The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois is dedicated to helping members collect, preserve and perpetuate the records and history of their ancestors. JGSI also serves as a resource for the worldwide community to research their Chicago-area Jewish roots by maintaining a free website that includes useful family history databases, including an online searchable death index.
The organization holds monthly meetings, usually at Temple Beth Israel, 3601 W. Dempster St., Skokie. Most meetings are held on Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. Prior to each meeting, the JGSI meeting facilities at Temple Beth Israel open at 12:30 p.m. to accommodate members/guests who want to use JGSI’s genealogy library materials, get help with genealogy research or ask genealogical questions of member experts before the main program begins. The JGSI research library contains more than 800 volumes of interest to Jewish genealogists. Its catalog is available online on the JGSI website.
Recent programs have touched on a variety of topics, including 1940 Census finding aids, online newspaper and book databases, a “Chicago Story of Sex, Murder, and Genealogy,” ancestry.com and its affiliated websites, and an “Ask the Experts” question-and-answer session. Future meetings will include programs about genealogy online videos and webinars, a “Kvell and Tell” session in which members share their special family history discoveries, and a beginners workshop.
JGSI publishes a newsletter, Morasha, which is distributed to members three times a year (February, June, and October). The society also maintains a speakers bureau of expert genealogists who are available to do presentations on Jewish genealogy for local organizations.
One of JGSI’s most successful special projects has been its role as publisher of the award-winning book A Translation Guide to 19th-Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents by Judith R. Frazin. This valuable resource, which is of use to anyone with roots in Poland, is available for purchase through the JGSI website.
A Twitter account, @JGSofIllinois, has been established by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois. Members and others
who “follow” it will receive notices of coming JGSI meetings and special events. Retweets about various Jewish genealogy topics of interest to members will also
be shared by @JGSofIllinois.