adina Lipsitz
Recording Secretary: Joshua Goldberg
Treasurer: Neil Goldman

Committee Chairs
Librarian: Linda Bell
Library Committee: Ruth Rosenberg and Leah Bisel
Cemetery Project: Marc Manson
Constitution and By-Laws: John Kovacs
Slate Committee: John Kovacs
Speakers Bureau: James Grey
Webmaster: Adina Lipsitz
Members-at-Large: Leah Bisel, Irwin Alpern, David Sloan

If you do not wish to pay via Eventbrite and pay the Eventbrite fee, please email Adina Lipsitz and she will manually add you to the list and you can mail in a check (payable to JGS of Michigan) for $18 per attendee.


Sunday, May 21st at 9:30 AM
Holocaust Memorial Center, Farmington Hills
Free and open to the public

Kamila MazurekDo you know where your name comes from? Were did your ancestors live in Poland? Are you stuck with your research? Smash through your genealogical walls with Kamila Mazurek.

She is going to show you how to solve your tough genealogical problems through the online and offline research, where to look for documents in Poland and how to obtain them, and will teach you a few simple tricks to make your research successful.

About the Speaker
Born and educated in Poland, Kamila Mazurek is a linguist, teacher, author, speaker, and translator. She has over a decade of experience in Eastern and Central European research, specializing in Roman-Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish research. Her special interests are also genetic genealogy, Polish-American research, and multiculturalism in pre-war Poland. Kamila Mazurek is an active member of several American and European genealogical societies.


Lessons in Jewish DNA with special guest Israel Pickholtz

Thursday, February 2, 2017 at 7:00 PM
Farmington Community Library Auditorium
32737 W. Twelve Mile Rd.

Farmington Hills, MI 48334

Free and open to the public

The hottest topic in genealogy in recent years has been genetics and many thousands of genealogists have ordered DNA tests. Most of those haven’t a clue what to do with their results.

The situation is more complicated among Jews, who have married “within the tribe” for hundreds of years, thus ensuring that everyone is related to everyone else, multiple times. Marrying within a closed community—“endogamy”—has barely been addressed by the non-Jewish genetic genealogy community.

This presentation, as in the speaker’s book ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People, does not bring a “how to” approach, as every family is different. The speaker prefers a “how I did it” approach, demonstrating the successes he has had in his own families and the general lessons which are applicable to all genetic genealogy research.

His goal is to inspire his listeners and readers to say, “I can do this!”

About the Speaker

Israel PickholtzPittsburgh-born, living in Israel since 1973. My personal research includes single-surname research in Galicia (formerly Austria, now Ukraine) as well as my families from Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, Hungary and later in the US, UK and Israel. From there I developed skills relating to more general Jewish genealogy, including Holocaust research.

I have 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.

My most frequent assignments from Israeli sources involve locating and photographing graves, locating living people, Mandatory Citizenship records, records for Galician residents in the 1920s and 1930s, inheritance matters and Holocaust research.

I have lectured IAJGS Conferences on Jewish Genealogy in the United States, as well as other subjects in Israel.

I have served on the Board of the Israel Genealogical Society, as Secretary of Gesher Galicia and as Town Leader for JRI-Poland.

I have recently taken my family research deep into the field of DNA and am prepared to consult with clients on the subject.


Holocaust Memorial Center

Sunday, November 13, 2016 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Holocaust Memorial Center Library – Second Floor
Free and open to the public; registration is appreciated

All questions about this event should be directed to Linda Bell at Please do not contact the Holocaust Memorial Center.

Presenting a hands-on research session with JGSMI Librarian Linda Bell and HMC Librarian Feiga Weiss. Learn about the holdings of JGSMI and the HMC and have time for private research.

