JGSWS meets on the second Monday of each month, from September through June. Admission is free.

NEXT MEETING (via Zoom):  

" 'Illegitimacy' in the Jewish Communities of Galicia," presented by Janette Silverman

Monday, December 11, 2023, at 7 PM PDT via Zoom
(Zoom doors open at 6:30 PM)

The JGSWS invites you to attend this meeting via Zoom. Zoom doors open at 6:30 PM for attendees to network and catch up with each other. The presentation begins at 7 PM. Registration is required.

To register for this meeting, click this link or copy it into your web browser:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Many of us, the speaker included, were shocked when records of our grandparents and great-grandparents from the Austrian Empire were finally fully translated. Terms like "illegitimate" and "unmarried" jumped off the page. How could our ancestors have cohabited and had illegitimate children? Another surprise is reading through indexes on JRI-Poland and Gesher Galicia and seeing the many surnames used by the same ancestor. What does this all mean? The many punitive and restrictive laws in the Austrian Empire resulted in choices made by the Jewish community to circumvent these. Originally instituted to curtail the size of the Jewish community and create boundaries, the communities themselves changed and found ways to work around the laws. This session will discuss these and the insight we can gain about their lives. It will help you understand unexpected name variations you may find in records.


Dr. Janette Silverman is a professional genealogist, heading up a team of 11 researchers specializing in Eastern European and Jewish genealogy at AncestryProGenealogists¬ģ.

Janette began her journey into her own family's history more than 40 years ago, with her dad, hoping to answer some questions about their family 's early days in the U.S., never thinking that they would be able to trace parts of the family back to 18th century Europe. What began as a hobby turned into an obsession and ultimately led to a shift in her career from Jewish education to genealogy. Her doctoral dissertation, "In Living Memory" was based on her genealogical research into four branches of her own family, putting into historical context their experiences as they made their way from Eastern Europe to settle in the U.S. from the 1880s until the 1920s.

She was previously the chair of the Phoenix (Arizona) JGS, lead co-chair of the 2016 IAJGS conference in Seattle, and a JewishGen volunteer. She speaks virtually and in person at conferences and for smaller groups all over the world, has been published in Avotaynu, The Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, the Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Gesher Galicia, and Genealogy at a Glance. She is looking forward to publication of her book Stories They Never Told Us in 2024.

January 8, 2024: TBD
February 12 , 2024: Gil Bardige, "Help! Part II - I Got My DNA Results: What are the Next Steps?"