Category Archives: Uncategorised


First and foremost AJGS would like to wish all our members well and hope you are all looking after yourselves at this stressful time. We urge all our members to follow the advice of government health agencies in order to reduce the potential risk of exposure to the COVID19 virus.

Accordingly AJGS has regrettably made the decision to suspend all workshops, both at Lindfield and Waverley, until the danger passes. Also cancelled is the Launch event for ASPJ NSW, that we promoted last week, which was set to happen next Monday.

Most of our members are in the high risk age group and so it is imperative that we all do our part to protect you and other vulnerable groups.

We are working on strategies to keep people connected through technology and continue to encourage you to seek help with problems in your research. You can email Robyn Dryen, and she will find the appropriate person to help with your enquiry.

Another strategy we are considering is webcasts or videos of workshop seminars like the ones we do at Waverley. If there is a subject you would like us to explore please email your suggestions.

This is a great time to do some research or perhaps write up some of your ancestors’ wonderful stories. Other members of your family may also now have the time to hear those stories.

To all our members, If you do need anything and do not have family or friends in proximity, please reach out and we will do our best to help.

Thank you and take care
The AJGS committee.

Eastern Suburbs Workshop – August 18, 2019

Sephardi Genealogy

  • Have you ever wondered whether your family were Crypto Jews?
  • Are you trying to trace Spanish or Portuguese heritage?
  • Have you taken a DNA test and been surprised that your results show Sephardi ancestors when you thought they were all Ashkenazi?

Dani Haski introduces two video lectures by leading Sephardic genealogists.
The presentations were recorded at an International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) conference.

Genie Milgrom– The Inquisition: The Jews Who Stayed

We know a lot about the Jews that left Spain in 1492 for the Ottoman Empire but what happened to the Jews that stayed behind? This presentation focuses on the historical development of the Crypto Jews in Spain and Portugal and their colonies.

Genie is author of How I found My 15 Grandmothers.She was born in Cuba into a Catholic Family of Spanish Ancestry. In an unparalleled work of genealogy, she was able to fully document her unbroken Jewish lineage as far back as 1405 to Pre Inquisition Spain and Portugal. As Past President of the JGS of Greater Miami and the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies she has travelled extensively doing Crypto Jewish Research.

Schelly Talalay Dardashti– The Inquisition: The Jews Who Left

During the Inquisition, many Jews left following the events of 1391 and 1492. This lecture focuses on where they went, the organizations they created in new places, how they maintained connections with their brethren around the world, and the significance of those newly formed Sephardic communities.

Schelly is the US Genealogy Advisor for and Founder of Tracing the Tribe – Jewish Genealogy on Facebook. She has traced her family across Eastern Europe, Spain and Iran for 30+ years. She is co-administrator of several DNA projects including the IberianAshkenaz DNA Project and the Jewish Persian DNA Project.

When:  Sunday 18 August
Time:    2pm - 4.45pm - The video presentation will commence at 2.15 and will be followed by a Q&A/discussion.
Where: Theatrette, Waverley Library,
32-48 Denison St, Bondi Junction

All welcome but please RSVP to: 15 August .


In this issue: New member Felipe Rocha de Souza describes the complicated process of applying for Spanish citizenship through the Sephardic ancestry route, The State Library of NSW discovers what lies beneath Central Station with the exhibition Dead Central and SBS tries to solve family history mysteries in Ever family has a Secret.

CLICK on the cover to read Kosher Koala or click HERE download a zip file.

Click HERE to access back issues of Kosher Koala to 2009.
Back issues prior to 2009 are available to members on CD.


Click on the cover to access the pdf

The Autumn 2018 issue of Kosher Koala was published April 15, 2018.

In this issue: 

We pay tribute to Sophie Caplan, OAM, founding member and past president of AJGS. Sophie, a child survivor of the Holocaust, was a champion of genealogical research, establishing the Hans Kimmel Essay competition to encourage an interest in family history in high school kids. Sophie edited Kosher Koala, for over a decade, was the Australian Contributing Editor to The International Review of Jewish Genealogy: Avotaynu for many years and was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the Australia Day honours in 2000 for her services to history and genealogy.