The Gayle Sweetwine Saini Memorial Library of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Michigan maintains its library within the Library and Archives of the Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus. Our collection is open to members during the Center’s regular business hours. Our library’s holdings are non-circulating. Our collection includes books, periodicals, videotapes, audiotapes, microfiche, and CD-ROMs, especially a vast collection of periodicals issued by Jewish genealogical societies and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) from around the world.

Most of our holdings are listed in this document:


Burton Historical Collection

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at 5:00 PM*
Burton Historical Collection
Detroit Public Library
*Tour begins at 6:00 PM

Free and open to the public

Transportation / Directions
Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library
5201 Woodward Ave in Detroit Map location
Access off of Cass Ave. due to Woodward construction

The employee parking lot gate (on the South side of the Library) will be open at 5:00 PM, so we’ll have access to free parking on site. The library is open until 8:00 PM.

Those wishing to caravan together from the suburbs, please meet at the office of Jim Grey at 4:45 PM:

30100 Telegraph Road Map location
Bingham Farms, MI
South Lobby
Jim’s office: 248-540-9070
Jim’s cell: 248-739-9070
Jim’s email:

For those working downtown, or driving on their own, they should plan to arrive between 5 and 6PM.

If anyone is interested in connecting with your fellow JGSMI members and researchers after this program at an eatery nearby, or closer to Jim’s office, let us know.

About the Burton
The Burton Historical Collection (BHC) of the Detroit Public Library began as the private library of Clarence Monroe Burton. In addition to being a prominent attorney, Mr. Burton was a Detroit historiographer and the founder of the C. M. Burton Abstract Co. Mr. Burton’s original intention was to assemble a collection on the history of Detroit. Realizing that Detroit’s history was inextricably connected to that of Michigan and the Old Northwest and those histories to that of Canada and New France, he assembled a collection that was one of the most important private historical collections in the country.

Over the course of 40 years, Mr. Burton systematically collected original documents and personal papers of prominent citizens of Detroit and Michigan. By 1914 the library contained 30,000 volumes, 40,000 pamphlets and 500,000 unpublished papers. Mr. Burton donated his collection, including the building it was housed in, to the Detroit Public Library in 1915. The collection was moved to the new main library in 1921.

Assistant Director Romie Minor will give us a tour at 6PM, and time after that can be used for individual research.

About Romie Minor, Supervising Archivist
Romie Minor is currently the Assistant Manager for the Special Collections Department and the Curator of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African-Americans in the Performing Arts at the Detroit Public Library. He holds a B.A. in History, Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science and Graduate Certificate in Archival Administration from Wayne State University.

RSVP by emailing Jim Grey:


Ron Arons
September 18, 2016 at 10:30 AM
Holocaust Memorial Center

Free and open to the public
Refreshments will be served

About Our Program:
This will be a real-time discussion and demonstration of VERY cool tools for genealogical analysis and documentation, including timelines, genograms, mind maps, technologies that can be used together to translate books, and more.

About Our Speaker:
Born in New York, Ron Arons is a graduate of Princeton University and University of Chicago. He worked for many years as a marketer at high-tech companies, including Texas Instruments, before deciding to work full time on his first book, The Jews of Sing Sing. Ron became interested in understanding his roots after losing both his parents to cancer 16-18 years ago. In the process of researching his criminal ancestor’s past, Ron has traced his roots to England, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania.


    May 22, 2016 at 10:00 AM (Please note earlier time)
    Holocaust Memorial Center

    FTNDA Webinars: Understanding DNA Results in the Context of Ashkenazi Ancestry

    Free and open to the public
    Refreshments will be served

    Presenter: Elise Friedman (prerecorded)

    Genealogists researching Ashkenazi ancestry often find a variety of challenges in our traditional research: young surnames, changed surnames, cousin marriages, short paper trails and more. These same situations can make understanding and analyzing our genetic genealogy results and matches challenging as well. This presentation discuss how these situations affect our genetic genealogy results, how to understand our results in light of these situations, and some best practices for getting around these challenges to make the most of our genetic genealogy experience.