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.


January 24, 2016 at 11:00 AM
Holocaust Memorial Center
Refreshments will be served

91-year-old Holocaust survivor Michael Weiss, who recently published his memoir Chimneys and Chambers: the Lingering Smell of the Holocaust will address the society in January. He will describe his experiences during the Shoah and about his family roots.

About the book
Chimneys and Chambers: the Lingering Smell of the HolocaustLike many Holocaust survivors, for a long time Michael Weiss avoided discussing the Holocaust and what happened to him and his family during those years. Now a nonagenarian, he explains: It is difficult for people who did not experience the Holocaust to understand why, for so many years, survivors did not want to talk about their experiences. During the last 70 years since liberation from the Buchenwald concentration camp, my family and friends always wanted me to write about my experiences in the Holocaust. They wanted me to share what I saw and what I went through. They wanted this information for future generations to have an understanding of what happened to the Jewish people in Europe in the time leading up to and during World War II. From those terrible experiences – from those terrible years in the Holocaust – from Michael Weiss, survivor, they wanted to hear the story. But for some reason, I did not want to do it. Maybe it was too hard … Maybe it was too painful to remember it. When I think about what happened to us, to the Jewish people of Europe, what happened to our communities, to our Jewish life … My memories of the Holocaust are with me night and day. Then society changed and people started to say the Holocaust never happened. I started to hear that there are professors teaching courses in college today to deny that the Holocaust happened. And I began to hear about people who are writing books saying that the Holocaust never happened. And that people are signing up for the courses, buying the books – and believing. Let me tell you to never forget or be misled – the Holocaust did happen. I saw it. I felt it. I smelled it. After liberation, we really found out the terrible tragedy that had befallen us, the Jewish people. By now, most of us survivors are retired with little to do, except to think of those past bitter memories … what we cannot and will not forget. They are chiseled in our minds – forever. There were over eight million Jews in Europe during the reign of Nazi terror. The Nazis murdered a million and a half children and another four and half million adults. Six Million. Six Million Jews perished at the hands of the German Nazis. Not only is the Holocaust a story of the persecuted and the murdered, but it is also a story of defiance and courage. This is my story. I was imprisoned in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. As I have reached the ripe old age of 90, and only a handful of survivors remain alive, I have decided that it is time to tell you this story. It is my duty as an eyewitness to the Nazi atrocities. From Kaszony in the Carpathian Mountains to Auschwitz to Detroit.


Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 11:00 AM
Holocaust Memorial Center
Refreshments will be served

JGSMI is proud to present

The Green Dumpster Mystery (Ha’taalumah Ba’meholah Ha’yerukah)
Israel, 2008, 50 minutes
Hebrew with English subtitles
Directed by Tal Haim Yoffe

The Green Dumpster Mystery

Courtesy of The National Center for Jewish Film

Traveling on his scooter through Tel Aviv, filmmaker Tal Haim Yoffe finds a discarded box of old photographs in a green dumpster. This docu-detective film, slowly unwinds a family history, beginning in Lodz, Poland, and traveling through the Siberian Gulag, a Samarkand sugar plant, a Ha’apala ship and the battlefields of the Sinai Peninsula. Like Daniel Mendelsohn’s bestseller The Lost and David Ofek’s film No. 17 is Anonymous, this tightly-paced tour de force vividly evokes the now-extinguished lives of an anonymous—but typical—Israeli family.

Winner of the Yad Vashem Award, Jerusalem International Film Festival 2008 (Chairman’s Award for Artistic Achievement in a Holocaust-related film)

“I think there are thousands of families with not exactly the same story but families with Holocaust survivors as grandparents and great-grandparents, with IDF soldiers who got killed. It’s a typical family, and a tragic family. Everything that could have happened to them, happened to them.”
-Director Tal Haim Yoffe

A One Man Films Production
With assistance from The New Israeli Foundation for Film and Television
Produced, Directed & Written by Tal Haim Yoffe
Camera Ari Amit
Editor Anat Lachovitz
Music By Dani Reichental
Featuring Tal Haim Yoffe, Dani Walkowicz, Mati Ben-Ari, Sivan Ben-Ari, Neta Gold, Bracha Klichewski and Friedrich Mücke
Film provided by The National Center for Jewish Film

The National Center for Jewish Film


Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 11:00 AM
Holocaust Memorial Center
Refreshments will be served


tombstoneAlthough we would all appreciate the opportunity to personally interview our deceased ancestors, we have to learn to settle for what’s available. When our ancestors died, others created a host of records, which those of us in subsequent generations can use to further our research. This program is designed to assist in that process by suggesting where to find and how to use them. Learn to locate records of your deceased ancestors and follow the leads contained in those records.

About the Speaker: Ken Bravo

Ken BravoAt the end of 2012, Ken Bravo retired as a partner in the Cleveland based law firm of Ulmer & Berne LLP after a 45-year legal career, which included 12 years with the United States Department of Justice prosecuting major fraud and organized crime cases. After he left the government in 1979, Ken’s career in private practice focused on business litigation, securities arbitration and the defense of white-collar criminal matters.

Ken is Vice President of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and is a Past President of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland. He served as a co-chair of the 2014 IAJGS Conference in Salt Lake City. He is a frequent lecturer on a variety of genealogy subjects. He has been searching his own roots since the mid-1970s and, in more recent years, has added the families of the spouses of his four children to his research.

In the community, Ken has served a President of the Bureau of Jewish Education; President of what was then the Great Lakes Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs; Vice President and Board Member of the Gross Schechter Day School; Vice President and Treasurer of The Park Synagogue; and Member of the Board of Governors of the Ohio State Bar Association. He currently serves on the Board of Menorah Park Center for Senior Living where he chairs the Government Relations Committee.

Ken and his wife Phyllis have been married 51 years and are the parents of four children and eight grandchildren.