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For Ashkenazi Jews, conventional advice about DNA Matches is quite conservative. We are admonished to focus only on strong matches and to attribute most weak matches to measurement error or endogamy. So, how can we distinguish the few promising DNA matches from the vast majority whose ancestors are so remote as to be essentially irrelevant? I will start by walking through the basics of DNA matching and triangulated DNA segments. Then, I will suggest a surprisingly simple alternative to conventional DNA triangulation and an associated “data-mining” technique. This new method can efficiently identify the best DNA matches to pursue. To illustrate this approach, Herb will share some relevant applications from his own genealogical research.
Bring your brick wall questions to our home-grown genealogy experts, and let‘s see if they can give you some answers. If you can, send your questions in advance to Geoffrey Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Geoffrey will be our meeting facilitator for this session.
ARTHUR KURZWEIL is a writer, teacher, genealogist and magician. He is the author of the best selling book From Generation to Generation: How to Trace Your Jewish Genealogy and Personal History, as well as several other books including The Torah for Dummies, Kabbalah for Dummies, and On the Road with Rabbi Steinsaltz. Arthur is also a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians. He was a co-founder of the first Jewish Genealogical Society.
In this presentation, Arthur will discuss the changes that have taken place in the world of Jewish genealogy since he began his research in 1972. He will also describe his recent visits to his father‘s place of birth, Dobromyl, Ukraine, resulting in being named an honorary citizen of the town, and to the places where his family was murdered during the Holocaust.
Our Jewish ancestors’ families usually did know when they were born in the Hebrew calendar. Researchers need to understand the Hebrew calendar to comprehend Jewish culture, historical sources, vital records kept by Jews, and sometimes naming choices. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously wrote “Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time… Jewish ritual … as architecture in time.....”
Holidays, life-cycle celebrations, and liturgy are based on the Hebrew calendar.
We will derive the basic structure of the Hebrew calendar; look at the astronomy involved;
and how Jews have measured time throughout Jewish history. Come learn the basics of
Hebrew days and Hebrew months; how to determine Hebrew birthdays and yahrzeit dates; Hebrew dates on tombstones; and the holiday cycle.
Yad Vashem in israel is the premier repository of Holocaust information. Serafima (Sima) Velkovich works in the Reference and Information Department in Yad Vashem‘s Archives Division and will discuss the modern-day challenges of locating information on survivors – which in rare situations have led to reunions between siblings, cousins and more distant relatives after decades of separation. Utilizing digitized records and lists.
The U.S. 1950 census became public on April 1, 2022. The National Archives for the first time had a preliminary name index on that date. After the rollout a crowdsourcing project to name index this important resource began by FamilySearch. Name indexes are great, if they work, however, you should know that if you have a 1950 address/location of your targets, you should also be able to see their population schedules. Joel will provide some basic resources you should have to interpret the new information. He will also cover basic vocabulary, who uses the census, census caveats, who was enumerated (and who was not), how the 1950 census was taken, training of enumerators, enumerator instruction manuals, census sampling, 1950 population and housing forms and large city block summaries, and problems you might have already encounter. Joel will discuss locational tools for finding 1950 residences: the National Archives census website and their online census map collection, and his and Steve Morse’s 1950 tools, online at the One-Step stevemorse.org website. The One-Step 1950 utilities took almost 8 years to produce with the the help of 70 volunteers, involve 230,000 or so searchable 1950 census district definitions with about 79,000 more small community names added, and street indexes for over 2,400 1950 urban areas that correlate with 1950 census district numbers.
Photographs have always been a genealogical challenge because, unlike more conventional sources such as vital records, they do not impart clear data. Most often we simply attach the picture to our trees and then leave it there. However in early 2019 I developed a new technique that shows how to use facial recognition via artificial intelligence / machine learning methods to identify unknown people in photographs using large libraries of passport-like images currently available online. With facial recognition,
genealogists can generate new clues with statistical probabilities from old photos that have never before been available. This presentation will be an elaboration and detailed demonstration of this technique previously published in the fall issue of Avotaynu [PDF copy of article is available if requested].
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