JGSWS meets on the second Monday of each month, from September through June. Doors open at 6:30 PM unless noted otherwise. Our meeting location, since September 2013, is the LDS Factoria Building, 4200 124th Ave SE, Bellevue, WA 98006 (in Factoria, just off I-90 and I-405). Occasional meetings will be held at the JCC on Mercer Island. Admission is free.

NEXT MEETING: Monday, March 13, 2017
at the LDS Factoria Building

  • Presentation starts at 7:15 PM
  • Doors open at 6:30 PM
  • Free admission and refreshments
  • Free Wi-Fi

Come early to use our extensive JGSWS library and network with other attendees. (Free access to pay-per-view websites is no longer available.)

"Ships of Our Ancestors," presented by Hal Bookbinder


During the active years of Ellis Island in New York City, 83,000 ship arrivals were recorded. Between 1880 and 1914 about two million Jewish immigrants arrived from Europe, with most passing through Ellis Island, which was open from 1892-1924. (Castle Garden was open from 1820-1891.)

Until the age of flight, immigrants arrived by sea, first on sailing ships and after the mid-19th century on steamships. Hal Bookbinder’s presentation focuses on the ships on which our ancestors traveled, including the shift from sail to steam and the governmental regulations that made ship travel safer and more civilized. He’ll discuss the experience our ancestors had getting to the port of embarkation, being processed for passage, life aboard the vessel, arrival and processing at Ellis Island, and finally arrival at their destination. He’ll also address various erroneous myths such as inhuman conditions in steerage and name changes at Ellis Island.



Hal Bookbinder has identified over 4,000 relatives, tracing two lines to the late 1700s in modern-day Ukraine. He has written and lectured widely, focusing on providing historical context to our ancestors’ experiences in Europe, in migration, and in America. Hal is past president of the IAJGS and has chaired a number of IAJGS conferences. He writes a monthly column on Safe Computing for the JGSCV newsletter ( He also directs IT Strategic Finance for UCLA Health, and teaches math and business.

For more information about this month's program, e-mail


Download handout from the January meeting.

Download handouts from past meetings.

April 3: Steve Morse
May 8: Emily Garber
June 12: Linda Levi
September 11: Marcia Fine
October 9: Joel Weintraub


See the Events page.