The AJGS AGM was held in March 2018. AJGS President Robyn Dryen reported to the meeting on the state of our society for the previous year. The meeting agreed to adopt a new model constitution for incorporated associations, in line with revised legislation for organisations such as ours. AJGS has is developing an excellent relationship with Waverley Library, increasing our eastern suburbs workshops to 4 per year. These workshops have been well attended. In all AJGS is in good shape.

AJGS member Sarah Meinrath has contributed a fascinating travelogue of her trip to Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Sarah’s mother and grandparents were expelled from Pultusk, Poland in 1939 and traveled by foot to Bialystok. In 1940 the community were once again forced to leave, eventually ending up in Kotlas, in Arkhangelsk Oblast, the site of a Siberian gulag. There, Sarah’s mother and other teenage girls were forced to clear pine trees with hand-held saws, to make way for roads. In 1941-1942 the Russians relocated over a million Jewish refugees to “Stans” in Central Asia – in Sarah’s family’s case to Bukhara, Uzbekistan, the city where Sarah’s parent’s met.

Sarah and her husband, Nigel, traveled to Bukhara in 2017 to retrace her family’s steps. Sarah shares her journey with us in vivd detail, describing the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this unique city and community. During the war Bukhara Jews had a tight knit, long established community with unique customs and traditions. Today it is a shadow of its former self, numbering barely 150. Sarah and Nigel experienced wonderful hospitality over Shabbat and even had some success in the local archives, despite the frustrating Soviet style bureaucracy. Illustrated with photographs of their travels, Sarah’s article gives an insight into genealogical travel to the far flung  corners of our ancestors experience.

In March 2018 Robyn Dryen accompanied a group of about 50 people associated with the ARK Centre in Melbourne, led by Rabbi Shneur Reti-Waks, to Broken Hill in Central NSW. Broken Hill is an old mining town, and was once home to thriving Jewish and Muslim communities. Today little is left of this pluralist past however the restored synagogue, dedicated in 1911, and several ornate graves in the cemetery hint at the pluralist past of this old Australian town. Robyn gave a talk to the group about her relatives, who had lived in Broken Hill at the beginning of the 20th century. She took the opportunity to revisit her ancestors lives and ask come curly questions about how they managed to maintain their faith in such a remote location.

In News, we examine the current stouch in Poland over anti-defamation laws, look at the rise in genealogical activism around the world and celebrate the success of the Bauska community in Latvia for winning a prize in the Annual Latvian Award in Construction for their magnificent memorial Synagogue Garden. 

Sledgehammer looks at how Facebook helped break down another brick wall. A new occasional column, DIY, shares a trick for deciphering hard-to-read hand written documents of very thin paper. And Links and websites highlights the latest document updates from the major sites, online exhibitions and upcoming Culture Days. 


Staszow, Poland – Can you help this researcher?

Do you have family roots in Staszow, Poland?

Drew University (Madison, New Jersey) Doctoral student Passi Rosen-Bayewitz is working on a dissertation on the subject of Jewish Staszow as a Site of Memory. She is seeking individuals with family roots in Staszow, Poland, to complete a short survey to assist her research. One of the questions her dissertation addresses? the question: How and why does Jewish Staszow matter to its Diaspora around the world?

She says that discovering an intersection between family history (she has identified civil records reflecting her father’s family’s presence in Staszow from the end of the 18th century), academic study, and professional experiences led to her dissertation topic. Staszow, a small town located in south east of Poland, was home to Jews for more than 400 years. While her dissertation is a case study of just one shtetl in Poland, Jewish Staszow is representative of hundreds of shtetls established during the late Middle Ages, in the territories of the old Polish Commonwealth, where nobles invited Jews to move into their estates to encourage economic development.

She seeks to answer an overarching question:  How and why did (and does) the memory of the Jewish community in Staszow continue to matter to 1) its diaspora  — Staszowers who began to immigrate in the early twentieth century; Staszow Holocaust survivors; and descendants of both groups —  and 2)  some Poles in Staszow and other parts of Poland?

To capture data, Ms Rosen-Bayewitz has created a short, anonymous survey in both English and Hebrew.

English –,
Hebrew –

She would be very grateful if members with family roots in the Staszow area participated in her research.

Before Ms Rosen-Bayewitz began her dissertation journey, she had minimal knowledge of genealogy.  Attending the IAJGS conferences in Jerusalem and Seattle she was introduced to powerful research tools and dynamic “citizen scientists”. She say “their passion and tenacity leads to success in finding missing puzzle pieces. The personal benefits of preparing my dissertation have been immeasurable.”

