History of Jewish Genealogical Society in New York
The Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. (JGS) was founded in New York in 1977 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, becoming the first of what are now over 90 such societies worldwide. In the years since its founding, the JGS membership has grown to more than 1,000, with members from both the New York metropolitan area as well as elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad.
The JGS has presented innovative programming and seminars over the years, including monthly meetings with guest lecturers from a variety of disciplines; field trips to cemeteries, libraries and archives; beginner workshops, initiated in the 1980s, which served as a model for other organizations; a daylong annual seminar, “Beyond the Basics,” which presents classes for all levels of researchers; and, since 1997, a lecture series in partnership with the 92nd Street YM-YWHA in New York.
The JGS sponsored the first summer conference for Jewish genealogists in 1981, setting the precedent for annual summer seminars each year since, held in various U.S. cities and in such international locations as London, Paris, Toronto and Jerusalem. The JGS also hosted summer conferences in New York City in 1985, 1991, 1999 and 2006.
The JGS has been a leader in disseminating information through its high-quality publications. Dorot, a quarterly newsletter, contains information about upcoming and past meetings, book reviews, short articles and summaries of pertinent items from various repositories and other organizations, feature articles on genealogical research, tips on new Internet sites and other sources of interest to members.
The highly praised book, Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area, is an invaluable tool for anyone doing genealogical research in or around New York City. Edited by JGS past president Estelle M. Guzik and published by the JGS in 1989, the book can be found in libraries around the globe. A new, completely revised edition, titled Genealogical Resources in New York, was published in May 2003.
The JGS has given generous financial support through annual donations to a variety of archival projects and repositories including the New York Public Library, New York City Municipal Archives, National Archives (Northeast Region), YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Leo Baeck Institute, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, American Jewish Historical Society, JewishGen and JRI-Poland, Ackman-Ziff Genealogical Institute at the Center for Jewish History, Joint Distribution Committee, and the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation Genealogy Project at the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland.
The JGS entered the electronic information age in 1997 by establishing its own web site on the Internet, www.jgsny.org, and initiating indexing projects which have become databases available through the JGS web site. Notable among them are the indexing of the Brooklyn Naturalization records, the cemetery burial society database, and the New York Landsmanshaftn database.
A not-for-profit organization open to people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, the JGS has a home in the Center for Jewish History, with its own office and a library in the Center’s Genealogical Institute. The JGS may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com or at P.O. Box 631, New York NY 10113-0631.
Presidents of the Jewish Genealogical Society
- Neil Rosenstein: 1977-1979
- Rabbi Malcolm Stern, a”h: 1980-1984
- Steven Siegel a”h: 1985-1989, 2011
- Michael Brenner: 1990-1993
- Marsha Saron Dennis a”h: 1994-1996
- Estelle Guzik: 1997-2001
- Alex Friedlander: 2002-2006
- Linda Cantor: 2007-2010
- Roni Siebel Liebowitz: 2012-2014
- Jane Rosen Berenbeim: 2015-2018
- Steve Stein: 2019-present