Staszow Cemetery (Wikimedia Commons)

Pamela Weisberger Memorial Lecture 2018 announced

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles has announced that the 2018 Pamela Weisberger Memorial Lecture, to be given at the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Warsaw, Poland, will be by Barbara Kirshenblatt -Gimblett. The lecture title is: Meet the Family: A Journey of a Thousand Years at POLIN Museum. It is tentatively scheduled for Monday, August 6, 2018 at 5:00PM at the conference hotel.

The Program:
The history of Polish Jews is a story of families and their descendants. Visitors find themselves in the story  – when they discover an ancestor in a photograph, find a hometown on an old map, understand the role of a critical event in their family’s story. Descendants are also playing an important role in preserving and transmitting the legacy of their ancestors, many of whom appear in POLIN Museum’s core exhibition: Piotr Wi?licki, whose grandfather was an MP in the Polish Sejm during the interwar years; Sylvain Cappell, whose great grandfather Rabbi Dov Berush Meisels supported struggles for Polish independence during the 19th century; Elizabeth Rynecki, who has been searching for every painting by her great grandfather Moshe Rynecki, who perished in the Holocaust; Gary Breitbart, who is dedicated to the legacy of his great grand uncle, the Jewish strongman Zishe Breitbart; Frank Proschan, who descends from the great Harkavy philologists and lexicographers, among them Alexander Harkavy, advocate for Jewish immigrants; and David Mazower, who is devoted to the literary legacy of his controversial grandfather Sholem Asch, author of God of Vengeance. This talk will offer a behind-the-scenes tour of POLIN Museum’s core exhibition from a family history perspective.

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is Chief Curator of the core exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. She is University Professor Emerita and Professor of Performance Studies Emerita at New York University. Her books include Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage; Image before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland, 1864–1939 (with Lucjan Dobroszycki); and The Art of Being Jewish in Modern Times (edited with Jonathan Karp). Her edited volume Writing a Modern Jewish History: Essays in Honor of Salo W. Baron won a National Jewish Book Award. They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust, which she coauthored with her father, Mayer Kirshenblatt, also won several awards. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett was born in Canada during the Second World War to Jewish immigrants from Poland.


The Pamela Weisberger Memorial Lecture is a planned series of lectures to honor the memory of Pamela Weisberger who passed away September 25, 2015. The Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles (JGSLA) is sponsoring a series of lectures in memory of Pamela Weisberger who was our Vice-President of Programs for more than a decade.

Save the Date: Gesher Galicia/ AGAD Symposium 2018





Gesher Galicia have announced their joint symposium with AGAD for 2018 will be held on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at AGAD in Warsaw, Poland and will be focused on Archives and Jewish Galicia. This symposium is on during the IAJGS conference period.

Subjects covered will include AGAD records, Jewish Galician records in other Polish and Ukrainian archives, Holocaust records, maps and cadastral surveys and non traditional record sources. There will also be panel discussion with archivists and local researchers from Poland and Ukraine.

A buffet reception in the evening will follow the main program. Transportation between AGAD and the main hotel staging the IAJGS conference will be arranged.

Pre-registration for the symposium will open on Sunday, January 28, 2018, through the Gesher Galicia website, where a special webpage is being set up. People who have paid their Gesher Galicia membership dues for 2018 will receive priority booking for two weeks, prior to booking being opened to all.

Go to their website to join Gesher Galicia and/or to follow them on Facebook and Twitter

The Jews of Greece – Sydney Jewish Museum

The Sydney Jewish Museum is hosting a fascinating exhibition on the The Jews of Greece from October 25, 2017 1 February 18, 2018.

Utilising the works of photographer Emmanuel Santos and documentary filmmakers Carol Gordon and Natalie Cunningham, the exhibition provides a window into the life of Romaniote Jews, Sephardim (Jews of Spain) and the smaller groups of Ashkenazi Jews of Europe that made up the Greek-Jewish community.

“This community witnessed, experienced and influenced the beginnings of Christianity, the rise and fall of Empires and the creation of the Modern State. While the Holocaust left the community devastated, the ancient traditions and cultural practices of Greek Jews have been kept alive by the few who remain.”

For more information check out the exhibition page on the Sydney Jewish Museum website.